After three great days shopping and meandering around Penang we were ready for three days at the beach where we could relax, indulge in whatever, and do … nothing.
Batu Feringgi (which we will call Batu (which means beach) as I have seen Feringgi spelt so many different ways I’m not sure which is correct) is about an hour from Penang by air-conditioned public bus. The bus station is at the Komtar Centre and buses run about every 30 minutes.
We are staying at the Copthorne Hotel just a few minutes out of Batu. The driveway is steep and we lug our bags up the hill, and the numerous hotel front steps—puffing and panting in the 30 degree heat. Once through the double doors the entrance foyer is tiled and cool, with fat comfy sofas and chairs to get your breath back before you check in.
Our room has everything we want including a balcony (complete with patio setting) that overlooks the water and neighbourhood gardens. Somewhere beyond those gardens is a beach which offers parasailing, and those daring to try float past our window as they soar over the ocean and then turn back to land on the hidden beach. It’s now late-afternoon and we decide to explore the hotel before dinner.
From the foyer we walk through the open restaurant to the pool area and from there take a lift down to the hotel garden and private beach which is clean and spacious and apart from the sign warning of jelly fish; looks quite inviting.
Back at the pool area there is a small spa which includes a sauna and jacuzzi, and offers a variety of massages, body scrubs, and facials. In our room there is a brochure on the spa that tells us for $124.50 per person, per night, you can book a spa break that includes accommodation, breakfast for two, and a 2 hour and 25 minute spa session consisting of rejuvenating massage, use of sauna and jacuzzi, body scrub, and pedicure. And you didn’t mention this facility previously because …?
Mulling over whether I will have time during our stay to test the spa facilities, we partake of an aperitif at the pool bar while checking the menu for dinner, after which we plan to open a nice bottle of red and watch the sun go down over the water from our own little balcony.
The following morning we find the sun has decided it’s all too hard and the day is grey and overcast. Our plans to explore the shops and cafés are dashed by a monsoonal downpour when we are halfway down the steep driveway. In the time it takes to race back to the foyer we are soaked and squelch our way to our room to dry off and change. You morosely decide the rain is here for the day and settle down with a pot of tea and a paperback and watch the rain bounce of the balcony—the parasailers nowhere to be seen, in fact the rain is so bad you can’t see beyond the balcony!
Now this is bad—and good. Bad because we can’t venture out much and resign ourselves to hotel confinement and good because here is the perfect opportunity to visit … Yes! The Spa!
And so the day passes in the gentle hands of the masseuse who kneads my back and neck into blissful submission and shows me the delights of having salt mud wrapped over my feet and nail art painted on my toes—but more about that later. Later in the afternoon the rain stops and we venture down to the gardens to sit awhile and enjoy an aperitif while I admire my feet.
The next day the sun wakes us and we are back to scorching heat and parasailers. Today we take the bus to the main batu and hop off at the Holiday Inn—which just happens to be in the middle of the main shopping area. We decide that we will take a sneak-peak at the Holiday Inn—just because it’s there—and so make our way through the foyer, past the pool (neither of which are any better than our hotel) and onto the beach. The beach is huge and stretches along the coast—but it’s also full of sunbakers, swimmers, lounges (and loungers) and the ever present parasailers who take off every couple of minutes. Looking up they look like large colourful birds swooping over the water and finally coming into land with a bump on the beach.
We stop at a beach café for a light lunch and saunter back along the beach (dodging the parasailers); past the pool and through the hotel, and out to the shopping centre. This is quite obviously the up-market end of the beach with the shops selling expensive brand names instead of locally made arts and crafts. I comment that I didn’t come to Malaysia to buy Tommy Hilfiger and we board the bus back to the Copthorne where we have much more fun checking out the local shops and cafes. A couple of beers and a Nasi Goreng, in a tiny café across from the hotel is dinner for tonight.
The next day we take the public bus to the airport for our journey home. Penang has been a delightful tropical six days after a cold and gloomy Canberra winter, and we make a promise that we will return.