My last few days in Penang were pretty relaxed. We got up at 10am most mornings due to our late nights drinking the night before. I’ve tried to include some of the logistics of doing some hiking here in case anyone reading wants to attempt it themselves (its not hard). Make sure to read the travel tips section for a few other things I found helpful.
On one of our last days, we decided to make the trek out to Penang National Park, where the trails were hot, and there was a lighthouse that offered spectacular views of the surrounding park. The park is a few stops past the Batu Ferringhi transit hub so we were on the bus for a good 50 minutes. Before you enter the park, you have to buy a boat ticket from a vendor nearby. Its definitely not hard to see. The ticket will have a boat pick you up from a number of different locations around the park at a designated time of you choosing. This allows you to hike all day without having to worry about having to hike all the way back.
There is a convenience store right behind the vendor and if you don’t have water or snacks, make sure you stock up. Especially on water cuz it gets HOT. The trails are not too difficult and they are all fairly well marked. Just be careful if the weather has been rainy since some parts are especially muddy. Even the paths with wooden planks can be especially slippery if wet. There are a number of beaches you can stop and relax at. Some even have locals selling snacks.
Ask around for the path up to the lighthouse. We asked a local fisherman how to get to the lighthouse and he warned us about some snakes that were lurking about. I guess take note? The hike was quite steep. Needless to say we worked up an incredible sweat getting up there. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed. We tried to climb over the fence, but before Sam could get over, a guard came out and shoo’d us away. Booooo!
Regardless, the sun was starting to set by the time we got back down the mountain to the beach. We spent the remaining time just relaxing and soaking before catching our boat back to the park entrance. I wish we had more time to explore the park but time limitations prevented us from doing so. Bring good shoes and some swim wear so you can take a dip in the water. Perhaps even a change of shirts since you WILL sweat through everything.
The next day was my last. My travel partners had to catch a bus in the afternoon to Krabi, Thailand so I spent the afternoon walking around the streets on my own. I have to say that this is really one of the best ways to see the city. The backpacker district is located in an old part of town with lots of interesting buildings and shops. Lots of the mosques welcome visitors to walk around their perimeters (the central area is for prayer only). Grab a map from your hotel/hostel and start walking!
This concluded my travel for the year of 2012. It was bittersweet leaving SEA. This was my first time backpacking and I could not have asked for a better experience. Perhaps if I got to stay longer, that would have been quite nice haha. That night it was the hostel owner’s birthday and there was a huge BBQ dinner for all the guests. I was busy working on my Occupational Therapy Master’s application essays (whoot exciting!) while drinking some beers that the friendly staff brought me from their employee cooler. If you’ve never backpacked, I encourage you to give it a try. Start in SEA where the trail is well trodden and you’ll be open to a myriad of awesome, lifelong experiences. Travel Tips
- There are so many shops around the area serving excellent food. Just walk along Lebuh Chulia (the main backpacking area) and you’ll find more options than you can ever indulge in
- 7-11 is your friend. I’ve said this before but the combination of air conditioning, quick snacks to take on hikes and cheap booze makes this a regular stop throughout my day
- There are a number of nightmarkets that you can eat at. The one by Batu Ferringhi I thought was mediocre at best. There is one not too far from Komtar, the main transit hub in town. Lots of great food to choose from and its like the rest of Malaysia, where you sit down at an open air restaurant and order food, while a server comes to you from a drink stand to sell you beverages separately. You pay as you receive the food. I’ve mentioned before about stands with various seafood, where you order the protein and they cook it for you according to how you like it. Fish steamed in soy, ginger and chilis, fried frog legs with garlic and chili or shrimp, battered and fried. Its all pretty damn tasty!
- One of the things I didn’t get to do (kicking myself for it) is go to Penang Hill for spectacular night time views of the Penang bridge, one of the longest (if not the longest bridges in the world) bridges in Asia.
- as a side note, make sure that you let both your bank and your credit card company know that you will be traveling overseas. To be safe, I would do it twice. Sam did but I guess they didn’t make a note of it so when he went to withdraw money, they froze his card. If he had been a solo traveler, he would have had no access to his money. Getting a calling card to call the company was a pain in the ass and there was nothing they could do anyways. Double check! Luckily we had the Bank of Mandeep to borrow from haha