The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Pasir Pandak
This is one of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang, click here for the index. This is a short Grade 4 walk, much of it is through overgrown old rubber. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed, my apologies for the missing final tip of the island.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
It's November 2019 and we're back for our annual hiking season. We'd been to Pantai Aceh for a warm up walk and found that the spoilt brats that are 'The Ultimate Trails of Penang' had covered the 'Secret Garden' path in their egregious strips of plastic and totally failed to remove them after the event. I suppose this means there are now innumerable other trails - they had over 100km of routes - adorned with their rubbish. How can such people claim to be promoting green activity when they have no respect for our hills? They are 'shits' and no better in my book than the developers who want to cover the island in concrete.
Enough of the rant, at least I was pretty certain that we wouldn't see any signs of their activity where we were going today, a small beach which we had been tipped off about by Rexy and Peter, in return for briefing them on the path to the far south-west of the island. This the Google Maps view of the key area.
Talking of our earlier visit, there's a near identical first picture in it, but this is Mavis 2, the same car as we had last time. We parked up in Gertak Sangul and walked to the end of the road where the bus turns round and headed up the 'famous path' which maintains its traditional ambience.
Near the point where it turns sharp right just before the top of the climb, we turned left on to the fishermen's path (no fisherwomen here!). Rexy and Peter had taken the first path on the right a little bit before, our turning was just before a path branched off left at the start of the durian orchard.
We had a short climb up to where we found the remains of a ridge path. Ahead appeared a little overgrown but perfectly accessible especially as I had my secateurs in my hand.
We passed several bee hives and made steady progress down towards the beach, we could hear the waves lapping on it.
Eventually when the sound was in front of us and not below us we came to a stream and this is what we found just behind where it met the beach.
These had not been left by visitors, they had been washed ashore at high tide, the dark mark on the rock indicates how they had been swept over the sand. We were at the far south of the beach which was otherwise idyllic. If Rexy and Peter had indeed taken 15 minutes for the descent then they must have been on a much better path, that's one for another time and there was no way we were going to find it from the beach.
I have been told that the rip tides here are very strong and that swimming in the sea would be inadvisable and probably constitute attempted suicide. We hate going back the way we have come, so my plan was to continue to the end of the beach and try to get through to the durian orchard that is the lighter coloured vegetation.
It doesn't look too far in the picture or Yuehong's map and we set off hoping to find a route just above the rocks that line the sea shore.
We soon found we had to go diagonally upwards to avoid having to confront thick undergrowth and eventually we had to go over to Plan B and head straight up.
By our normal standards it wasn't difficult, but we are both way off peak fitness and when we came to some rather slippery bamboo, Madam declared a rest stop. That was a bit unfortunate as we were only just short of what had once been a wide trail running across our route. I wasn't quite sure where we were but most likely it would have led to the 'famous path' and Pulau Betong..
We soon found it blocked but on the right was an easy route the short distance up to the ridge. The undergrowth was quite clear and if we had any doubt as to which way to go, it was removed by the sound of a motorbike straight ahead.
We hit the famous path just at the top of its climb, near the point where it narrows and cars can go no further. Yuehong had just about recovered and we headed off down and on to Gertak Sanggul's coffee shop ('Heng Soon') as I needed to sample their Tiger. They don't stare at us, we are different but they are more than happy to have non-local customers.
We'd been out for 3 hours and it was almost exactly the wake up call our bodies needed with the bonus of a new destination. I don't see there being many reports this time round as we have almost no knowledge of new possibilities. It will be nice to have a little extra free time in the evenings.
Yuehong was so tired that she managed to drop her watch while changing. We left a message for any finder in the Heng Soon and 24 hours later she had a call to say that it had been found. This was Penang at its very best and we'll be back to collect it just as soon as possible.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson