After a few days relaxing on the Perhentians, we were definitely ready to get back to the mainland. We headed back, this time with a much smoother ride after some glorious weather followed the earlier storms.
In order to travel south, we had to take a taxi to a town about half an hour away and wait patiently for our bus down the east coast of the country.
A few hours later, we arrived in tiny little Cherating. We were dropped off on the side of the road in the pitch darkness so we made the executive decision to hang a left toward the ocean. Out of nowhere pops up an old boy who gives us a wealth of information on who would take arrivals at such an hour of 11pm. We found some little bungalows just before the beach and at just £3 each we were more than pleased.
We stayed in Cherating for 2 nights, which gave us plenty of time to explore the tiny little town. The beach, whilst not looking like it’s stepped out of a glossy magazine, consisted of a gloriously long stretch of clean sand and water you could swim in, along with no other tourists. The beach road has a small selection of restaurants and one or two shops selling all the bits and pieces you may need.
Aside from relaxing along the beach watching the sun go down and observing the monkeys running around in the trees whilst we ate dinner, the highlight of our trip to Cherating was, without a doubt, the firefly tour. Having read about it and finding out it was pretty cheap we decided to do it, and it was just glorious. We donned our life jackets and stepped onto our little long tail boats which were expertly navigated around the meanders of the river in complete darkness. The tours are led by a local chap named Hafiz, and he is one awesome guy. He knows pretty much everything possible there is to know about fireflies and he has some special way of using a torch to communicate with them, causing the trees to light up and sparkle. It was amazing how a space of black in the distance would sudden you be aglow with all these dancing little insects. A must do for any visit to Cherating!
After a couple of nights we decided to head further south by about an hour, to Kuantan. The lady who owned our bungalows in Cherating said we may have to wait hours and hours for the bus, but what do you know 5 minutes after getting to the main road a bus happens to be chugging along! An hour or so later and we are in Kuantan looking for somewhere to shack up. We ended up at Kuantan Backpackers, a lovely little hostel that is cheap, clean, centrally located and even comes with a simple free breakfast. An all round winner.
Kuantan is a very normal city. Which, as I mentioned in the previous post I thoroughly enjoy seeing. It provides you with an insight into real life and allows you to see a local place that has not been changed beyond recognition by the grips of tourism. In fact, we were the only western tourists we saw in the three nights spent there. Kuantan is bustling and modern complete with a mix of traditional Malay culture. With a huge selection of shops and restaurants, a sports stadium, night markets and amazing scenery just outside the city, it has lots on offer.
About one hour from the city is a water park. For just £5, there was no question – we were going! And what fun we had! Despite being the only westerners meaning we stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the mostly Muslim locals dressed head to toe in clothes they were prepared to swim in, we had an awesome time frolicking around on all the rides and being big kids.
Also just an hour away from Kuantan is Sungai Lembing, a mining town set against lush green hills. Back in the mining heyday, Sungai Lembing was home to one of the biggest and deepest tin mines in the world. With a little museum and an albeit touristy option to take a little mining truck inside the admittedly refurbished mine, it makes for a nice and unusual half day trip from the city.
If you are in need of a break from tourists and want to mix beach relaxation with some city slicking and a bit of fun thrown in, certainly get down to Cherating and Kuantan and kick back with the local way of life.