CHERATING VILLAGE: A REFLECTION
Before reading about our time in Cherating village, perhaps you’d enjoy checking out our journey so far?
We left the UK on day one and day two part one, then in part two we traversed the hot, busy streets to get to our accommodation for our first night in Malaysia and explored the Jalan Alor food market.
On our first full day in KL the Petronas Towers was the destination and durian ice cream the low point, and the next day we walked with the monkeys at the canopy walkway. Kuala Lumpur Chinatown was the next stop on the itinerary, before we departed KL to travel to Melaka. You can find out more about Melaka in our post from our day discovering the Jonker walk market and the next day’s relaxed trip to the park. From Melaka we took the death chariot (coach) to Cherating, where we’ve been for two weeks, and from where we set the scene…
So posts have been thin on the ground, partly as a result of a desire to pull together our thoughts on the past week and report back with a full reflection on this sleepy beach town.
We’ve written about the WHAT TO DO IN CHERATING already, should you desire more information.
After our fairly epic travel to get here, we eased into the swing of things. Being the middle of Ramadan, the place was especially quiet, with some shops closed completely, and others only open for short times. Nevertheless, we managed to experience a lot of what there is to offer here.
The main reason we selected Cherating as a destination was it’s beach, and an opportunity therein to chill out. And the beach really delivered. It’s wide, sandy, and beautiful.
Utterly deserted until the weekend (where total visitors on the sand increased from around 5 to about 15) and the end of ramadan, when children are off school. When sunny, the sea is bath-water-warm, and the children (and we) had a lot of fun watching the hermit crabs, burrowing crabs, and a variety of little fish in the shallow water between the sandbanks. As you walk along the beach, hundreds of tiny crabs disappear into their holes in the ground. If you stand still and wait a few minutes, you’ll feel the tickle on the sole of your feet as they come back up again. We spent many happy hours here, and visited the beach every day.
OUR CHERATING VILLAGE CHALET
Our accommodation in Cherating village was Maznah’s guesthouse, a basic affair, with cooking facilities and some shared utensils. Maznah herself is always around, but it’s her son, Faz, who runs the place these days.
The guesthouse has various levels of comfort, and we opted for lodgings second-to-best.
This got us a quarter house, with one main room and a bathroom with a hot shower (lower quality accommodation has a shared toilet and showers). We had AC and a double bed plus a single. No storage, but we managed. The cost was 120RM for the first couple of nights, whenupon we negotiated down to 110RM (£22) to stay longer. This is more than we hoped to pay, especially given that the guesthouse was fairly ‘rustic’ in many regards.
One night, around 3am, we were awoken with a start to the sound of a series of loud bangs in our room. After a frightening initial few minutes sitting in the dark wondering what was going on, we put the light on and found the source of the noise; a whole row of floor tiles has essentially exploded. The movement of the building over the years has evidently put a lot of pressure on the tiles as they push against each other, and this night, they could take no more. It did, however, take a thorough check to ensure there wasn’t an imminent pipe explosion or building collapse to worry about. We moved to a different abode the next day.
We also had some little friends visit. Our second room had a frog which managed to get in every day, and would climb up into the corner of the room at the ceiling and just sort of perch. Small, skittish lizards would creep in under the door and sporadically appear. We ended up moving room again later to accommodate an existing booking, and, having been woken by a lizard crowing (so lizards make noises; who knew?!), I spotted in the glimmer of early morning light a rather large cockroach running across the wall. It stayed long enough for me to plant a firm swing of a flip flop on it and end it’s life instantly. Not pleasant, but this is the only roach we’ve seen since arriving so more just bad luck that one sneaked in. We had left food out in the room so learned a lesson. And so did the cockroach.
While the accommodation has it’s drawbacks and was more expensive than we’d have liked for what it is, there is a lot of value to be gained in the way Faz runs the place. Nothing is too much trouble, and while there is undoubtedly a laid back, ‘not a problem, it’ll get done….later’, things do get done. Faz will drive you to the supermarket if you require (10km or so away in Kemaman), he’ll organise bus tickets, and he even offered to drive us to the turtle sanctuary up the road. All at no cost; just to be helpful. He’s kind, and helpful, and when we told him about our horror travel day to get there, insisted we should have called him and he would have come and collected us no problem.
CHERATING VILLAGE, CHERATING FIRELY TOUR
Cherating at times seems to be exclusively made up of the family of Faz; cousins and uncles everywhere. I joked to him that he should be the Mayor of Cherating, and that I’d vote for him, to which he gave a characteristic, hearty laugh.
Though limited by food options with Ramadan, we found a superb, small restaurant on the main street which was open most days. It was the one I wrote about in here.
The food is superb, and cheap. If you’d like a beer with your meal, the chinese restaurant is the place to go.
We went on the firefly boat tour (again, written about here) and gently caught a firefly then let it climb over the children’s hands, before it flew off back to it’s friends.
WILDLIFE AND NEW FRIENDS
There are animals everywhere, including some huge monitor lizards, and monkeys (we saw two varieties). These monkeys, while cute, can be aggressive, and we were warned against having anything (particularly food) in our, or the children’s, hands. One day on a walk, while PY Jr carried his ‘phone’ (a piece of watermelon skin from lunch), we encountered the monkeys, who looked particularly interested. The skin was quickly discarded, to the delight of the little hairy fellows, who then followed us down the road a bit, making us a bit nervous!
A real pleasure for us was meeting interesting travellers at the guesthouse. We struck up a friendship with Melissa and Romain, a lovely, young French couple in the middle of an epic travel journey, whom we found to be kind and great company.
Towards the end of our stay we got to know Sergio from Milan, a 63-year-old travel veteran, who left Italy in the 70s to roam the world and hasn’t stopped since.
HARI RAYA IN CHERATING VILLAGE
One of the highlights of the trip so far, however, has been experiencing the end of ramadan. For 30 days, muslims will fast, refraining from eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset, in homage to Mohammed. At the end of ramadan is Hari Raya (‘great day’, Eid in arabic), where there is a national holiday, and family and friends return home to eat heartily, and spend time with loved ones. It’s like Christmas day and Boxing day in the UK, but instead of Uncle Alan coming over with a six pack of Tennants, houses put on incredible, huge spreads of Malaysian food (coconut rice cooked in leaves, beef and chicken curry, satay skewers, as well as literally dozens of jars of little biscuits and baked goods), and waves of visitors come and go, dressed in bright, traditional clothes.
It was very special to be part of this, and we were invited to help ourselves to food and drink. We had conversations with inquisitive family members, and found the whole thing to be good-natured and enjoyable.
We’ll certainly always remember Cherating village. The time on the beach was special family time, even when we were doing some litterpicking.
It’s so nice to feel the sun on your skin, and hear the waves lapping on the shore. But onwards we go, further up the east coast, to Kuala Terrenganu for 3 nights, then the paradise islands of Perhentian for 2 nights.
On the way to the bus station to get our Terrenganu transport, I talk about Faz with our driver (Faz’s aunt). She says about how he helps everyone, and I tell her that I joked with him that he should be the Mayor of Cherating village. She tells me that they had an election recently and that he won.
He IS the mayor!