The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Hakka Hill Explorer
There are other hikes in the same area listed in the South West Index.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
By bus, Pulau Betong has always been the least accessible of destinations. The irregular 403 services just do not connect well with the 501 in so traditionally we couldn't start till 12.30 and then the bus out just after 17.00 often failed to connect with the 17.30 501. Not surprisingly, our more recent visits have been made in other people's cars.
So with a car of our own, it wasn't long before we went down Jalan Baru to the mosque and straight across along the 'Jalan Kampung'. There was no set plan, we parked near the Y junction so that the car would be well placed whichever way down we came. For a long time, I've wanted to go up to the durian orchard on the hill on the left but have never had the time to check it out properly. I'm no great fan of the main road up with its SUVs ferrying people to the Hakka Centre so we took the familiar path off to the left.
This path seemed to maybe offer a chance to look at the new hill but it was locked with a fence either side. If I had looked carefully and worked out it could easily be skipped over, I could have saved half an hour wandering around behind it by going in over the top of the hill. Suffice to say it did not appear to be the answer to the riddle. So I've left that out of the report and we pick up the story at the top of the original path where we turned right.
This has always been a good durian orchard path, it needs two successive right turns, going left would lead you eventually to Bukit Genting and the round-the-island road between Balik Pulau and Teluk Kumbar. Unfortunately higher up it has been neglected and it's not at all easy to see the concrete.
We came to what I knew to be a junction although the trail into the old rubber was hard to make out. It was in even worse condition than when we had been here earlier in the year with Mike Gibby. It was very disappointing to see what was one of my favourite paths covered in fallen trees then. This time I went to the first bend and it was obvious that it had not been cleared.
So we took the other path down to the road to the Hakka Centre. That at least was in good condition and a pleasure to revisit. There's a house along the way and a walk through hut.
At the Hakka Centre Junction, the sign was less than welcoming, making it clear that visitors without a reservation were not wanted. Yuehong said it was rather ruder in the Chinese version. We had no plans to go inside and took the left turning and then almost immediately took the path left which would lead us to the ridge. It's another typical pleasant fruit orchard path and at the top we could have gone straight ahead and down to Teluk Kumbar (Kampung Masjid) but that would have left us 3 buses away from the car.
Instead, we went to the nearby viewpoint (left) for refreshment and then decided to investigate the ridge path south-west (right) where we found the whole hillside had been cleared of what had been mainly unmanaged rubber. On the only occasion we had come up through it we had followed a path which would have run along the edge of the trees.
It's clearly going to be yet another new fruit orchard, some existing trees have been left.
Yuehong spotted a Bukit Gemuroh Forest Reserve sign, I'm not familiar with its boundaries so can't say whether the cutting has intruded on the reserve. We could have gone down through the clearance but instead noticed the path shown below and what appeared to be part of it just below (just seen on the far left).
Again we were visiting estate boundaries and the first path finished just next to the path we had come up on. The other part started nearby although it was hidden in the long grass and we would never have spotted it if we hadn't known it existed. Down we went, zig-zagging as the path gradually improved.
As we neared the bottom, we heard shouts from above, I guess they were unhappy at our presence but there wasn't a great deal they could have done about it. We came out near the house, turned right through the wide open gate and made our way back down the road.
The Hai Ching as always had a great atmosphere, we shared a koay teow soup and a curry mee which set us up for the rest of the day. It look like there is a new path out of the estate behind the house (background in the last but one picture) and that needs investigation.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson