Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pangkor Island is Much Nicer than Sucky Kuala Lumpur

We had a pleasant stay on Pangkor Island.  We stayed in the village of Nipah, which is on the west side.  Nipah has a narrow beach, a main drag that is cluttered with shops and eateries as well as purveyors of nautical adventures.  The latter rent kayaks and jet skis, and will tow you around on some inflatable devices.  They will also take you around in boats to various places.  On Saturday, they were very busy making money off of the moneyed crowds from KL.  

Nipah has a lot of hornbills.  These birds are pretty tame and will come around to be fed.  We also saw monkeys and many other birds, including some kind of sea eagle.  Since we live in a country that likes to eat anything that moves, including all birds, we especially enjoyed the symphony of bird songs.
You can also rent motorbikes and bicycles, but we were content to enjoy whatever was withing walking distance.  The best place we found was the beach just north of Nipah, Coral Bay.  It's a much wider beach and much more peaceful.  The guidebook indicated, correctly, that there is a funky shrine at the north end of the beach and that if you cross the bridge and follow the jungle path you end up at a much more private swimming area.
This was a sweet spot, with rocks and little beachlets.  The water was deeper and quite clear.  We enjoyed several peaceful hours each day there.

 Patterns in the sand made by tiny burrowing crabs.
 Coral Bay

The shrine/temple bears some mention.  There are bizarre concrete statues of all sorts of creatures, from a hermaphrodite mermaid with a mustache to a scary looking Donald Duck with devil eyes to Mickey Rat.  Cartoons as envisioned by Walt Dante.  How this has anything to do with established religion is a mystery to me.   I didn't get a particularly spiritual vibe there, but maybe I just needed more time.

One morning while strolling a back street looking we heard a racket in a tree and a young monkey scrambled down the trunk into the street.  He apparently pissed off some bigger monkeys who sat in the upper branches looking alpha, while he moped on the ground.
 Alpha Monkey
Sad Monkey

Malaysian beaches have a wide variety of people visiting them, from sun baked backpackers to overdressed Malays.  Ethnic Malays are required by law to practice Islam.  I'm not sure how much it is actually practiced but it means women must be covered.  Even at the beach.  In a kayak.

We had bbq by the beach every night, along with different spicy fried rice dishes.  Beer is not served at these eateries since all the owners are Muslim, but lemon iced tea is.  The advantage of being at a resort area like this is the lack of drunken packs of white people that you find in places like Phuket, Thailand.
BBQ Dude and Little Brother

Pangkor is a nice place, far nicer than Kuala Lumpur.  If you avoid the weekends, you have a wonderfully peaceful slice of paradise. In retrospect, I think the best thing a traveler can do is to get off the plane, get to the bus station and head straight for Pangkor.

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