Batu Ferringhi and Penang National Park
Penang Travel Blog› entry 116 of 121 › view all entries
I woke up with every intention of going to the National Park, but being slow to get out of bed, slow to get ready, and then slow having breakfast, it soon became noon before I got to the bus station and waiting for a bus to Telok Bahang (a small, sleepy fishing village just outside of the park). None were forth coming, and so I got on board a bus to Batu Ferringhi (on route) instead. Once in Ferringhi, I decided I’d gone far enough for one day and went to the beach there instead. I didn’t mind at all as Ferringhi is a great place to kill time. The beach is fairly active with water sports and tourists, and there’s a lot of market stalls where you can buy cheap aviators or whatever you need/want if your bartering skills are sharp (in fairness, the price is a lot more reasonable and so bartering is only necessary to shave the price down to a more correct level).
It was looking like rain would be coming soon, so I ventured back in the direction of the hostel to clean up my stuff and get some food. I needed to call Kinki as well as it was her day off tomorrow and she was coming over to show me around Penang.
It hit me! Just one week to go >.< It wasn’t a great way to start the morning, but that was the reality. I some ways I was ready to get back to normality, certainly the wallet could have done with a break, but in many more ways, I really wanted to stay longer and see more places.
With a new sense of determination, I got up. There had been a change of plan. Kinki had called the previous night and had to work today after all. Her day off had been switched to tomorrow, so that gave me plenty of time to get to the National Park.
I had to get the bus, once again, to Batu Ferringhi and catch a connecting bus fro there. It didn’t look like any would show up any time soon, and as it was only a 4 km walk, I set off for the park. I saw some really cute monkeys, black furred with fluffy white hair around the eyes and mouth, on my way playing around in the trees, and that was fun to watch. They were a bit camera shy though, so I couldn’t get any decent photos of them when they were that high up.
At Telok Bahang, a guy pulled over and offered me a lift to the park as he was going that way also. I gratefully accepted the kind offer and found him to be a genuinely nice man. The air-conditioning in the car was a very welcome relief!
The National Park is small, in fact the smallest in Malaysia, but it is so primitive, peaceful and serene, I immediately loved it. It’s free entry as well this time, but I still had to register. As I ambled into the park I immediately found myself at a T-junction. I favoured the climb up and over to Pantai Keracut as it was said to be a beautiful, quiet beach where turtles often come to lay eggs. The trek is certainly more challenging than the equidistant Monkey beach, and I passed five springs on the way.
The river was pretty shallow at the time of year, and so is the lake behind it. It’s actually what is known as a Meromictic lake and there are only 19 similar lakes in the world. What a meromictic lake actually is, is where the wind and wave combination choose when there is and isn’t a lake. Together they form a sandbank that traps water behind it, but the lake is fed from two sources: the fresh water from the river, and the sea salt water i.e. a minimal outlet forms the lake. As the freshwater is less dense than the saline sea water, it sits on top giving a layered effect.
Over the bridge and I was on Pantai Keracut, and wow! I got exactly what I hoped for. A completely deserted white sand, soft grain beach. It was beautiful – honestly, I could have been Alex Garland at that moment.
Eventually another guy showed up, ruining my reverie about being a castaway and so I decided I should go and see Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyong) as well. This was only a flat trek along the coastline, so I could enjoy the lovely sea views as I strolled along. Again it was deserted when I got there, apart from a huge number of small crabs scurrying around. I cooled off in the sea and hung around for a couple of hours before going back.
Another guy gave me a lift on the back of his moped from Telok Bahang to Batu Ferringhi, and so I caught a bus sooner than expected. I promised myself I’d tried and be kinder to strangers when I get back to the UK as they have been to me in Malaysia.