We took the 8:30 bus from Cameron Highlands to Penang a day earlier than planned beccause I couldn’t stand the dogs barking, school bells ringing and other noises keeping us awake very early in the morning. The rooms at ‘Fathers’ needs updating just a bit… the top of the french windows is just mossie netting so you can’t block out the noise when you want to sleep. And Jane might have tried to talk me into another trek!
Anyway – The journey to Penang was around 4 hours and we arrived at around 1 pm. Instead of going down to the main terminal the bus driver suggested we get off at the Butterworth end (mainland) and catch a ferry across which made it easier for us to get to the hotel. The Malays are a friendly bunch I have to say. Unlike the UK if you smile at people here they actually smile back! They have less than half of the trappings we have in the west and they are much happier it seems.
I have to say I’m not keen on Penang – at least the city – it’s too congested, too many people and too many cars on such a small island is not good. The teenagers and twenty-somethings come here for the partying on Firinghi Beach (didn’t think much of that either – dirty beaches with plastic bags and bottles all over and in the water -mingin’) which is north west of us on the island. How this place gets into the top ten destinations is a mystery to us.
A little further west and you get to the National Park, which absolutely redeemed Penang for us. The further west you went the less densly populated things were so the towns leading up to it were much more open, so you can get more of an opportunity to talk to people. The park itself was pristine rainforest, one of the only places on the island untouched by modern life. The staff were really nice and required us to register – such as which trail through the jungle we were taking – in case they needed to come get us. We were heading for Turtle Beach on the other side of the rainforest. No sooner had we entered the trail we saw a four foot Monitor Lizard just sauntering on the path…class! I hadn’t seen it at first cause I was looking elsewhere but Jane (in a whispered shout “Doug! “Doug! “Doug!”) soon made me aware, just before he nicked off into the bush. So the only pic I got is this one… he’s in there somewhere.
The park itself is the smallest national park in the world (apparently) so our walk was only about an hour and half each way. And how cool it was to surface from the rainforest into the open to be greeted by clean beaches and beautiful blue green sea.
The land falls off quite sharply into the sea so the waves were nice and big even though the swell of the ocean was quite calm. The turtle season obviously hadn’t started yet as there was no activity to be found, no turtles, no other people apart from a guard from the national park, just us… great!
We hung around in blistering heat and 100% humidity for as long as we could stand it, then headed off into the jungle once more for home.
The trek back was harder because of the heat… had to rest MANY times for fear of collapse… but we managed it. As the trek ended we wittnessed a raid on the ‘monkey proof’ bins… see pic. Good day but need a cold drink and me bed!
Incidentally the “2” out of 10 is for the National Park and the Noodle place around the corner from the Mingood Hotel – which was also pretty good… so let’s say 3 huh?