Saturday, 22 March 2008

Tiger Hill, Penang

Tiger Hill. I never thought my group of friends would have ever made this trip to Tiger Hill on Penang island. We had wanted to climb this hill about three weeks ago but it rained so heavily the day before that we decided to postpone it. But we had finally set our sights on 20 Mar 2008, come what may.

This short post documents our 11-kilometre track from Ayer Itam town to Tiger Hill and from there, along the Summit Road to the Penang Hill upper railway station. It's also to help anyone wishing to explore this trail for the first time. If you want to see bigger pictures, just click on the images.

At 8am, we were at the start of Balik Pulau Road which went all the way up to the Ayer Itam Dam but we were not to take this road all the way. To set our bearings correct, opposite us was a row of stalls selling souvenirs and trinkets to people (mainly tourists) going up by the steps to the Kek Lok Si Temple.

The first landmark we came across was the Kwarn Inn Sahn Pow Yin Sian Tsi arch. We turned into the side road next to this arch. It was steep and it led us past several residential houses. Lots of dogs around and they followed us for a distance, but we just ignored them.

Soon, we reached the Tua Pek Kong Temple. Opposite was the landmark pink shed. We took the road to the left of the shed. Soon, this road became a track. We saw a small sign that pointed us to the Ayer Itam Dam.

The children's play ground came as a slight shock to see it for the first time. We though it was right in the middle of nowhere but actually, the playground looked over the Ayer Itam Dam. We walked down to the dam and took the road hugging the dam's perimeter. walking counter-clockwise.

Our next landmark was this marker which was sprayed behind a No Entry sign. It was a no-brainer decision to follow the arrow and go on up the well-maintained path. But there was one danger we had to be aware of: the motorcyclists that free wheelled silently down this path.

Eventually, we reached this major landmark: a five-way junction. We were now at a crossroad but the signboard was hopelessly useless. Looking around, we found a small laterite trail on the right that took us into the forest. Damp and dark as we walked in single file. Surprisingly, the trail was quite easy but we had to be careful not to slip on the damp cement at some stretches. I think it could be about three kilometres long but there were lots of interesting things to see along the way.

We emerged from the track and arrived at this small bamboo bridge. Beyond it was a vegetable farm. We had a choice of going through the farm or skirt around it by going into the forest again. The two paths would join up eventually. We decided to take a look at the farm.

Going through the farmland, we now reached another junction and we had no idea at all of where to go next. First, we took the left track and reached the small Tiger Hill Dam. So we knew that wasn't the way. So we doubled back and followed the right trail. It was poorly maintained in many parts. We passed by a pipeline on the right with steps going steeply up the slope. It was an alternative path but we decided to stick to the trail.

Abruptly, the trail ended and we found ourselves on Summit Road. Time was about 1pm. From here onwards, the road was tarred and it was easy all the way, although it took us another hour to arrive at the Penang Hill railway station.

All in, we covered about 11 kilometres on a trail that lasted slightly more than six hours. But we made it. Saw See, Jeremy, myself, two of Jeremy's friends, Yuen Chee, Long Kin and two of Long Kin's friends.

No comments: