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Written on: Monday April 21st, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

I think that sometimes there?s a reason you end up in certain places, maybe it?s destiny or fate or some other unexplainable phenomena, but without even slightly considering coming to Cherating, a sleepy town on the east coast of Malaysia, here I was. The reason I came here it seemed was to get a job.


My Mexican munchbunch had persuaded me to come here on our last night in Jerantut, and after consulting my guide book I?d agreed that it might be good fun, described by Adriana as the Malay equivalent to Pai. Sadly on arrival it lacked the atmosphere of the chilled-out northern Thai town, probably due to the fact there was next to nobody here.


We were lured to the The Shadow of The Moon at Half Past Four Guesthouse, for no other reason then it was the best name for a guesthouse I have encountered on my entire journey. Upon glancing at the rooms though we weren?t convinced that the price was worth what we would be getting so were about to leave when out popped an elderly Malay gentleman who was keen for us to stay. The man was Stephen ?Speedy? Gonzago and the co-owner of the guesthouse. He was in conversation with Ari and Adriana  when Jaime and I arrived on the scene, offering them free accommodation and food if they were willing to put in a few hours work behind the bar over the lunch period and again in the evening. Jaime, who we had all come to realise was not one to hold  back on what he was thinking immediately broke in to let Stephen Gonzago know that we came as a four and that if the girls were going to stay then him and I were going to have to stay as well. Jaime?s assertiveness did the trick as Stephen Gonzago agreed to us having the same deal if we would sweep the leaves from the garden for a few hours a day. And so that is how I came to get my first job in 10 months, and what a pleasant job it was.


I could have happily stayed there for months, spending at max about ?4 a day on subsidised beers that Stephen was willing to provide us with, however because Rob Allen, a friend from back home was due over to meet me in the Tioman Islands I spent just the next two days raking leaves around the lawn for no more than two hours, while having the benefit of a huge dorm room for free and some of the most appetising Malay food I?d had the pleasure of tasting. Stephen as host turned out to be quite the story-teller as well, and appeared not to really be bothered about how much work we actually put in, but was more pleased by the company that we provided him with. Now 75 years of age, Stephen had previously worked with the Malay Military and proudly showed off his bullet wounds in his stomach where he had been shot whilst in battle with groups of militant communists during the 50?s and 60?s. He also told us of how he came to earn his nickname ?Woman Killer? after the first person he shot turned out to female. This was not to be the last woman he killed. He?d had quite a history and reveled in bestowing his interesting tales upon.


The town of Cherating was a nice enough place, but sadly has been over-developed, now possessing large hotels and resorts instead of sticking to the small backpacker orientated guesthouses that Stephen told us it used to just consist of. Sadly for Cherating, neither super-hotels or guesthouses seemed to have a single guest staying in them, and at times it felt like the four of us were the only visitors in the town. The beautiful, white sand beach that I ventured to between leaf sweeping duties one afternoon had just one single soul on its entire length.


Before we said our farewells to what seemed like our extended family already  I in return for Ari, Adriana and Jaime convincing me in to coming to Cherating, thought it only right to talk them in to joining me in the Tioman Islands, so it was there that the four of us headed off together.


From Eva on May 3rd, 2008

Hey! I met Uncle Stephen as well! Would have stayed and worked there if I had more time.. Now I'm back in Sweden again :( Hope you enjoy the rest of Malaysia, I really loved the country!