Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Taiping revisited: Maxwell Hill

This was the second visit to Taiping in two weeks. While the first visit was primarily to visit the Sasanarakkha  Buddhist Sanctuary there with my family, this second trip was made with a friend from Singapore. The objective was to climb up Maxwell Hill along the tarmac road. As far up as we could afford ourselves to go.

We started off from the base at 11.40a.m. I must say that it was a very refreshing walk, a completely change of scenery from my usual hill treks at the Bukit Mertajam Hill. Different things to see every step of the way. Was very impressed with the huge trees growing perpendicularly up from the ground. Still can't put a name to these trees, however.

And it wasn't just the scenery that captivated me. There was also the smell of fresh greenery all along the way, enhanced by the rain during our trek down the road.

Ordinarily, I do not bother to walk or trek that far up a hill. The hill in Bukit Mertajam, for instance, is only about 450 metres above sea level and the distance until the peak is something like 3.7 kilometres. In Taiping, the elevation of Maxwell Hill is 1,250 metres and according to the markers, the hill road is about nine kilometres long.

But when the scenery is new and there's good company, distances become quite relative. Stephen and I managed to walk a good six kilometres until the Tea Garden. Two hours to get here. He wanted to go on till the top but looming dark clouds, coupled with hunger pangs and a deserted building at this Tea Garden, made us do an about-turn down to the base, which was another six kilometres of walk, that we reached at about 3.20p.m. Along the way, the government 4WDs were whizzing up and down, ferrying daytrippers up and down the hill. At times, I was tempted to flag one of them down but resisted the urge. Anyway, the 4WDs were always full of passengers and I doubt they would stop.

On the way down, we struck up a conversation with a Taiping resident. It was at about the time that we caught sight of a green snake. He was fascinated that we had come all the way from Penang just to go up Maxwell Hill. We talked of many things, including local politics, and my most interesting observation was the still seething anger in him regarding the three political turncoats in the state in February 2009 that caused the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat government. Especially, he heaped scorn on the former DAP assemblywoman.

Here is a small section of the pictures from the Maxwell Hill trip:

The starting point of our walk. According to the milestone, it is nine kilometres till the end, though not necessarily the top.

I was impressed with the size of some of the trees like, for example, this one.

Caught sight of this small red flower by the slope.

 One of the typical hairpin bends.

This is Resthouse Number Three. The road gets more deserted after this point.

The hairpin bend at Resthouse Number Three.

Wild orchid. 

Rain clouds in the far distance. Of course, it rained. What do you expect from Taiping?

The abandoned government building that makes up the Tea Garden. We had thought that there would be some sign of life here who could give us a warm cup of tea but no, the whole place was deserted despite it being furnished with chairs, fans, conference room, toilets and plush chairs. Heard from the Taiping resident that it was previously looked after by people but their services were terminated by the government. The place is not left to rot. Big waste of taxpayers' money, if you ask me, but then, that's always the attitude of the Barisan Nasional government.  

Came across this green snake slithering on the road as we came down. It was probably harmless but I wasn't going to find out.


martin lim said...

3 days ago i walked up then down fraser's hill taking 7 hours.

Last mth , i walked up Penang Hill

In march , i hope to walk up Maxwell Hill . Are you coming along ? Bye.

Anonymous said...

Being an ex taiping, I enjoyed reading your article plus those crystal pictures. Can I share your article at my school (1969a hua lian) site?

SS Quah said...

Dear Anonymous, you can use the pictures if you can credit them to me. Regards...