Pee on it: Penang Hill, Batu Ferringhi, and a close encounter with a jellyfish
I had a vague plan of hiking from the Botanical Gardens to Batu Ferringhi. I found a trail from Batu Ferringhi which claimed to connect to a road to the Botanical Gardens, so I figured how hard could it it to be to reverse engineer it? So I met a bunch of my new energetic vegan yogi friends in the Botanical Gardens at 8am, and we wandered around a bit before embarking up Penang Hill, which all trails seem to lead to.
About half way up Penang Hill we saw this dilapidated and entirely unreliable sign to Batu Ferringhi. We decided not to follow it, and instead carried on to the top of Penang Hill, as nobody else I was with had been up before.
We had been following the jeep track, but diverged onto a muddy trail when we found one. This was the route I took last time, when I started at the Moon Gate. Starting by the jeep track is much faster, though far less interesting in terms of terrain. At the top I had cendol (twice the price of at the bottom..) and the far more experienced yogis than I piled up a bit, for a fascinated audience of tourists and locals alike.
The beach was calling, so we decided to charge back to the Botanical Gardens as fast as we could, pick up T's car, and drive to Batu Ferringhi. Close enough, right? About one quarter of the way down the hill an unsmiling chap offered us a ride in the back of his truck. We accepted, enjoyed the bouncing rollarcoaster ride, and cut about 45 minutes of our journey.
We drove to Batu Ferringhi, and chilled on the beach opposite the Tropical Spice Garden. It had been overcast for most of the hike (good) but the sun was emerging while we were at the beach. It was hot, anyway. I lounged around in the sun for a while, then relocated to lounging around in the shallows of the sea. Lying on the sand, letting the waves wash over me was thoroughly tranquil. The sand at this beach was great, too. Big grains, so they weren't annoying and sticky like normal sand. As it moved around underneath me due to the waves, it felt like a body-scrub massage.
I went in deeper to float a bit for a while. It wasn't long before stabbing pains in my leg propelled me back to shore. Jellyfish alert! "Pee on it" said everyone. T went to warn an elderly man who was playing in the sea with his young grandaughters. "Pee on it!" they said in Mandarin. Another passer by stopped to see what the fuss was about. He also said "pee on it" in Mandarin. I didn't retain how to say "pee on it" in Mandarin, but I should ask T and add that to my repertoire of useful foreign phrases.
My leg went red and bubbled up in a couple of places. It felt like it was burning. It wasn't unbearable pain, but coupled with a probably-sun-induced headache I had I felt pretty crap. My understanding friends got dressed and we all piled back into the car to find a pharmacy. My headache worsened and the car ride escalated everything. By the time I was home I was in full migraine mode and had thrown up a couple of times. On the way, C helped me buy rehydration sachets and Tiger Balm, so when I got in drank loads of water and then slept for 14 hours. I was skeptical about the medicinal properties of Tiger Balm, but I applied to to my head, shoulders (hiking/backpack aches), and jellyfish wounds and everything seems to be magically better.
I'm disappointed that this day didn't end with us all checking out a new vegan restaurant, but I'm grateful to have met wonderful people who looked after me. Better luck next time.
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