Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10/20/11: Panang National Park

Since Heidi was here back in 1988, she figured it would be a good place to take call, especially since it’s relatively easy to get around, since the port is essentially right downtown. Dr. Phil wanted to do a 3-day trip to a nearby island, so Heidi is on-call all three days. I had wanted to see a bit of the island, so the boys and I decided to hook up with Louise, Scott and Lizzie to share a taxi to Penang National Park, on the northwest part of the island. We hired a local taxi driver to do a mini-tour of the northern section of Panang Island, and we started with two Buddhist temples, one Burmese, one Thai. One with a giant reclining Buddha, the other standing.

Part of the reclining buddha.

The standing buddha.

The drive toward the National Park was very much like Mauritius, or Hawaii, or Moorea. We arrived to find that the canopy walk we’d wanted to do was closed for some sort of maintenance, so we just started hiking one of the trails along the shoreline. One of the boys spotted something slithering around in the water; it looked like a giant water snake, quickly deemed by the boys to be one of the most poisonous snakes in the world. As it swam around the rocky shoreline I tried to get closer to get some shots, but when I got about 15 meters away, the thing slinked underneath the water near some rocks, seeming to know I was ‘stalking’ it. It took me awhile to spot it again; the ‘snake’ had moved a few meters, and would occasionally put an eye out of the water to see what I was doing. It was clearly completely aware of me, and had a distance of comfort within which I could not get any closer without it disappearing into the water.

We continued along the shoreline, the occasional picnic table to one side or the other, little coves with some sand here and there. As we approached our turnaround point (due to time constraints), we came upon a bigger beach where a couple of fishermen were walking through chest-deep water, apparently dragging (or placing?) a net. About halfway back to the parking lot, all of a sudden I saw a huge lizard thing come out of the surf, onto the beach. This thing was 4 to 5 feet long, and had a forked tongue, maybe 8” long. As we all slowly walked down onto the beach to get a better look, he meandered left, and found a pile of something on the beach. Once he picked it up in his mouth, I could see it was a dead fish, and he proceeded to scarf it down, right before our very eyes. It appeared to get stuck in his gullet for a bit, and he looked down, appearing to give a big “Kack!”, then he looked up, burped, and triumphantly showed us his neck, back to its former size. He plodded off into the surf and disappeared. (We learned back at the Park gate that this was a Water Monitor, and upon returning to the ship, the guys working in the dining room said they eat them in the Phillipines.)

Tandoori clay oven at Sri Anada Bahwan, which would turn out to be my favorite meal of the Voyage!

On the way back to Georgetown, our taxi driver suggested a positively wonderfulplace for lunch, Sri Ananda Bahwan. The boys and I shared three different curries that were absolutely amazing, each with its own unique flavor. The restaurant used traditional tandoori clay ovens, and had both Malay in Indian dishes. Thus far, the best meal yet during this SAS voyage!

Scott and Reade in the trishaw, going back to the ship.

In the tender boat.

The tender boat outside the MV Explorer.

1 comment:

  1. The lizard was amazing! I think I would have been afraid to get too close to it.


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