Penang: Butterflies and a really steep hill
Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
134Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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First up was the Butterfly Farm. The 101 bus from Penang Road would be our preferred mode of transport this time. Normally we opt for foot power, but the farm is a little out of reach at 25 kilometres from Georgetown. 4 ringits was the fare, which was a bargain. We both sat and starred out of the bus window towards the strait of Mellaca. A top tip for bus travel in Penang.... take a jumper, the air con is set to sub-zero. Bbbbrrrrrrrr...
An hour passed and disorientation set in. We weren't too sure when we were supposed to get off the bus, until the friendly driver stopped by a roundabout and shouted "Butterfly Farm". Thanks! A signpost pointed us in the right direction, only 1 kilometre by foot. I knew we couldn't escape a little bit of walking today. As we walked along the quietest street in the world, we were both startled as a monitor lizard lept out of a gutter. I don't think you can ever get used to seeing one, they do look a little menacing.
Entrance fee for foreigners to the Butterfly Farm was 20 ringits. I went to a Butterfly Farm in Kuala Lumpur and this one was much better. The inside is cleverly divided into different sections. The first and most impressive was the breeding program. Favourite plants of each species have been planted to encourage egg laying. The different types of caterpillar could then be viewed, some colourful and spikey, others extremely hairy. A small chamber also allowed you to witness the different stages of metamorphosis.
Other animal habitats were also recreated. Snakes, insects, scorpions and lizards were there to be observed, the most weird were these gigantic turtles covered in moss. They looked as if they were dead and just floating around in their tanks, but occasionally one of their eyes would twitch...... freaky! We walked around for a good hour or two before getting tired and made our way to the exit.
Another day, another destination. This time we would head to Penang Hill, an old hill station founded by the British due to its cool climate, a whole 5 degrees cooler at its summit. This was perfect for growing strawberries, and was the reason for its former name, Strawberry Hill. A funicular railway would take us to the top at a cost of 4 ringits (return). The other option was to walk, but we didn't quite fancy it at the time. Although in hindsight it would have been much more fun than the actual train ride.
The train was overcrowded and extremely slow. Take your worst tube journey in London and you may be close. However at the top we were rewarded with breathtaking views. We made the decision to walk back to the base as another train journey was out of the question. Before we set off we bought a cup of hot sweetcorn. It is more delicious than it sounds. Picture this, hot succulent sweetcorn cooked in butter and sugar........ yum!
To walk to the base you have two options. The first is to take the walking trails, which lead to the base train station, or you can walk along the tarmac road, which leads to the Botanic Gardens. We opted for the latter. It was around an hour walk to the base, and it was very gruelling. The road was so steep in parts, signposts read gradients of 30 degrees, it felt like an hour long squat. Throw in a couple of monkeys jumping out of bushes, a nervous Emma, and Me carrying a large stick to protect her, and you end up with a memorable experience!