48 Hours in Terengganu

Beach at the Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia

We were excited to arrive in Terengganu for our stay at the gorgeous Tanjong Jara resort, recommended by a friend. After a long day of travel with two domestic flights, we finally arrived on the green East Coast of Malaysia.

The process of travelling will drive anyone crazy, especially when other passengers try you. First, a man (rudely) asked us to move so he could be closer to his daughter. The answer is always no, but I’m definitely not accommodating your request when you lack manners. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was then stuck behind a man who didn’t remove his stuff until he had a tray at security. Why do people do that?!

The drama didn’t stop there. We arrived at the airport and ordered a Grab, only for another person to get in the car! I didn’t realise until the car pulled off and had to turn on my roaming to contact the driver. Luckily he came back and apologised profusely but I was stunned that people (women especially) really get into cars without checking the plate.  Do better!

We were elated to finally arrive at the hotel and be greeted with a welcome drink and local sweets. I had my issues with the hotel, but the hospitality and surroundings definitely met my expectations.

Turtles at Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia
Peacock at Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia

The resort is absolutely gorgeous and as we discovered during our stay. It’s home to monkeys (allegedly), turtles, a peacock, Komodo Dragons, lots of bugs and a cute family of domestic cats. The rooms are spacious with dark wood floors, twin vanities and a day bed. I especially appreciated the natural insect repellent and healing balm, beach bag and bug spray provided – see what I mean about packing light because the hotel will have whatever you need?! The insect repellent and healing balm were most appreciated as the resort is literally in the middle of the jungle.

We spent the next two days at the resort enjoying meals with a view and wine by the pool. Surprisingly, the wine was really good, much better than the ‘cocktails’ on offer. I was having zero luck with alcohol on this trip!

In celebration of Hari Raya (Eid), we indulged in a complimentary traditional Malaysian lunch. The food was great but I really loved the Teh Tarik, a black tea sweetened with condensed milk. It reminds me of bedtime drinks such as Horlicks and Ovaltine. I recommend it to anyone who loves tea. The second highlight of the lunch was meeting the infamous Chef Ann who I’d heard so much about! She has such an amazing character and speaks with all the guests making them feel welcome. 

Chef Ann, Tanjong Jara Resort
Sambal Rice and Prawns, Tanjong Jara Resort

At dinner, Chef Ann recommended dishes and offered suggestions on preparation based on our preferences and ideal food pairings. There was a selection of sauces to choose from in addition to cooking methods: fried, grilled etc. As usual, we ordered an array of dishes to share: scallops, squid, fried rice, noodles and of course, dessert. One thing about Malaysia is the food never disappoints! Whether it’s street food or fine dining, you’re in for a culinary treat.

We had a wonderful time in Malaysia. It was great exploring different parts of the country and seeing how both the culture and landscapes differ. Kuala Lumpur was dense and busy, Penang was calm and laidback and Terengganu was a relaxing escape on the coast. Langkawi is definitely next on my bucket list as the weather conditions weren’t ideal for this trip. After an amazing week, it was time to say goodbye to Malaysia and head home…

Upon arrival, the receptionist informed us that due to Hari Raya festival there would be a lot of traffic on the road. She suggested we leave the hotel approximately five hours before our flight. What did we do? Check out three hours before our flight only to get stuck in gridlock traffic. Our driver seemed hellbent against switching lanes and cutting corners, despite knowing we had a flight to catch. 

After endless frustration and anxiety, we ran into departures at 7:15 pm unable to print boarding passes. This didn’t stop us from throwing our shit into trays at security shrieking, “we’ve got to get on that flight!” The gate was closed. Our flight had promptly departed on time at 7:20 pm.

We had no choice but to wait for staff to return from their McDonald’s break to buy tickets for the next flight to Kuala Lumpur. Not only were we (unknowingly) sold the most expensive (premium) seats on an empty flight, there was less than an hour between the scheduled landing time and our flight back to London.

I’m no stranger to changing my flights so in a moment of quick thinking I suggested we reschedule our flight home. We agreed to extend our trip by a day as there was no way we’d make our flight back to London and suddenly our spirits lifted. With the prospect of being able to shop and hit the club now that the Holy month was over, we were more excited than ever to be going to Kuala Lumpur despite not having a place to sleep just yet.

We landed in KL feeling tired and irritable, scouring comparison sites for hotel rooms using McDonald’sWifi. Eventually, we found somewhere and headed to back to the city centre for one last time. Although we didn’t make it the club, our last 24 hours in KL were the best.

Petronas Towers at Night, Kuala Lumpur
McDonald's, Malaysia

Situated just a short walk from Suria KLCC, we hit the mall for brunch before doing more shopping at Pavillion Mall. Suddenly we wanted more time in a city we were so underwhelmed by just a few days earlier. Funny that. I was so busy comparing KL to Singapore and trying to match it to my expectations, I missed the magic.

It was time to go home for real as we couldn’t afford to miss another flight. I was truly grateful to be travelling as a part of a group because despite being a confident solo traveller, it’s comforting to have someone there when things go wrong. No doubt I would have figured out how to get home after missing my flight if I was alone but probably not until I’d had a good cry in the bathroom and called my mum. I also enjoyed spending time with my loved ones and sharing the experience with them.

I left Malaysia with incredible memories and felt refreshed and renewed. I’m fond of many places but Malaysia is somewhere I see myself revisiting in the near future.

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