Monday, June 06, 2011

Of Gua Musang and Tourism...

This is one town that I had not been. At one time it could only be reached by rail or road from Kota Bharu in Kelantan. It was an isolated place, deep in the hinterland Jungle of the main-range of Peninsular Malaysia. Nestle among limestone hill it grew at its own pace not until new roads connect it to Kuala Lipis in Pahang and Ipoh in Perak. With that Gua Musang is now easily reached from all points and with that development is moving fast-forward. I have always wanted to visit this town and last month I did that. A dream comes true.

On May 24, 2011 at just past 8:30Am we left KL by means of the Karak Highway. From there took the road north that takes us to Bentong and Raub. The road from Bentong to Raub has been upgrade and no longer like those country road that wind its way beside river and carved out of hillsides. It is almost a straight road and after a snack at a roadside stall in Raub we drove on bypassing Kuala lipis. I have driven up to Kuala Lipis before and this was to be the first time on the road from Kuala Lipis to Gua Musang. All the way from Bentong to Kuala Lipis it was a pleasant drive along country road with greens all over. My nephew took the wheel and I just watch the scenery and took photograph of those interesting sight along the way.

We eventually arrived at Gua Musang a town nestles among limestone hills at just after one in the afternoon. The manager of the hotel Othman call on the cellphone and guided us to his hotel The Goa Inn Hotel at one end of the new town. It is a new hotel and I am told later that it is one of the best around. We check in and took a short rest before went searching for a restaurant for lunch. We had lunch at one of the restaurant and found that some of the restaurant would open till the wee hours of the morning, thus kept the town lively in the night. After lunch we went on a spin of the town and saw the old part of the town including that railway station that had been there since 1931.  It was one of the Railway Station built by the British during the colonial era.

While my spouse took a rest at the hotel I went out to wonder along the street where I met strangers who are from the other states; working in this town and at the same time enjoying the little wonder of a town of a difference. Over coffee at the GM Kopitiam we chat on subjects that enriched me with more knowledge of this unique town in short known as GM. I soon found out there are many places where folks could do mountain climbing, camping or just roam the fringe of the tropical forest. It is rich in floral and fauna some of it is only found here. A paradise to those who want to do photography of nature at its best. The limestone hills are unique and had I been younger I would have wonder to the hill and explore the cave or perhaps camp in the wildness. There are of course wild animals but then one could take precaution to coexist with it like I did when I was a youth camping in the wild. I am told there are many Aborigines living on the outskirt of this town and it would a great place for anthropologist to take a closer look at these truly the Son of the soil.

For backpacker I believe this town and its vicinity is a paradise for their kind of holiday. It is now easily reach by almost of all mode of transport and for Backpacker I think the best way to get here is by rail. The town is full of budget hotels and homestay that are suitable for such folks who would need just a basic accommodation. Come morning they would go out to explore nature and only come back to the hotel after an adventurous day out.

To me Gua Musang is still a place full of mystique other then its legend of how it got its name Gua [cave] and Musang [civet cat]. The forest around it is still virgin and the river is still flowing with freshwater from the mountain. In such condition I am sure that are plenty of wild animals wondering the forest which is part of the National Park. Had I am still in my youth I would have come here by train and camp or live in the Budget Hotel for a few days and explore the wonder of nature. As for now in my golden age I have to be just contented at listening and watching the wonder of the happening in this corner of the country.

With new roads been upgraded and now accessible from most parts of the country and is just an hour drive from Cameron Highland; I believe that Gua Musang is a town to watch. It is growing and in no time it would be a major town at this part of the world. Perhaps then there would a landing strip for small craft that could take tourists on a half hour flight from KL. With a 4 stars Hotel these place could be the playground of the rich and famous in the future and smaller town like Merapoh on the Pahang side of the boarder could benefit as well.

Well folks on this trip I got to see Gua Musang or GM as it is locally known here. It is one small town to watch and to me the future is bright indeed. It would not be a surprise if Gua Musang turns out to be a big city if not the biggest city in Kelantan in the not to distance future.

Thanks to Pak Zawi and Othman and the ever-smiling receptionists of the Goa Inn Hotel and the many strangers who chat and shows me directions, our one day adventure in this remote town was a colorful one indeed.

Have a nice day.

12 comments:

Pak Zawi said...

Pak Idrus,
Gua Musang is close to my heart as I had lived and worked there and raised my family till the end of my service with a semi government agency.
Gua Musang is strategically located as it is at the cross road between Kota Bharu in the north and KL and from Dungun in Trengganu to Cameron Highlands in Kelantan. Kota Bharu Gua Musang route is the prefered route for people going to KL and Cameron Highlands.
From Gua Musang you can access the Taman negara from two entry points namely Kuala Koh near Felda Aring and via Merapoh in Pahang. For mountain climbers wanting to do Gunung Tahan, the Merapoh entry point is prefered since they can exit at Kuala Tahan. Beside mountain climbing there are rock climbing routes set up in Taman Etnobotani which is already well known to rock climbers all over the world.
Thank you for high lighting my former hometown which I have not visited for some years.

Al-Manar said...

Many years ago I had an 'anak angkat - a veery good MARA scheme for poor children- at a small roadside village called Pagar Sasak, en route to Gua Musang to K Lipis. We used to go to Gua Musang for very good 'suop tulang' and 'sup gear box' - what a name!

Liz said...

Salam Pak Idrus,

Your posting reminded me of my last visit to Gua Musang in December 2008. I was on one of my climbing expedition and it started from Gua Musang Railway station where we began our long journey up to Mount Chamah (Kelantan) to Mount Ulu Sepat (Perak border). We took the train from KL Sentral. It was a long journey and we reached Gua Musang in the morning.

The rail station view took your breath away. True to what you said, it's a heaven for the back packers.

Pak Idrus said...

Pak Zawi, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting.

Well to me Gua Musang is a gem yet to be discovered by the entrepreneur and there are great future for this town in the not too distance future. It now could be reached from four point, Dungun, KB, Karak Highway and the North South Highway from Simpang Pulai. And of course by rail direct from KL Sentral. So I believe it would grow and became a major town in the north of Peninsular Malaysia.

I hope the Kelantan government have got a master-plan for GM development and a think-tank to ensure that this small town develop in a well planned way. As it is now it is indeed a heaven for the tourists who are seeking adventure in the hinterland of Peninsular Malaysia.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Al-Manar, thanks for the visit and sharing your thoughts on the subject of this posting.

My trip there was a short one thus I did not have the opportunity to explore more of this gem of a town. The Gear Box soup is an interesting soup and I wound sure look for it when I am there next.

Have a nice day.

Pak Idrus said...

Liz, thanks for the visit and sharing your experience in outdoor adventure in Gua Musang and its outskirt.

Well to me Gua Musang is a gem yet to be fully discovered. There are great potential in tourism there where folks go enjoy eco-tourism like mountain climbing, a day trip to the National Park and other challenging activities that are a challenge to the youth.

I am glad that you did had a great time in those outdoor activities. Like you I did enjoy that kind of adventure during my youth.

Have a nice day.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Salam, Pak Idrus! I didn't know what a hidden treasure Gua Musang is for campers and trekkers until you told me about it. It is definitely worth a visit!

Pak Idrus said...

~Covert_Operations'78~, Ee Lynn thanks for the visit and yes even I was not aware of Gua Musang potential not until I went there and saw for myself the town.

There I Learned that other then getting there by train and the route we got there, KL-Bentong-Raub-Gua Musang there are other route too. One could get to Gua Musang from the North South Highway at Simpang Pulai to Cameron Highland. It is said that from CH it just take one hour to get to Gua Musang and the road is good.

Well, you and your gang should get there and stay a few days and explore that hidden gem.

Have a nice day.

Tl Chua said...

Thanks Pak Idrus for a detail insight into Gua Musang. It does give me more confidence travelling solo there by bike from Subang Jaya via Bentong, Raub and K. Lipis way. After Gua Musang, I'll be travelling to Tasik Kenyir via the Felda road, then to Marang and to P. Kapas. After that, I'll be visiting Kuantan and then back home.

For more insight about my travels by bike, you can go to http://tlchua99.wordpress.com/ .
For my other travels, you can check out in http://tlchua99.blogspot.com/
for my photos, they are available at http://flickr.com/photos/tlchua99/

Thanks again.

Travel safe!

TL Chua

Pak Idrus said...

Tl Chua, thanks for the visit and the good words on this posting. I am indeed glad that you got more information of out countryside by reading this posting.

During my youth I always went for an adventure with my bicycle. In the late fifties a group of us cycle from Kuantan to KL and back and it took us five days to reach KL and another five days to get back to Kuantan. The Emergency was still on and we were not afraid at all of the terrorist lurking in the jungle. I did a scooter ride from Kuantan to Kuala Lipis via Jerantut and enjoy the journey.

I am glad that you are enjoying your solo ride in the country.

Have a nice day.

Tl Chua said...

Pak Idrus,

Now I'm in Gua Musang. Rained from late afternoon until now.

The main roads are still well maintained. I saw they are upgrading certain stretches of the Gua Musang Lipis section.

Pak Idrus said...

Tl Chua, thanks for the return visit and kept me informed of your adventure. Appreciate it very much.

Feel free to write to me anytime using my email.... pakidrus@gmail.com.

Have a nice day.