Sunday, January 28, 2007

The world's smallest national park (Photo-essay)


A couple of weekends ago, I went hiking -- frozen shoulder and all -- in
the world's smallest national park with a few friends. Conveniently, I didn't have to leave my island home because, as it so happens, the gazetted area which claims this distinction is located in the northwest corner of Penang island.

For the record, Penang National Park (or, to give it its name in Bahasa Malaysia, Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) covers an area of just 25.62 square kilometers. (In contrast, Denmark's Greenland National Park, which lays claim to being the world's largest national park is 972,000 square kilometers in size -- and larger than England and France combined!)

What Penang's sole national park lacks in size though, it makes up for in biological richness and diversity. Hills, sandy and rocky beaches, coastal forests, mangrove jungles, wetlands, mudflats, streams and Malaysia's only meromictic lake all can be found within that which used to be known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve until it was gazetted as a national park on 5th April, 2003. Ditto a variety of fauna (though I didn't catch sight of all that many of these on my recent visit).

Something else that is apparent even to the untrained eye is how beautiful much of it is. And it is hoped that this -- along with a sense of this "little green pocket"'s ecological diversity -- comes through in the following photographs (all of which I took over the course of my recent exhausting, but still enjoyable, day trip). :)

Deep inside Penang National Park

Where jungle meets rocky beach,
and rocky beach meets the waters of the Malacca Straits

about a two hour hike away from the park entrance

The rockier part of Pantai Keracut

A dry looking portion of the meromictic lake

A view with more water and sunshine

A slice of equatorial paradise

6 comments:

duriandave said...

Wow! So beautiful!

Are you trying to lure me to your island paradise!?

Actually, I visited Penang about ten years ago. One of the highlights of my trip was bicycling around the island. Another highlight was visiting the wonderful Burmese Buddhist temple (with it's colorful statues) and watching an enchanting sunset procession celebrating Hari Wesak (Buddha's birthday).

YTSL said...

Hi duriandave --

1) Glad you like -- and, well, as I've been trying to tell people, Penang *is* a nice place to visit! :)

2) I didn't realize that you have visited Penang before! *And* bicycled around the island: Wah, you must (have) be(ee) very fit... ;b

Newley said...

Great post, YTSL! Didn't know this place even existed. Very cool.

YTSL said...

Hi Newley --

Thanks for the compliment. And yeah, I reckon that there's more to meet the eye in Penang than many people are apt to mistakenly think! :b

Bengbeng said...

I used to go camping there a few times a yr in my younger days. It was simply beautiful there. we didnt even know it was a national park. At night there would b nobody nearby but us and we would play in the water naked, care free, and then cook for ourselves. I can't imagine i was once so young. We were boys playing men or maybe we were men playing boys :)

YTSL said...

Hi Bengbeng --

Thanks for checking out more than one post on your most recent visit! :)

Re your knowing that Penang National Park was a park before: Chances are high that it wasn't a national park -- but "just" Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve -- when you went camping there during your younger days. ;b