An Island, secluded beaches, a close encounter of the second kind, riding high the tidal wave and baked my feet in the sandy-golden sand were some of the attractions that really awaken my restless soul recently. I am a strong believer that this kind of activities and place are always a good place to unwind oneself from the hustle and bustle of a big city madness. It is also a splendid place to put away dark episodes of my life, if there is any, behind. I am always captivated by the island tranquility, sheer crystal-clear water, gentle but salty air that blow on my face and its total isolation from the civilization.
Recently I found this heavenly sanctuary unexpectedly just a peek away from my doorsteps. Yes, Penang was also known as The Prince of Wales Island once, by the British colonial . More than 200 years ago, Sir Francis light declared to the world that he was the founder of this island. I am a little bit confused and skeptical though. I am sure this island was roamed earlier by Pak Pandir and Mak Andeh way before the British know how to build their ship. As usual and more often than not history is written by the victors.
I’ve always thought Penang is full of nasi kandar, pasembok and few mamak trading spices from Kerala. This was however turned out to be another version of urban legend as I found out later. A recent social trip and a short break to this beautiful island in the North with a group of OIC delegates has revealed some of the hidden treasures this island kept for centuries. Well at least from my little knowledge.
One of the many interesting places we visited while on this island was Pantai Kerachut. It is situated at the North East of Penang island and not very far away from the tourist-infested beach of Bt. Feringhi. This beach is one of the few beaches in Penang where you can spot the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), where between June and July they they will come ashore to lay their eggs. The abundance of algae around this island has lured this beautiful creature to frequent this isolated beach. To go there from the main entrance of Penang National Park you have two options. You can either walk and do the 1-2 hours jungle-trekking along the trail (this trail will lead you to other interesting places as well – Monkey beach, old Muka head light house etc) or take a 30 minutes jolly-boat ride. As most of us (excluding me 🙂 are quite veteran, the boat ride seem the best option.
It is advisable to bring our own food and drink as there is no shop or restoran nasi kandar operated on the beach. You can of course eat turtle eggs in the hatchery site if you has the appetite for it, but this of course is not allowable. You can camp on this beach too but you are not allowed to have a camp-fire ala the new year eve as this will scare away the turtle. With all the restriction, even the tourist are scared to spend longer time on this beach.
To me this island and its beaches are so surreal. Unlike a virtual one I normally embraced in the blogosphere this island metamorphosed into a montage of sense, gesture and a moment utterly unfamiliar to my conscious mind. At serene moment like this, word is pretty much unnecessary. Nothing more left for me to do cause I am totally lost of word so I surrender and just let the photos do the narration.
The entrance to Penang National park, a gateway to Kerachut beach. For safety reason, visitors has to register with the office (app. 100 m from this gate) before embarking on any journey, jungle trekking or other fun activities in this park. This park is huge and I like their concept of keeping the surrounding as natural as possible – which is what the national park is for in the first place. This place was formerly known as End of the World – the name of a popular restaurant that used to operate on the site.
This peaceful jetty where nature lovers and eco-tourists take their boat ride to their blissful journey to the paradise. On a normal sunshine day, the Kerachut beach will take 20 – 30 minutes boat ride from this jetty. We took slightly more than 30 minutes to reach our destination. You see, scientists are curious creatures by nature, they will investigate everything that fancy their eyes even the floating “selipar Jepun“.
This is one activity you have to avoid at all cost if you are classified as a hydrophobic. Water won’t repel you until you start to learn the secret of its surface tension and able to walk on it. My newly-found friend from Senegal, Dr. Malick (standing with great poise) just about to learn the nature of water and later almost wet his entire pants in the process.
If you look close enough, this rock resembles the head of a crocodile. There are many more similar sighting like this along the rocky part of the island, especially on the way to the Kerachut beach by boat. I was told, these natural rock formation were caused by the tectonic activities and larvae flow of the volcanic eruption in the vicinity (didn’t know long long time ago Malaysia used to has her own Volcanoes – no wonder many are still living in the Jurassic period, backbiting each others)
An invasion of the first kind. We finally landed on this beautiful and isolated beach after a smooth boat ride. The guide told us that tourist seldom comes to this spot, making this Kerachut beach an ideal place to rest one’s soul.
As it is out of their breeding season, I can only catch this stuffed green turtle on display in the hatchery center on the beach. Just like their close cousin the leatherback, the best time to spot this magnificent reptilian live in action is between June and July each year.
Unlike their nemesis, the mamalian of the first kind, these turtles seems know how to read and respect the signboards. They don’t smoke in the non-smoking area and they will give way for you if there is zebra crossing around.