The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Bukit Relau
This is part of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang. Click here for the index. This is a Grade 3 walk.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
Back in February 2013, I mistakenly entitled this 'Bukit Kukus', at the time on line mapping for hikers was non-existent and I had to rely on an old fashioned paper map to assign names to hills. For the real Bukit Kukus, please see my March 2020 report.
This account is linked from my Penang Peaks page which lists peaks over 400 metres as well as other places of interest and viewpoints.
There are a number of reports on the web of hikes and bike rides across the range of hills which runs north south between Paya Terubong and the east coast of the island. I believe the major summits from the north end are Bukit Relau, Bukit Kukus and Bukit Jambul. We had an open mind about which direction we would attempt to cross, but as there was one of the infrequent (half hourly) 302s signalled at Komtar we jumped on it, knowing we could more readily get a bus at the Paya Terubong end.
The turn off is easily spotted, it's the southerly of the two roads with a grey 'Ashley Green' sign beside it, Lorong Bukit Gambir 1. At the far end a wide track leads off to the left, there is a pile of builder's rubble at the base, the contents were not inappropriate as Yuehong had spent a day tied to a piece of porcelain following her taking something that disagreed strongly with her.
The first part of the climb was none too pleasant, to the left there was a new development scarring the hillside and the track curved round above what was a former quarry when I lived here, but is now full of houses, beyond which the view out is blocked by new high rises.
Soon afterwards we came to a T junction with a concrete road, across was yet another development-to-be, the first stage of which had been construction of a Chinese temple. The road down from it must come out near Island Glades. Being near to town, this is popular hash territory and three recent pieces of paper were on one tree.
There was a small path off to the left which offered a panorama south looking towards the second crossing.
Soon afterwards there was a small path off to the right, I really don't greatly enjoy walking along concrete roads so I persuaded Yuehong to take it. We passed through the middle of a small hut.
Further on was another hut occupied by a guest worker. We tried going straight ahead but the path petered out. Instead we noted hash paper heading straight up the hill and again I prevailed on Yuehong to follow it.
I have to give full credit to Yuehong, she is no great fan of any form of undergrowth and was still not feeling too well. Upwards we went and eventually we got to the summit, I guess it was Bukit Relau, anyway it was the most northerly of the three highest summits.. Nearby was a small hut cum campsite.
There was hash paper everywhere, along the ridge to the north and south both to the left and right behind the hut. The last option appeared best for us and we started a rapid descent, half way down the hash paper suddenly shot off left into what looked to be some unpleasant scrub, while there was a perfectly good descending ridge ahead of us, with no real path but it was quite open under the trees. Soon afterwards we could hear dogs barking and we cut right to come out at another hut, this one was at the end of a motorbike trail and the Chinese gentleman confirmed it would take us to Paya Terubong.
Frankly, I was more than a little bit relieved as it was meant to have been a gentle outing on a path suitable for mountain bikes and it certainly hadn't turned out that way. Madam was giving me an earful so I was quite glad I had some 'Brownie Points' in store from when I had recently to go back and recover first her walking stick from a coffee shop and more seriously her number one hat from a bus she had left it on. It was a very pleasant stroll down, there was just the one junction which might cause a problem to anyone coming up the hill in the opposite direction.
There were some familiar features from unfamiliar angles. Below left are the flats at Paya Terubong, below right shows the path up from the Nanshan eating stalls which we have to used to get to Balik Pulau.
Also on the other side of the valley were the United Hokkien Cemeteries with the path up to the 1200 steps temple. Ahead was another area full of flats which we would walk past to complete our hike.
Next to us was another area which had been cleared for further development, the people in the houses at its base will have a living hell for the next few years.
Unlike the north coast high rises the flats in this area are public housing, the notice makes it clear that the development is for Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP, the city council). The density is rather more than ideal but the newer blocks look in better shape than some of their previous developments. I would guess that the population of the island must be at least double what it was when I lived here in the 1970s.
One of the best things about the walk was that we were no real distance from George Town for a change and we quickly got a 202 bus from Lebuhraya Thean Teik opposite the bottom of Jalan Bukit Kukus. It was in an area that was new to us, otherwise there was nothing special about it. For the sake of completeness we plan to go back and find the cyclable track from behind the Paya Terubong flats not far away which was our original plan!
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson