Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pangkor - Trip Planner Series

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Pulau Pangkor / Pangkor Island


Usually when planning a trip, I refer to trip advisor and other blogs on places to visit, directions, reviews and also hotel recommendations. However one thing I noticed is that though most of them provide helpful information, the challenge I have is putting everything into a 'plan', i.e planning an itinery of my trip. For example I know what are the nice places, but where do I go first, what time do I go somewhere and what do I do next. So in this entry for our trip to Pangkor, I'm going to blog in a chronological method with suggested timings and locations.


How many days to spend in Pangkor?
Ideally I would say on Pangkor Island, 2 days 1 night would be sufficient to cover the island. If you are going for a relaxing trip and have the time (and money) definitely Pangkor is relaxing and you can spend more time there.


Getting to Pangkor.
Frankly I was a little worried on figuring out the best route to Pangkor, as some friends have taken different route. I am driving south from Penang. For driving directions, I found Pulau-Pangkor.com the most helpful. If you are driving from North to South, you don't have to take the Ipoh exit as it is further. Take the Changkat Jering exit and follow directions to Lumut. After the Highway exit at Changkat Jering, it took around an hour plus to get to Lumut.




The road condition on the trunk (non-highway) road here is quite decent, however it is rather winding, and as it cuts across oil palm plantations, your journey can be slowed due to slow moving trucks. However the drive is scenic and cool.


Getting to Pangkor Island (Pulau Pangkor), there are actually a couple of options, however the one we used would probably the most common one i.e Lumut Jetty. If you are going to hotels like Pangkor Laut, you would need to get on another jetty which the hotel operator would advice you.




A nice traditional house on the way to Lumut


Parking in Lumut
There is a government (city council) multi story parking which is walking distance and a shaded walk to the Jetty / Pier. It cost me around RM10 per day to park there. Reasonable to me, as it seemed rather safe and convenient.




Shaded Walkway from Multi Story Parking to Jetty


Arriving at Lumut
Once you arrive in Lumut town, you will be greeted by the Waterfront Promenade. There are a number of shops there selling souvenirs, batik and of course, Pangkor's famous fish / sea products, namely all sorts of crackes. A must try.







Lumut Waterfront Promenade


The jetty is well done, and a return ticket (remember to keep your ticket for the return trip) is RM10. It seems though there are a couple of booths selling tickets, they have 'joined' and regardless of which booth you buy your ticket, you get onto the same ferry.

Lumut Jetty



They've got basically a closed deck ferry and an open deck ferry. Getting on the open deck ferry is an experience on itself, having an open view of the sea and islands. Getting an open deck or non-open deck is basically a matter of timing & luck. If the waiting ferry for the next trip is open deck then you are lucky. As going to Pangkor we didn't get the open deck ferry, on our return trip, we waiting for an open deck ferry before getting aboard as we were not in a hurry.








Inside the closed deck ferry, yes you see the life jackets readily there. That's good. The ferry ride to Pangkor takes approximately half an hour, and frequency is around once every 30 to 45minutes. I'm not sure if you can pre-buy tickets, but on off peak days you should easily get tickets for the immediate ferry.





Lumut is also one of Malaysia's naval base, so on your ferry ride, you will be able to observe some navy ships. There are also shipyards there (owned by Bousted Shipyards I presume?) which constructs / repairs ships.







Naval ships.



The ferry basically first stops at the Sungai Pinang Jetty in Pangkor island, a jetty mostly used by locals.

Fishing boat near the first stop



So get down at the 2nd (and final) destination. If in doubt just ask one of the locals.



Arriving in Pangkor Island

I would suggest to arrive in Pangkor latest by 5pm. Why? Well, Pangkor offers some pretty amazing evening activities, among others hanging out by the beach, playing in the waters, and enjoying the sunset.



Once you arrive in Pangkor, you can either rent a bike or car, or get a taxi (which happens to be Pink colored vans). Once you walk out the jetty, you will see a couple of guys offering vehicles for rent. I rented my car from Zaq, you can probably call and pre-book 017 -5390565. Point of note is most cars (not sure maybe even all) are manual transmission (manual clutch type gear box) against auto transmission. Car rental would probably cost you around RM60-70 during off-peak season



My advice is if you are not that familiar driving manual transmission car, give car rental a skip unless they can offer you an auto transmission car and just pay for a taxi. The roads are unlike Langkawi, here the roads are steep and rather winding. So same consideration goes for renting motorbikes (mo-pads). The back road, from Pan Pacific through the airport is probably the most steep.




Tricky Roads













Pangkor island is relatively on the West of Malaysia, and has a good view of the sunset on the beaches on the west coast of Pangkor. We initially headed for Nipah bay for the sunset, however due to the current sun location it was blocked by the island ahead. We found Teluk Ketapang to offer the best Sunset view during our visit. Sunset time usually ranges from 7pm onwards. A good benchmark would be to find out Maghrib prayer times, which you can google or check outhttp://www.halaljakim.gov.my/e-solat/ and select Pangkor, Perak. So you basically want to reach your sunset viewing location at least 30 mins before to start enjoying the progression of the sun setting.



There are a number of viewing points which you might prefer to enjoy the view of catch sunset.


View from Viewing Point



The viewing points have a nice look to it, but not that well maintained.

View of Viewing Point



The stairs are rather steep and winding (hmmm, something like the roads here). So not suggested for elderly or those that get dizzy fast?


Here's how our sunset experience started when we reached Ketapang Bay (Teluk Ketapang). This beach is not that crowded, and has nice sand and a great view.











The sunset has its own beauty and glory. Changing the color of the sky, clouds, combined with its reflection on the sea water.



You will definitely enjoy many shades of colors.


With the looks of a blazing sun and burning sky.


With the sun glaring right into your eyes. Closing on into the horizon.




The effects of the sunset even somehow adds a classic view to the beach and the trees (almond trees?). Which accentuate the beauty of the red leaves and the leaves drying on the sand.


And the sun starts to bid farewell.



And we also get a nice experience of the fisherman coming on shore, and pulling in his fishing net.





Pulling in his net



Going through his catchings of the day. Alas, doesn't seem bountiful.


Picking the fish out



He did catch this squid. An amazing sight to me.



Looking at squid looking at you



Sun has set. Now what? As we hadn't checked in yet, we headed to our hotel, Anjungan Beach Resort. As I mentioned, when I plan my trip, I usually go to a number of websites and read the reviews. What matters most is user / travellers review. And I have to thank Trip Advisor and the many travellers who recommended this place Trip Advisor Anjungan Beach Resort (and Spa) Review. Initially I was a little worried, as eventhough this Hotel was highly recommended (#2 in Pangkor per TripAdvisor) there were some negative reviews. However I decided to go with the majority of reviews and also the reviewers that had traveled more. And I was not dissappointed.



Accomodation at Pangkor - Anjungan Beach Resort

There are a variety of hotels to choose from depending on your budget. You can get started here with a summary of the available hotels in Pangkor.



When we arrived at Anjungan Beach Resort, few things came to mind.

1. It is really strategically located, i.e at Teluk Nipah. What this means is no worries on dinner as there are many stalls and restaurants nearby. Do note some other hotels are located far from restaurants, so double check on in-house dining and also consider having a transport.

2. Entering the hotel perimeter, the view was breathtaking.



Below is a view of the hotel during day time.





























Wondering how I managed this 'ariel' view? Well I climb up one of the buildings and took this fabulous picture. The pool is shaped as a ship's hull with the rooms surrounding the pool.



The view to the beach is rather blocked due to some stalls being built by the local council, probably to house the shops and restaurants. However the beach itself is still easily accessible.










The interior was spacious and nice. It had a homely feeling. It doesn't give you a 5 star hotel feel, and as I talked to the owner he did mention this place is around a ~3 star. No complains. by the way, it is a family run business.


If your room is on the ground floor, you can drag your rattan chair by the balcony and enjoy the pool.


Spacious



Nice queen size bed.





Overall we were happy with the room, only concern would be some cobwebs and little paint worn off in the bathroom.




The front lobby is well setup and cozy. They've got some nice sofa with small bolsters and if you look carefully in the picture below, a bookshelf by the stairs. So you can actually just relax here and enjoy reading a book or use their free WiFi available at the lobby.



The lobby is also where breakfast and lunch is served. Note breakfast is not inclusive, and cost me around RM12 plus for a nice breakfast. There would be a rolled ordering print out you fill up and they will collect and prepare accordingly. Getting your breakfast would take little time due to little staff. We found breakfast wholesome and nice.




Would I come back and stay here again? Definitely I would, it is value for money, owners are friendly, the pool is really nice and even during nights its nice to sit by the pool. Location is a sure plus as well. You can check out Anjungan Beach Resort, Pangkor by clicking here.



Nipah Bay at Night

It is quite happening, a number of souveniers and shops. Quite lively, with stalls offering karaoke etc. Below a chap doing writtings on key-chain at the souvenir shop.




Cross Island - Wading to Pulau Giam

After breakfast, suggest to quickly head off to Coral Beach, around 5 minutes walk from the hotel. An unforgettable experience is to wade across the low tide to a nearby island Pulau Giam. Once at Coral Beach, check with the locals or beach boys on how'fs the tide and around what time to head back to Pulau Pangkor. Obviously you don't want to loosehotels in Pangkor track of time and get 'stuck' in the island once the tide picks up. There are many people wading across so just take note of the crowd movement as well when to head back.



I would suggest to start walking when the water is 'ankle level' or slightly higher. It is enjoyable and you will come across some beautiful coral during your walk.



Here's the destination Pulau Giam. Around a nice stroll of 15minutes journey.










Some of the pristine corals, below one was some seaweed (?) floating across.








Here's a nice one. Has a striking red color one it.






Below is a sea cucumer variant, locally know as Gamat. Gamat oil is known to have medicinal properties and is sold in nearby shops. Langkawi Island would be more famous for Gamat though, not to mention its beautiful corals by Pulau Paya in Langkawi. Gamat is said to have among others tissue repair properties, refer to Fatty acid compositions in local sea cucumber,Stichopus chloronotus, for wound healing























Arrived at Pulau Giam. Now what? Just relax, take pictures and enjoy.

Pulau Giam...Possibly a hangout for monkeys so don't leave your belongings un-guarded.



Here's someone you probably know, posing in Pulau Giam, the background island is Pulau Pangkor.










Some people looking for some sea food. :)








Once you have had your time in Pulau Giam, you could head back and go to Teluk Nipah and enjoy the water rides, or chill at the beach. There are people bathing / playing in the sea. On average the sea is rather calm. Play in areas away from the jet skies though just to be safe.



Actually one of the most fun activities at the beach is FREE. Yes, the locals have made a number of swings, from plank swings to rope swings and so on. Just ask them and usually they would be more then happy to let you have a go at it.




Here's a go at the below swing. Little bit hard to take off and hang on, but definitely enjoyable. Just look at the wide smile (tersenyum lebar)...






Next you can just drive (or get a taxi) to go around the island. Below is another Jetty, believe the private jetty for Pulau Island Beach Resort (formerly Pan Pacific Resort).



Beow is probably the only and rather small round-about in Pangkor.


A chinese temple.



Deep sea fishing ship building.


The Dutch Fort. The actual fort is in the backdrop. The front bricks look 'revitalized'.




The Dutch Fort Story:











The bike below next to the Dutch Fort looks more antique if you ask me. :)












Also go to the Fish Satay Factory which has an abundance of sea by-products snacks and crackers.


Next is Daddy's Cafe. This place is also highly regarded at TripAdvisor . Definitely the ambience is nice, and during some time of the year, it would have a direct view of the sun setting.

We ordered some food however found it average. Probably we should have ordered some other dishes and the Curry Prawn was to spiced up, even to an Asian taste. Price middle to high.



But look here what we saw. Yes, the majestic HornBill. We have travelled to Langkawi, and Sarawak (land of Hornbills right?) but never saw a hornbill in the open. Really nice. Somehow looks like a plastic replica, but this is the real thing. It flew away. Locals say best time to see these birds would be in the evening when people feed them. Check again with the locals. So yes, in your trip to Pangkor, find out when and where to get a glimpse of this animals.













Heading Back to Lumut

Yes this time we waiting for the open deck ferry. A really nice experience.






Zooming back...



















After reaching Lumut, we drove off to Teluk Batik, around 15minutes drive from Lumut. We stopped by the road side to enjoy some Durian first.



We couldn't find our Hotel, Teluk Batik Beach Resort, but reached Teluk Batiks' esplanade. And guess what, the sun was setting.



We ran off to the beach to enjoy.


Burning skies.


Actually the Teluk Batik Resort was just few minutes drive from the esplanade, we checked in. It is a Service Apartment type of concept.



If you are planning a trip, frankly Teluk Batik Resort is a place to just laze. Nothing much. I signed up for a package for Teluk Batik as below with some freebies thrown in.



Rooms are large and spacious. There is a wash basin and fridge, but no cooking.
Bedroom and hall divided.


Bathroom. Some leaking water from the shower.



The pool looked nice.


Breakfast was complimentary. Nothing to shout about.



We had free tickets to the Man Made Marine / Snorkeling Park.



Man Made Marine / Snorkeling Park

Mr Turtle there to great you. It's located at Notty Resort, opposite Teluk Batik Esplanade. There is also a restaurant that's nice to hang out there at night.





Basically the man made snorkeling is a large pool with marine life (mostly or all just fishes). Nothing great, but if you never snorkeled and want a basic experience can give it a try. Snorkels and life jacket are available.



Then we lazed at the beach. Though hot, the shade from the tree was ample.




Beach chairs for rent.





Also had free tickets for sea shell museum. Decent experience. Recommended if you are really into sea shells.



















Heading back home.....











 

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