Oh hai, goat. Whatcha doin’, goat? Why ya photo-bombin’ us, goat? Just think of the ridiculous questions you can ask your new goat friends when you visit the family-run Saanen Dairy Goat Farm in Balik Pulau.
The town is located on southwest Penang Island in Malaysia, about 40 minutes from George Town. Admission to Saanen is free, but guided tours are available for RM7 ($2 USD). These walk you through the basics of dairy farming and goat breeding. It’s as interactive as you like: Guests feed long stalks of grass to the goats, cuddle with goat babies, take googly-eyed goat selfies, and even try their hands at milking. The farm is home to more than 50 goat residents and run by happy-go-lucky goat whisperer Ho Juan Aun.
You can spend as much time in the goat shelter as you like, or visit with some of the farm’s other creatures, including a goose, ostrich, prairie dog, hedgehog, and floppy-eared rabbit. Stop by the barn shop to pick up bottles of fresh goat milk, nutmeg-flavored yogurt, and goat’s milk soap.
Balik Pulau is accessible via motorbike rental or public transportation, but we recommend hiring a local guide and making a day of it. Eddie, founder of Explore Balik Palau, is great. His small, private countryside cycling tours cost RM90 ($20) per person and include door-to-door transfer from George Town, plus bike rental, helmets, bottled water, and entrance fees. The 2.5-hour cycling tour winds through nutmeg farms, durian orchards, mangrove swamps, verdant rice paddies, and mountaintop overlooks. You’ll visit the Malay village of Kuala Sungai Burong, where you can walk a rocky outcrop near the Strait of Malacca, and the quaint Chinese fishing village of Kuala Jalan Bahru, where you might meet an uncle making talcum powder in the traditional way. Although a stop at Saanen Dairy wasn’t part of the original itinerary, Eddie was happy to build it in for us. We appreciated his deep knowledge of the area and excellent English.
Note: Penang can be extremely muggy—like pressing your face into a burning-hot washcloth. BYO hat, sunglasses, sunblock, a sweat towel, an umbrella for shade, and as many bottles of water as you can carry. If the heat still proves to be too much and/or the bike riding too strenuous, Eddie is happy to finished your tour via air-conditioned van. He’s flexible like that.
298 Mukim 1, Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia; +60-19-516-3017.