Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday, June 28 – Exploring Cherating, Malaysia

It’s been one week since we left Canada and are now well into the travelling groove.  I’ve only thought about work once, but easily shoved that out of my mind.  A few days ago Ana bought a SIM card and a 2 gig data package for her phone which cost about twenty bucks and included at least an hour of voice calls to Canada.  Man, we’re getting ripped off at home!  So now she has access to the Facebook and email and we’re also able to use it as a hotspot for our laptop to research destinations and book accommodation.  Actually, it is now six in the morning and I just looked over to see an otherworldly glow coming from the bed – Ana checking email.  She loves staying connected!

We started the day with a big buffet breakfast then a long, slow stroll down the expansive beach.  Along the way we counted 13 large, pulsing, transparent, slightly juicy jellyfish that had washed up on shore.  Jellyfish are quite fun to poke with sticks and Stella enjoyed some sweet revenge from the attack she suffered yesterday.  By the time we returned to the hotel it was blazing hot, but we decided to continue our walk and explore the town.  Turns out, Cherating really isn’t much of a town; it is more of a five mile long speedway with an assortment of shops scattered on both sides of the road.  We headed down the road, popping into shops to buy snacks, talking to a few locals and finally settled on a restaurant to sit to down to enjoy some cold drinks.  As none of us has experienced any stomach upset yet, we felt okay with the water so we got glasses full of ice to keep the drinks cool.  As we sat under the shade a herd of free range cows strolled by, and as Ana leaped up to take some photos she spooked the herd and a few of them ran right into the road, nearly causing a collision with one of the speeding vehicles.  Damn tourists.

We met a lovely family from the Czech Republic and spent much of the day with them.  Their names are David and Tatiana and their boys are Mikel and Daniel, whom our kids connected with instantly, even though they didn’t really have a common language.  But they somehow seemed to get along just fine as kids can get around language issues much better than adults usually can.  The parents spoke perfect English and told us many stories of their travels, which are extensive.  They are stationed in Malaysia for six months on a project so were just out for the weekend exploring their new home.

During the day we booked an evening trip to go turtle watching so at 9pm we were picked up by a chap and whisked off to a beach in a neighbouring town.  We arrived to a throng of 150 people all jostling for space in the small parking lot and I immediately regretted our decision, as I had expected that we would be the only tourists there and our eloquent guide who would take us on a life changing, mystical, turtle egg-laying experience under the glow of the moon and stars on a pristine beach.  I can be such an optimist at times.

It actually turned out to be quite fantastic.  After marching us half a kilometer down the beach, seeing all sorts of glowing fireflies and phosphorescent in the sea along the way, we were asked to wait for a while as the turtle was still digging her nest and could not be interrupted until the egg laying process actually began.  So we found a nice piece of beach, laid down and watched the stars.  Stella curled up to me and we both had a brief, but delicious beach nap as we waited.  We were eventually called up and semi-organized into groups of ten then each group was taken in turn up the beach to see the green turtle as she laid her eggs.  I’ve seen this process several times now and always feel a little ashamed watching this – even more so here with so many people pushing each other around trying to get in close for a look.  But the kids liked it, and were even happier when the guides produced several large baskets full of ambitious turtle hatchlings that were just born that morning.  Everybody who was there was given one or two of these lovely little baby turtles, then we all lined up on the beach and were given the cue to simultaneously release them.  We then watched as their little flippers propelled them, slowly but surely, across the sand and into the water, off towards their very uncertain future.

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