Saturday, February 6, 2010

I could walk five hundred miles....

After an intensive 3 days of hiking and walking across the country-side we're finally in Langkawi for a much deserved rest. That's not to say we've walked all the way from Penang but rather 3 days of hikes to see some of the sights that non-Georgetown Penang has to offer.

Day 1: Kek Lok Si, Penang Hill, Botanic Gardens
Normally temples aren't really our thing but it was the starting point of a walking trip we had planned to do. It turned out to be a fairly impressive, sprawling complex full of vibrant colours and architecture. At the top stands a 36 metre (not a typo) statue that photo's just don't do it justice. From here we walked the 3 km to the base of Penang Hill, the highest point in Penang. We weren't up for climbing the seemingly near-vertical 800m to the top and took the cable car where we met some seasoned (read old) Aussies that used to work and live at the nearby RAAF base in Butterworth.
At the top we were treated to a great view of the entire island and had a spot of lunch to build up strength for the arduous trek down the mountain by foot. It was very steep and half way down, Miriam's knees gave out and took up the suggestion of a number of locals to walk backwards - it seemed to work and we finally made it to the bottom, tired but satisfied. After a short but pleasant amble around the Botanic Gardens we caught the bus back to our hotel for a much needed shower, meal and obligatory ice-cream....

Day 2: Monkey Beach and the Lighthouse
Day 2 & 3 were walks on the North-West corner of Penang Island near Teluk Bahang and we shifted accommodations to suit our intentions. The new place was a bit more basic (shared, squat toilets and aghast - no Internet!) the price was right, being only $6AUD so we couldn't complain - especially when we had free wifi on the bus network. Due to the previous nights lack of sleep - loud, live music until 2:30am and the consequent, endless loop of "Mustang Sally" in my head, I was tired before I started this trek. It turned out to be more of an exercise of mind over matter as we made the 8km return journey (mainly) up, down and through hot steamy rainforest trails. My main concern when we reached Monkey beach (they must have been holidaying elsewhere) was that we were only halfway, and the easy half at that! A cunning boat operator had seen tired, foreign faces before and knew immediately that we were the kind of folk that would part with valuable ringgit to avoid the return journey - after a short discussion we established that 40RM ($13AUD) would get us back to our digs without added expense to our already weary legs. Spurred on by this fact we began the second half of our journey which turned out to be a long, steep ascent to a light-house.
Once up the top we were allowed to climb the objective by some workmen who had left a man behind, sleeping halfway up the hill because it was too hard! The view wasn't bad but I'm not sure the pain to view ratio was balanced.... Our descent down to monkey beach was fast however and when there our inherent pride and, possibly, stinginess prevented us taking the easy boat ride back. It was a tired couple that climbed into bed that night, slightly fearful of tackling what the guide book had quoted "A more difficult trail" tomorrow....

Day 3: Pantai Keracut (Turtle Beach) and the meromictic lake
After a good nights sleep and feeling refreshed we picked up some cream buns for breakfast and headed to the trail that would take us to a beautiful white sand beach and a lake which had two layers of water - one fresh water, one saltwater where never the twain shall meet. The walk was challenging but seemingly easier than the previous day (probably due to sleep). The walk took us past streams, waterfalls, monitor lizards and snakes which made the time pass by and in no time we were at the beach which was great and the lake which unfortunately was not. Due to tidal flows, the sand barrier had been washed away and drained the lake, where the two layers of water, regardless of the brochures, must have co-mingled. After a few hours of leisurely beach-bumming we headed back, racing back to out bed for an early night and early morning.

Day 4: Langkawi
At the crack of dawn, in fact even earlier, we started our journey to Langkawi. after a Bus, Ferry, Bus, Bus, Ferry, Taxi, Taxi, Taxi ride we were proud residents of the Gecko Guest house where a laid back atmosphere instantly infuses your soul and nothing is done in a hurry. After some window shopping we dined at a local restaurant and settled down on the sand at a beach-side reggae bar where live music was well executed until our early morning got the better of us and we had to hit the sack.

The End


  1. Looks like you're having a great time, trust the leg gets better quick, seems like it did!!

  2. It's all very interesting to read about.
    Love Mum W

  3. Wonderful!
    We got your gift and card yesterday, so many thanks. Sorry, if Ben can't have 'spatula' as our 1st born, then Brad most definately can't have 'Mungo'... but thanks for the suggestion ;)
    Think of you guys often, Anne & Ben xo

  4. Hello from Kumily in the Western Ghats, Kerala. With all that exercise you must both be sleeping like tops. Our first week in India has gone very well but the internet facilities are very basic in Tamil Nadu and not all that accessible if you want to use your own laptop. Just about to publish the first India post to our blog. Good luck with your Malaysia trip.