Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Merdeka Celebration at Redang Island


Merdeka was a big event here in Malaysia, as this country celebrated its 50th anniversary. I remember when I read the papers, even President Arroyo (from the Philippines) flew in to KL to celebrate that special day with fellow Malaysians. Being a foreigner here in
Malaysia, I think it's great the way they have prepared for their Merdeka -- lots of activities in different places, fireworks on Merdeka eve, full multi-media coverage pre-event and during event.

As for me, I had a different way of celebrating it. It was an extended weekend vacation which meant some free "get-away" time to discover the beautiful islands of Malaysia. I booked at
the Laguna Redang for a 3 days, 2 nights package. The price was reasonable, but of course we had to pay extra because of the holiday peak season. We took the Air Asia flight going to Terangganu (so that we can make it there in the morning). Then took the Malaysian Airlines flight coming back to KL.


The trip was a bit "painful and long" because after the 1 hour flight from KL, you will take a bus / car ride to the jetty, then you need to take the 45-minute boat ride. That's not the only disappointment though ... we were in for a big surprise! When we arrived at the resort, there were more than 200 people trying to check-in!!! Apparently, the locals arrived at the jetty earlier than us because they took the bus / their car driving to
Terangganu. Plus, the hotel management is not efficient ... which makes me sad because this is such a beautiful place... but poorly managed.

We were starving by the time we arrived at the resort. And we had to wait for the lunch hall to open at 12 noon. We were given vouchers to enter the premises of the lunch hall ... and same goes for breakfast and dinner. Somehow, this relaxing vacation didn't seem so relaxing at all. Imagine trying to queue up for every meal, having to go through buffet lines with hundreds of people. Kind of sad experience for the meal part.

Now moving to the snorkeling story. They brought us to a snorkeling spot, where later we were joined by a mob of people. My hubby commented that the whole snorkeling area felt like Tesco on a weekend! You can see hundreds of heads bobbing up and down as they struggle to swim to farther areas to avoid the "jam". Luckily, we were entertained by a nice local while he showed us some interesting corals, one-of-a-kind starfish, and other colorful life-forms under the sea. This made the whole snorkeling trip worthwhile.

The moral of the story is:
1. Never go to Laguna Redang on peak season -- especially on a holiday
2. Make sure that you get the meal upgrade -- which is additional RM80 per person. I only found out about this too late. If I opted for upgrade, I didn't have to queue up and eat with the "crowd"
3. Make sure you take snacks with you during the travel going to Laguna Redang

Overall, if you do go on off-peak, it could be a pleasant experience. Sand quality can compare against the world-famous Boracay of the Philippines. I used to go to Boracay every year. The sand quality there is superb. Redang is one of the rare beaches I have visited which could compare against my favorite Boracay. So if you are looking for good sand quality and clear waters, maybe the trip to Redang will be worth it -- see it for yourself!

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