Trekking in Penang National Park

Trekking is nowhere to be seen on my list of things I like to do. Still, curiosity is one of my strongest traits and I found myself on the bus with 2 freshly out of teenhood boys and one girl headed to the National Park at “the end of the world” in Penang.

At first Mr.Blab and I thought it might be good to do the easy peasy stuff with the kids one day, but they were having so much fun with the family we were staying with, that we decided he can keep them company and I will go pretend I am a wild girl in the forest.

The entry to the park is innocent looking and quite inviting.

After we signed in, we figured out our route and took to the trails.

 

Not long after the lovely paved walkway along the beach, I found myself losing my lungs on the steep slopes of the forest. Ahead of me, the two half-naked boys were jumping around like goats, as light as those flip-flops of theirs. Yours truly was sure of her own death right there on the muddy ground, that seemed to be  fighting me all the way to the top.

I didnt die.

Turns out, other than the steep climbs, where my cardiovascular system gives up on me, I am in a better shape than I thought. I was more than capable of keeping up with the prancing boys, who were flying through, as though we were racing for our lives. Fran, the other female, was not a fan of the downhill parts, and I kept her company there, she would wait for me on the hills, and both of us would run after the testiculated goats.

It all felt like a dream. I saw very little of the place, as I was concerned with not blasting my face on the forest floor, tripping on roots and branches that were coming at me from every angle. It was green…with lots of leaves. From time to time we would pass a stream and I would look at it longingly, because my own head was pounding by now.

And after an hour of a race (30min before expected arrival time, as suggested in the brochure!), we arrived at our destination.  The Pentai Keracut, a rare meromictic lake. What this means really is that the deep waters dont mix with the top layer and thus there are very few organisms in it. I am guessing the reason for the separation is because of salinity, as the lake is connected with the seawater.

To my exhausted, sweaty self, the view did not inspire owe.

On the other hand, when I saw the beach and the connecting pool on the other side of the bridge, my knees melted.

We ran to the trees at the end of the sand, undressed, and then ran into the water (the running is both because of excitement and because the sand was burning hot). Fran and I spent the next half an hour close to that big rock in the middle, laughing like little kids at the blast of each wave. And they were strong, not only giving us hydro-massages, but filling our bathing suits with the coarse sand.

The goat boys were climbing rocks or something.

This secluded beach is also home to a turtle sanctuary. We were pretty sure we saw one in the water, but we will never really know.

The worst part of this was that I had to put my horribly sweaty clothes back on after the refreshing break. And before I knew it, we were flying through the forest again.

The cool feeling of the soak on the beach was quickly replaced by the saltiness of my body’s attempt at dealing with what I was serving it. A shock. That is what I was serving it.

We were in an even bigger hurry now, as we were hoping to get to the treetop walk before it closed and we were cutting it close. The goat-boys were charging ahead and my feet would comply, except on those hills, where I am sure I left half of my lungs.

It was wild, people. I wondering how many poisonous creatures lurk in those lush greens around me, but hoped that the boys ahead will either disturb them enough to run, or to bite their pre-adult butts.

 

..read the sign when we got to the treetop walk.

I didnt really care, as I have been on an amazing setup in Australia, and was not impressed, more like prayed to make it back on solid ground before the thing breaks. Then a guy shows up from somewhere, sweaty and out of breath. Said that the entry to the thing was down further, picked up his forgotten lump of clothes and ran away somewhere.

Down we go, flying, and reach the other entry. No ticket, no entry – say the fellas minding the place. Ticket? You buy it at the entry, of course. Yea, at the entrance of the entire park, the one that is over an hour away. Despite our attempts at overcoming this very logical set up, we couldnt do the walk.

Deflated, hot, soaking with sweat and not feeling our legs, we saw an oasis, right there in the middle of the cruel forest.

A pool in the flow of a stream was glistening in the light that was making it through the trees.

My body trembled with desire. My shoes couldnt get off fast enough, the horrible wet clothes flew somewhere and in no time I was purring at the cool water that was embracing my aching feet. But the part that felt like pure bliss was when my pounding head released its tension as soon as the chill of the stream took my whole body in. I was floating on my back with closed eyes, taking it all in. We all agreed, this was better than any stinking walk.

We didnt want to leave, but after a little while we pulled out of this magic spot and headed out of the park.

Seeing the coast again was such a relief. We were all exhausted by now, even the goat-boys, which I found quite comforting to learn.

Being close to the end, we relaxed, slowed down and actually enjoyed the view for a change.

This was a wonderful big swing, although it had a slightly wonky ride, but fun never the less.

 

This was one grueling day. I found out that trekking is still not one of my favorite things to do. The best parts of the day were the breaks, but I guess without the hard walk they wouldnt have been nearly as wonderful. Still, I think if I go on shorter walks, slower tempo and have enough time to look around, take some photos and enjoy the views, I could do this again.

For now, I am just giddy that close to my birthday, instead of feeling old and gray, I kept up with the flying English boys the whole way.  Despite the few alveoli I dropped on the longer climbs.

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P.S. Mr.Blab just reminded me that we are going to Nepal, which means more trekking. Great.