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The Other Side of Penang

mangosteen balik pulau penang malaysia

The new Balik Pulau Visitor Centre.  Sounds official.  It’s even listed on the Penang Tourism website.

A young guy, Eddie, picked us up at the Balik Pulau bus terminal and drove us the mile to Air Putih.  Eddie and his two friends opened a bicycle tour shop out of a rented shed at a fruit farm in the middle of nowhere and called it a Visitor Center.

Well, self-proclamation is the first step to entrepreneurship.

malay kampung houses balik pulau penang

Eddie pointed on a map taped to the wall of the shed, and gave us a quick idea of our two hour route through the ‘back of the island’ – Balik Pulau.

Malay kampongs, Chinese villages, tropical fruit farms, rice paddy fields.

Places you tend to forget even exist in Penang when living on the developed side of the island.

malaysian tropcial fruits in penang

We made the trip out to enjoy the last of the tropical fruits as the season comes to an end in August.

And as we biked through peaceful Malay villages, we passed red and yellow rambutan trees weighed down like over decorated Christmas trees  

red rambutan in tree yellow rambutan
red rambutan for sale Balik Pulau Penang
 Clumps of langsat dangling far out of reach. 
langsat hanging from tree
Swollen cempedak and jackfruit ready to fall with the next touch of wind.
difference between jackfruit and cempedak?
inside jackfruit
Papayas larger than the tree they grow on.
green papaya on tree malaysia
Durian trees holding onto the last one or two fruits of the season.
balik pulau durians cut open on roadside stall
As we made our way into the open, along an irrigation canal, we were fortunate to catch sight of a Malay woman driving a combine, harvesting rice from one of the last paddy fields in Penang.  A sight that will soon disappear with the rapid housing developments on the west side of the island.
rice paddy field in penang with malay woman driving combine
Like any adventure in Penang, there are always contrasts.  Excitement.
biking in balik pulau penang
As we left the serenity of Malay kampongs, we biked into a Chinese village to be welcomed by dogs that had their fill of rambutans, and were searching for meat.  Eddie slapped his knee to scare them, but it seemed to make them hungrier.  The angriest dog only backed down after a truck barreled down the road, giving us time to bike away.
malay kampung house penang
Among the fruit trees, charming sides of Penang’s history appear, like Malay wooden kampong houses. Even a colonial mansion that must have been the home of a Malay village leader in the early 20th century.
malay colonial house penang
For a peek into Penang’s countryside, contact Eddie for a bike tour* of Balik Pulau.  And let him know that you are fine skipping the welcoming committee at the Chinese villages…

Explore Balik Pulau Visitor Centre
Contact: Mr. Eddie Chew
Email: aventleisure@gmail.com
Phone: 6-016-4522-100
Open: Monday – Friday: 2pm - 6.30pm, Saturday-Sunday: 12.00pm - 6.30pm Cost: RM20 for two hours  

*We wouldn’t recommend this tour for families with children.  No helmets or vests or any safety measures are taken, and the busy roads are dangerous.


debi yaz said...

Great pictures. The fruit is beautiful; I've never tasted most of these varieties. This looks like a fun adventure - thanks for sharing.

Nazlina Hussin said...

Great tour, I must try this!

Mark Walker said...

This is fantastic news ..something different ..must try it out then sell it at mango tree place

Janine @ Not the Kitchen Sink! said...

Loved the photos of your food and how you captured a lesser known side of Penang. Makes me wanna have a road trip up there soon :D

Christina Schweighofer said...

The pictures are great: the colors of the different kinds of fruit, the contrasts between the spikes on the outside and what appears to be soft flesh on the inside. Can somebody please invent web for all senses so that we can feel, taste, and smell Penang?

seasonwithspice said...

Maybe one day...but in the meantime, you are always welcome to visit Penang to see, smell, and taste the real thing.

seasonwithspice said...

After two years, we are still making new discoveries. Says a lot about this mysterious, little island.

seasonwithspice said...

Have fun!

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Nazlina, would be great to see you do the occasional cooking class in Balik Pulau. I'm sure the tourists would love it.

seasonwithspice said...

Thanks Debi, the fruits are a real must-try

Avofav said...

Amazing that one Island can have such a variety of cultures and landscapes. What interesting and colorful fruit you have.

e cigarette starter kit said...

All the pics are superb.Its really a awesome island.Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.Its really a great tour.Keep sharing with us in future too.

Hearing Aid said...

Awesome pics. I love nature pics.It gives piece to our mind.Thanks for all the information. I really like the concept of this post and I feel that this is a very unique and rare information that you have managed to compile. It is quite interesting to read about this very rare topic.

Orden said...

Wow all post are so nice.Some post are provide information about fruits and some about other.I appreciate to this content.The written skill is so good.Thanks to share this blog with us.I will keep share in future.

Six Sigma said...

Great job with great concept.I really like the post.Thanks for sharing this.

misthmine said...

Very well written article.Nice thought indeed.I really liked it a lot.Thanks a lot for sharing.Keep sharing always in future too.