The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Another 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.
I make no apologies, we were back in the Pulau Betong area because it was 3 weeks since I had visited the Hai Ching and a little bit longer since I had enjoyed their signature Koay Teow Soup dish. So I cobbled together a walk around the Hakka Centre which would check previously known paths and maybe add a little bit to our knowledge of the area.
As before, we went down Jalan Baru to the mosque and straight across along the 'Jalan Kampung'. We parked near the Y junction so that the car would be well placed whichever way we came down (pole HT KC 12), Yuehong is seen setting her toy which claims to measure how far we have walked, I do not always believe the claimed accuracy but it's good for comparing walks. We were late, again, someone wanted to catch up on a few jobs around the flat but this was never intended as a long walk, those will come later in the week as we get back up to speed. We took the right fork at the Y and followed the obvious 'road' towards the hill. When it became a path and started to climb, we engaged first gear, I always highlight the 'Hakka walls'.
It was rather humid, especially higher up with the hills covered in cloud. We went straight ahead at the four way junction and right at the 'traffic island', this was the first occasion we had been on this path for a couple of years.
The gradient eased, it was comfortable climbing and we got our obligatory view of Pulau Betong.
We were into rubber and at the next junction turned left (the path behind loops round to the crossroads below). Just afterwards, I needed to check out a house on the left, too often I have assumed that paths go to houses and stop. Even though in this case the path was a little overgrown and the house abandoned, there was an electricity pole line behind and indeed a path to go with it.
The poles disappeared down the hill, they were a branch from the main supply at KC 63 which I expected (and later confirmed) was at the other side of the Hakka Centre.
Barking dogs greeted our arrival at the Centre, he had no wish to go in, so turned around and took the left fork upwards (we had come down from the right).
The path came and went, parts were old concrete and when we could no longer detect it, we moved up into a recently cleared area.
On this ridge to the left we found boundary markers and below us was a familiar house. We were standing on a path which we had seen winding up from it, so this was another minor mystery solved.
We went up a short way, then the path branched right towards the rubber above.
We came out right at (for me) a familiar junction. The right fork (not this time!) leads up to the Bukit Gemuroh ridge and finishes. The left fork curls round to near the house we had just seen, Yuehong was unimpressed, she had unburned calories, she wanted 'more'.
Compared to the only other time we had used it, the area was much cleared but at the bottom the path still came to an abrupt finish. Never mind, we knew we only had to scramble up that bank...
... and we would be in the newly cleared area and this time the workers who had shouted at us from a distance were conspicuously absent, Yuehong confirmed we should go up and off we went, smiles were in order although the quality of the path is poor, the rain had carved gullies and it desperately needs a spot of concrete.
It wasn't long before we met the path we had previously come down and soon we could see what is now the preferred path to access the ridge in this area.
We could have gone the short distance to the top but beyond the path along the ridge and down is now in poor condition, so we went left and down.
This is a very well graded descent, great for those with dodgy knees (= both of us). Both houses here are no longer occupied.
We came to the road and Yuehong confirmed the blindingly obvious, that we should turn right. I had a look in the back of the Hakka Centre, business can't be good, the one shown was probably the most distressed hut, but there were three more nearly as bad nearby.
Casual visitors are strongly discouraged, I suspect because the place is only staffed when they have bookings. We know that most of the local farmers ill shed no tears should the business fail, Hakkas are low key people and this kind of showmanship is not in character. Anyway, the first part of the access road is very attractive as it undulates gently.
This one house next to it is occupied, we enjoyed this part of the hike.
There's a U bend and the road starts to drop, the path right is a significant junction, with care it can be used to reach the Bukit Genting restaurant area but the path back up to the ridge is now almost unuseable.
The Hakka Centre signs at the bottom of the hill get ever more tattier, another year and it will be impossible to read them. Nearby, Mavis was waiting and Yuehong sped up, she fancied her red bean soup at the Hai Ching, I hoped for the Koay Teow Soup with a Tiger to wash it down. I confess we had been out on the hills for little more than two hours, never mind.
Both of us were satisfied, Yuehong even more so as the 'sesame sticky rice man' came by. Afterwards we enjoyed a second dinner in Sungai Pinang, neither threatened to break the bank. Job done, again.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson