Penang, Malaysia, May 2018: Whilst flying into the Penang airport the other day, a small strip of yellow sand momentarily came into view before disappearing in a flash. A beach along the southern shores of Penang Island, sounds good and worth investigating I’d say. Scrutinising Googles satellite imagery of the area reveals a narrow strip of beach adjacent to a village called Permatang – right next to the airport runway approach. Now that’s an irresistible combination of beach with some plane spotting thrown in!
its a pretty straight forward route, just need to aim for the end of the runway and at some point after that take a right. About 40 minutes of stomping according to Google maps. So, my first look at Bayan Lepas proper as I meander towards Permatang. Ahead, the scene is somewhat rustic with traditional dwellings nestled among the palms and banana trees while behind me is construction on an industrial scale. The roads are quiet, probably because its a Saturday and the day is at its hottest point. Yes, its hot but a nice sea breeze makes it all the more manageable. A quick lunch stop at the only eating place I’ve seen between here and base, somewhat unusual for Malaysia, a country renowned for food on every street corner. A rustic ramshackle place where everything on the menu is off, except Nasi Goreng – Just as well I like fried rice then.
The first right past the airport runway is a narrow dirt track beside a creek. its a good bet this’ll get me to that beach! Yes, indeed it does and a pretty nice sea breeze too. Sadly, the narrow strip of sand here isn’t anything to write home about. full of garbage. A few wooden shacks are hiding in thick vegetation set back, but at least its relatively cool.
Actually, its quite a picturesque scene with a couple of fishing boats tied up at the mouth of the creek with a few more along the coastline. One can actually walk along the waters edge for while then the beach widens and the garbage is gone. Someone clearly loves this spot enough to keep it clean! Quite secluded, well hidden from the village behind, a good hanky panky spot I’d say.
Towards the end of this beach one comes to the village community area, according to Google maps. Here is an empty food court, a wooden shack house lined with coconuts for sale and a portacabin where villagers can bring their problems and no doubt some voodoo and witch-doctoring going on after dark! Yes, feels like time here has stood still in some respects. A very sleepy rustic environment probably best avoided after sunset. At the moment though its the refreshing cool breeze that keeps me hanging on for a few more minutes. There’s even some life beginning to stir once folk here realise they have a white tourist poking around. The coconut seller wakes up, smiles and is happy to part with a cup of fresh coconut milk for 2 MYR and a packet of fresh Papaya for another 2 MYR – this is why I like rustic!
A walk back to base through the rather pleasant village reveals a mix of modern and not so modern bungalows and villas, in the main well kept. The place is quiet, very sleepy on a hot Saturday afternoon, the breeze not as refreshing here. Here’s a few snaps…