I missed the chance to go up Maxwell Hill on Monday with a group of die-hard speed walkers (not that I can keep up with them, because I can't) and so I decided to spend my afternoon with a slow trek up the Bukit Mertajam Hill at Cherok Tekun instead.
My objective wasn't to reach the summit but rather, to reach the three-quarters stage where there was a lookout point over the Mengkuang Dam. The last time I tried to reached this point, I had to turn back after the tea house because of an impending thunderstorm.
But on Monday afternoon, the sky was quite clear although at one stage, I could hear the sounds of thunder in the background. Also, there was a slight haze in the air despite the weather being wet a few days earlier. At the lookout point, I was rather disappointed that the distance was totally unclear.
Anyway, I had about three hours on my hands and I decided to make it a slow and determined walk. Took the well-trodden hill path beside the stream that ran through the forest park. Reached the first station after about half an hour, saw some other fellow trekkers resting and talking loudly, and quickly decided to push on past them. Very soon - actually, another 20 minutes or so - I reached the end of the track and emerged at the tea house at the half-way point.
A recently uprooted tree blocking the way. Had to climb over it.
The tea house at the halfway point
Decided to rest here for a while. There was a cool breeze blowing through. Very refreshing. Could stay here for hours but then told myself that I must continue if I wanted to make it to the lookout. However, the hill path had ended and from here onwards, I would have to follow the road. Took me about another 15 minutes to get there. The entrance to the lookout was just a small path off the road. It would be easy to miss but of course, I have been there before.
The huge bend in the road at the entrance to the lookout.
It would be all too easy to miss the secluded path.
As long as you can see this shed, you know that you have arrived at the lookout.
It would pay to heed the warning, as you will soon find out!
The view from the lookout. The vast expanse of water in the distance is the Mengkuang Dam.
I was actually horrified when I first saw this. Whatever had happened to the land beside the Mengkuang Dam? The last time I was here, it was still a vast stretch of rolling green land. And now, land clearing had overrun the place and replaced it with bare yellow soil. What was happening? The land is totally ruined!
I couldn't hang around for long, not with this scarred scene etched in my mind and open for every visitor to the lookout to see. So I walked away. And I hope the relevant authorities, be they the Pihak Berkuasa Air or the Penang Government, will explain to the public WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON at Mengkuang Dam?!
The rest of my trek downhill was pretty uneventful and I took the opportunity to photograph the unspoilt nature around me.
Hill ferns grew with wild abundance and it was quite interesting to get up close to observe the young fronds.
Typically, they mostly looked pretty hideous like some aliens from space.
But there were also some nice ones to behold.
And the tall trees that had been growing undisturbed for a very long time.
This wooded part of the road was about the nicest part of my walk down the hill.
Opportunities abound to get close to nature at the Bukit Mertajam Hill. Not only do you get to enjoy the greenery, there's also the different sounds of crickets and other insects that seem to come at you from all directions. Plus, if you are lucky, the added bonus of a cool breeze that makes you want to stay there with a good book.