Cherating, Malaysia

A sweet little surfer town, Cherating’s got a lot of charm for such a small place, and we even considered coming back here at the end as we enjoyed it so much. We stayed in a bargain bungalow at Maharati Lodge with our own porch (for about a fiver) and luxuriated in having a kitchen in which to make (free) coffee, and a pretty manicured lawn with bunnies bouncing around! We also met a lovely Brit girl, from MY OWN CHILDHOOD TOWN nonetheless, which was pretty exciting!

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Town itself was basically just one long road, on which we found some really great ‘Nasi Campur’ (rice plus buffet… chicken curry, fish etc.) that kept us occupied and kept our stomachs full of delicious foods, roti canai, and hot coffees. They even had delicious satay one night, which was a bonus!

Our time in Cherating was fairly subdued, and we spent most of the time on the pretty beach, chatting to local surfer dudes, reading terrible yet addictive Mills and Boon books, dodging occasional cloud and rain, and swimming in the choppy sea, walking out about 5 minutes to reach it in the high tide! The vibe was nice, with lots of local families on holidays, hipster-looking young guys, and the inevitable too-drunk-and-embarassing tourists. We scoffed at them with disdain from our high horse, having not drank booze for nearly a month!

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Our main event in Cherating – besides the beach – was going to see the FIREFLIES! – who live on a river that cuts through town. Now, I now it doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was actually PURE MAGIC. The evening started with a very informative briefing about the asynchronous firelfies we’d be observing on the river, teaching us about their flashing patterns, mating rituals, and behaviours. After that, we were called onto the boats – with Sam and I being chosen for the front seats (eek!) and we moved off into the dark of night down the river.

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Photography wasn’t allowed (or even torches) as the light upsets the fireflies’ lights, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but they were really quite incredible to witness first-hand. We’d stop near a big tree of the little guys, and our guide would flash his big torch (pretending to be a mating firefly), then the tree would just light up in magical flashes popping up in different places, like a Christmas tree with a string of pulsating white lights – as the fireflies communicated with each other – the ladies flashing slightly dimmer than the guys. As we saddled up to the trees, a few would break away and fly over to the boat, causing an illuminated cloud of flies to fill the air, settling on our hands, backs, and on the boat itself. Every time the boats pulled to a stop by a flashing tree, we’d all let out a big ‘aaaah’ sigh, entranced by the spectacle, and it kind of felt like being in a Disney movie!

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Our guide – an expert researcher in the field – offered great passionate commentary on our voyage up and down the river, and afterwards Sam and I grilled him with extra questions about where they live vs. synchronous flies, and how they breed/survive in the area.

After one final delicious curry and roti breakfast the next day, we headed to our penultimate stop – Melaka – via a quick stop-off in KL.