Sunday morning, we left Bangkok and headed out for a flight to Kuala Lumpur (west coast of Malaysia) and then for Kuantan (east coast of Malaysia), which was our destination. We left Bangkok in a steady rain (GEE! That must have been when our suitcase and most of my clothes got wet!) and arrived in Kuantan between two thunderstorms. When I saw the threatening clouds, my heart skipped a few beats when I realized that we were flying right into them! Amazingly enough, our flight was not too turbulent, and we arrived just in time for the first downpour to end, but before the second downpour started. I have to tip my hat to the Malaysia Airline pilots - they did their job well, and definitely to my satisfaction.
Kuantan, where the new Eastman Chemical resins plant is located, is a great laid-back resort town of about 300,000 people. Located right on the equator, the weather is fairly constant all year round, and the scenery is tropical. So many bright hues of flowers, in a lush green setting ... nothing like the grayness of China. My spirits have lifted just from spending the last several days here! We checked into the Hyatt Regency, and were amazed at the number of people here on vacation (or on holiday, as they say it). The main ethnic groups that live here are Malay, Indian and Chinese, with a few ex-pats thrown in. The feel is relaxed, and I really like being here. Grocery stores are well-equipped with western products and other shopping is amazingly good. I am especially in awe at the teak furniture that is available. Keeping purchases at a minimum here has been really hard for me!
On Monday, Steve got up early and went into the plant, leaving me to be the lazy dog. Thinking I would probably hang out at the pool all day with nothing to do, I was in no hurry to get up. Well, let me tell you ... I have had very few slow moments since arriving here! I was fortunate to meet a new friend, Peggy Bologna. She and her husband, Joe, moved here from Kingsport,TN, about two years ago when Joe was assigned to be over the Eastman plant in Kuantan. Peggy (who even has her own car and gets to drive! That isn’t a luxury we have living in China!) knows all the cool places in town to go. So far, we have visited grocery stores, a book store (yes! They have English books!), teak wood furniture stores (I bought a mirror), an antique store (bought some shadow puppets), a batik factory (ordered a couple of custom-made items), a jewelry store (bought an ankle bracelet), and a nice mall. While in one of the larger grocery stores, Peggy was able to locate a waffle iron for me! I've been wanting one, and couldn't find any for sale in China, so I was thrilled that she found this one! And they only had one ... so you guessed it, I bought it!
The longer I stay here, the more I like it! Peggy has been so kind to take me around and I've had a wonderful time. It's actually worked out better that I haven't spent numerous hours at the pool ... I'd probably be burned to a crisp by now! The sun is really strong, and the air clear. And besides - I've been having MUCH more fun seeing Kuantan with Peggy.
Today, I had a special treat! Kuantan is not an old town, and I hear that it only began building up around 10 years ago. Built in the middle of a jungle, it still has a LOT of active wildlife ... monkeys, large snakes, monitor lizards ... things like that. After Peggy picked me up today, we went to where the monkeys like to hang out and fed the wild monkeys. They were so cute and funny! However, since they are wild, you have to be careful ... they can also be mean. Like when you run out of food! I was able to get out of the car and take a few pictures, but as soon as the food ran out, we jumped back in the car and left. The monkeys liked the bread that Peggy brought to feed them, but really liked the banana! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the monkeys up close. There are signs, however, on the doors at our hotel that say 'Beware of Monkeys - Please keep this door closed when leaving the room.' I understand there have been cases where the monkeys have come into the rooms and stolen food and other inviting items. Hilarious as it sounds, I'm sure it's not so funny if you are the person with a room full of monkeys!