Everyone told me to go to the West coast of Malaysia, because the East is shut for monsoon.
So, East it was.
Google “Kuantan Backpackers” and you’ll find a place called Kuantan Backpackers. It’s a backpacker spot in Kuantan.
Actually, it’s the backpacker spot in Kuantan, and it’s only 6 weeks old.
The dynamic local owner Jessin runs a spotless, secure dorm hostel on the second floor with her mom.
I was the only guest. Heaven is a private dorm.
To my surprise, at around 7pm, they checked out, reminding me to just switch stuff off if I went anywhere, leaving me completely alone in an empty place. Often in hostels, it’s just you and the night manager but this was the first time ever that I’d had free run of a place without being employed there.
I began by painting some of the large, inviting swaths of blank white wall, as I was encouraged to by the artistic Jessin. By 8pm, I’d found the box of red wine on the fridge. Next thing, I’d gone shopping at the late night supermarket across the street and cooked up a chili & lime dinner in the well-equipped communal kitchen; cooking for the first time in months! Then I practiced violin for an hour, as loud as I wanted to, followed by Family Guy on the flatscreen. Not a soul, not a phonecall, not a message. The. Whole. Night. That kinda thing goes without a price.
In a nothing town somewhere rainy, who knew?
Today I’m going surfing 30kms up the coast, and after that a highland nature park which charges $3 a night.
I have no guidebook. Jessin helped me plan this.
This stay has been one of the unforgettable highlights of my trip.