This week marks the end of Ramadan, the biggest holiday of the year in Malaysia, when everyone heads to their home town for a week of festivities. We decided to take this week to do something that we were unable to do until recently: explore more of Malaysia by car. Accordingly we headed off the Kuala Terengganau, the most Muslim state in the country that boasts some of the nicest beaches on the north east coast of the mainland.
Forgive us our Western cynicism, but truthfully we were not expecting too much, having seen what some locally run tourist sites look like near KL. But after just the first day, we can’t believe what incredibly beautiful sights have been just four hours away from us all this time. The drive across the central highlands of this country has always impressed us with its beauty, but the water on the East Coast looked just beautiful, and the further north we got, the more lovely it seemed. We landed in Kuala Terangganu, the capital of the state, and booked in to a very nice hotel with Wifi in the room, decent cable TV (Johnny English, yay!) and some comfy beds.
We got an early start and had the joy of watching from our balcony as the the sun rose over the South China Sea. A short drive south again brought us to Marang, hard on the coast, and graced by an enormous mosque that would have done KL proud. Just ten minutes by fast boat from the Marang Jetty lay Kepas Island, a little known and relatively undeveloped tropical island surrounded by crystal clear warm water and awesome banks of coral. We headed to the nearest beach hut cafe for a coffee and a watermelon juice to talk through our strategy.
We spent hours snorkeling over an underwater water world, watching literally hundreds of different species of fish in the most amazing colours and sizes. For a brief moment I almost panicked, thinking I must have drifted far from shore in order the encounter this beauty but I lifted my head up and realized I was about twenty feet from the sand. The charcoal black sea urchins with their diamond ‘eyes’ were startling and dangerously abundant. The little clown fish in their soft coral fascinating and elusive, the enormous purple mouthed clams that would ominously close as you approached were mysterious and strangely beautiful.
We headed home, tired and having had a little too much sun, marvelling that the Creator of such beauty could love and care for such as us. And tremendously grateful for the privilege once again of seeing His awesome beauty on display in His underwater kingdom.