Paka - Terengganu Malaysia
The centre of the oil industry in the peninsular is in fact situated in Kerteh, just a little further up from Kijal. (heading towards Kuala Terengganu from Kuantan). The gigantic, some would even say- monstrous structures seem to be a bit of a shock for unsuspecting drivers enjoying the tranquillity of the coast. Convoluted pipes, towering smoke stacks, gas flutes spew fire like a raging dragon. But it can look mysterious in the darkness of the night. Roaring fire from the gas flutes partly illuminates the structure. Driving past the Petronas oil refineries at night is simply awesome. However, in daylight, these refineries are indeed a blot on the landscape. But all this is very necessary. This is in fact the nation's major export earner and due to its low sulphur content, our oil is especially popular with the pollution conscious countries.
Kerteh and Paka have a sizable expatriate community stationed here to work at the oil platforms and refineries. There are 60 offshore pipelines feeding into the gas and oil refineries and many international companies like Esso and Shell have set up their outfits here.
In a corner, not far lies a small fishing village hidden in the shadows of the great, big conundrum of activities happening around.. Seemingly unperturbed by this intrusion. The beaches are pretty in these parts but to stay over may be a little too much of a hassle unless visiting friends who live there.
All along the way are tiny villages dotting the coast. If you have a lot of time to wander about, it's nice to pack a picnic basket in the back of the car. When tired or hungry, just pullover to the side and have a bit of lunch or siesta on the beach. In some areas, villagers set up stalls by the road selling coconuts harvested from nearby plantations. Can't get any fresher than that - just ask them to crack it open for you. The villagers speak little English but may able to get by with the odd word or two, so bring a phrase book along with you. Or get a print out from our 'Speak Malay'section.