Asia,  Malaysia

Penang National Park – will the jungle eat you?

Jungle. I’m not a fan. Frankly speaking, I haven’t encountered many jungles, but I simply don’t want to come close to them. The only 30 minutes of a Thai jungle was enough for a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy nature. As long as it’s not trying to eat me. It’s a selective love, I guess. So why jungle? Well, trekking in Penang National Park to the isolated beach is one of the “must dos” when you’re in George Town. And it took me around 3 seconds to decide that it’s not going to my Penang bucket list. Because you know – jungle. But I’m writing about it, so apparently there was a twist of plot and I actually did trek there and survived.

The twist of the plot happened when I had to plan a free day in George Town. I already had so many photos of beautiful buildings, that it was even too much for myself. So I had to find something else. And it was Penang National Park and Monkey Beach.

Jungle leave

The internet was telling me, that it’s not that bad. I wasn’t convinced and spent 1 hour on the bus thinking “what am I doing and why”. We left the bus, found the entrance to the park and the ranger told us, that the route to Monkey Beach is closed. Due to a landslide. The only open path leads to Kerachut Beach and it’s a bit longer. Ok, that was a good start. I’m standing there, contemplating the meaning of life. A woman passes me. Writes in the registration book. For quite a while. I turn and notice her husband and 3 kids. She finishes, joins her family. I’m taking a look at the book. Germans. Kids’ age? From 1 to 7. Ok, if they’re doing this, I’m doing this.

The beginning? A wide promenade. Ok, where’s mud and leeches? Crossroads. We’re turning left. Going up. Going straight. Going down. Up. Down. Fast. It should take us 1,5 hours. Faster. Are we doing this or giving up? Will it rain and will the sandy path turn into slippery mud or not? Faster. Photos? Not now, on our way back. Let’s survive this first. Do you know how the jungle sounds? Like a million chainsaws. We’re in this together, the two of us. We can see a guy a few dozen meters from us, he’s walking alone. The jungle seems very calm, but at the same time, it’s full of these noisy creatures. It must be creepy to walk alone. We’re continuing our trek. The path is quite wide. It’s so damp, it’s hard to breathe. Have you ever tried cardio in a sauna? Me neither. But I guess now I know how it feels. It’s raining. Great. Is this the Armageddon? Rain stops. Good. It’s so hot and humid that I can’t imagine putting a raincoat on. The jungle itself is a good umbrella. The sun comes out. And it’s gone. We’re still walking. Is this the meromictic lake? It was supposed to be next to the beach. There should be water in the lake, right? In a meromictic lake even two layers – salty and sweet. There was no water in the lake, but we found Kerachut Beach. We did it. Faster than we were told. What’s next? Photos! Finally. And food. Don’t forget to take food to the jungle. You won’t eat, you won’t have the energy to go back.

Penang National park trailPenang National Park

We’re chilling at the beach and we go to the Turtle Conservation Centre. A controversial place. I really want to believe that these few turtles were in the plastic containers because they were undergoing treatment. This is the version I want to believe in.

Kerachut Beach jetty

We’re back at the beach. The Germans arrived. The youngest boy is playing in the stream and he’s the happiest kid on the planet. We will meet them 2 weeks later on Langkawi.

Kerachut BeachKerachut rocks Kerachut BeachEntrance to the jungle

Our way back is way more relaxing, but the very beginning isn’t. The sun is in a full force, the jungle is even more humid, cardio in a sauna is like going for a walk on a Spring morning. But it gets better and we admire the forest. We don’t have to hurry, we know what to expect. And it’s fun. Some stairs, wide trails, a jungle for a city girl like me. Nothing has eaten me. Insect repellent worked. I guess I can enjoy a jungle.

Penang nature

We’re leaving Penang National Park and we’re exhausted like we’ve just finished a marathon. I’ve never even attempted to run a marathon, but I don’t have to try, to know it’s not my thing. It took me half an hour and a huge bottle of water with vitamins to get back to my normal self. And to be able to walk 50 meters to buy an ice cold drink. I survived, I could go back. Obviously, I’m not a fit freak. I’d rather watch a sport than do it, but I’m a queen of walking. But a jungle can be a huge challenge even for a walker like me.

Penang view from the jungle

Conclusion: it was fun, you should try it even if you’re a couch potato like me.

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