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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pulau Pangkor - Great Holiday Destination and Animal Kingdom

Pangkor IslandImage by Mike Tok via Flickr
For finding wildlife in Malaysia you never have to travel far. Not many people relate a holiday to Pangkor island in Perak with a possibility to see wild animals. For most people Pangkor is synonymous with beaches, beach fun, ikan bilis (anchovies), dried fish and fish restaurants.

Exploring the animal kingdom is usually not on the program of the average visitors. If you want to see wild life, you visit Taman Negara or other nature parks; that is the common statement. However, like other Malaysian islands, Pangkor has its own wild life and it is not difficult to explore some of it.

Land animals

Like almost everywhere in Malaysia, Pangkor has its own population of Macaque monkeys and they are not shy. You will find them almost everywhere, at the beach, sitting near your window of your hotel room, close to the restaurant you have your dinner waiting for the left over. They are searching for food and if you are not aware, they steal your bags too. So be careful.

A much seen animal is the monitor lizard. They are common in Malaysia. What is interesting about the monitor lizard here is that they regularly swim from Pangkor to the mainland. I have seen them crossing the small straits in between Pangkor and the mainland. The monitor lizard can be up to 3 meters long.

The lizards you see are usually the younger ones as the older and stronger animals have their territory usually in the estates and jungle. Do not be surprised to see a lizard on the beach too. Monitor lizards in Malaysia are usually shy, contrary to their cousins on the Indonesian islands Rincon and Komodo.

Malaysia has a wide selection of snakes. I've seen a few cobras around Lumut and Sitiawan but it was always in very quiet areas and late afternoons. Snakes are usually shy and you hardly see them unless the villagers have caught one.

Tortoises are still to be found although the locals have caught most of them. You find many at the Fu Lin Kong Temple at SPK. There are also some on the mainland. For the divers and snorkelers, you may lucky to see turtles.

North of Pangkor is a Turtle Breeding Station at a beach where turtles lay eggs. Those eggs are dug up and hatched before setting them back. The station, 35 km north of Pangkor island, is worth a visit.
The station has several full grown species which makes the visit even more spectacular. These turtles came to the station either wounded or caught by locals and are not set back in the wild.

To reach the Turtle Breeding Station take the road from Lumut to Taiping. Pass Segari, after 3 km, take the junction left (sign board "Lumut power plant"). Follow this road to the first junction left (first asphalt road), go to the end. On your right side, you find the Turtle Breeding Station (no public transport).

Families of wild boar still live in the jungle of Pangkor. Many are hunted so hard that there are few left. If you want to see them, your best bet is the Vikry Beach Resort at Pasir Bogak. The owners feed the wild boars in the evenings.

Birds

The symbol of Pangkor is the Lesser Hornbill. There are 3 distinctive different families living at Pangkor. One is living around Nipah Bay, the second near Pasir Bogak and the third lives south of Pasir Bogak. (to get an idea where we find them, see the map of Pangkor island on the Pangkor website, below).

There is also a Great Hornbill family living in the hills near Tiger Rock. You will need to stay at Tiger Rock resort to be lucky enough to see them (evenings is most likely). The Great Hornbill is imported from further in the Malaysian peninsula.

While the Lesser Hornbills come at Pasir Bogak primarily in the morning, at Nipah Bay (and also in Pangkor Town) they are more active in the late afternoons. In the morning, you will see plenty of Lesser Hornbills at the Sea View hotel where the owner feeds them fruits.

You will see (and hear) many in the trees and on the beach.

The whole day you will see eagle. They are more active on the east coast of the island hunting for the fish leftovers of the Pangkor fishing industry. Pangkor and especially just on the mainland near Teluk Rubiah, you can spot dozens of eagles in the early morning. One day, we spotted over 40 eagles in one place when we were on the way to Teluk Rubiah.

Water animals and fish

A much rarer sight at Pangkor are sea otters. There is a family living in between Teluk Batik and Teluk Rubiah in an area which is slightly harder to visit. This family every once in a while visits Pangkor too as they are excellent swimmers. Interestingly I saw them once in a school holiday at Pasir Bogak.

The sea otters are almost always in the water but I have seen them relaxing at the beach too. These magnificent swimmers will surely make your day if you are lucky enough to see them.
You can see turtles when you go diving near Sembilan islands, a group of small islands 45 minutes out of the coastline from Lumut.

White Tip- and Black Tip sharks can be found on the north part of Pangkor Laut. These magnificent hunters feed on fish and you can feed them by hand. The sharks are not dangerous for humans. Outside, again in the area of Pulau Sembilan, you can find an array of fish including pufferfish, barracudas, seahorses, angelfish and others.

Mudskippers are common, especially at the east part of Pangkor. It's a strange creature, equipped with airbags to be able to breathe outside the water.
At the beaches on the west part of the island you have to be careful when you're in the water. You may accidentally (mostly at Pasir Bogak, step on a Pinna Incurva, a triangle shaped shellfish that can give you a serious cut in your foot. The shellfish usually only sticks a centimeter above the sand in the water. The shells can be as big as your hand or even bigger.

Jungle trekking

There are basically 2 treks possible at Pangkor. The trek on the northern part can start north of SPK. Take a taxi and ask to be dropped at the jungletrek starting point. The path goes steep up. Bring good walking shoes, especially when it has been raining because there are leeches.

There is not much views but there are plenty of orchids, insects, butterflies and other plants to see. The trek takes 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your physical condition.

The second path is probably more interesting. It leads from Tiger Rock resort to Pasir Bogak. The path follows the hills. Plenty of orchid, other plantlife and butterflies are to be found here. The path is probably more interesting because the jungle "breaths" more, it is more open. This trek takes 1 to 1.5 hours.

Conclusion

Pangkor might not have the name as a wild life paradise but there's enough to keep you busy. Without much effort you can find yourself surrounded with plenty of wild life. Considering the small size of Pangkor and the amount of jungle to explore, I would certainly not dismiss Pangkor.

Peter van der Lans is a Dutchman who lives these days in Sitiawan Malaysia. After years of traveling, he cycled from Holland to Malaysia, stayed a months in the Middle East, a year on the Indian Subcontinent and 2 years in China plus a year in the UK, he settled himself in Malaysia.

Sitiawan was the perfect place to write a website about Pulau Pangkor. Later he wrote http://www.bicycle-adventures.com, an ongoing project about his journeys on bicycles. A third website: In the years in China, he lived in Yangshuo and he thinks he can tell the story about this pretty little town in China so there's a website about Yangshuo too.
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Pangkor Island - A Perfect Island For a Carefree and Relaxing Holiday Destination

Pangkor Island / @ Pantai Pasir GiamImage by bahtiar1070 via Flickr
Unique and Economic Holiday in a Great Heavenly Place!

Pangkor offers such a unique yet inexpensive holiday destinations with a charming mix of fishing villages as well as resorts for the tourists. The tourists will have the chances to visit the fishermen and experienced by themselves on how they work, the lifestyle they had plus together with home staying with some of the villagers' families there. This is a very good idea since they do not have to book for rooms at the resorts. The villagers indeed are very friendly and you do not have to worry on how they will treat you.

More Exotic Things to be found in the Island of Malaysia

Pangkor Island is one of the most exotic islands which tourist can visit in Malaysia. Similar to every beautiful islands available in Malaysia, it gives bountifully beauty of sandy beaches at Seri Dewi Beach which is tailor made for sunbathing, adventurous snorkeling spots, jet skiing, canoeing, wind surfing and other water activities.
Snorkeling lovers will not miss their chance to explore Pasir Bogak Beach and Pangkor Laut, one of the familiar places where tourists will find gorgeous coral reefs in shallow waters as well as experiencing the mesmerizing sunset on its pristine beaches. One of the nine untouched island from development process, Sembilan Island, is a right place for scuba-diving lovers to dive all-out to see a wealth of marine life.

On Land Activities

For those who do not want their bodies to be under the crystal-clear water, they still can find attractive activities such as bird-watching around the island such as at the Teluk Nipah area. It is an unforgettable memory when you can watch the horn bills up close and personal with your own eyes. Most of the horn bills like to rest on electricity cables around the island. Therefore, you should take on precaution because you will surely bump into a few of the magnificent creatures during your stay. And they might also feed directly from your hand too!

Ground Attractions and Delightful Foods!

Other attractions which can be found at Pangkor Island the Dutch Fort which is originally built by the Dutch in order to take charge of the tin mines. Nearby, there is the tiger Rock which is a granite stone carved with an image of a tiger mauling a boy. Local people claimed that it portrays the son of a Dutch bigwig that disappeared and some others believed that the boy had been killed by a tiger in 1743.

Furthermore, you may savor the famous delicacies of local cuisine at the small town on the island at the stalls on the roadside. The stalls are being acknowledged for varieties of seafood dishes such as dried cuttlefish, grilled jellyfish and many more for your taste buds. Tourists can also shop all kinds of fresh dried and salted fish, squids, and anchovies at bargain price! Talking about accommodations, there are lists to be chosen depending on the budget you would like to spend.

Guide to Pulau Pangkor PIsland [http://www.haimalaysia.com/pulau-pangkor-island-perak-malaysia/], located in Perak, Malaysia. Not to forget the other islands - Pulau Perhentian Islands [http://www.haimalaysia.com/pulau-perhentian-islands-terengganu-malaysia/]. More guides to Malaysia at HaiMalaysia.com
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Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia - Includes The Luxurious YTL Spa Village

Pangkor Laut ResortImage via Wikipedia
Pangkor Laut and the YTL Spa Village, off Lamut, Malaysia, is best reached by a stunning under-hour helicopter ride north-west from Kuala Lumpur.

After jungle and hills, we came low over the sea, and landed on a platform off Pangkor Laut island, 300 acres of marvellous forested terrain. Less than 15% of the island has been developed, and roads are cantilevered on to the hills to prevent harming even a single tree. We were met by a bright apple green Toyota Rav4s that was for exclusive use of Estate One guests during a stay.

We did a brief tour, looking at Emerald Bay, with its crescent sand, green water, and the Spa Village, tennis courts, communal pool, discreet multi-storey blocks that somehow hold 156 bedrooms. A road marked Private to the Estates, which are villas with two to four bedrooms. Estate One was reached via a door in a solid dry-stone wall. Inside, stepping stone footpaths skirted trees and the 45-foot private infinity pool, with the beach immediately below. The villa has two separate wood-tiled bedrooms, each self-contained, plus as well, an indoor air-conditioned dining room with attendants' room behind (this estate comes with a butler, a butlerette and a chef). There is also an octagonal outdoor dining sala. Designer of this gorgeous complex is Lech Bunnag.

My wood-floored bedroom, with high cream walls rising to an open-eaved wood ceiling with fan, is dominated by the four-poster bed, made up with a selection of international and local linens and set in a metre-high, 50cm wide horizontal wood frame. The front and sides of the room look straight out, if you open heavy wooden shutters or wall blinds, to pool and greenery, and beach and horizon. At the back of the room all floors are smooth stone. There is a work area, with sensible desk/dressing table, and your own Airport for wireless. Here there is also a fridge with soft drinks, tea and coffee. Further back is the indoor bath area, with twin basin areas (big circular mirrors over units holding white ceramic hemispherical Kohler bowls, with wall-set magnifyers, hand-held mirrors, washcloths folded as conical sculptures). I have a safe, satin-wrapped hangers and a brown wicker beach basket. A central table holds a medieval-looking pot with yellow crysanthemums.

There are big glass-fronted toilet and shower rooms, the latter with side, handheld and rainforest outlets, and neatly set hotel-label toiletries (banana shampoo, zest conditioner, duneberry shower gel, peach lotion). Rear windows look into jungle. A side door leads to a private terrace with the really-hot outdoor tub, a marriage of permanently-warmed garden-set bathtub and stone jacuzzi with lying areas for 2 and a selection of potions to hand. All locks are simply pull-across wood bars, on both inside and outside of door or window shutter.

The YTL Spa Village - named for the resort's owners, YTL Corporation Berhad - is just that, with nine treatment villas in lovely gardens. I had a consultation with the Chinese doctor (he also has Indian and Malay colleagues). He told me I needed more water, and red wine. He then did a Chinese massage, 50 minutes of pummelling and yanking through a towel.

Right now you can dine internationally in Fisherman's Cove, or at specific Chinese or Malay outlets, all inside or outside-deck outlets overlooking the water - next month sushi, in the spa, and a Jim Thompson Thai restaurant will be added. Fisherman's Cove has Johann Lafer as a consultant but the menu is international. A caprese salad here is a patty of cubes of skinless tomato flesh topped by a dollop of goat cheese, drizzling of balsamico around. I followed this with home-made spaghetti and big mushrooms, and addictive mango sorbet. Back in my villa I found a home-made journal, with some leaves giving resort history, others plain for my own notes.

Before the sun came up gardeners were meticulous raking the beach, and scooping leaves from the pool. Out exercising, I pass a family of crab-eating monkeys (there are no crabs left so they have changed their diet). Back home, I plunge down into the sea for a quick swim, emerge, wash my feat with a half coconut shell in an urn of water - and turn to note four seals swimming exactly where I was. I plunge again, into my pool, watching 'em. Showered, I am driven in green Rav4 down to breakfast, memorable for a pair of peacock noisily courting, and the make-your-own toast, home made bread over a real charcoal grill. That toast, together with mango juice, papaya with sweet lime, Bridel salted or unsalted butters, and waiter Jerome courteously asking if I needed anything more - this is what all breakfasts should be like.

Daily at 1030 Uncle, a renowned retired horticulturalist, leads a two-hour heritage walk along the cross-island jungle path, explaining why trees that did not survive over the last 140 million (sic) years did not survive (we see a fig about to strangle an acacia, as an example). I checked out the air-conditioned gym, but not the squash courts. I liked the way the open-sided reception area flowed into library, with two computers, and on into one pool area, where apparently there are complimentary sorbet and fruits service at 3pm, 4pm. Despite the fact there must have been nearly 200 guests onsite, you seldom saw anyone twice, or, except at meal times, anyone at all.

There was just time to say hello to YTL hotels' guru and co-owner, Dato' Mark Yeoh Seok Kah (see photo), visiting to see how everythng was going, and then, sadly, it was time to switch into travel gear and little green Rav4 took me back to the landing pad. General Manager is Jeff Mong.

http://www.pangkorlautresort.com

Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Laut Island, Malaysia
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