Life a bit quieter in the eastern half of Malaysia

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The eastern half of the Malay Peninsula is relatively unknown compared to the west, where Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca draw visitors. Life is certainly less frenetic in the east; there are no huge cities with towering skyscrapers, but this charming region boasts many places of interest.

Kuantan, a bustling city, is the commercial center for the state of Pahang. At Teluk Cempedak Beach, there is a showcase for local handicrafts, such as batik, gold and silver brocades, woodcarvings and shellcraft.

There are many small villages in this heavily Muslim region, and each appears to have at least one mosque, some small and simple, others larger and ornate.

The fishing village of Beserah is known for its salted fish. North of Cherating lies the village of Rantau Abang, whose beach is one of only six in the world where giant, leatherback turtles lay their eggs.

Kuala Terengganu is an attractive town at the mouth of the Terengganu River. Its thriving central market offers a mix of produce and handicrafts such as songket, which involves weaving gold and silver thread into intricate designs on silk and cotton.

The town is also home to the so-called Floating Mosque. Surrounded by a sort of moat, it seems to sit atop water. On the small island of Pulau Duyong, visitors can see traditional boat builders at work.

Kota Bahru is the capital of Kelantan state,which stretches up to the border with Thailand. Its War Museum houses a collection of material relating to World Wars I and II, the Communist insurgency and Malaysian independence. The adjacent Royal Museum focuses on the lifestyle of the local sultan.

The Cultural Center in Kota Bahru provides a display of traditional games and pastimes on select days of the week. These include seni silat, the art of self defense; gasing uri (top-spinning); rebana ubi (giant drum); membuat wau (kite making); and sepak (kicking shuttlecock).

For more, visit Tourism Malaysia's Web site at www.tourism.gov.my.  

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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