Of travelling 56km/h without airconditioning in sweltering heat.

It was not a happy week, but I should be grateful that things still move on. The final days of August 2008 brought me and the family to Pahang, Cherating to be precise. It was a break for the kids, who have been bugging us since our last family retreat two years ago. Everybody remembered that trip to Penang when all of us were knocked out by food poisoning. It took me almost a week to recover. Even till today we were still not so sure what caused it. Was it the cendol and laksa in Kuala Kangsar or the durians in Kuang or the mamak food in Penang or combination of them all? It started with the youngest son vomitting as soon as we left Ipoh, by the time we reach the Tapah stop, I was the only one left standing, so to speak. We had to make several unscheduled stops after that for the children and the wife to take fresh air. By the time we reached home, the trip that normally took three hours had lasted five hours. Ironically, two years earlier we suffered the same fate on our trip to Cameron Highland. It was the fried kue teow that did it. Everybody except the wife (who was fortunate enough not to eat the kue teow) had to queue for the two toilets in the hotel rooms. But we were OK by the next day, unlike the one we suffered on our previous trip to Penang. So, this time we were careful not to eat outside. We brought plenty of bread and Maggi Letup in the cups to tide us over for the three days and two nights in Cherating. Despite the flies infested satar lunch sojourn in Kuala Kemaman we were spared of any tummy mishaps. It was rather uneventful trip except I got a chance to meet up with a long time friend whom I have not met for a number of years. Pahang, despite commendable effort by the government to popularise their holiday destinations, it suffers the usual hang ups. As we approached Cherating from the East coast highway, there were enough signboards to guide us, but alas, as we approached the critical junction that will take us either to Kuantan Port or Kemaman, the Cherating sign conveniently (or inconveniently in this case) vanished. It was raining, and I had to make a choice whether to go straight then right or left. I can only see the sign that says left to Kemaman, right to Kuantan. Did the MPK people (I believe, MPK was the first local authority to receive ISO) expect people to know that, the famous Cherating is on the Kemaman side rather than Kuantan’s. I have been there many times before, the last trip was only 18 months ago, but still I am confused, let alone non regular or first time risitors. I took the right turn and as we approached the Kuantan Port I realised that I took the wrong turn. A simple U-turn solved the problem. I knew the area, I can tell that I was heading in the wrong direction. Unsuspecting people would have end up a few kilometeres down the road before they realised their mistakes. Unfortunately, poor roads signs are not plaguing MPK alone. From my travelling days, it was a perennial problem in Malaysian roads. A good friend of mine once remarked that roads signs in Malaysia are made for people who knew the area not as guide for people who are not familiar with the area. My brother refused to come my house anymore after he got lost following the road signs when he first came to Wangsa Melawati. Personally I think Malacca town is one of the better place with roadsigns that can guide people to their destinations. Maybe in the days of GPS, the need of proper road signs are not necessary.

BTW, did you notice that Pahang had many holiday destinations, but to access them you had to use other states. Cameron Highland is accessible only via Perak and Kelantan. To get to Frasers Hill you need to go to KKB, To get to Tioman u need to get the ferry from Mersing. Even to get to Genting Highland, you have to go through Gombak or Batang Kali. Another way of looking at it, you can get to travel to holiday destinations in Pahang without actually traversing Pahang itself. Interesting huh..

Speaking of travelling or driving, recently there are a few companies (especially cars and petrol companies) conducting some sort of tests to inform customers on fuel saving driving techniques. In one case, one car can travel 700km on one tank. I am not sure what is the capacity of the tank but still to go that long on simply one tank is incredible. My 850km trip to the East Coast recently took me three tanks costing me almost RM400. That is almost as much as the amount we paid for the 3-day, 2-night hotel accomodation. The fellas who won the “race” said they travelled at the average of 56kmh and had their aircond off for most part of the journey and they only open the window slightly to reduce drag. Wow, man that will take them more than 10 hours to complete the journey in sweltering heat. I wonder if it is a real trip, was it worth it? What if it is raining, they will have to constantly wipe the front windshield to clear the condensation. That surely transport us back to the 70s or early 80s where aircond was a luxury accessory and cars are fitted with miniature fans. Come to think of it, we survived those days, why cannot we do it now eh? Some taxis plying in smaller towns in this country are still using those cars. We are indeed getting too soft.

I wonder why did not the companies do the contest in KL? I wonder if we can get similar results travelling from, say, Puchong to Medan Tuanku on Saturday afternoon or from Selayang to Pudu Raya. Try driving 50km/h on MRRII or Federal Highway, it will cause massive traffic jams, I think.

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