An overwhelming sense of peace came over me as I set foot on the black sandy beaches of Telok Assam. With waves lapping softly at my ankles, I stood rooted there, admiring God’s work. Huge sandstone cliffs rose up from the ground like a solemn cathedral, weather-beaten to reveal fluid lines on its flat iron and rock surface.
Heavy drops of water fell from the high cliff edge to carve pools of clear liquid in the ground on which clingy barnacles made their home. Years of wind and water erosion have hollowed out parts of these cliffs, leaving behind cool cavernous interiors.
Before joining Tourism Malaysia, about the only “adventure” I ever had was climbing the corporate ladder in the concrete jungle that was Kuala Lumpur. Nowadays, though, climbing actual mountains has become part of the job in promoting Malaysia.
One of the first peaks I attempted to scale was Gunung Stong (Mount Stong) in Dabong, a small rural village in Kelantan. It is believed that the word stong is a Malaysianised – or specifically, Kelantan-ised (if there is such a term) – version of the English word, “stone.” If you have been to Kelantan, you will know that they will turn any word that ends with the “n” sound into a nasal “ng” sound. And so the story goes…