Wed 25/01

Morning / Afternoon: Penang Island tour with Ocean Jupiter

      • Penang Butterfly Farm: Opened to the public in 1986, as far as anybody knows, the Penang Butterfly Farm was one of the first, if not the first, tropical butterfly farm in the world. It is located on a 0.8 hectare site near the foot of the Teluk Bahang hills, between the Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang and the Teluk Bahang village. The owner and founder is David Goh, who was inspired to start the farm by another butterfly farm owner, Clive Farrell of Stratford-upon-Avon in England. 
The farm was intended to be more than just a tourist attraction. It introduced and created an interest in entomology - the study of insects - to the Malaysian public. For the first time, Malaysians from children to adults could experience the pleasure of watching over a thousand butterflies from 120 different species fluttering in an enclosure. They include the famous Rajah Brooke (Trogonoptera brookiana), the beautiful black butterfly with florescent green patches called birdwing. This butterfly comes from Borneo and West Malaysia, and was named after James, the Rajah of Sarawak, by naturalist Alfred Wallace, the founder of the Sarawak Museum, in 1855. Other butterflies found here include the endangered Yellow Bird wing (Troides helena). Although to the general public, the butterfly farm is just another of Penang's many tourist attractions, the farm itself has gained an international reputation within the industry as a butterfly breeding centre. Rather than depleting the butterfly population in the wild, the farm has been active in breeding butterflies in captivity. This helps to increase the number of butterflies which are endangered species. It also increases awareness of conservation issues pertaining to the rain forest and butterfly habitats
      • Penang National Park: Also known as Taman Negara Pulau Pinang, Penang National Park a nature reserve on the northwestern tip of Penang Island. Formerly known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, it was elevated to national park status by former prime minister, then deputy prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in April 2003. The national park covers an area of 2562 hectares. Within this small area is an astounding range of biodiversity that includes 1181 hectates of lowland dipterocarp forest and 1381 hectares of mangrove. Among the features of the national park are mud flats, a meromictic lake and a turtle nesting beach.
There are eight stretches of beaches in the Penang National Park. They are, in counter clockwise direction, Teluk Bahang, Teluk Tukun, Teluk Ailing, Teluk Duyung, Teluk Ketapang, Pantai Kerachut, Teluk Kampi and Pantai Mas. The promontory of Muka Head with its lighthouse is on the northwestern tip of the national park. 

The national park is home to 414 species of plants and 143 species of animals. Among the animals living here include otters, monitor lizards, monkey, and numerous variety of birdlife. Visiting animals include the hawksbill turtles and green turtle. The trees in this lowland dipterocarp forest include cengal, meranti, seraya, jelutong, bintangor, among others.
        • Boat to monkey beach?
      • Gertak Sanggul Fishing village: On the southwest tip of Penang Island. With coconut palms swaying overhead, Gertak Sanggul offers the perfect picture of a Malaysian fishing village, complete with a white sandy beach and fishing boats bobbling in the waves. The people of Penang know Gertak Sanggul as the place where the Yellow Bus turns around. It being the final stop at the southwestern tip of Penang Island, the commuter buses reach their final stop before heading back to town. 
Despite the romantic surroundings, the waters off Gertak Sanggul is not suitable for swimming, as it is contaminated by the many pig farms in the area which discharge waste directly into the sea. From Gertak Sanggul, you can see the "half submerged" shape of Pulau Kendi, the most distant island in Penang state. A day trip to Pulau Kendi can be arranged whenever there is sufficient participants (or eight persons or more), or if anybody is willing to pay to hire the whole boat.
      • Batu Maung Bottle Temple: Temple decorated with wine and beer bottles. The official name of the temple is the Cheng Choo Tze Temple. It is dedicated to the Taoist deity Kew Loong Sern Tze. The temple is located on the hill road that leads to Teluk Tempoyak. The Batu Maung Bottle Temple is best visited by car. From Batu Maung, take the road towards Permatang Damar Laut. Turn towards Teluk Tempoyak, as the road goes uphill, look for the temple sign on the right. Park up and walk down to visit the temple. By bus use 305 to Teluk Tempoyak – it goes past the temple. Ask the driver to let you off. 
      • Baobab Tree: The Baobab Tree of Penang is believed to be the oldest planted tree in Malaysia, and one of the most unusual-looking in Penang. There are plenty of heritage trees in Penang, but the Baobab is a grand dame in a class of its own. It stands on the traffic island between Jalan Residensi and Jalan Macalister, in its own picket-fence compound. Although it appears very elderly and frail, and even requires supports for its branches, every effort is taken to keep it healthy. 
There is a Penang belief that the baobab tree brings luck to the island, and must be kept standing by all means, or else calamity will fall on Penang. A more colourful twist to the belief states that Penang is actually floating in the sea and the Baobab tree, with its upside-down looking trunk, actually acts as a stopper. If it is somehow uprooted, water will gush out of the hole and the whole island will sink. 

A native of the semi-arid part of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) was planted in 1871 (making it older than the Rubber Tree of Kuala Kangsar) by Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy (better known simply as Captain Speedy), the English explorer who was hired by Perak Mentri Ngah Ibrahim to quell the restive situation in Larut. 

The baobab produces green buds in spring. The buds looking like hanging tennis balls. These buds open into fragrant white flower. The oblong fruits are not pretty. They are dark brown and wizened, looking somewhat like dead rats. 
      • Jade Emperor Pavilion: A Taoist temple at the foot of Penang Hill in Air Itam, Penang, it is located to the right of the Penang Hill Railway Station. 
As the name suggests, the Jade Emperor's Pavilion is dedicated to the worship of the Jade Emperor, or Thni Kong. The term Thni Kong means Heavenly Grandfather, and is the common title for theHuang Shangdi, or Pure August Emperor of Jade. This is the most important deity in the Chinese Taoist pantheon, and is regarded as the ruler of heaven. The worship of the Jade Emperor is traced to as early as the 9th century AD, when he was the patron deity of the imperial family. 

As with most Taoist deities, the origin of the Jade Emperor is shrouded in mythology. He is said to have been born a crown price of one "kingdom of pure felicity". Upon the death of his father, he ascended the throne. He underwent 1750 trials, each taking 120,976 years, after which he attained Golden Immortality. After another one hundred million years, he finally became the Jade Emperor. 

According to Taoist myth, it was the Jade Emperor who created men. He fashion men out of clay, and left them to harden in the sun. However, it rained, causing the men to deform, and thus introducing the origin of sickness and physical abnormalities. This is just one of the many stories featuring the Jade Emperor that are popular in China, and with Chinese practicing Taoism. 

A number of beliefs that are commonplace among the Chinese can be traced to the Jade Emperor. One of them was the Chinese zodiac. In this story, the busy Jade Emperor summoned all the animals on earth to pay him a visit, because he has never visited earth personally, and has not seen how animals look like. The cat asked the rat to wake him on the day of the visit. However, the rat was worried that he would compare unfavorably to the cat, so on the day of the visit, he did not wake the cat. As a result, the cat missed the chance to meet the Jade Emperor, and his place was taken over by the pig. The Jade Emperor was delighted to meet all the animals, and hence he named the years with each of them. The cat was furious when he learned that he missed out, and from that day, the cat and the rat were enemies.
      • Penang Hill Railway: A funicular train that goes from Air Itam to Penang Hill. The train service starts from the foot of the hill at Air Itam. 
The idea of a railway line up Penang Hill was put forth as early as 1897, before motor vehicle was even introduced to Penang Island. It was built by the British between 1906 and 1923 at a cost of 1.5 million Straits Dollars, so that the British officers can journey up the hill for convalescence or simply to relax and enjoy the cooler air. The funicular railway was only open to the public on 21 October 1923. The 2007 meter (1 mile 435 yard) journey is the most convenient way up Penang.
      • Bellevue Penang Hill Hotel: The highest hotel in Penang, it is a place to enjoy the old world charm of colonial Penang, enjoying scones, buttered toast, jam, half-boiled eggs, and sipping Darjeeling tea. It does feel slightly run down, but the views are great. Look for the snake that lives in the vines that form the balcony canopy
      • Guillemard Reservoir: is in Vale of Temple shaped like a pair of spectacles – built at 246 feet above sea level. Now officially known as Kolam Air Guillemard, it was named after Sir Laurence Guillemard, who was the Governor of the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements from 1920 to 1927. The reservoir comprises two equal size ponds with two cupolas. Due to its shape like a pair of spectacles, the Guillemard Reservoir became known in Hokkien as "Bak Knia Tee", meaning Spectacle Pond. They were designed in the Art Deco style, and constructed in 1929.

Evening: Anthony's Beer Garden (?) Night Market (?) Long Beach Hawkers Centre (?)

Also...

  • 19:15 - Dive-in Movie around the pool @ Golden Sands - "enjoy your favourite movies in the pool".