Pantai Kerachut (Beach) continued...
It was the jellyfish season apparently, so we couldn't swim in the sea because there were literally hundreds of jellyfish floating around in the water! For the untrained eyes, they looked like floating plastic bags - so you can understand how turtles could have mistakenly consumed discarded plastic bags, thinking that they were jellyfishes!
After exploring the beach and the Turtle Sanctuary, we ran out of things to do. But the worst thing was that we also ran out of things to eat, and the water supply was also rapidly decreasing!
In making sure that our backpacks were light, we had forgotten to include even a sarong (to sit or lie upon as we wait for our boat ride back), and what more a good book to read, or a chocolate bar or two!
On top of that, the internet connection there was pretty temperamental. So nothing to surf, no FB status updates, no check-ins, no comments.
Anyway, after hundreds of selfies from below the Rhu, we slept. It was a pretty good nap, lulled by the soft breeze and sounds of the waves. Our suite had the wonderful view of lush, green plants; the calm, blue sea and the clear, blue skies.
About 5 minutes to the hour of the boat, we walked to the jetty. Frankly, we were more excited at the prospect of getting some nasi kandar to eat than to getting back to civilization. The 10 minutes boat ride back to the park's entrance was exhilarating - the sea, a beautiful reflection on the clear blue skies.
If you're not into hiking...
Since this first hiking adventure, I have been back Teluk Bahang a couple of times - exploring it via the Pantai Kerachut and Teluk Duyung trails. So don't let this account of self-inflicted torture scare you off :-)
If you're not into hiking, bring some food and have a picnic by the beach as part of the round island tour by boat. Make arrangements to stop at Pantai Kerachut, and spend your time there, before completing the tour.
At Pantai Kerachut, do visit the Turtle Sanctuary, and learn more about the meromictic lake - an amazing scientific phenomena.
When Rozi came to visit me in Penang for the first time - us couch potatoes decided to do something slightly more adventurous than our usual cafe-hopping activities. So we decided to explore Teluk Bahang.
At 2300 hectares, Teluk Bahang is the smallest National Park in Malaysia. Yet, in the words of Master Yoda - "Size matters not. Judge me by my size, do you?"- one should not dismiss this smallest big forest on account of its relatively tiny size. In fact, Teluk Bahang National Park is a treasure trove of rare and diverse flora and fauna species; pristine, unspoiled beaches as well as a meromictic lake, a unique natural wonderment.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Teluk Bahang is known for its two hiking trails, leading to different beaches - Pantai Kerachut, and Teluk Duyung (better known as Monkey Bay). We heard that Pantai Kerachut was the less formidable trail between the two. And so, us amateur hikers decided that we would explore the National Park via Pantai Kerachut - one way (that is, to hike to Pantai Kerachut, and return to the National Park entrance by boat).
The first thing we did before walking into the park was to secure a boat ride back to the park entrance from Pantai Kerachut. You can't miss the boat services - their counters are right before the Teluk Bahang jetty (just opposite the park entrance). According to the boat operators, the trail would generally take up 2 hours. So again, taking in mind our physical fitness level, we asked them to get us after 5 hours, just in case.
Once the ride back was secured, the second thing to do was to register ourselves at the National Park office - a mandatory safety precautions. Teluk Bahang is may be the smallest National Park, but the chances of losing one's way in the jungle is still a possibility.
The Hike to Pantai Kerachut
Once we've registered, off we went into the park - our backpacks each contained a big bottle of mineral water and a bun. Honestly, at that point of time, the minimal water/food supply plus the 3 hour boat waiting time seemed pretty reasonable! Firstly, we didn't want our backpacks to be too heavy. And, secondly, we may take longer than the expected 2 hours hike. So a 3 hour buffer, made a lot of sense - or at least, that was what we thought...hahaha!
The first 10 minutes was a breeze. No downhill or uphill hikes - just flatlands. We passed by a family having a picnic of nasi lemak at the table bench. From among the mangrove leaves, we could see the white, sandy beach and the blue sea. That was a heavenly stroll.
Slowly, the trail got tougher and tougher. In our tired bodies, the uphill torture felt like forever! Along the way, we met fellow hikers who were doing a return trip. All - were drenched in perspiration, and a few - looked very red in the face. We secretly felt relief for having the boat ride back!
After 2 hours of torture, you can imagine how happy we were upon seeing the Pantai Kerachut bridge, and crossing it! The bridge is built over the meromictic lake, which was dry, that day, unfortunately.
From that point onwards, we had 3 hours to kill at the beautiful, quiet beach...(Teluk Bahang Part 2)
I have a thing about trees - especially those ancient, majestic-looking ones...
And yet, ironically - no matter how much affections I have for trees, I can never plant or take care of them. One time, a friend gave me a cactus as a gift, and it died in my care - a CACTUS!
Hence, I keep my relationship with trees to just admiring them from afar. When cameras became more affordable commodities, I took to taking photographs of trees, usually with the blue sky as the backdrop.
So, spending time at the Lake Gardens in Taiping was a real treat. All the lush, foliage - bursts of green over the blue-black Bukit Larut (previously known as Maxwell Hill) in the background. A total change from my normal concrete jungle scenery.
Taiping Lake Gardens was opened in 1880, making it the first public garden in Malaysia. Chung Thye Pin donated the land, that was initially an abandoned tin mine, to be turned into a recreation park.
There are ten man made lakes and ponds at the park. But the main attraction would be the row of ancient Angsana (in English: Golden Rain) trees, standing tall and majestic along the Residency road.
As we walked along the road, we were greeted by these beautiful Angsana trees - their branches stretching over to the other side of the road touching the lake.
In Malaysia, where it is consistently sunny and hot - finding a shaded area outdoors, where you can just sit and talk, is not an easy thing. So it was a real change to have the Angsana trees over us, providing enough shade to sit down comfortably on the grass - reading our books, lulled by the sound of nature.
I'm going to stop talking now, and let you absorb the beauty of these majestic Angsana for yourself...
When I was a kid, we moved a lot - 10 times to be exact! Melaka (In English: Malacca) was one of the states that we stayed in. At thirteen, my family moved to Kuala Lumpur (KL).
When we have our own cars, Melaka becomes the annual road trip agenda for my friends and I. Mainly because, it is only about 2 hours drive from KL. I've been going back there countless times on short, mostly unplanned road trips - Christmas Day breaks, my birthday, bringing friends from overseas day, etc.
But to be honest, in all those times I was in Melaka, I had never set foot in Kampung Morten. So this time around, we decided to visit the place.
So, what place is Kampung Morten anyway?
Kampung Morten is a riverine village located by the Melaka River. "Kampung" is the Malay word for "village". According to Wikipedia, Morten is the name of the British official who was responsible for the setting up of the village.
Kampung Morten has been gazetted as one of Malaysia's national heritage sites. What's interesting is that it is a village located amidst the busy Melaka city (the capital of Melaka). And, the small village is made up of houses built in the traditional Melaka Malay house style.
To be honest, I would say that Kampung Morten - is more of a living museum than a typical Malay village. This means that you will not be able to see much of the typical lifestyle/activities that takes place in a village (like agricultural or fishing activities), at Kampung Morten.
Nonetheless, you will definitely be impressed by the beauty of the well-preserved wooden houses. To keep up with the spirit of the historical city, the houses are each painted with a different color - mint green, bright yellow, brown, pale blue, etc.
Melaka has a long history of diverse cultures, customs and influences - Dutch, Portuguese, English - to name a few.
So it is not a surprise to see the decorations on the concrete steps of a traditional Malay house echoing the decorations on the walls and floors of the Straits Chinese houses. And it is not a shocking thing to see the design of windows of a Straits Chinese house looking very similar to that of a Malay house.
The traditional Malay house architectural style vary from one state to another. But, one thing they all have in common is that back in the day, the houses were built to stand on stilts or wooden posts. This was to protect the household against wild animals and floods, as well as to support ventilation.
Due to this design, all Malay houses would have steps leading up to the anjung or porch. And while we're on the subject, the typical Melaka house would normally stand on 12 to 16 stilts.
The one thing that has always fascinated me about the Melaka houses, which is also coincidentally its very distinct signature is their "tangga batu" or "concrete steps".
Unlike the other traditional Malay houses, the steps of a Melaka house are usually painted in bright colors, and decorated with intricate patterns made up of colorful tiles (often with floral motifs).
So, if you are ever in Melaka, take a stroll to Kampung Morten. Probably, like me, you will not mind exploring the exterior of one house to another - studying the beautifully crafted windows and their decorations, And of course, admiring the beautiful tangga batu as you accept the host's invitation to step into the house.