So here we are in Cherating at last! We started out a bit late yesterday because we wanted to send Sarah and Neville to Sentral for their express bus yo Singapore. Then drove up to KL to leave Saru's food and finally picked Wan from his house in Ampang. However in spite of delays, we arrived in Cherating at 3.00 pm- just in time to check in.
It wasn't a bright and sunny day but the sea was beautifully calm, the breeze welcoming and cool to the senses and we had a pleasant tea break on the beach. That night we decided to try out the firefly watching which was on the River Cherating and run by a passionate nature lover, Hafiz, who originally came from Myanmar. He gave a short talk on the habits of fireflies and how we have to conserve it's natural environment, ie the mangrove swamps where they are found.
The boat ride to see the fireflies cost only RM25 per person but I think it was really worth it. The night was dark and at first a bit eerie but I enjoyed the breeze. There were about 15 people on each boat and 3 boats all together. At first we could not see anything but slowly as our eyes got used to the dark we saw tiny flickering lights. At first, just a few then there were dozens of them everywhere- mostly nearer the water's edge, just above the shore. Hafiz had mentioned that bright lights frightened them or kills them so nobody was allowed to take pictures. Even a small light from our phones could distract and confuse them according to Hafiz. And since light is their means of communication to each other especially when they want to mate, by flashing lights at them we would essentially be blocking them from mating and thus indirectly cause them to slowly disappear, which was what had happened in Kuala Selangor. Today there are so few fireflies there tourists no longer visit the place anymore. Also according to Hafiz, they are very susceptible to water pollution. If the rivers are polluted, the mangroves too will die and this too will endanger the fireflies. So he and his team will clean the river every once in a while- collecting plastics, tins and other rubbish thrown by careless people, to make sure the environment is clean.
At one point the mangroves looked like a fairy land- with the tiny flickering lights on the trees and they were so friendly these fireflies even flew down to our boats and landed on our hands and clothes. I felt awed and fascinated by these beautiful lighted creatures and was so glad we made a point of coming here to see them.