Early one morning (early for me, I’m on holiday), John came hurtling through my bedroom door exclaiming “Katie, I’m taking you to the Butterfly Garden.”
I had just enough time to brush my teeth and wash my face, before I was piled into the car and off we went. The Butterfly Garden wasn’t that far from the house, a cars’ drive but not too far. John said he had taken my Godbrothers to the same place when they were little, and had never been back since. I found myself pretty excited at the prospect of thousands of brightly coloured butterflies all around me. I know, I’m a nerd.
Stepping into the Butterfly enclosure, it took a little while to spot some, but then I realised that every flower, every leaf, every tree had at least a dozen brightly coloured bodies beating their wings to the sound of running water. Some camouflaged themselves against their surroundings, others clashed against the foliage.
The Gardens didn’t stop at Butterflies, they had Chameleons, snakes, lizards, frogs and loads of other beetles and bugs too.
WARNING: anyone with amphibious phobias look away now.
The only thing I didn’t like, were the thousands of butterflies and beetles pinned into glass frames to be stared at and bought. It seemed like such a shame, they even had scorpions frozen into plastic casing to be bought as key-rings. I’d say it seems like a waste of life, but I’m not going to get myself into that debate!
When we’d seen enough butterflies and creepy crawlies, we headed up into the hills to the fruit farm for a drink before home.
Not a bad view for a drink hey?
Those alien looking fruits are called Jack Fruit, they are huge! The pineapples are giant by English standards, so you can imagine the scale!
They grow on trees, and are wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from insects and of course the monkeys!
Snake Fruit.. you can see why it’s called that!
While we were heading back to the house, John suggested we take the boat out.
Is that really a question?
After a quick swapping of bags we piled back into the car, plus Chee this time, and motored off to the club.
We climbed into the boat, and were thrown into the ocean by a large rusty old tractor. After panicking for a bit, as the boat wouldn’t start and we became dangerously close to the rocks, it suddenly roared into life and we were off…
…just as the clouds rolled in.
A tuna sandwich was pushed into my hands and I concentrated on munching that instead of the warm rain that was coming down around us.
The one bridge that joins Penang to Mainland Malaysia, they are in the process of building a second.
I took over the controls, and we cruised towards a little harbour where John and one of the neighbours have a yacht that has become their little project. The little yacht has been unloved for a few years and they are making her sea-ready to be sailed (at some point) to Thailand.
I apologise at this point, the harbour was so beautiful but I didn’t take any pictures, just of the water (which was ridiculously clear, despite the weather).
Leaving the harbour, we went to explore the islands. Suddenly I spotted something in the water, thinking it was a giant Monitor Lizard I got excited and made John drive towards it. It wasn’t a Lizard, it took me a few seconds of disbelief before I registered that it was actually a dog.
Baring in mind, we were in the channel between Penang and the island, and the dog couldn’t see Penang from the island, it seemed bizarre. A person would struggle to swim the distance with the current and swell of the waves. We followed the dog across the channel, to see that he got to the other side okay.
There were some fishing boats hanging off a small Jetty on the other side, which the dog seemed to be aiming for. When he finally reached it, a man hauled him out of the water by the scruff of the neck and plonked him on to the decking. The dog collapsed with exhaustion and took a few minutes to steady himself before shaking off the water. When his tail started wagging, the man picked him up once more by the scruff of his neck, dropped him into one of the boats, and off they went. He obviously hadn’t wanted to be left out of the trip they were doing, crazy little mutt.
We zoomed back to the little island after that, and moored the boat up. Getting closer, it looked as though it was deserted. Walking up the jetty though, we were greeted by some people welcoming us to the island.
We may have been out of season, but it didn’t help get rid of the eerie feeling that the island gave out. It seemed that apart from the few faces that greeted us, the island was pretty deserted. If you’ve ever seen The Lost World: Jurassic Park,you’ll know what I mean.
We even saw a few (ehem) dinosaurs…
Walking round, Chee explained that the island had a vast history. At one point it was used as a sanctuary for people with Leprosy, and after that, a prison. It has since been converted into a holiday resort but doesn’t get as much use as it should, I can see why though. Wherever we went on the island, it felt as though we were being watched from a distance. Jungle trails and zip wires that should have been filled with shrieks and laughing from children, lay rusting and unused.
We went across a rope bridge to see what was on the other side, but found that the jungle had reclaimed the pathway.
Even the pool was deserted. Leaves lay across the surface, completely motionless, and sunbeds lay out without a purpose.
We grabbed a few drinks from a quiet little man at the bar, drank them, and headed back to the boat.
I rode all the way back to the club on the front of the boat, with my arms outstretched over the water, pretending I was flying.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the club, reading, swimming, and watching the monitor lizards basking in the sunshine on the rocks below.
Okay, so not really ‘basking in the sunshine’ it’s rainy season… what do you expect?
There was a lizard about five times the size of this one with a bright orange tail, incredible markings and a body bigger than a three year old. Unfortunately, he scrambled under the rocks before I could take a decent picture of him but apparently he swims across the bay and lives in the rocks around a huge tree by the boat park in the club.
At least we had a nice little sunset, before we headed home for mugs of hot tea and a movie night.