Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Chereting - A Place To Stop
May 28 - June 4, 2012
Chereting is the sort of place that you show up at expecting to spend a night or two. Then, you completely loose track of what time it is. Then the date escapes you and by the time you make the extreme effort of trying to remember how many days have passed since you first arrived you realize a week has passed and it still takes another day or two before you bother to make plans, pack up and continue your journey.
After our long and hectic winter and a 10 day, street pounding tour of no less than four international cities thats exactly the sort of place we were hoping to find. The theory was to stop here until we had caught up with writing and photographs which were building up on the hard drive with alarming speed. Julian had over 1000 frames to sift through and edit and the writing had not been touched since leaving Canada.
We trudged through the heat down the only road into Cherating with Roy, whom I met just an hour before and had elected to join us for a single night here before going on alone. He wasn't a complete stranger of course; he and Julian were old acquaintances having met the previous evening. We checked out the first accommodation option which was closed. We walked across the street to Maznah Guest House and were greeted by a Malay women who spoke enough english to understand, the three of us were looking to share a room.
An Australian chap in his 50's sat at the wooden benches of the outdoor common space dressed only in a red sarong, drinking tea and reading the newspaper. He looked far to comfortable and we immediately assumed he has been around here for a while. Bruce struck up a conversation and gave us a quick overview of the layout of the accommodation and the area advocating this place to be the best pretty much sealing our deal in our minds before we'd even seen what was on offer.
The lovely Malay women lead us to a private, wooden shack with a tin roof, an attached "wet room" and small covered balcony; one of about 20 similar structures nestled peacefully amongst mature coconut palms going for RN50 a night ($17CND) to be split between 3 people. Perfect.
We found that we were able to slip into a sort of routine here; sleeping longer than usual, perhaps getting some writing done before heading down to the restaurant on the beach for breakfast which cost under RN15 for the two of us. We would visit Fabian (an encouragable Frenchman) at the tourist hangout to refill out water bottles before returning back to our shack to avoid the mid afternoon sun in the shade of our porch; writing, editing photos or perhaps setting the hammock up between two coconut trees and settling in with a book for a couple hours.
Five times a day the Muslim call to prayer would be sung into the air by the local man with a beautifully haunting voice which added to the atmosphere and we were constantly serenaded by cecaders and motorcycle engines, the latter of which were used by the locals for every time they left their own property, even just to travel 100m down the road to the shop.
Around 6pm we would rinse the day away in the south China sea; a beautiful time of day to swim as the sun set. We would go to the same restaurant for dinner each evening, lingering for three or four hours with a great group of transient and local people, the bridge between the cultures provided by Fabien and the information office, who perhaps made Cherating the vibe it was for us. Bruce left after a few days for England and family duties but not before introducing the two Julians. Scottish Julian a delightful Edinburgh born copy editor, who has packed up the 9-5 drivel and moved (for the time being) to Malaysia to write, has lived in Cherating for seven months composing a prospective television series. He and Julian soon struck up a friendship and would spend many hours over the following evenings cynically slating of all peoples by cliched nationality (including their own) forked tongues firmly placed between both cheeks. The two of them would talk over each other, until one gave way, each taking it in turns to berate the westernized world. There was a Canadian woman named Liala, a Californian skin diver, Morgan, a local Juan and a few others that rolled in and out of Cherating during our week there all of whom enriched our lives on a daily basis, either to a greater of lesser extent.
I have come to conclude by now that the Malays are by far the friendliest culture I have travelled through. We receive constant smiles and greetings; I've never seen anybody cross. I have come to question some of their habits though. It's common for children as young as about eight or 10 years old to be driving a moped around the village complete with two of three of their younger siblings on pillion. I have observed families of five travelling on one bike. Despite being able to walk the entire place twice in about 15 minutes I never see the locals on foot. In fact, Scottish mate Julian, who has lived in Cherating for 7 months writing a prospective television series, has watched his host drive across the street to pick up a family member, drop her off at the corner store then drop her off at home again before returning home herself. The entire process certainly taking more time than the journey on foot.
Cherating gave us exactly what we looking for. Now, as we revise plans and speak with other travellers; new ideas come to mind, perhaps altering our travel itinerary slightly. ;)