28 Apr 2006
|Kuantan is the easterly side of the peninsula. Tourism hasn't really got a hold here as yet.
The ship pulls alongside the freight terminal. Timber, cement, white stuff that could be lime, salt or gyprock maybe. Not a hugely busy port, but very hot and humid.
The captain informs us is a bit tricky negotiating this port and points to the visible rigging of a ship that sunk 10 years ago. It was a cement carrier, so no salvage here.
We are told the Malaysian government is offering incentives for people to come here. Ie no tax for 5 years if you are a business. Cheap condominiums (US$150,000 in Kuatan). They are hungry for investment. With a "2020" vision to be a fully developed country. There seems to be building going on everywhere. Mostly government funded. The country on this side is mainly Muslim, and they have free education, free medical, and are phasing out free water. The tour guide claim no person is without housing.
The tour guide explains the plight of wild animals and illegal timber felling and asks us to support the Malaysian government through increasing tourism, to stop the decline of the jungles and loss of animal species. He says most Malays are concerned but the deforestation continues. His logic was that tourism is the economic future and once the natural resources are gone then there will be nothing for Malaysia.
The British colonial influence is quite visible. Left hand road rules. British model laws. Plenty of English signage, though this is gradually disappearing as Malaysia chose Bahasai Malay over English as their first language in the late 70's.
We visit a traditional silk production house where silk is made by hand, then a museum of the King and his history, a fishing boat museum of all the types of fishing craft used by the Malays.
The guide makes a point of showing the women the cooking utensils museum (Lynne was not impressed), and finally the Kings residence with all his toys like old jet fighters, an old steam train, and his polo fields. We didn't get to see his car collection.
Back to the ship. Stalls are set up alongside, but we have no Malay Ringit, and although some very good items and very cheap, retire to the cool interior of the vessel.
I liked Kuantan. It seems very leisurely, a lot of new infrastructure mixed with the old. Didn't see any slums. mostly new motor cars, new hospitals, and schools. Wide streets, well kept gardens. Very pretty and seemed very safe.
Later we go to the talent show, then the ship performers giving a tribute to swing and a comical Rod Stewart rendition. All very good.
Lynne and Steve