Pulau Pangkor and back to Penang 3 - 10 February 2008

 3 – 10 February 2008- Pulau Pangkor

Pulau Pangkor is about 5.5 hours north of KL. You arrive at the Port of Lumut and from there 30 minutes by ferry to the island. It is 8 square Km and is promoted strongly by the Government as a tourist resort being noted for its good beaches. There are a number of very exclusive resorts which are slowly pushing out the cheaper alternatives though a few remain.  We stayed in Teluk Nipah one of the beach areas in a little A frame construction a bit like a corrugated iron tent!   When we got there it was fairly quiet but the owner said she could only accommodate us until the next Thursday as everywhere would be full due to the Chinese New Year, Thursday and Friday being  holidays in Malaysia.

We spent a couple of days relaxing at the beach and eating fresh seafood. There were some lovely local birds, no one could tell us what they were but they were very like Toucans, so must be a variety of these. We also had a close monkey encounter, Andrew was taking a photo of one (there were loads up the end of the beach) when it charged him we retreated at speed but left our rucksack and the bloody thing wouldn’t let us get it back ..every time we got near it charged with bared teeth. It took about an hour and we spent the rest of the stay avoiding that en of the beach! They are very smart animals being adept at stealing food off the market stalls. A lady told us one used to come down and steal the clothes off her store and sit up the tree waving them at her and she would have to bribe it with bananas to get her clothes back. It also understood the art of bargaining and held out for 3 bananas ..one or 2 weren’t enough!

We hired a bike and did a complete loop of the island, which took under 2 hours, (more with detours) though as illustrated some of the road signs weren’t too helpful! We stopped at Pasir Bogak the other main beach on the island and checked out a lovely sunset. We also got to the gate only of the very exclusive Pan Pacific Pangkor Resort. We had been planning to go in and have a look around but it was 60 RM (approx $22 Aus) just to go in the gates so we gave it as miss. Apparently this is a very beautiful resort with its own private beach, frequented by Hollywood stars according to our taxi driver (though he couldn’t name names!).   It costs an outrageous $10,000 USD a night ..so it was back to the A frames! The island is a centre for traditional wooden boat building and Andrew found having a look at the hard wood constructions really interesting.

As predicted the hordes had started arriving and by the time we left on Friday you could hardly move and still they kept coming, the ferries were operating constantly back and forth. It was getting ludicrously over crowded (see our before and after of the beach ..and it got much worse) so we were fairly relieved to be on the move!!

So once more to Georgetown dear friends! As we knew Chinese New Year would be very busy we had booked ahead at our chaotic guesthouse but …surprise surprise ..they had double booked ..a worrying few minutes when there was no room at the inn, but various people moved around mattresses were brought out of storage and we were accommodated! Just as well it was bedlam in Penang  with people arriving all night trying to find somewhere to stay.

The bad news is the car is still in Medan …Chinese New Year having further delayed things as we can’t get hold of anyone in Indonesia ……, we will hang until Monday and see where the land lies and whether we should do another trip or hang here. Penang is a nice spot with friendly people and excellent food but it is very hot and we feel we have done it to death!! 

Unfortunately we missed the dragon dance for New Year it was the day we were travelling but we saw all the red lanterns which are very pretty and the large incense candles burning everywhere. This is part of the New Year festival of the hungry ghosts and has to do with honouring deceased ancestors . We have a Buddhist temple just down the road and went and saw the many golden Buddhas and a display of 3,000 year old artefacts which allegedly belonged to various incarnations of Buddha. So, we have had a relax met some interesting travelers, caught up with correspondence and taken in a flea market so the time hasn’t been wasted. Georgetown is a great place to people watch, there is always something to look at in the street:  off duty rickshaw drivers playing Mahjong with beer tops, the many hawkers at their street stalls, and the interesting business signs…perhaps we should have sent the car with Hasslefree Enterprises!!