Hiking Adventure to Monkey Beach on the Pearl of Orient!
by Christine Foong It has been awhile since I’ve been back home to Penang. Apart from the excitement of spending time with my family and attending my high school’s friend wedding, truth to be told I was really excited to go hiking! The joy of having to discover new routes and discoveries and to be with nature triumphs over everything else. Apart from being known as a food paradise, numerous beaches and nature trails make up the beauty of Penang. There are plentiful of hiking routes in Penang and my friends and I were contemplating to take either Pantai Kerachut trail or make our way to Monkey Beach. Eventually, we decided to take the Monkey Beach trail because none of us had done the trail before. We started our hike at 8.30am, Saturday morning. After 30 minutes into the trail, we finally arrived on the beach and found the sign “Monkey Beach” but the area felt too quiet to feel like we had actually arrived our destination. As we strolled further along the beach, we saw monkeys all around, running, playing, and hanging out on trees. Could this be the reason why this beach is called Monkey Beach? But afterwards, we saw people from afar walking back into the jungle track. Having never done the route before, we decided to follow these trekkers. The adventure continues, said we! When we saw quite a long stretch of beach, we were elated. Finally, we have arrived! The first thing on my mind was to quench my thirst with coconut water, which I feel is the best hydration after a hike, especially when it’s served fresh. My friends and I decided to hang out by the beach to enjoy the breeze before finding our way back by hopping on a 15-minute boat ride back to the entrance of Penang National Park. The thought of a 90-minute hike back after a laidback session by the beach got us taking the boat instead. Well, at least we were spoiled with options. How to get there: Start off with pavement pathways which diverge into seven different routes depending on which place hikers wish to trek. Among the places are Titian Kanopi (Canopy Walk), Teluk Aling, Teluk Duyung (Monkey Beach) that we went for, Muka Head Light House, Pantai Keracut which are among the popular routes for locals and tourist (Turtle Sanctuary place, camping and fishing), Pasir Pandak and Teluk Kampi. What to prepare for: Wear shoes, strictly no slippers for safety. Bring water, light snacks, extra clothes for changing, a swimsuit if you intend to swim or go for water sports at the beach right after the hike. How is the climb like? Monkey beach - Terrain uneven, meant for intermediate hikers. We took90 minutes to complete the hike, and we learnt from the boatman on the way home that usual time for the hike is about two hours. We also learnt that the army uses the Monkey Beach route for training which takes them only 30mins. Any interesting to look for? Monkeys, scenic overlapping branches arching over stairways, a huge fallen tree to climb over, wooden bridges, paved pathways and sandy trails. It can be muddy during the rainy season so be extra careful.