The International Steam Pages

The Moon Gate Trail, Penang 2009, Part 3

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

After our visit to Burma and transit in Thailand, we had an extended visit to Penang - click here for the main index page.

Part of this material also appears in one of the pages in a series on 'Hills and Trails in Penang. Click here for the index.

Penang Hill was never a major 'hill station', it has always been used as a brief retreat and a place for a weekend day trip. After a ride up on the railway, we did not explore the immediate summit area, but it didn't look greatly changed. The clouds were gathering and it was clearly going to rain during our walk. Before commencing the main descent, we diverted a little to look at some old bungalows which had clearly seen better days. I believe this is the former Crag Hotel:

The view from the balcony was still splendid, it is the new Tanjung Tokong in the background, the reclaimed area is unrecognisable from the mud flats it was 30 years ago. Below is another house (Little Lomond?) which seems to have squatters who use the garden area to grow flowers for the markets down below:

The major change is the 'jeep track' allowing access to select four wheel vehicles and it seems not so very select motorcycles. It is not a project I would ever have favoured but it could certainly have been even worse. From what we saw of it, its ecological effects have not been good, there are many areas which have had to be sheeted off owing to landslides induced by its careless construction and several areas were under repair - ultimately I guess they will end up covered in concrete. Along the track are a new generation of mansions:

Despite this, the ambience was excellent and most of the hill remains as nature intended. In the absence of any obvious alternative, we were obliged to follow the jeep track to the mid point where it meets the hill's Moniot Road:

Here we could join the original trail which now sees many fewer walkers. It may have been longer than the direct route but it's far more pleasant and the views back (and later down) are excellent. In order they show the summit area, the area around the road to the Relau Pass, the view over the Polo Ground and General Hospital and finally the new Gurney Drive area:

It rained off and on as the photographs may suggest but never enough to spoil the enjoyment:

The last part is on a steep and degraded path, it's not much fun. This is journey's end, the moon gate is a lot smarter than it was in my day:

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson