Simba, our recently adopted dog, has survived a 5-hour drive before in December. Therefore, it shouldnâ€™t be a problem if we take him on a road trip of similar distance.
Living in a country where pet-friendly resorts are as rare as a nun in a bikini, you can imagine the expression my wife had on her face when she found one.
The discovery of the resort led to a short vacation during the recent one-week school holiday.
To top it off, this resort has super excellent rating and many customers claimed that itâ€™s super clean too. That really fulfilled our requirements for a resort. Unfortunately, a clean and well-maintained resort does come with an expensive price tag.
Pet-Friendly Rubyâ€™s Resort in Cherating
The pet-friendly resort is in Cherating, Pahang. Rubyâ€™s Resort is only a stoneâ€™s throw away from Club Med. And the sandy beach is within walking distance.
To run a beach resort is no easy task. Hence, the owner, Ruby (no prize for guessing the name right) has set out many rules for pet owners to follow. Such as picking up after the pet, bringing your own bed sheets, pillow cases, and towels.
I was offended by the no-nonsense, straight talking Ruby at first (during emailing and texting). You either love her or loathe her. But after talking to her in person, I understand where she is coming from. She is strict and firm but at the same time friendly and honest. She has to as she has her own cleanliness standards to uphold. She is a self-confessed OCD. When it comes to cleanliness, you donâ€™t want to mess with her. Cleanliness is her middle name. Itâ€™s good for guests like us because we can have a clean room to stay.
Having said that, donâ€™t expect youâ€™ll get 5-star facilities and rooms with top-notch design. You will only get the basics plus complimentary American breakfast.
Ruby is truly an animal lover herself. We exchanged tips on dog caring and rearing. She has 8 dogs and 70 cats in the resort. In fact, after a 2-night stay there, J and K have known all the dogs there by name.
Lot 350, Jalan Kemaman, Kampung Cendor, Cendor, 26080 Kunatan, Pahang, Malaysia.
Telephone: +6016-360 0009 / +6016-9381298
What we did in Cherating
We had taken the relaxed route for this trip. Many things were not planned and we just played by ear. Most of the time we spent time with our dog, Simba. Or swimming in the sea or relaxing on the beach.
Cherating Friendly Firefly Watch
This is the only planned activity for the trip. I called up Hafiz who is responsible for the firefly watch in Cherating to enquire and then place my reservation before the trip. He is helpful and friendly. He gave me 10% discount when I told him I stayed at Rubyâ€™s Resort.
By far this is the best activity we had for this trip. J and K loved it very much. The Cherating Firefly Watch is unlike any conventional firefly boat tour you had somewhere else. I thought so before I went but it blew my mind away when I was there. Before the cruise, Hafiz took the trouble to brief visitors about his tour and fireflies. The jetty is well maintained and tour is well organized. We were impressed. The 7:30 pm tour that we joined made up of about five boats and luck was on our side as Hafiz himself took control of our boat. The tour takes one hour for a round trip along Sungai Cherating which is covered by mangrove trees on both river banks.
What is amazing for the trip is Hafiz the proprietor. He has perfected a technique he developed to attract fireflies to him. Yes, you read that right. Hafiz could attract fireflies to him so we can get close-up with the tiny insects that glow at night. If youâ€™re lucky, you can even touch and catch one of them. But please donâ€™t squeeze it and let it go after you have a good look at it. Itâ€™s quite a magical moment when you see fireflies start flying towards you, just like floating Christmas lights coming to you.
Use of mobile phones is prohibited during the boat ride. So no pictures are allowed.
The tickets are RM35 for adults (over 11 years) and RM25 for children. Mondays closed.
Besides firefly watching, Hafiz offers ATV, daytime river cruise, and other activities as well.
Hafizâ€™s Cherating Activities
Kampung Cherating Lama
Telephone: +6017-9154263, +6017-9789256, +6017-9406898
Cherating Turtle Sanctuary
Cherating Turtle Sanctuary is located right before the entrance to Club Med. The center is not big and it only houses two large pools with scattered amount of turtles in them. The good thing about it is the entrance is free but donation is optional. Thereâ€™s not much to see and I wish the management can improve on the center to make it more interesting.
We swam everyday. We took along Simba to the beach. He was quite excited at first but he was apprehensive of going to the sea after a while. Simba loves water but he tried to run away from the sea.
After giving it a good thought, we concluded that Simba might be afraid of the waves gushing towards him. Or he doesnâ€™t like the feeling of being washed away.
Therefore, he preferred to stay behind on the beach watching J and K play in the sea.
Anyhow, this is the first time Simba going to a beach. Perhaps he needs time to get used to it.
We tried to catch sunrise on the second day (I was told 7:12 am) but it was too cloudy. Though the scenery was not as breathtaking as â€œproperâ€ sunrise, we did enjoy the sunlight, clouds, wind, and the gushing sound of the waves.
Doing nothing and people watching were all we needed.
Haircut in Kemaman
This is a novelty for me. I never had a haircut during any road trip in my entire life. I noticed there was a decent-looking barbershop in Kemaman when we went food hunting. And more importantly, itâ€™s 50% cheaper than a haircut I have back home.
Since K and I were due for haircut and we had some time to kill on the last day of our trip, we made a visit to the barbershop. The young barbers there were friendly and chatty. Though the skills of these barbers were not as good but they did quite a decent job for K and me.
Even though Kemaman is in another state (Terengganu) but it’s very close to Cherating; about 20 minutes of drive.
Food in Cherating and Kemaman
Restoran Cherating Duyong Seafood, Cherating
Our first lunch was at Duyong. Duyong is a pet-friendly restaurant but we didnâ€™t bring Simba along as we needed some quiet time after 4 hours of drive to Cherating.
The restaurant serves local and Thai food. The food is average and I donâ€™t think I will ever go back there again. The only item that I liked was Thai fried kuey teow. However one plus point is the restaurant is located next to a river. Dining on the river bank is something unique if you have not done it before.
Nabill Cafe, Cherating
After firefly watching, I asked the staff at the counter for dining recommendation. She directed me to Nabill Cafe which is a short distance from Hafizâ€™s Cherating Activities. All of us donâ€™t like the food we ordered. Itâ€™s either too salty or too sweet for my liking. The cafe also serves grilled seafood but we didnâ€™t try. Although Lonely Planet lists Nabill Cafe as one of the must-try food outlets but I think otherwise.
Donâ€™t Tell Mama Eco Bar, Cherating
Another restaurant listed by Lonely Planet. We gave it a shot at this beachfront bar cum restaurant. Donâ€™t Tell Mama Eco Bar is part of Ranting Beach Resort. The ambience is dim but well-lit.
The food is average and better than Duyong and Nabill. We canâ€™t complain much as this is one of the few places where you can have Western food or a beer in Cherating.
Restoran Tong Juan, Kemaman
The best restaurant during the trip. When we were in Kemaman almost 7 years ago, we missed it as the restaurant was too crowded then and we didnâ€™t want to wait. This time the crowd at Tong Juan was manageable and we managed to secure a table quite easily.
Of course, we ordered the signature dish of the restaurant: stuffed crabs (RM10 each). Plus other seafood dishes mainly. I was skeptical of the restaurant but the food turned out to be excellent especially the fish.
Itâ€™s fresh, sweet and tender. The stuffed crabs are as good as its reputation. J loves it. Overall, the food is awesome and the price is reasonable.
Restoran Tong Juan ä¸œæºé¤å®¤
Address: K-117, Jalan Sulaimani, Kampung Dusun Nyior, 24000 Kemaman, Terengganu
Hai Peng Coffee Shop, Kemaman
Some people say the trip to Kemaman is not complete if you donâ€™t go to Hai Peng Coffee Shop. Itâ€™s that important Hai Peng to Kemaman. What I like about Hai Peng is the ambience (with many nice paintings) and itâ€™s patronized by people from all walks of life and races.
I praised about the food during our last trip there but this time the food is average. Itâ€™s either its standards have dropped or my taste buds changed.
You can try out its nasi dagang. Remember to put some sweet curry sauce that comes with it. I also tried their famous coffee, curry laksa and teh tarik. To be honest, they are not the best I ever tasted.
I understand there are three Hai Pengâ€™s in Kemaman. Two along Jalan Sulaimani. I went to the one at the start of Jalan Sulaimani and it occupies 2 lots and in a white building.
The famous coffee shop closes on Fridays.
Kedai Kopi Hai Peng
Address: K-3753, Jalan Sulaimani,Chukai,Kemaman, 24000, Cukai, Terengganu
Warung Otak-Otak Che Wan near Pantai Mak Nik, Kemaman
One of the popular snacks in East Coast is sata (sometimes spelled as satar) which is not commonly available in Klang Valley. I have tried before but since I was in Kemaman, itâ€™s a sin not to try again.
Armed with the tips that we collected from my wifeâ€™s former colleague whom we bumped into at Tong Juan, we began our search for a sata restaurant with â€œmany cars outsideâ€ and opposite a bungalow. And itâ€™s nearby Pantai Mak Nik.
Finally we guessed we found it as Warung Otak-Otak Che Wan fit the description perfectly. Since we just had our lunch at Tong Juan, we didnâ€™t order much except otak-otak, sata and lekor. I like the lekor best. Otak-otak of Che Wan tastes differently from Muarâ€™s as itâ€™s sweeter and it has grated coconut in it. The sata here tastes less spicy and fishy than the one I had last time. Apart from that, Che Wan also serves many types of noodles and rice which I might try in our future visit.
The staff are friendly and helpful. One of them even asked me to try out grilling sataâ€¦ just for the camera.
J and K enjoyed themselves tremendously. One reason being the beach which they could swim and play. Second reason is they could bring Simba along as well as play with other pets in the resort. Though the trip was only 3D2N but it was well worth it.
Endnote: Inspiration to K
While my wife and I were talking to Ruby the resort owner, J and K were there listening too while playing with Rubyâ€™s cats and dogs. At one point, I asked about how she started the resort and all. Ruby was generously sharing her journey in setting up a resort: from buying a piece of land to constructing the rooms.
Little did we know that K was inspired by Rubyâ€™s story. Later K told us that he wanted to own a beachfront resort too like Ruby did. And he wanted to have his own dogs with him in the resort. Somehow our little conversation with Ruby has planted a seed in K and I hope his dream will come true so that we will have a free resort to stay.
For more parenting tips that inspire and empower, check out The Nonconformist’s Guide to Parenting