11 Jan 2009 morning was my the first hike to Penang Hill in 2009. Initiated by KY and referring to the material in ForestExplorer website, we started at about 8 am from Desa Bendera apartment along Jalan Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill Road) in Ayer Itam, Penang. Right opposite of the main road is a Buddhist Temple called Miau Xiang Ling (Beow Hiang Lim).
We took the road along Pesiaran Taman Cantik, then crossed a small bridge. On the left, there is a seafood restaurant called 'Happy Family Seafood House'.
We kept walking and then took a left turn upon seeing the mailbox with 365A hanging on the rusted fence. Going on a narrow tarred road, occasionally, we passed by some houses along this path. Many mailboxes were erected at the edge of this tarred road, perhaps there are more houses further in.
The terrain was slightly steep but cooling in the morning. At this spot, a group of avid cyclists greeted us and soon vanished ahead.
After 20 minutes, we arrived at a fork junction whereby there was a small shrine - 'Datuk Hijau'. We took the right path and kept on walking. As we progressed uphill, the landscape of houses on the hill slope was visible. We even caught the view of Kek Lok Si Pagoda!
The path was shady covered by rain forest trees and some part can be a bit winding though. Once in a while, a few dogs would be barking and following us. It was indeed a relax stroll and still pleasurable to exchange long conversation among us.
The next check point was 'Tua Pek Kong' (Tua Pek Kong is a Malaysian deity) signage. It was written in Chinese as below.
We took the left turn following the arrow to 'Tua Pek Kong' and climbed uphill although still on a cemented path. Surrounded by flora and wild flowers, house was hardly visible here. It took us about 10 minutes before we arrived at a small red shrine. We continued and after another 25 minutes, we reached the 'Tua Pek Kong' shrine. A well equipped shrine with resting chairs, fans and fluorescent lights, it is sitting at the edge of a slope overlooking a scenic view of Penang Hill. A decent toilet is also available for bladder clearance service. We met the same group of cyclists again when they were about to resume their journey. And we followed behind as usual. Right after 'Tua Pek Kong' shrine, we took the left turn and it led us to pass by flower and vegetable farms. Chrysanthemums, french beans and roses were among the main cultivation here. The passage was indeed very beautiful with grassland, some wild bamboo trees and relatively huge black boulders sitting on hilly slope.
One of the cyclists was jokingly shouting at us 'We can see Easter Island right here!'. Except, the boulders here do not resemble human face yet!
Soon, we came across the next check point, whereby we took the right turn walking on the paved road uphill. Going straight will reach funicular railway track at Middle Station. This path was slightly steep and we continued until reaching a boulder marked F3 with blue paint.
This path onwards was a jungle trail which led us to Claremont Station on the left. Going right in a short walk less than 1 minute, there was a few signage with yellow arrow base. One of square board reads 470 A.P.L. (A.P.L. is 'aras paras laut' which means 'above sea level'). We climbed on the uphill terrain with help of ropes tied along this trail and reached 520 A.P.L. (above sea level) whereby there was a rest hut with a couple of long benches. Take a rest if you wish. After we continued walking and in about ten minutes, funicular railway track at Viaduct Station was just ahead. In order to cross to the opposite side, we took the path underneath the funicular railway track and come across the signage of Buddha Light Vihara.
We continued walking parallel to the ailway track and soon arrived at 570 A.P.L. on Viaduct Road.
Not too far from this junction, there is a drain, we followed the path beside this drain, later on a short shady jungle trail and finally arrived at 670 A.P.L. where Cottage - a residential house is located.
Facilitated by the signage towards Jalan Yahaya Petra, we went along the trail with yellow railing and at last reaching tarred road at 720 A.P.L. (above sea level). Penang Hill food court is just less than 3 minutes away.
All we needed was a cold 100 Plus!
From my experience of trekking Penang Hill, this path is considered as one of the most fun-filling adventures of 'all-in-one' trail, exploring the local houses, dogs, Chinese shrine/temple, vegetable/flower farms, jungle trail, funicular railway or train, bungalows on top of Penang Hill and of course the aerial view of Ayer Itam and George Town!
Last but not least, many thanks goes to my comrades for their pleasurable companionship along this awesome trail!
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