Beach in Penang
Yeng Keng Hotel is in the city center, and there are no beaches in walking distance. I checked Lonely Planet, Monkey Beach looks good. We decided to check it out.
Transportation: after talking to the front desk, we found it was pretty cheap to take taxi to Monkey Beach, about 40 ringgit (US$13.33). So here we go, Monkey Beach. We actually only got as far as Batu Ferringhi, and found it was a public beach. Other than couple of small resturants, we found nothing. The Shangri-La and other locally-run resorts were right on the beach, but only hotel guests can use their facilities. Once we hit the beach, people started approaching us for business, selling everything from massages to parasailing rides. We had an offer to get a boat to Monkey Beach (being told it was only accessible by boat), but that it would cost 350 ringgit (US$116.67) for the round trip boat fare. Our perception of relaxing on the beach is very simple: reading, daydreams, drink and swim.
We ended up turning down all commercial offers, putting our towels on Batu Ferringhi were we were and starting our rest. The quality of the sand is not bad, a bit yellow, a bit white. The water is pretty good, it is blue, but not clear enough. Keep in mind, my benchmark is very high.
We met two tourists from Holland, and they shared a lot of info with us. For example, we learned we could take a public bus to the beach, it is very convenient (running every five minutes), and only cost 2.7 ringit (about US$0.90). It was also them who mentioned Kapitan Restaurant from my last post. And of course, we did our own due diligence.
I guess because we were not resort guests, Batu Ferringhi was not attractive to us. We found nothing attractive to eat, no shade and no shower. After playing in the water a couple of times, we decided to go home. Just as those people from Holland said, the bus was really easy.
P.P.S. I do not regret that we did not stay in the Shangri-La. Shangri-La is a resort hotel, and quite isolated from the "real world" of Penang. The purpose of visiting Malaysia is to get to know local life here, not stay in a glass tank resort. If we had stayed in Shangri-La, I probably would not have learned as much about Penang as I did.