Passing by Penang island, north Malaysia, I could not omit to pay a visit to the national park, situated at the northwestern edge of the island. The park’s entrance is at Teluk Bahang village, which can be reached from Georgetown by the city bus in about an hour’s trip and the ticket costs 4 rm (or cheaper if you are to get a ticket to some preceding stop, upon which case nobody will notice). Once at the park’s entrance, you must undergo a customary registration but no fees are charged and camping is allowed at any spot.
I was there at some time in the morning, and after the brief procedure at the gate, I started my way to the monkey beach, where I intended to pass my first night. The trail goes along the coast and is well paved for the greatest part, complemented with stairs and bridges. So it makes an easy and pleasurable walk where you have the chance to adore the glamor of the pristine rainforest and stare at the views towards the wide marine horizon at spots where the vegetation allows that. After about an hour or two, I had made it to the beach, and it was right about in time, as the approaching noon was bringing with it a nearly intolerable wave of heat. Disappointingly enough I found that beach quite diverging of what a had fancy for. There was a good deal of tourists arriving there by boats, some local people in readiness to offer food and other commodities to the tourists – like for example jet skis for rental, which two guys who had no idea how to drive them had got them and they were racing like crazy for hours back and forth the beach, creating a very realistic to anybody swimming – and worst of all, there was masses of trash scattered all over the beach and in the sea. I went all the way to the verge of the beach, where I managed to find a comparatively quiet and clean spot under the fair shade of a casuarina tree to put my tent at. Soon after I arrived there, I got the company of a big bunch of some monkeys who were apparently coveting on taking hold of my food, but I gave them no chance.
Later in the afternoon, when the sun had lowered, I made the short trek to the hilltop right north of the beach, where the northernmost cape of Penang is and hosts a picturesque white lighthouse built in 1883. I got up the lighthouse where I stayed until sunset, reveling in the outstanding view together with a twosome of white-bellied sea eagles who were flying round and round during the whole time I was there. By the time I came down, back to the beach, darkness had prevailed and everyone, both the people and the monkeys, were away. I spent my night sitting at the beach, listening to the melodious plops of the waves and staring at the bright celestial objects and some weird fluorescent fish swimming happily around by the rocks, which, all together, were breaking the dullness of the night.
Next morning, after I had indulged in a long and exhilarating sleep taking advantage of the brisk breeze which was blowing all night long, I got up and, after allowing myself to be lazy for a fair amount of time, I packed everything and set off. My destination for this day was the turtle beach. I reached there after a total of a few hours walking, the same way back to the entrance and then the trail leading westwards about 500 m before reaching the entrance. I found that beach to be in accordance with my taste in a far greater degree. It was clean and almost nobody was there. I passed by a turtle sanctuary which is located there, and I made my way to the verge of the beach and put my tent under a Terminalia tree. That’s where I stayed for all the rest of the day, leaving only to jump into the sea and come back.
Almost nobody passed by throughout the entire day, but later in the evening, I got after all some visitors. A local school came there to release a new generation of baby turtles into the sea. I was invited close and got to gaze at the whole spectacle, which was carried out in a ceremonial manner. All the children stood in an array forming a long line facing the sea while a guy was distributing to them the little turtles one to each. The tiny creatures seemed to be waiting in agony for their freedom swaying their limbs restlessly in the air while held in the children’s hands. When the distribution was completed a man spoke some stuff which sounded like a prayer, and all the turtles were released simultaneously, whereupon, impelled by irresistible instinct, started all together to race towards the sea. Tottering and stumbling all along the way, one after another, made it all into the water and just started their adventurous life-journey into the widths of the ocean.
The sun was soon to set by that time, the school left and left me also to my previous seclusion. A few hours later I was asleep in my tent until my heavy sleep was interrupted by some newly come light which was penetrating right into my tent. I opened my eyes and saw the spectacle of a big, almost full, crimson moon ready to dive into the ocean right in front of my sight. The emotion of viewing that spectacle was too intense to let me sleep again, so I stayed waiting the sun who should soon arrive from the other side bringing a new day and opportunities for new great adventures.