The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Hakka Hill Humbled
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
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.
It had not been our finest hour or three in 2014, not to mince words, our visit to Hakka Hill was a fiasco. I couldn't find the route the short distance between (Jalan) Pulau Betong and Teluk Kumbar, we had to turn back. Quite simply I was looking for revenge and the way to get things sorted was to start from the Teluk Kumbar side using a known route part way up. I was prepared for the worst, a no holds barred full frontal assault on the offending hill because Yuehong had bogged off to Langkawi with four of her relatives. For three days they had talked and eaten almost non-stop and when they got bored they ate and talked some more instead. I was not too sad to do this one on my own, I could follow my hunches without fear of criticism of which I had an earful on the previous walk at Nanshan when we almost missed the last bus home..
The start was always going to be straightforward as it was the reverse of our Bukit Genting descent in 2013. I walked through Kampung Masjid and immediately after the turkey farm ('Ayam Belanda') struck up left. It's an old concrete trail but in good condition. The key landmark is this metal shed, turning sharp back right would have taken me eventually to Bukit Genting, straight on, I hoped rightly, would take me to the ridge where I wanted to be. Things looked promising, the path went past a wrecked hut and then there was another, rather better maintained.
There was no doubting the ethnicity of the original occupants. I paid my respects and walked on. An old Chinaman on a motorbike was more than a little surprised to see me. In broken English he asked where I was going and when I said Pulau Betong he didn't look too worried. However, since I discovered he lived in Sungai Ara many kilometres away I wasn't going to read too much into that.
The path continued and I chose the left fork at the next junction as being more important and also because it continued to climb. Looking back the view was not unpleasant. Inevitably the concrete path ended but above were young fruit trees and the ridge was immediately above them albeit covered in an indeterminate amount of secondary jungle. I picked my way up carefully and checking left and then right I soon found a way through.
To my very pleasant surprise, right in front of me was a concrete path which appeared to climb up from the right, it seemed to be primarily a rubber tappers' trail. While I debated which way to turn, I decided it was lunchtime.
Since I had no real idea where I was and probably I would have to go down at some stage, I decided to check out the rest of the climb. There was very soon another small 'depot' and beyond that the path continued along the ridge while to the left yet another path descended back towards Teluk Kumbar. This was indeed an embarrassment of riches especially in view of our previous total failure.
Round the corner I went and all was revealed, I immediately recognised the second path up from the Hakka centre. It was a question of 'so near and yet so far' on our previous visit.
If any confirmation were needed the view was very familiar:
I finished the Tiger and retraced my steps down the hill. It was very pleasant going especially now it seemed I had the day 'in the bag'. It was an easy decision to turn left at this junction as the path went down and surely the Hakka Hill road was below. There were two further buildings with no one at home.
Indeed I came out at electricity pole KC 68 and just round the corner was the family house where we had been ever so slightly misinformed on our previous visit.
Basically in the durian areas there are so many concrete paths that it is impossible to check them all out. I could have continued round past the Hakka Centre and up but I preferred to go back up the way I had come. At the top it was time for the second half of lunch, it is indeed rare that I indulge twice at the same spot on the same day. Maybe in acknowledgement of this special occasion it them rained for 20 minutes, a disincentive to immediately go down what looked to be quite a steep path.
I can make no claims for originality among the 'exercise community', someone had well and truly beaten me to it.
I passed some 'guest workers' clearing up and then came to what would be the only tricky point if coming in the opposite direction. I'm looking from my path and the pipes run along the valley path - to the right is probably a dead end and my path is less than obvious...
There was a further chance to sample the view of how traditional Teluk Kumbar is being wrecked before after a while the path entered Kampung Masjid somewhat anonymously. For the time being at least there is an unmistakable landmark.
I got back to the P235 road on the map and started to walk towards the round-the-island road. Again my luck was working overtime as a young man with his two year old daughter offered me a very welcome lift on his motorbike. I tossed a coin and decided that an hour's drinking on my own in Balik Pulau was not a good idea and went home on the 401 / 401E and 101 route with a Komtar Nasi Kandar. Despite the traffic I was safely home just after 19.00.
Yuehong will enjoy this one when she gets back, it will help ease the weight problem after 4 days of hospitality from her relatives.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson