Saturday, 20 January 2018

Eco Attractions of Penang. The Pearl of the Orient is More than a Foodie's Paradise

I was wrong about Penang.

I always thought of Penang first as a foodie's paradise. It's all about char kway teow, asam laksa, nasi kandar, orcee durian, tau sar piah, followed by mural art in Georgetown, and clubbing in Batu Ferringhi.

There is little opportunity for sports and exercise beyond queuing for food, so thought this frog in the well 🐸

Maybe it's the wrong tamchiak (貪吃 greedy foodie) company but thanks to Tourism Malaysia, I just found out that Penang has many beautiful eco-friendly attractions, all easily accessible from Georgetown - so Penang is a much more balanced and complete destination than I first thought.

I didn't know that Penang has a National Park complete with jungle trekking trails, pristine sandy beaches, turquoise water, natural wonders like a meromictic lake and even a thriving sea turtle sanctuary. 

Located in Teluk Bahang in the northwest of Penang island, it is just an hour's drive from Georgetown.

There are very few meromictic lakes in the world, and only one in Malaysia, here in the Penang National Park. A meromictic lake is a freshwater pond during low tide and is topped up with saltwater from the sea during high tide. The heavier saltwater sinks to the bottom, so saltwater creatures live there while freshwater creatures live in the freshwater layer above it. (Wikipedia on meromictic lakes 👈 click)

It was low tide in the dry season when we were there, so the water level was low.

Sea turtles come to the Penang National Park to lay egg all year round. If you are lucky you may see one or two during your visit.

The sea turtle sanctuary collects sea turtle eggs, keeps them safe from predators, incubate, allow them to hatch and then release the baby turtles into the sea. It is estimated that only one out of a thousand baby turtles live to adulthood (no thanks to predators and pollution).

Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm in Teluk Bahang has a collection of over 15,000 free flying butterflies consisting of 50 species.

For macro photography enthusiasts, Entopia is a little paradise.

It feels a bit like cheating - it is easy to get good butterfly shots as they are literary everywhere feeding on flower nectar in the garden.

They are also less elusive and not shy as the butterflies hatched and raised here have gotten used to humans.

Stretch your muscles with a day at ESCAPE Adventureplay Penang with high ropes, zip lines, slides etc. There are three levels of difficulty with three stages each (so there are nine courses in total). The stations are exciting but safe as long as we are well secured with the safety harness provided.

I did the entire stage one (three courses) and enjoyed myself a lot. It's great stretching, endurance and strength exercise too. If I live near ESCAPE, I think I will be here everyday often to keep myself fit.

If you like to relive your "play water" childhood, the ESCAPE water theme park have some super thrilling water rides not for the faint hearted.

We spent a day at Mengkuang Titi homestay and experienced authentic village life with "foster parents" in Seberang Perai on the Peninsula (when I was a school boy, the geography textbook called this Province Wellesley).

We saw coconut plucking, rubber tapping, traditional food preparation, handicrafts, bee keeping, river fish catching, and enjoyed local Malay homestyle cuisine etc.

Visit Jerai Geopark - a mangrove forest conservation area. Mangrove forests are eco-systems at river mouths in the tropics where the river meets the sea.

We took a river cruise on Sungai Merbok to see the beautiful mangroves up close and personal.

The mangrove forest is a nutrient rich eco-system teeming with fish, prawns, crabs, reptiles, birds, and animals.

Planting mangrove saplings. Some parts of the mangrove forest have become barren due to pollution. During our visit, we helped to plant some saplings to help repopulate the mangrove.

👉Next time I go to Penang, I shall go beyond Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi to include eco-friendly activities in my itinerary, so I can stay longer, burn more calories and eat more lah 😁

More on Penang National Park, the big little park 👈 click

More on Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm 👈 click

More on ESCAPE Penang 👈 click

Acknowledgement: This is a quick summary of my 7 day eco-tourism trip to Penang - the Pearl of the Orient hosted by Tourism Malaysia. I am following up with separate detailed posts on each eco-attraction.

Date visited: 14 - 20 Jan 2018

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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