After a few days of street cruising around Georgetown, we decided it was time to move towns within Penang island. Batu Ferringhi is just a 30min-1hr bus ride from Georgetown (depending on the time of day). We found brilliant, cheap hostel (called Roomies) in close proximity to a useable beach, the smallest national park in Malaysia as well as markets, farms and more.
Advice from a girl at the previous hostel lead us to Roomies Guest House. Roomies had a slightly different Layout to a usual hostel, as all the beds were in 1 room with the reception and seating area. Different, but not too bad. The location was perfect. Stepping out the door took us pretty much directly to a night market which stretched for over 1km down the street. A beach was only 1 block away and a bus stop also virtually at the door step.
Batu Ferringhi things to do – National Park
Taman Negara Palau Penang. The smallest National Park in the world sits in the top north west corner of Penang Island. We easily got a 5 minute bus from our hostel to the park entrance where we began the 3.5km walk through the jungle to Monkey Beach. The bus cost just 1.70! A hot, humid jungle track wound along the islands coastline – and it was real jungle. Dense plants, hanging vines and strange bugs were everywhere. Another option was to walk to turtle beach, however we were told there were no turtles at this time of year (October) and the turtle ‘farm’ next to the beach did not have any either. Disappointment came when we didn’t see any monkeys on monkey beach either. Apparently luck needs to be on your side, or you need to venture into the jungle to see the monkeys. The beach itsself however, was worth the hot, sweaty walk. A few locals were enjoying the beach, including a lady in a burka hooning on a jetski – not something us Tamanian folk see often. Anyway, some of us were exhausted after the hike and enjoying the sunshine so we jumped on a boat (literally) to catch a ride back to the park entrance. A relatively inexpensive 40rm boat ride dropped us at the end of a long jetty. Somehow the jetty was still standing – wire held the walkway up and there was absolutely no ordinal structure. Taman Negara Palau Penang was an exhausting walk in the heat, although it was well worth the trip.
After the let down of the lack of monkeys on Monkey Beach, the next day at breakfast there was some extra company. Edwina was enjoying the view from the rooftop terrace of the hostel when about 15 little monkey friends snuck up beside her. A frightening, but exciting way to meet your first monkey friends, I bet!
Batu Ferringhi things to do – fruit farm
I always enjoy good fruit, but the Tropical fruit farm near Batu Ferringhi is just awesome. Edwina and I got the bus to the fruit farm while Sandy went to an adventure park for the day. 35rm bought us a guided tour of the farm plus an all you can eat buffet fruit bar and freshly squeezed fruit juice. Our guide showed us a few of the plants and explained some interesting facts about the fruit growing processes. He made some rather grand health claims (i would like to see the evidence of some of the claims – like soursup kills all cancer cells). I witnessed pineapples growing from bushes on the ground. Apparently it takes 7 months for a pineapple to grow and to grow another the tufft can be replanted! Who knew that? so cool! Why does a large proportion of us associate pineapples with trees? Not only do they grow fruit here at the farm, they produce a fermented fruit drink which supposedly is consumed for health purposes (another health claim). chopped and arranged in big glass containers, the fruit is fermented for 2 years! It becomes alcohol after about 6 months however at 2 years it is apparently not alcoholic (so the guide said). A small taster shot was provided. It had a very sweet, potent flavour, was dark in colour and left a lingering fermented flavour in my mouth. Certainly it is not a drink I would rush back for, but it was bearable. The fruit bar and a juice awaited us next on the tour. About 12 fruits were available for tasting. Some new fruits for us both were jack fruit, dragon fruit crab apple and what resembled to be a washed down orange, while we also had some ‘not so available fruits in Australia’, like papaya and coconut. I have to say I did go back for a generous helping of mango and pineapple. They are hard competition.
A free shuttle took us to the Batik factory where materials/fabrics are printed with local designs. I was not very impressed by this place as we didn’t do a tour and the products were extremely expensive (tourist alert). Although, there were some nice materials.
Longbeach Cafe was a great place we found to eat. All the influencial cultures foods were found here, the indian, chinese and Malay. Middle aged retired couples hungout here as well, on the odd occasion that they left their resorts. One cafe which made us laugh sat opposite the Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel which was called Slow Rock Cafe. Thankfully it was much more in our price range.
Batu Ferringhi things to do – beach time!
The beach of Batu Ferringhi always had activities and people about. Parasailing and jetskis were going most of the day. Seeing the way the parasailors were dropped and dragged on the beach after flying over the water put me right off any water activities. Unfortunately even lying on the beach was a bit off putting – bikinis and public beaches here don’t go so well around the locals. However, there are some restaurants and cafes lining the edge of the main beach which is a better option for relaxing than sunbaking.
Three nights was enough in Batu Ferringhi, although there were more activities we could have done. Next stop – Cameron Highlands.