01 Feb - 17 Feb 2013 Batu Ferringhi

Straits of Malacca
Penang Island aka Betelnut Island
Batu Ferringhi aka Foreigner's Rock
Baba Guesthouse +6048811686 babaguesthouse2000@yahoo.com
Airy and spacious budget double room (no. 15) with sea view, shared bathroom, fan and agricultural wifi for MYR 52.- or US$ 16.70 per night.
Helpful staff, good English. Family-run by a friendly and relaxed Baba-Nyonya clan (Straits-born Chinese).
Some regular noise from the loudspeakers of the village mosque next door, but no jihad.
Beer: Non-halal 500-ml cans of just cold enough Chang Draft (5 % alc./vol.) from Buddhist Thailand for a pricey and heavily taxed MYR 7.- or US$ 2.25 per can, not negotiable, from any of the Chinese neighbourhood joints along the main drag.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Baba Guesthouse in Batu Ferringhi, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Surviving a classical beach holiday on Batu Ferringhi’s picturesque and lively playground for both day-trippers from Penang and honey-moaners from the Middle East, a strip of reasonably clean sand which welcomes the gently rolling, but fairly turbid wavelets of the Strait of Malacca, thus having close encounters with beach-life’s four bitchy elements: (i) burning our skin in the sun’s fire, (ii) poisoning our bodies with polluted sea water, (iii) straining our ligaments in loose sand and (iv) parasailing into dizzy heights (Batu Ferringhi Watersport +6048993032, MYR 50.- or US$ 16.- per 15-min ride).

“The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.” 

Hugging dipterocarps on the north-western tip of Penang, the Penang National Park aka Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (+6048813530, gazetted as a park in 1980 CE, free entrance), hiking via the clean and reasonably idyllic Monkey Beach to Muka Head Lighthouse (Fl.W10s242m25M) and thereafter hitching a boat ride back to kampung Teluk Bahang with relaxed newly-weds from Saudi Arabia.

Counting the vast number of red lanterns (which illuminate the temple during the festive season since red represents life) and yellow candles (which are lit in order to honour the ancestors since gold symbolises prosperity) at Kek Lok Si Temple +6048283317 in Air Itam, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.

Preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year, the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, and learning that flowers and plants with auspicious names are important decorative items during the spring festival: (i) lime aka kum quat for good fortune, (ii) ornamental pineapples for abundance, (iii) pussy willow for prosperity and wealth, (iv) chrysanthemums for cheerfulness and (v) lucky bamboo aka kun yan bamboo for simplicity and humility.

Joining Penang’s boisterous multi-racial crowds and celebrating with gusto the Chinese New Year of the snake by (i) detonating heavy-calibered firecrackers to breaking point, (ii) burning josspaper until we got red watery eyes as if we had smoked weed, (iii) watching (single to octuple) lion-dance performances till the cow comes home, (iv) enduring the booming bangs from at least 888 prosperity drums and (v) eventually practising calligraphy in red and gold - 恭禧發財, which means "respectfully wishing joy" (gong xi: 恭禧) and "becoming rich" or "making money" (fa cai: 發財).

Matt: Applying (with two identical photos and one copy of my passport) for a single-entry tourist visa for Thailand (valid for a stay up to 60 days, “employment prohibited”) at Penang’s pragmatical Royal Thai Consulate-general +6042268029 and getting it issued, uneventfully and within 6 hours, for a rather steep MYR 110.- or US$ 35.50 in cash.

Dragging ourselves away from this lazy two-week beach holiday at Foreigner's Rock, bidding adieu to Jan, our Aussie friend, practical philosopher and successful book author from Create Life Changes, and taking Penang Rapid bus 101 via the Floating Mosque back to metropolitan Georgetown (MYR 2.70 or US$ 0.90) in order to metamorphose back from vagabondish beach bums into civilised city dwellers, lah.

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United States:
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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to purchase global food brands;
It’s good to buy from the local farmers market.
Keep your bearings!