The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Pulau Jerejak Part 2
This is one of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang, click here for the index. This part is a Grade 4 walk at the lower end of the scale. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed, I am grateful to Mike Gibby for passing me this scan.
There are three parts to this report of my March 2017 visit. Click below for the other two parts, the fourth part dates from December 2017, the fifth from 2020.
Pulau Jerejak Part 1 - the South East corner of the island
Pulau Jerejak Part 3 - the North West corner of the island
Pulau Jerejak Part 4 - more on the South East corner of the island
Pulau Jerejak Part 5 - A misguided tour
The ridges on Pulau Jerejak, like those on the main island run broadly north - south. The easternmost ridge rises from the northern end of the island to a height of 475 feet (145m asl) dropping to the coast near the site of Camp 1 which is now the dockyard area. The central ridge rises from the Quarantine Station (Quarantine Camp on the map) on the the north west of the island to a height of 693 feet (210m asl) falling to near Camp 2. As can be seen on the map, there is a deep valley with steep sides between these ridges, the two sides have the main streams on the island. A western ridge comes off the main ridge and covers the southern end of the highland, its highest point is 375 feet (115m asl). We hiked northwards along the main ridge from the col where it joins the southern ridge (the V in the picture below) till we came to the coast.
Coming up the road from the south east of the island, just after the col, there was a path right and here there is a water tank, it looks to be a replacement of an earlier one whose base is still present.
I had anticipated that I would have to find my way along the ridge in the absence of any kind of path, something which I have done from time to time on the main island. Much would be open, but from time to time there would be trees of varying sizes down and patches of ferns covering clear areas necessitating diversions. In fact, it seems that in October 2016 there had been some kind of organised event here and most of our route was festooned with the familiar red and white 'Caution / Awas' plastic tape which disfigures some paths on the main island for months and years afterwards. So climbing from near the tank, in other words, it was decidedly 'business as usual'.
Quite soon we came to a taped off area, we assumed the markers would end here, perhaps in the light of what we found later we should have checked a little to the right. Instead, we carried straight on up and since we were not actually yet on the main ridge, it got a little steep at times.
Once on the ridge we found another plastic square, on a tree nearby was a small metal arrow, there were several such in this area but nowhere else. I quickly checked to the right and found plastic markers going down, possibly they connected to those we had seen earlier... To the left were more markers and signs that the forest had been surveyed, whether it was by the State Forestry Department or USM students on field courses, I do not know.
Compared to the main island the trees were smaller and the canopy more open, I would guess that Jerejak has a lot less rain. For much of this section, there seemed to be a path to follow, but I suspect this was more due to the recent influx of visitors here than anything that existed before. We climbed up to the minor summit at 555 feet (170 m asl) where a long abandoned concrete and barbed wire fence came up the hill from the right and turned to follow the ridge.
Minor summits tend to be followed by drops in height even if these are rarely shown on the maps and this was no exception, soon we were climbing again.
Trees down? Rather than clamber through, it was much easier to look to see which way the markers went. Soon the old fence ended as suddenly as it had begun, it seemed to have been a costly and wasteful project.
When we got to the summit it was covered in ferns and other unpleasant vegetation, a sure sign that it had been cleared at some stage. It had taken us just under 90 minutes from the water tank, but we had not been rushing. Buried inside was a metallic structure, at the top of which were two intersecting diamonds, which had been accessible by an attached ladder. I have no idea what there purpose had been, but from here onwards we were accompanied by a set of thin electrical cables.
At first we thought that the markers finished here and had some debate about the direction we should continue, ideally in these circumstances it should be the least steep descent. On the right it was very steep, ahead particularly and on the left less so. Eventually we found more plastic to the right above the steep valley side and this invited us to continue downwards along a gentle slope.
It got a little steeper and to the right we could see the eastern ridge across the valley, there would be no time to investigate it today.
It was hardly demanding stuff, at times it was more like woodlands than forest.
We came on an old metal notice board and then, as always seems to happen to me this time around, the markers stopped.
We were maybe only 50 metres above the valley to our right. Running down were the remains of a series of concrete structures, so we descended noting this distinctive tree near the bottom should we ever want to do the walk in the opposite direction.
There was a concrete channel below, Mike suggested it would once have fed a reservoir behind the nearby quarantine station. We edged along the side of it and came on the ruins of a hut, beyond there was what must once have been a wide path but now it was covered in the kind of creepers that always manage to trip me up. There was no incentive to cross the channel, the open area opposite was covered in jagged lumps of granite.
The lush green area was possibly the remains of the reservoir and on our left was a set of concrete levels next to a concreted flat area, maybe once an outdoor 'performance area'.
Ahead the scrub was ever thicker and fortunately I spotted building just above us to the left. We scrambled up and entered the remains of the Quarantine Camp. Our jungle hike was over, it had taken some 2½ hours.
Click here for Part 3 - the North West corner of the island
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson