4 May 2014
We're spending a few days by the beach in the little town of Batu Feringgi, sometimes spelled Ferringhi. Pronounced like the Star Trek people of Ferengi - sort of f'RING-ghee.
Anyway, this is a laid back town on the north shore of Pulau Penang, or Penang Island. The town has been built up in recent years to accommodate the tourists who come here, but it's still a nice little village with a pretty beach, access to water sports, and some good restaurants.
Batu Feringgi is on the Andaman Sea. Or maybe the Straits of Melaka. Actually, the island of Penang in sort of where the Straits of Melaka meet the Andaman Sea, so it's rather unclear exactly which body of water we're looking at. But it's not the clean clear water we're used to from the Caribbean and numerous Pacific islands. This water has a lot of sediment churned up in in, so it's cloudy. But refreshing nevertheless.
Feringgi is the kind of town where people are friendly. Shops in town line the sidewalk with orange trees bearing red good luck and Happy New Year signs and symbols. Others fly fish kites. Things are picturesque and quaint and maybe even quirky.
Our guest house (okay but nothing special) is near the mosque, which features gorgeous tile work - and there was a wedding there Sunday afternoon, everyone in town knew what was going on (except us, which is why we asked someone).
And it seems as if everyone - tourists and locals alike - gather on the beach to have a cold drink and watch the sunset. Really, hordes of people poured onto the beach to watch the sun sink into the ocean and light up the sky with an especially brilliant blaze of fluorescent colours.
After sunset, people head to town for dinner, or the night market, or maybe a ride in a trishaw. Not an ordinary trishaw, but not the Rose Parade-worthy trishaws of Melaka. No, these are the high-tech disco version trishaws, with LED lights trimming the frame and wheels, and wild sirens of sound blaring out. Crazy trishaws! The drivers all tried to get us to ride, but were very happy when I told them I liked the disco look and let me take their photos.
It's also hot hot HOT. Thunderstorms every day or night. Hot and humid. So we aren't availing ourselves of all the opportunities here, and are actually taking things fairly easy. As in relaxing a lot. Reading, playing on the computer, walking on the beach. Oh, we think - and hope - that the huge loudspeaker thing is the tsunami warning system. Not sure, but we suspect this is so.
Today's activity included taking Dad's hat to the beach. Hat had a great time exploring the beach, checking out the slope and the offshore drift and the swash washback zone. (We didn't have any oranges to toss into the water.) Looked over the sand castle, assessing grades of sand. And of course managed to party it up with some champagne that we certainly didn't bring along.
Richard even took the hat for a bit of snorkeling, but the water isn't clear enough to see any fish.
But there were a few people on jetskis, and tourists getting dumped off the inflatable banana boats, and the inevitable parasailing. The parasails are gorgeous against the sky, but you couldn't pay me enough to go up in one of those contraptions. Seriously.
Anyway, we're having fun. Being very relaxed and very untouristy. Just enjoying being here, a new town, a new rhythm.
And of course, the rhythm of the ocean is always relaxing.