Friday, 6 April 2012

Cobra Bites Back Penang April 3rd 2012

Penang snake temple..The Cobra Bites Back.

Pondering over the Map undecided on any kind of plan for today. 3 locations of interest remain, the Tropical Fruit Farm, Butterfly Farm and then there is the Snake Temple. A collection of tamed and de-poisoned real live snakes according to research, and it's not far away, just by the airport. Bus 401E stops there and at the airport (for future reference) so should a straightforward journey, as they all are on Penang Island.

2.70 RM, 55p and the bus starts Southwards along the coastal road towards the airport. The southern suburbs are  largely residential, giant housing blocks making up the majority of local accommodation with small relatively new housing estates in between. Less traffic around these parts too, nothing like the mayhem that seems to plague northern and western districts. Queensbay says the sign, sounds like an expensive, maybe exclusive marina development. No, it's a giant shopping mall surrounded by residential housing estates, and newly developed blocks of flats, similar in design to those that had been springing up in British city centres the last few years. Don't see any marinas, but there way well be one hidden away, seems like the kind of place for one. Just a stones throw from here, looking towards the mainland is Jarejak, a resort Island claiming to preserve the rain forest that clads the hill according to a website. Locals know it as Alcatraz since the place was a jail, also  used to house folk with diseases such as leprosy, all several years ago. For anyone compelled to go and use their facilities, even stay there google may help with further information. Day visitors can take a boat across for about £5 each way and if in the mood to splurge, get lunch there.

It's taking ages to get to the snake Temple, waiting for the driver to call out the stop. Past the airport, round the southern end of the island and into the hills. Plenty of construction, new elevated highways replacing inadequate hill tracks, it looks that like from here anyway.
An hour and 20 minutes now, just 1 other passenger left on the bus. Turns out the Snake Temple was someway back and I need to get off and get another bus. Bus ends up at a depot somewhere halfway up the Western side of the island at a place called Balik Palau. Ok, I admit to not paying too much attention when I should have been, so consequently another 2.7 RM on another bus back, and this time the driver will point out the Snake Temple stop! Somehow we get to talking about the fruit farm nearby, and food in general. Transpires that Malaysians perception of food in the UK is that in general it's chemically manufactured and generally not that good! I can see his point and I wouldn't care not eating British, and American chemicals ever again, although I sure some of those will make there way over here in time, if not already.

After riding the 401E, then the 401 all afternoon, the Snake Temple stop has arrived, about 1/2 a mile past the Airport terminal (towards GT), and adjacent to the runway. A small unassuming place, not looking like any kind of a home for snakes, at first. Looking around here, the lady at the door points towards the snakes. About a dozen Vipers wrapped around bamboo stands each side of the altar. It's quite a unique sight, and at such close quarters too. Nothing is moving, signs saying don't prod the 'poison snakes', are around the place, so I refrain from the temptation to wake up a few of these creatures. Some interesting photos here, about 10 minutes and it's all done, but its free. Behind the Temple is a small garden providing areas of shade, but next to that is a Snake Farm. 5 RM to get in and a fascinating hours can be spent here - fascinating for snake fans that is. About 30 snakes and a particularly active Cobra, trying its best to get at me. For just over a quid, a good value place. I forgot to mention that there is a Python that can be wrapped around visitors and that souvenir photo can be had, for a fee of course.

Back on the bus to KOMTAR and Starbucks before heading off to Jaya and a dinner of Sweet potato pasties, rice, pineapple and cucumber all covered in a mild curry sauce. 3.3 RM, 68p.

From the Snake Farm Next Door...

And these video links. CAUTION Contains distressing scenes

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