Ready for something even quieter we took a bus along the north coast of Penang, avoiding the tourist hotspot of Batu Feringgi we settled into a brand new budget guesthouse in Teluk Behang. The guesthouse owner was a lovely man who made us feel very welcome. We visited the local spice gardens and got lost amongst the spices, herbs and ferns that covered the coastal cliff gardens.
We were based on the coast, 10 minutes walk from the Penang National Park and spent the next two days trekking in its hot and humid jungles, emerging at various spots onto sun baked, desolate, but beautiful, beaches.
Most people used the local water taxis to drop them off and pick them up from these remote beaches, but us Brits are made of sterner stuff, preferring a 6 hour trek through jungle and over steep 200m peaks, in 38C in order to feel the sense of achievement! Never was a man or woman more sweaty!
We bathed in the warm seas to get as cool as we could ignoring the prospect of our return journey. Just as we were starting to cool Sarah screamed and raced to the beach - jellyfish! She had become entangled in a real mean looking one. The sting coiled around her leg from thigh to ankle and had scraped the other leg too! She grimaced in pain and as she's a tough cookie I was worried. Not knowing whether it was a box jellyfish or not we did the only thing we could think of, sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do! Unfortunately after a long trek in the searing heat I was rather dehydrated and it took a few minutes to persuade the bladder to do what was necessary!
Within a few minutes the rash had eased but the pain still remained. There was a Ranger station not too far away so I ran and fetched him. He rushed back to Sarah who was sitting up but still in pain, he didn't think it was a box jellyfish but said I must pee on the rash. He looked surprised when we exclaimed I already had. He said Sarah would be fine but it would hurt for a while.
We waited for half an hour and let the rash, swelling and pain reduce. The Ranger offered to call us a boat but Sarah's made of sterner stuff, she scoffed at his pity and we strode back into the undergrowth leaving a perplexed but impressed Ranger in our wake! We made it back before sunset despite Sarah spraining her ankle on the last hill and a close encounter with a territorial macaque leaving its mark on Sarah's arm, luckily just a slight scratch! Oh well they say these things come in threes, hopefully!
Over two days we saw plenty of Macaques, Dusky Languars, Giant Malaysian Squirrels and even a snake. Around us were the calls of dozens of hornbills, although spotting them through the canopy was almost impossible. The canopy top walkway was a tad disappointing but was a good test of Sarah's nerve swinging and bouncing along rope bridges 40 metres up in the tree tops - especially with her run of luck!
Cat's whiskers in full bloom in the Penang spice garden
Miracle Fruit - lemba pinans: the fruit of this plant affects the tounge's tastebuds making everything eaten afterwards taste sweet
Now you see me
Now you don't
Sarah showing her creative musical side
We walked to the meromictic lake in the west of the park. I is very unusual in that it has layers of water that do not intermix. The lower section is saline and therefore denser whereas the upper layer in brackish and almost fresh in the wet season.
Glorious deserted beaches and only 38C in the shade!
Tinned tuna and ritz biscuits - ahh the food of trekking kings!
An unwanted visitor left its mark
This beautiful young long-tailed macaque was not camera shy
Braving the canopy walkway - a little bouncy!
We spotted a number of groups of Dusky (or Spectacled) Lunguars
And this guys hanging around for any food opportunities