It was only supposed to take five hours for me to drive to our destination -- a beachfront hotel in Kuantan, Malaysia -- from our home in Singapore. But as soon as I crossed the border into Malaysia, I knew I wasn't destined for a speedy road trip.
I lost my friend, who planned on following me in her car to Kuantan and providing much needed moral support, in a sea of traffic. My phone -- which was verbally relaying directions to me -- stopped working. (I guess I should have made sure I had an international plan before I left Singapore. Oops!). And, I couldn’t figure out which direction to go because the road signs were in Bahasa Malay -- a language I don't know.
I slowed down, hoping to buy myself a moment to reread one of the road signs looming over the freeway. But as drivers around me started to honk and speed up, I had no choice but to pick a route and face the fact that I was about to get lost in Malaysia.
|Our destination: the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort in Malaysia.|
Kuantan is the capital of Pahang, a state in Malaysia, and the country's second biggest port, according to the Lonely Planet's website.
Kuantan isn't packed with cultural attractions, but that was alright with me. I was heading to a hotel -- the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort -- that sits on a beach facing the South China Sea. After spending more than a week seeing the sites of Pattaya, Thailand, I was looking forward to a relaxing holiday filled with leisurely walks on the beach and lounging by the pool.
But first, I had to get there.
Once I crossed the border into Malaysia, I drove around for about an hour, stopping at gas stations in hopes of getting directions that would take me up the coast to Kuantan -- the quickest way to my beach vacation. However, the directions I received didn't work out because I kept missing turns and mis-reading road signs.
Finally, I caved and turned my car's GPS on. I tried to avoid doing so in the beginning, because I knew the GPS wanted to take me the long way to Kuantan -- up the middle of the country. But at this point, any path to Kuantan was better than driving around aimlessly.
Once I got back on track, the roads were smooth and the scenery was beautiful, particularly the fields and rolling hills covered in palm trees.
That said, parts of the drive were nerve wracking. There were stretches of road that were covered in pot holes and at times the road would reduce to one lane, spurring drivers to play leap frog with big trucks.
For a couple of hours, palm trees and the occasional shack or fruit stand were the only things I could see. Nothing else -- and more importantly, no one else -- was around. Although the GPS showed I was still on the right path to Kuantan, I couldn't quite shake the feeling of being lost in the middle of Malaysia. And with no phone, I could only imagine how long I'd be standing on the side of the road if my car broke down. I was very lucky it didn't.
In the end, it took me nearly eight hours to drive to Kuantan from Singapore. As I pulled up to my hotel, I prayed that the long drive was worth it. Stay tuned to find out if it was!