Nostalgia in Kuantan
I spent about a whole week in Kuantan in an attempt to get some quiet time to myself, during which I did some volunteer work in a cafe & hostel in exchange for free lodging. My first impression of the place wasn’t such a good one because it just seemed like a small beach town with not much to see or do, but give it some time and it has way more to offer.
There are small little areas in different neighbourhoods where you can find shops, eateries, cafes. Nice places to take a walk, hike, or relax on benches under big shady trees, it’s a good place to set as a base if you prefer to take day trips out to some of the attractions nearby, the food in East Malaysia is also different compared to that of other parts in Malaysia.
But the main reason why I’m so captivated by Kuantan is the fact that everything about this place reminded me of when I was young. This tiny beach town feels like it’s stuck back in the 90s, and it brings me right back to my childhood. Life is simple and people didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all. Contrary to a big city, it seems people are really laid-back around here.
Teluk Chempedak beach was quiet on a lazy Friday morning; I sat there just observing people after indulging in a bowl of piping hot curry laksa noodles. I was sipping on a coconut shake mixed with vanilla ice cream and fresh coconut juice, purchased from a roadside kiosk, straight out of a styrofoam box of ice while watching kids play with plastic pails by the beach. A bunch of girls were scooping and digging into sand while a father taught his boy how to fly a kite. The sea is peaceful, the water is calm; the beach was vast yet empty on this particular morning. Store vendors were selling customized beaded bracelets, sand paintings, kites, bubbles, pop pops and other jim jams. Simple stuff, no iphones, ipads or technology driven merchandise. There was an ice cream man sleeping next to his bike with his red baseball cap over his face, resting from the heat and locals sipping on large green coconuts to beat the humidity. I took a walk down the boardwalk and steered clear of the pesky monkeys that could potentially steal items from my bag. With my headphones on I waltz down the rusty metal pathwayÂ that led me to the other beach and it almost seems like it was deserted. It was one of those days where I could practically waste away just listening to music and walking on by, but unfortunately I had a shift to get back to :\
& then there was one evening when my workaway host invited me to dinner with her family, and we went into this amazing diner called Cherating Steakhouse. I loved the interior of this family restaurant. The whole place was decorated with dated items from the 1960s – 1990s, and everything was a nice collection of items from all over the world. There were vintage chinese posters, old English signages, Balinese traditional sculptures, raw tree barks hanging around the ceiling, tikki idols, Maui-themed surfboards, Japanese lanterns and so much more random items stuffed into one place, yet everything worked perfectly well together. There was live music playing, classic acoustic rock with tunes from the 70s and 80s, performed by a Batik artist. This was your typical classic family restaurant that serves up simple western cuisine that isn’t the best but has that taste of comfort. The sort of comfort that old restaurants like Hans or Jack’s Place serves up. Also, eating with my host’s family invoked a great sense of nostalgia. I haven’t had a family dinner in more than close to 10 years now, and even though I was just there briefly it took me back to the time where moments like these were so precious.
So yes, maybe I didn’t see all the attractions around Kuantan or got to know the town better, but I just had a pretty swell time there with very much needed “me” time. During this week I ate a lot of good food, painted a little, watched a lot of pirated VCDs in the hostel, caught up with myself and hung out mostly with my other workaway buddy. Sometimes when we’re on the move so often,Â we never stop to think and remember to relax, and simple living is indeed the way to go.Â It may not seem like muchbut I have to say I’ve had a real kick ass time in this underrated town.