Our friends invited us to Sungai Lembing for a premature National Day getaway. It was a 30-minute drive North-East of Kuantan.
Sungai Lembing is a tiny town hidden away between tree-infested hills, so when we arrived at our chalet named the Country View Inn, I was extremely surprised not to be met with some wooden shack half-way up a mountain with no proper toilet. In fact, it was quite luxurious and homey.
The entire Inn was crafted in dark wood and appeared very elegant. Our room was basic and had very comfortable queen-sized beds, large enough for my wife and I and Lauren to comfortably fit on sleeping sideways. Urai had the other bed all to herself!
The bathrooms were clean and well equipped with the most powerful hose I have experienced. I almost blew the door off when testing it! The water was warm and relaxing and the shower head could be changed to many different styles of water output.
A flatscreen Panasonic TV lay on the second floor minus the sport channels, so unfortunately we didn't get to watch Man.Utd, as I later found out, beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford! There was a nice balcony where we ate Mee Hoon and Red Bean Soup shortly after we arrived.
I also enjoyed resting for a while looking out at the restaurant and morning market which clogged the small road from as early as dawn on Sunday morning.
Saturday evening we travelled a short distance down the road and across a typically muddy river to a friend's house for our barbecue. Piles of food had been bought and readied. We loved tucking into pork chops, satayed chicken, sausages, and in particular, a special dish of 'porcupine' prepared by the house owner! To me it tasted rather like lamb. I think we must have got through a half-dozen cans of sprite and revive too, whilst all the other Chinese were swilling down can after can of beer. Crazy.
We went back to the Inn around 10pm to settle down for the night, although Lauren only fell asleep after great difficulty coming to terms with the chill of the air-cond which she is not used to at all. So we turned it up to 28 degrees and pointed it over to Urai's bed, which she gladly thanked us for!
In the morning our friend bought us some distinctly flat Mee Soup. No other type of Mee can compare to Kolo Mee. Just ask my wife about that and she will quickly verify that truth!
We then made our way through the jungle on a long, winding road that I thought would never end, to Sungai Mas, a clear, stone-filled river which we enjoyed playing in and throwing stones in. It was quite a cloudy day but I still managed to reach home looking like, as my wife put it, a lobster.
Shortly before we made the short trip back home, we saw some Iban people cooking a dead fox and its baby. All of us were mesmerized so everyone stood around watching this amazing scene flash before our eyes. The men had shot the fox in the trees and were now cooking it on their barbecue!
After they had burned and scraped away all the fur, they commenced in slicing it open, decapitating it and cooking the insides in preparation for a good old feast.
Fidelia and I experimented with the delights of out-in-the-open urination as there was no toilet anywhere to be seen. Well, we were kind of spraying behind someone's car which acted as a shield to protect our dignity should anyone by the river happen to look our way!
On the way home, we travelled back down that long, winding road, past all the cows, goats, ducks, dogs and cats, past the 'orang asli', the native inhabitants of the land who live in simple, old wooden houses, (although some are in reasonbly nice cement shacks now) and back out onto the motorway. By this time, Lauren had fallen asleep in mummy's arms. The signs were there on the narrow, topsy-turvy road...
When we arrived home I asked Fidelia and Florina to rate on a scale of 1-10 how much they had enjoyed the previous 24 hours. Fidelia came up with a 6, Florina gave a 5, and I also voted for a 6. We all enjoyed the food at the barbecue, and the Inn was much better than I had expected or imagined it to be. However, our time there was a mere 24 hours. We couldn't get to see the town, or climb the hill that it is famous for, where I wanted if it was possible to see a stunning early-morning sunrise from, though given that it was a cloudy day, I probably wouldn't have seen much anyway.
It was a very enchanting place to be in, tiny in size, so eerily but refreshingly quiet at night, contrasting with the hum of people flocking around the morning market at dawn the next day, where all of a sudden, this place seemed to explode to life. I wondered where they all came from! But reflecting on it, I'm sure a place so secluded and small would soon elude my interest. Perhaps 24 hours was the perfect time.