On the southwest of Penang, there is a sleepy town called Balik Pulau, literally meaning “behind the island,” that offers a glimpse of yesteryear. I salute the person who gave this town its name; there’s no need to give the town a fancy name, just a simple Balik Pulau would do.
But there’s nothing simple about Balik Pulau. What lies “behind the island” are beautiful sceneries, fresh air, quaint villages, street art, hospitable people, delicious food, empty beaches and peace and quiet. Let me show you what lies “behind the island”.
Balik Pulau Street Art
George Town has long been known as one of the street art capitals of the world. A prominent Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevi was commissioned to paint eight murals depicting the cultural and heritage of the island, which sparked the street art craze in not just Penang but the whole of Malaysia.
But street art in Balik Pulau depicts real people. Julia Volchkova who hails from Russia, paints the people she has met around the villages. Her murals on the pre-war buildings around Balik Pulau portray a rubber tapper, a fisherman, an Indian lady, a Hakka lady, as well as a martial artist in a pose.
Half the fun of the street art is hunting for the paintings, so what are you waiting for? Just head southwest of Penang and start your search for Volchkova’s murals and other drawings from various unknown artists.
Pasir Panjang Beach
I have a secret to share – did you know that Balik Pulau has a beach that is empty of tourists? That’s right, the beach at Pasir Panjang Beach is your own private playground. Here, you won’t have to fight for a space to set up your picnic spread. Just enjoy the empty beach to yourself, collecting beautiful seashells, chasing little crabs, angling, or simply enjoying the beautiful sunset. I must tell you, though, that swimming is not advisable here – the 2004 tsunami had eroded the beach and there may be steep parts and strong undercurrents in the sea not immediately visible to the eye.
Saanen Dairy Goat Farm
Did you know that the Royal Society recently reported that goats are much more attracted to people with big smiles plastered across their faces? Well, if you want to test it out, go visit Saanen Dairy Goat Farm in Permatang Pasir, Balik Pulau and find out for yourself.
Oh, for your information, Saanen goats are a white or cream colored breed of goats, named after the Saanen valley in Switzerland. So, please smile widely while you are feeding them the Rose and Napiar grasses. Entrance to the farm and feeding activities are free of charge. At the farm, you will get to learn the daily operations of a dairy goat farm from milking until the distribution process. Don’t forget to check out their ice cream, yogurt, feta, goat’s cheese and pudding made from fresh milk.
298 Mukim 1 Sungai Pinang, 11010 Balik Pulau, Penang
Countryside Stables Penang
Nestled in the midst of the Sungai Burung agriculture area in Balik Pulau is the privately-owned Countryside Stables that offers its visitor all kind of riding activities.
To date, it is home to 35 horses of various breed including miniatures horses, Shetlands ponies, pure bred Arabian horses, Polo pony, Thai, Myanmar and Malaysian ponies, Percheron, and other animals such as donkeys and deer.
Upon entering Countryside Stables, an entry free of RM10 (adults) RM5 (children) will be charged. Some of the activities include joy rides and guided rides for children and adults, animal petting and feeding, as well as horse carriage rides.
Lot 10050 Jalan Sungai Burung, Kampong Jalan Baru, Balik Pulau
Tel: 012-408 0678
Kuala Sungai Pinang
Kuala Sungai Pinang is a traditional fishing village that looks like it is frozen in time. It is worth a visit if you have never been to a fishing village and curious about the daily life of a fisherman. At the village, you get to see fishermen tending their nets while their old-school boats sway gently at the dock, or just enjoy the view of the villagers hustling for the catch of the day. It is simply nostalgic. Besides that, some of the friendly fishermen offer boat rides until the mangrove area and the nearby surroundings. Kuala Sungai Pinang may just be the place for poetic inspiration.
Titi Kerawang Waterfall
A cascading waterfall and natural pool await visitors at a scenic road between Balik Pulau and Teluk Bahang, on the western side of the island. Since there are few waterfalls in Penang, a visit to this waterfall, which the locals call Titi Kerawang, is a must. The cool environment and dense greenery make the waterfall an ideal picnic spot. Local people normally come here in droves during the weekends and public holidays for recreation.
Stepping Stone Centre
The centre showcases a variety of high quality crafts which can be purchased. These include hand woven scarves, tie and dye bags in vibrant colours, home-made soaps, candles, etc. All products are made by members with special needs who have channeled their skills and abilities into a viable career. Stepping Stone is a support centre for community living run by an NGO, the Asia Community Service.
53, Jalan Bharu, Bukit Satu, MK 1 Pulau Betong, Balik Pulau
+604 866 5349
Bao Sheng Durian Farm
Your visit to Balik Pulau is not complete if you did not go to a durian farm. In fact, every year between May and August, durian is the only fruit that draws visitors from near and far to Balik Pulau. There is this farm in Balik Pulau called Bao Sheng, which offers its visitors a compelling durian tasting experience. Savor the distinctive taste of Malaysia’s king of fruits in their tasting sessions as you learn about various types of durians and how to pick the best ones.
150 Mukim 2, Sungai Pinang, 11010 Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012-411 0600 / +6012-401 0800
Matahari Cycle Tours, Balik Pulau
One of the best ways to explore Balik Pulau is on two wheels as you can easily meander through the villages and go off-the-beaten path to really get to know the locals. Matahari Cycle Tours is one of the prominent tour agencies that promotes the area. Cycling through Balik Pulau will allow you plenty of opportunities to get a perfect photo of the traditional villages, plantations, paddy fields and the farms.
Matahari Cycle Tours Travel Sdn. Bhd.
Contact No: +6019-4480440 (Mr Syed and Ms Princillia)