The Dumb Lighthouse
If you want something, you'll do a thousand things to obtain it. But if you don't want something, you'll give a thousand excuses to refrain from it. - Malay Proverb
Arriving the night before to Penang, I quickly came to realize that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Sorry Lonely Planet but your description and highlights of the city were a complete let down. The colonial portion of George Town mainly looked like a run down ghetto that was definitely in need of some maintenance. Instead of exploring the city for the whole day, we decided to follow Callum's lead and head to the national park.
Someone read somewhere that the lighthouse was the thing to see on this trek. As well as the canopy bridge, which of course was closed. Deciding to leave at 10 am, which actually means leaving at 11 am, we caught bus number 101 all the way to what we thought was the stop but wasn't. (You are supposed to stay on the bus until the last stop where it turns around.) After about a 15 minute walk to where we were supposed to end up we arrived at the entrance of the park.
Entrance to the park is free, you just need to register at the office to get a permit that no one reads or looks at. So realizing that the canopy walk was closed, we decided that seeing Monkey Beach and the Muka Head Lighthouse was the route we wanted to take. By this time it was around 1 pm and the temperature was HOT. Like a lot of treks throughout Malaysia, I've discovered that most have some sort of stairs built or a cement pathway - not the hardcore "trekking" I was preparing myself for.
The first little bit of the trail we spotted a giant lizard, which made Jake's day, and if it had bitten him would have made the rest of our day! (Just kidding... maybe) Of course, like always the boys seem to lead the way and were on a weird mission to quickly get through the park talking and without stopping the whole way. I walked a bit slower to capture some pictures seeing as Liz & I were the only ones taking any. The first beach we came across was anti-climatic, with us trekking on through. As we proceeded further, sweat started accumulating and dripping off of us. (Yes, Jake girls do sweat). When we arrived at Monkey beach, the boys decided to dip their feet in the water and Liz and I decided to grab ourselves a drink. Monkey Beach is a bit deceiving as there aren't that many, and they are mostly owned by the people who work there.
After Monkey Beach, I decided it was my time to lead and frankly I wanted to just make it to this damn lighthouse already. Absolutely soaked in sweat our uphill ascent began with the trail becoming a bit more rugged and less maintained. Before I was telling Liz to just think of the end point and don't stop. At around 3:30 (after the lighthouse closed) we arrived, luckily the gate was still open so we went in. Probably the worst lighthouse I've seen, with absolutely no character. As well, it was a heat box the moment we got in to climb it. So glad people rated it so high on Tripadvisor! NOT. These people must be drunk or delirious to say this was the best hike with beaches with similar beauty in comparison to Thailand. Thailand is way better, I'm sorry but that's the truth.
After guzzling down the rest of my water, all of us soaked in sweat and tired of the heat we made our descent. Back at Monkey Beach we made the collective decision to hire a boat back to the park entrance for 40 RM for the group of us. The boat driver had a pet monkey, which Jake loved, but I refused to touch since lets be real it was probably taken away from it's mother to be his pet. Wild animals aren't supposed to be pets. After getting to the docks, and Jake trying to steal the monkey we made our way to the bus stop. We caught the first bus, which drove like 2 minutes and then dropped us off. There was a lot of people waiting at that bus stop so we decided to wait for the next one in order to have seats since the bus ride was around an hour long. I couldn't be more happy to take a shower after the long day of trekking in the heat.
Total Cost = 21 MYR