The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Bukit Gemuroh Ridge
This is one of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang, click here for the index. This is a Grade 3 walk unsuitable for those without experience of off-piste hiking. I would strongly recommend doing the walk in the direction indicated, it would be quite easy to miss the way down through the rubber estate from the ridge. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
See also the Bukit Gemuroh Ridge Part 1 report which explains the need for the short exploration in the middle and provides an alternative initial ascent. There are numerous other walks in the Kampung Pulau Betong and Teluk Kumbar areas which cross this walk - see the South Western area index. These two ridge walks could easily be combined to make a long and unusual walk.
This account is linked from my Penang Peaks page which lists peaks over 400 metres as well as other places of interest and viewpoints. To find other hikes which visit this peak please check the maps of this are using this link.
Note that the path shown on the map with alternate green and orange squares had several trees down in December 2016 and was passable only with some care.
On the previous walk we had climbed to the ridge from the Gertak Sanggul side and unintentionally ended up with a longer than wanted ridge walk. Today's walk was designed to establish where we had gone wrong and fill in the remaining gaps.
The 403 Pantai Aceh buses may go every 90 minutes but they do not connect well out of or into the 501 Telok Bahang buses . For this reason, it was 12.30 by the time we started opposite the mosque where Jalan Baru meets Jalan Pulau Betong. The first part is straightforward although it was the first time we had climbed this way. The road is Jalan Kebun Cha and after a while, we took the right fork at a Y junction along a half made up road (pole HT KC 12). At the 'banana junction' we went left and soon joined the concrete path up.
The climb is completely straightforward. Shortly after starting we had a clear view across to where we had ended up two days earlier. We went straight ahead at the first junction, left is a dead end and the path on the right rejoins the main path higher up (there had been trees down on it on the last time we used it). We turned right at the next junction, left is a dead end although with care you can go on to the Hakka Centre road.
Yuehong was going much better today, she appreciated the carefully chosen route with its views. We turned left where the alternative route rejoined us and climbed on up through the rubber until it turned back into durian.
At the last junction, I offered Yuehong the 'jungle opt out' whereby I would join her later at the house down the path on the left, it's got a cool pool almost big enough to swim in. She declined, so it was 'game on' as we made the final ascent to the ridge through the rubber, doubling back where it came to the ferns. Ahead appeared to be a disused tapper's path. At the top, she got a well earned rest.
I needed to follow the ridge to the right here, I took one look at the first few metres and decided it would be easier to use the parallel rubber instead to start with at least. I followed the terrace until it ended, scrambled up a few more terraces and dived into the forest. There were few landmarks, the fallen tree I had to walk along is temporary, the large rock permanent.
Eventually some 15 minutes after I had left Yuehong, I came to the point where we had climbed to previously. I took a new photograph to convince Yuehong and went back through the ginger which had previously advised me I was approaching there. It's not much fun but at least it doesn't have spikes on it and it's only 20 metres or so.
I walked back along the log and as soon as I could see the rubber on the left crossed into it and rejoined Yuehong, I'd been gone just half an hour. This section would be perfectly bearable as part of a route through the Hidden Valley, up, along and down to Pulau Betong. When we are at a loose end and stuck for new ideas, we'll try it, I guess that way we would easily make the 15.00 ex-Balik Pulau 403 bus.
I relaxed, enjoying the satisfying moment and then we went back into the jungle heading east. It was a bit overgrown initially so we walked about 20 metres down the rubber and found a suitable gap. Afterwards, it was 'more of the same', mainly open with the odd readily negotiated obstacle.
After a while we were descending and the boundary stick indicated that we had reached the point where we had climbed up from the Hidden Valley on the previous visit to Penang. Unfortunately, just before we emerged some small trees had come down across the path bringing down the revolting spiky vines with them which slowed us a bit. However, after 25 minutes we were out and Yuehong was clearly pleased with herself. I have to say that it helps knowing almost exactly where you are, the concrete path leads down to the Hakka Centre area.
Just around the corner on the open ridge path is a classic view of Pulau Betong.
Yuehong had only been up here once or twice and not recently, so had forgotten what a pleasant route it is. At the junction in the last picture, left leads down to the Hakka Centre road, we went straight on.
The path now descends rather more steeply to a 4 way junction. We came from the right beside Yuehong and behind her is a path that looks promising but ends in about 200 metres. Behind the camera is the path to a hut and again the Hakka Centre road but we took left until the path finished in a durian glade. We knew from our previous walks here that all we had to do was to follow the contour onwards, it looks much worse than it is.
It's only some 5 minutes or so and soon we arrived on another concrete path which leads steeply down to Jalan Pulau Betong. We should have joined it for a short while down and then cut right but for a change went up and left when we could see the retaining wall for the Bukit Genting restaurant exit road.
After which we walked down to the main Balik Pulau - Telok Kumbar road and waited for a 401 bus. As it arrived, the heavens opened, the timing was impeccable. We were into Balik Pulau just before 17.00, had dinner as the rain beat down and in due course it stopped just before we went for the 17.30 501 bus.
Our neighbours are 'renovating' their newly bought flat at the moment, we've had a couple of weeks relief as one of the condo lifts has been out of action and the workers have not been allowed to bring materials in and out. However, now it's OK again, the drilling has restarted. Normally we insist they keep the front door shut but this gives an idea of what is going on... I don't think we'll be having more than one day off from hiking in the near future. Fortunately we're off to Thailand soon for 10 days, hopefully the ongoing destruction will have finished by the time we get back but the official best estimate for completion is the end of February.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson