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Pangkor vacation with children - A survival guide

Hi, this is Naz from Penang. This is all about my Pangkor vacation with children. I have been working non-stop for the last ten months with hardly a break. As a result, my two children, Johan 8, and Johanna, 4 were virtually left to fend for themselves while I went to work. Kids are resilient.

Pangkor vacation with children at the beach of Teluk Segadas
Teluk Segadas, a beautiful remote beach
at Pulau Pangkor

However, they do need guidance, not simply just from anyone, but especially from their parents. With this in mind, I take a month off work and am prepared to give them the best holiday of their young lives.

This was my second trip to Pangkor. A few weeks ago I have had my own Bicycle adventure at Pangkor, you can read here about that adventure.

What : 3 days 2 nights Pangkor holiday
When: Over a three-day weekend
Budget : RM 450.00 (around US$ 128, 2 kids, 1 adult) as of August 2006

A little baby, let’s say, 4 months old, will command more luggage than an adult would, even for a short one day trip. Two young children, who can speak and DEMAND things, may not need as much but can surely make you feel like tearing your hair out by the end of your outing.

My children, having fun at the Nipah Bay, one of the Pangkor beaches

So, planning is crucial. I took almost four hours packing – wet suits, mask and snorkel, fins, arm bands, sunscreen lotion, tiger balm, hats, insect repellant, beach ball, and loads and loads of extra clothes. Plastic bags for wet stuff is also very important, (in my case, I use Tupperware containers, very handy, both for food and also other things, since the rigid construction will not squash your snacks).

We took a bus, from Butterworth to Lumut, a three-hour journey. I have a day backpack prepared on-board with spare jackets (bus can get very cold), small packets of Koko Krunch, Honey Stars, mineral water, milk powder, apples, small towels and crackers.

As you may be wondering why I bring those snacks, thinking you can buy them on the highway stop, think again. Not all highway stops have those, and sometimes, we are a bit early and those vendors have not arrived yet. Plus, the bus won't stop much.

Johanna and Johan at the beach of Teluk Nipah
Johanna and Johan at the beach of Teluk Nipah

Very important, make them go to the toilet before getting on the bus!

Our outbound trip was okay, the bus was not that cold, we got the front row seats (I bought three separate seats), and could watch the view quite well. This was their first time going to Pangkor.

Johan could read the road signs and became more excited by the minute seeing the kilometers to the island got closer and closer.

 At one point, they dozed off, which made me happy because if they were less tired, it would be easier for me to handle them.

The ferry trip was a treat in itself. The kids were so excited to feel the wind in their faces and shrieked happily when the salt spray hit them. We outdoor people (did I tell you I am a diver myself?), preferred fresh air on deck rather than air-conditioned cabins below.

Johanna (7 years old) and her rope course adventure

Outdoor activities with childrenOf all the outdoor adventures, I find the rope course as we offer here in Teluk Batik, one of the best, even for children. Johanna asked me to bring her to the rope course and do it herself. Together with 10 km cycling, 1 hour hiking (some very steep parts), 2 hours swimming plus of course 10 km cycling back home, Johanna had her full day of adventure:

Johanna's adventures

I am calling all parents, come on, please do not be over protective of your children. Let them live, play, and experience new things. Not everything costs a lot of money to be enjoyable, sometimes the right company and the right activities make all the difference.

We took one of those pink taxi vans to Nipah Bay Villa where I already had a reservation. While getting ready to the beach, I let them play with blow bubbles. Especially packed for the trip. My kids love playing with bubbles.

Once they even mixed a concoction of my shampoo and the dishwashing liquid because “they make bigger bubbles”. Obviously I was not amused at all, especially when they spilled it all over my spotless living room!

The beach was a minute away. I was concerned that afternoon waves could be stronger than morning ones but it turned out that afternoon, Nipah Bay was calm.

I asked for room service for dinner to avoid table manners situation. We had HBO in the room and lucky enough they were showing a kid’s movie that night. However, by 9 p.m. they were already in the never-never land, and I also joined them shortly.

Pangkor vacation with children at Nipah Bay Villa
At the Nipah Bay Villa, Pulau Pangkor

Our guide arrived the next morning around 10 a.m., we were going to Teluk Segadas, a remote beach on the south of the island (Teluk Nipah is on the west side of the island).

Teluk Segadas is only accessible by boat or by 20-30 minutes jungle trekking from the village next the old Dutch Fortress. We took a pink taxi van to the village and set off on foot for the rest of the journey.

Before leaving Teluk Nipah I had the foresight to pack four packets of nasi lemak, mineral water, fruits, chocolate chip cookies, jelly and crackers. Yes, a picnic was what we were going to have.

Apart from the trip to Penang botanical garden, this is the first time the kids experienced a jungle trek. Johanna loved the wild flowers and butterflies. Her brother was on the look out for monkeys (could not see any on that day) and also hornbills. There were birds and all sorts of unidentified jungle sounds. The trail was well marked with plastic strips, so the possibility of getting lost was pretty slim.

Johan and Johanna at Pasir Bogak

The path was easy most of the way but upon reaching the beach, there were some difficult ones, we had to climb up, the roots of the trees being our “staircase”, Johanna had to be carried up at this point. Climbing down was also a bit tricky, but we managed it alright. We saw a camping ground, with a group of tents. However, the beach was large enough for us to get our own private spot.

Beautiful weather, moderate surf. Initially I was reluctant to let Johan go in the water because the waves looked pretty big, but the beach slope was not steep at all, water pretty shallow, I soon joined them in the sea. We were in the water for at least two hours! By that time, the high tide was coming in, so the waves got harder and bigger, so I called for a lunch break.

Johanna and Johan at the beach of Teluk Nipah
Johanna and Johan at the beach of Teluk Nipah

Food was polished off in no time. Is this the time to go home? Nope. They still amused themselves: watching the eagles, collecting shells building sand castles. Endless entertainment at the beach. Both kids were having the time of their lives. I love watching them play. They came to me once in a while showing off the shells they collected or the remis (local mussel) they dug out of the sand.

Around 3 p.m. we decided to go home. I collected all rubbish to be disposed off properly at the village. Hey, I am an eco-friendly mom, you know.

Returning trek proof to be harder, we pushed on non-stop, thighs quivering with lactic acid build-up, but this kind of StairMaster beat countless hours at the gym.

When we got to the village, we were lucky to get a taxi dropping a group of hikers, so we took that one back to Teluk Nipah. Apparently, Johan still wanted to swim again. I let him go with the guide, while Johanna was brought back to our room for a good shower.

Night came, everyone was simply knocked out.

Last day at Pangkor, Johan still managed an hour in the water before checking out! We went window shopping in Pangkor town before getting on the ferry. I vetoed against Johanna’s plea for a star-shaped float It was the first weekend of the month, we only managed to get the last bus at 6:30 p.m. to Butterworth.

Luckily, Lumut’s new waterfront twenty minutes walk from the bus station), has a large playground and a nice clean place to eat and relax. It was a perfect ending for a short holiday. I also still have RM90.00 left from my budget. Who says you have to spend a lot of money to have a good time with the children? Will we come visit again? You bet. My short Pangkor vacation with children was a big success and I am looking forward coming back.

Nazlina Hussin is mom and writer of two great websites: www.pickles-and-spices.com and www.penangheritagecity.com. Naz lives in Penang and has a huge knowledge about Malay(sian) food and about Penang and its heritage. and has her own cooking class in George Town Penang

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