After our short flight to Kuantan in Malaysia, we were the only flight to go through customs and immigration – it is a tiny airport! We had a little delay with the transport to Club Med at Cherating Beach, (we were just about to take a taxi, but then the transport arrived!) When we arrived we were greeted by several people waiting for us in a welcome party! On the 40 minute drive from the airport, I was amazed to see cows in front gardens, like you would see dogs anywhere else. We saw monitor lizards and monkeys on the driveway up to reception. 75% of the resort is jungle and so we have been warned about keeping doors and windows locked to keep monkeys out (apparently it is not enough to just keep them shut, the monkeys have worked out how to open unlocked doors and windows!) We have connecting rooms in a building on stilts (built in local style) so better sleeping accommodation than at Sentosa Island. The resort is built on unspoilt coastline and we walked along the beach once we checked in. There was no-one else on the beach and the kids found some wonderful shells.
After beach time, it was pool time! The pool is very kid friendly and there were plenty of loungers and cool places to hang out when it got too hot…..
Club Med is all inclusive so meals are buffet style. There are so many nationalities here (Japanese, French, Malaysian, Chinese, Korean, American and us!) and the buffet selections reflect this. So, it was a wonderful opportunity to try new types of food. After dinner, the kids club were putting on a fashion show, which Isabelle and Oliver loved watching and then the staff performed Mama Mia.
After a wonderful buffet breakfast (so much choice) on Wednesday morning – the kids went off to kids club. They were going to spend their morning doing archery, tree topolis, pool games, beach games and circus school (learning how to fly on a trapeze). Meanwhile, Owen and I had a wonderful Balinese massage. The beds were next to each other in a cabana overlooking the beach and ocean. It was so relaxing – we booked another session for Saturday!!
At lunch, we saw a group of about 20 monkeys climbing over the roof – they are so cheeky here, they can open patio doors and windows.
The resort is a series of locally built structures (no more than 2 storeys high). They are all on stilts, built of wood. It is a very Eco-friendly place with recycling, limited bottle water and electricity conservation in all rooms. They have huge bottles of shampoo and body wash in the bathrooms instead of little giveaways.
We spent the afternoon lazing by the pool, reading on our iPads and missing the kids!! At about 3:45, we saw them coming back from an activity, and thank goodness, they were ready for some Mum and Dad time!! Another couple of hours flew by in the pool.
On Thursday we were up early so we could get on the bus to go into the jungle and elephant sanctuary on a “Safari tour”. It was a 2.5 hour bus ride during which we learned lots about Malaysia: they produce 47% of the worlds palm oil which is used in cosmetics and soap; they export bio-diesel. There are huge palm tree forests all over the region we travelled through. The population is 60% Malay, 30% Chinese, 7% Indian which means a country full of differing religions – Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist – all of which peacefully co-exist here.
Traditional houses are built on stilts out of wood. However, newer homes are now built out of concrete so don’t need to be on stilts. There are no fences or boundaries between different homes, extended families look after each other….. it still is a community that is responsible for the next generation and takes care of everyone. According to tradition, a coconut tree is planted for every child that is born. There are 13 states (used to be 14, but Singapore became independent in 1965). There are 9 regional Kings (Sultans) and every 5 years they take it in turns to be the national King.
Our first stop was at deer Park where we hand fed the deer and an ostrich. We saw peacocks, parrots, rabbits, pheasants and other birds. I had a snake around my neck!!
Onto lunch in the jungle – fish (tilapia) wrapped in leaves and barbecued (delicious), barbaeque chicken cooked in bamboo, vegetables and rice. Ripe, juicy melon for dessert.
Then onto the elephant sanctuary. This was so disappointing for all of us as we had paid for elephant rides and swimming with them, but the law changed TODAY and contact is no longer allowed. We still got to feed them with peanuts and fruit but it was a bitter letdown after our expectations had been set. It was all the more disappointing because it was a 2.5 hour bus ride each way to experience what we could have done anywhere, and certainly would not have signed up for that trip for just feeding……
After a long, bumpy 2.5 bus ride back to the resort, it was time for dinner. The day had taken its toll on Owen so it was just me and the kids. It was circus theme tonight and the same staff that had performed Mama Mia last night, were now performing a Cirque du Soleil type show with a spooky theme (it is almost Halloween, after all!!). Again, another great amateur performance. Afterwards, they had us exit through the “ghost train” which was actually a spooky scary walk through. I was a little bit scared with the witches, ghosts and spooks they had created and the kids were really frightened at the end. I wish they had warned us that it would be so scary, as dealing with 2 scared kids at 10:30pm was not a pleasant experience…… I had to remind them that it was just people dressed up and in make-up. I hope they dream of elephant feeding and not scary spooks……..
We spent all of Friday morning by the pool. After lunch we jumped on the resort electric tram to go to Cherating Beach which is unspoiled, natural and very quiet. It was a lovely afternoon taking kayaks out on the gentle warm ocean, hunting for shells and generally relaxing. The kids found loads more wonderful shells.
Club Med realized that we were incredibly disappointed with our elephant experience the day before, so had offered us compensation in the form of a nighttime river boat ride to see thousands of fire flys. So after a quick dinner, we were jumping in a taxi for a 10 minute ride to the river. What an absolutely fantastic experience and what a treat! Isabelle and Oliver both caught some and held them in their hands. They were all over us – hair clothes etc. It reminded us all of the scene from the Disney move “The Princess and the Frog” and both kids were calling out for “Ray” and “Evangeline” to come to them!! Both Owen and I tried to get photos and videos of this unique interaction – unfortunately nothing came out.
We got back to the Resort, just in time to see 10 mins of tonight’s show on Brazil. It was only 10 minutes because of 2 very tired kids today……
Saturday – oh what a morning of pure indulgence! Owen and I went back to the spa and had a floral foot wash, body scrub, then shower off and straight into the biggest deepest bath I have seen. Then it was Balinese massage time, followed by a fantastic foot treatment for Owen and facial for me. 3 hours of peace, relaxation and quiet time.
The kids were back in kids club doing trapeze skills, pool games, beach, tree topolis and arts and crafts. The weather can be so changeable in rainy season. This morning was brilliant blue skies, but suddenly at 2.30pm down comes the rain accompanied by thunder and spectacular fork lightening.
By 4.00pm it was over and blue skies were back again. The pool was reopened and time to get the kids!! Oliver’s late nights were catching up with him, so Owen took him back to the room for movie quiet time. 5.00pm came and we were back in the pool for final hour of the day. After a quick shower for us all, we were ready for Rembulan restaurant on the beach (a reservation only restaurant at club med). We had a lovely meal which Oliver slept through!! We had a spectacular light show over the ocean as there were storms in the distance so the lightening over the water was truly spectacular. Isabelle is proving to be quite the young lady – apple juice in the wine glass, helping herself to the salad bar and enjoying the finest lamb dish. Watching the other Asian kids in the restaurant, I was really proud of her behaviour and manners.
Owen and Oliver went back to our room (sleeping boy to get into bed) while Isabelle and I enjoyed the last evening show of our holiday. It was a comedy cabaret and Isabelle was in the front row with a friend from kids club. I could her laughing throughout the entire show! Another late night night for her as the show did not finish until 10.30 (she wanted to stay for the disco!!!!!)
Sunday – up early for breakfast and then speedily got packed. In the same way that we had many of the staff to greet us when we arrived, we now had the staff waving goodbye to us all as we got on the coach to take us to the airport. As I said, Kuantan airport is tiny with only 2 flights a day – 1 to Singapore at lunchtime and 1 to KL in the evening. Needless to say, not much to do at this airport!!