Monday, February 28, 2011

What is the most urgent thing that needs to be done in Kuantan? - Poll Analysis

So, the poll of the past two months is closed, and a total of 66 people cast their votes. Thanks to those who voted who either live in Kuantan or are from Kuantan. There was no clear winner as the results were well spread over 4 of the 6 options.

Implementing a public transportation system received 31% of the votes, representing just under 1/3 of all voters. I must admit that I have only seen perhaps a single public bus per year while I've been living here. I'm aware that there are a few buses which go around a small part of Kuantan, and out to places further afield like Gambang and Pekan. However, a proper, well-organised public bus system serving people all around Kuantan town would be a welcome addition, and provide a cheaper alternative to expensive taxi rides.

Although the public transportation system idea received the highest percentage of votes, on the other side it also means that 69% of voters decided that there were other things more important for Kuantan than a public transportation system. 

In second place with 16 votes (24%) is beautifying places of interest. Kuantan is rich in places to go and things to say, but unfortunately some of those places are old, run-down, dirty or under-staffed, making these venues an actual turn-OFF. One example is the Kuantan Waterfront, which could, and should, be a beautiful place to visit, but has all of the problems I just mentioned.

Coming in third is solving the rubbish problem, which gained 13 votes (19%). This admittedly is a major area of concern in Kuantan, with blocked drains, public disposal areas beside housing, over-flowing and unattended bins, along with a complete lack of bins. It doesn't help that the public have the unbelievable confidence of throwing any and all types of rubbish on the floor, just like that. This option is my personal choice, closely followed by improving customer service.

In fourth place is promoting Kuantan to better attract tourists. This option had 11 votes (equating to 16% of voters). With better promotion, I am absolutely sure that more visitors would love to come to Kuantan because it is after all, a beautiful place with good shopping avenues, great hotels, interesting religious sites, and located close to the beach.

The two lowest finishers were improving customer service (only 3 votes - 4%) and improving the English language (2 votes - 3%). I am extremely surprised that only 3 out of 66 people voted to improve customer service. The service I have received in Kuantan has been nothing short of mediocre. I think it reflects a general "tidak apa-apa" (never mind; it's ok) attitude amongst locals. Actually, it's NOT ok. As a customer of various services, I have been left terribly frustrated at too many inconveniences caused. I think if there is to be an increase in foreign visitors, the standard of customer service will be the one important aspect that will determine how they view Kuantan in the future, and whether they come back again.

Improving the English language finished bottom of the pile, the most unpopular option in the poll. English is often frowned upon by teachers as they feel Malay should  be spoken more, as this identifies who they are - citizens of Malaysia. However, as Kuantan continues to grow and welcome increasing numbers of tourists, writing and speaking English will become a necessity to its prosperity.

My apologies finally, to those who weren't able to take part in this poll as it was restricted to those who know Kuantan. I hope you will all enjoy voting in the next poll which will appear at the top right of my blog.

So, now that you have voted in what Kuantan needs to improve on, I'd love to hear from you in analysis. Why did you cast your vote for that specific option? What do you think about Kuantan currently? If you didn't manage to vote, what would you have chosen?

You can leave me a comment below, or alternatively, you can contribute to the discussion on this poll by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Thanks, look forward to hearing your opinions!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Hornbill Visit

It happened a couple of years ago actually. As we were lying on our bed in our room on a lazy afternoon, gazing out at the palm tree and blue sky through the window, I noticed a large bird come crashing onto the tree. Startled, I got up and slowly made my way onto my feet, to discover that a hornbill had landed on the palm tree!

Sarawak is billed as the "land of the hornbills" but here in Kuantan, one such magnificent bird had come to show itself to us for a few minutes. I quickly grabbed the camera and began shooting at this rare opportunity. I had never seen a hornbill up close in person before, only on postcards, so this was a fascinating few minutes. Here are the pictures of the hornbill:

The hornbill holds a berry in its curved beak

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Taman Gelora

If you like to hear the gentle sound of gravel under your feet, delicately crunching as you stroll along the path; If you like to hear the complex song of the many birds communicating freely from the trees; If you love the stunning scenery that makes you look around, high and low, with your mouth slowly opening; If you love the peace of such a setting - then Taman Gelora in Kuantan is just the place to nourish your senses with beauty.

Enjoy my photographs of a saunter around the beautiful Taman Gelora:

I don't know how many times I've photographed this place, but each time the pictures are different, and each time, they come out even better! There's always something new to shoot, a different viewpoint, a new area, an alternative angle, a better idea.

At this point in my photography session, I ventured out behind the swathe of trees to the coast, where I discovered just how far out the tide was:

I walked a good hundred yards before I found this fish hanging on to life in a small pool of water

This fish wasn't so fortunate

Looking out to sea . . . where it lay . . . somewhere

It's kind of hard taking pictures when you're in the wilderness of the sea floor, with the sea nowhere to be seen. Kuantan town can be seen on the horizon.

The distance to the trees show how far I'd walked from Taman Gelora, out onto the sea floor, and I'd still not gotten close to the sea

I found these sea shells slowly moving around in small pockets of water which had been left behind between ridges of sand as the tide went out

Here's a picture of some weird and wonderful sea life. These "stalks" were popping up everywhere

This was the most enduring image from the sea floor. It shows a man in the background busily putting up his nets before the tide came back in later that day. Here is where our boiled fish for dinner begins.

After staying long enough to appreciate the silence at sea, I made the trek back to Taman Gelora, where my appointment with the trees really began:

This tree stood out from the crowd behind

Everywhere you look is trees!


Taman Gelora's bridge which transports visitors across the lake

A twisting tree trunk

And finally . . . . . 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chap Goh Meh (Part 2) @ Pahang Buddhist Association

For part 2 of Chap Goh Meh, we join the action as the sun was setting over Kuantan. . . . .

The singing and dancing began with my nine-year-old English student, Yuki. She was the first performer on stage to open the event and put on a great performance!

Second up was a very handsome young boy who likewise kept the crowd well entertained!

Many late-comers filled up all the chairs

The Pahang Buddhist Association temple all lit up at night is a wonderful picture of lights

The stage

Beautiful view of the Pahang Buddhist Association gardens gorgeously illuminated at night

The moon shone down on the Chap Goh Meh celebrations to mark the end of Chinese New Year

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chap Goh Meh (Part 1) @ Pahang Buddhist Association

Chap Goh Meh marks the end of the 2-week Chinese New Year celebrations. Last night we attended the event at the Pahang Buddhist Association in Kuantan. Part 1 takes you around the gardens and the scenes before the event started. I was able to capture some lovely pictures in the golden evening sun. Check it out:

The temple

The gardens

I'd be very happy if somebody could help me with translation here - just leave me a comment!

A sneak peak through the caterpillar-devoured leaves, to the stage

With the sun starting to fade I captured this image of the trees in silhouette

In a gentle breeze, a maintenance man adjusted the lights

A small crowd, (those few of us who had arrived ahead of time) were serenaded by the sounds of the men playing the instruments and the lady in the red dress who sang a beautiful Chinese song at the top of her voice for a good 10-15 minutes.

We met there, one of my newest students, Amanda, at right, accompanied by her friend, at left

Look out for Chap Goh Meh (Part 2) tomorrow, when the sun went down and the Pahang Buddhist Association became one illuminated fantasy.


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