Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kuantan a hit with its neighbours

Kuantan a hit with its neighbours

Hotels, malls, a water theme park and fresh seafood are some of the attractions at the Pahang capital

THOSE who have not been to Kuantan for quite some time will be surprised with the development that has taken place in the state capital in the past few years.

Various projects that were completed in recent years have not only changed the landscape, but could also confuse those who are more familiar with the "old" Kuantan, which can actually refer to five years back.

I have many friends who could not believe their eyes when they came to Kuantan this year, including those who have always by-passed this town to return to their hometown in Kelantan and Terengganu since the East Coast Expressway was opened in 2005.

Among the landmarks in the town centre are the 24-floor Zenith Hotel and Zenith Tower that flank the spanking Sultan Ahmad Shah International Convention Centre or SASICC.

The government has also refurbished Terminal Makmur and turned it into the Pahang Urban Transformation Centre, where the public can get services from various agencies under one roof.

The existence of several shopping malls and the opening of a water theme park in Gambang have also transformed Kuantan into a favourite destination for those from the neighbouring states whose weekend begins on Friday.

Those from Klang Valley and other areas in the west coast will also throng the town from Friday night as it only takes them less than three hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur.

For those who are too lazy to drive and have extra cash to spend, they can also take flights to Kuantan from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Penang or Singapore.

Locals here will sometimes complain about the traffic jams on weekends and during school holidays. And from the registration numbers, they can tell the vehicle owners are from out of town.

Luckily, the Kuantan Municipal Council has introduced various measures to overcome the problem, including turning some of the main roads into one-ways and relocating the express bus terminal to Indera Mahkota.

I remember the first time I went to Kuantan in the early 1990s. The town looked small with Teruntum complex as the main landmark.

At that time, the main attractions were Teluk Chempedak and Cherating, and many people knew these two places better than the town itself.

If you have the chance to talk to the older generation in the traditional villages here, they will share with you the history of the town which was once known as Kampung Teruntum (Teruntum Village).

It was said that in the 1850s, "Haji Senik" and his followers had set up the village. Its original site was on the Sungai Kuantan riverbank, in front of the present Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital.

The remnants of the village can be seen in several old batu nisan, or Muslim tombstones, in the area now known as Taman Esplanade.

There were some changes in the town centre when I was posted to Kuantan in 2005.

Apart from the old Teruntum complex, there were also Berjaya Megamall and Kuantan Parade.

But my favourite place at that time was Tanjung Lumpur, which is a haven for seafood lovers. Honestly, it's still my favourite and was one of the main reasons why I chose to rent a house in Kempadang, which is about 8km away from the Tanjung Lumpur bridge.

Tanjung Lumpur never fails to amaze my relatives and friends, who will be spoilt for choice as there are dozens of seafood restaurants and stalls along the main road and in the village area.

After sampling the food at almost all the restaurants and stalls in the area, my mother and I can now recommend different premises for the best ikan bakar, ketam telur masin or other types seafood.

Most of them are opened from 6pm, but be cautioned that some are quite expensive as they are popular among the VIPs.

For those who want to try local delicacies, such as keropok lekor and laksa Pahang, they should come earlier as the famous stalls such as "Poksu and Moksu" and "Mokna" are only opened between noon and 7pm.

Apart from the dishes, Kuantan is also known for its fresh seafood and only those familiar with the town know where to buy them straight from the fishermen.

Pantai Kempadang near my house has also become the main landing area for inshore fishermen and the public can buy fresh seafood from them at a reasonable price.

Previously, the most popular areas are in Beserah and Balok but the ever-increasing number of buyers, including from Singapore, have made the fresh seafood prices there dearer.

Although Kuantan is now undergoing rapid development, the people here are grateful that the authorities could still maintain its natural heritage including the mangrove swamp along Sungai Kuantan and its beautiful beaches such as Cherating, Teluk Chempedak and Pantai Sepat.

The 24-floor Zenith Hotel and Zenith Tower that flank the spanking Sultan Ahmad Shah International Convention Centre or SASICC.

~News courtesy of New Straits Times~

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