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)