Sunday, November 11, 2012

Coming Down The Waterfall

As I made my way down the path about 5 minutes in I crossed a creek and assumed that was the waterfall since there didn't seem to be anything else. I kept on the path, but it started to veer off in the wrong direction. Eventually I came to a couple of arrows stapled to a tree. Neither of which gave me good information, but one appeared to point to Batu Ferringhi (left) and I knew I wasn't going that way. I continued on the path going right, which at times was hard to pick out. It got very steep and I started to feel like I was on a path that no one had been on in a while. In some places there were even fixed rope because the slope of the hill was more than 30 degrees and slippery. I trudged on cursing my stupidity as the clocked ticked by. Just over an hour after leaving the tarmac I started to hear a waterfall and shortly I was spit out at its base. Amazingly beautiful. I poked around a bit, but there seemed to be only one way to go down a concrete path covered in moss. The path was slippery and a few times I almost did a full fall, but managed to catch myself. After a few minutes I ran into a barbed wire fence. I looked around for a path around, but there certainly wasn't another path and so I just opened the gate since it had a lock, but wasn't closed. This lead me into a water treatment plant, which turned out to be the oldest treatment plant in Malaysia. I wandered around, but couldn’t see how to get out so went to a shed where some guys were sitting and chatting. I asked the way out and they told me I shouldn’t be there. I told them I knew that, but had no choice in coming in since there was no other trail and could they please direct me out. They opened the gate for me and I entered the Botanical Garden and was shortly back to my car. 3 ½ hours after starting I was back peeling off my boots.

At the Top

Once I reached the top my legs were jelly. At the top there are a few shops/cafes and at the very top a temple and a playground. I sat for 15 minutes or so to guzzle some water and snack on pretzels before heading back down. Judging from the map I had looked at there was a different trail that I could take on the way back down and this one would pass a waterfall. I walked about 3km down the tarmac which was also difficult and got to the point where I thought I should get onto the trail. The map indicates a playground, but its more like a little resting area on the abutment of a curve in the road. Its not like it has play equipment. Unfortunately by the time I thought to take a picture I was already on the trail and didn’t want to go back so no pictures of the non-playground playground.

Entering the Moon Gate

Climbing Penang Hill is something that I have wanted to do ever since I got my job here and started to research the island. There was just three things holding me back. It’s really hot here, I am a bit out of shape (because of the next reason), and my job has been so busy that I haven’t had time. The time finally came. I had been doing research and most of the blogs and things that I came across talked about hiking Penang Hill by going up a jeep track. This jeep track is paved with resident houses along the way. This to me did not sound or look like hiking and if that was the only way up the hill then I didn’t want to do it. I did find a few other blogs that talked about hiking on trails and even this site which had a map that appeared to show an actual hike and not a walk up a road. However, I had used a map from this site the last time we tried to hike from Batu Ferringhi's Bayview Hotel and that met a dead end at a fenced off dam. Also the last hike I went on we didn’t really get started until around 8am and by then the sun was up and things were getting hot. I decided not to make that mistake again. I arrived at the Botanical Gardens early and was entering the moon gate(pictured) by 630. It was still dark and cool. Along the way I got a nice spapshot of the sun's first rays hitting Georgetown(pictured). Judging by the information I had I would take a trail starting at the moon gate, passing “station 5” (pictured) along the way and ending at “station 84” (pictured) where the trail met up with the jeep track for the rest of the hike. The whole time I was on the trail I didn’t see anyone else except two very suspicious looking guys with headlamps mulling around in the woods by station 5. That was about 7am. I decided whatever they were up to I didn’t want to know. The hike was great. Certain places had stairs carved into the hill or in a few places actual concrete, but most of the trail was dirt trail. More than a few times I had to whip out the camera to take a picture because my surroundings were so beautiful in the morning light. The hike is not easy, but I wouldn’t say its very hard either. It took me about 1hr 15min to reach Station 84, but I was moving at a good clip. Other predictions I read said it would take about 2 hours. Once I joined up with the tarmac at station 84 I saw a lot of people either walking or biking up the hill. It was slow going. Just about the entire 2.5km from station 84 is really steep. I believe I saw road signs indicating it was a 30 degree slope, but some places must have been steeper than that. Information I had read indicated it would take about 1 hour to reach the top from station 84. It took me 30 minutes, but again I was really moving. I even passed a mountain biker.