The International Steam Pages
Penang Hills and Trails - Bukit Genting Exit
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
This was the third walk of our new hiking season and it was time to be a little more adventurous. We wanted to explore south and west of the Hakka Centre above Kampung Pulau Betong and since the 403 bus was inconveniently timed for us, the best way in would be from Bukit Genting which is readily accessible by the more frequent 401/401E service. We had done much of this in reverse back in March when it was rather drier and we were worried the fruit orchards might be overgrown but this was not an issue. In theory there is a ridge path available beyond the masts but we'd tried that and weren't keen to repeat the experience. The turning is hard to miss and this area is so 'eco' that it's home to several chicken farms which would have the animal rights activists back home up in arms. We followed the road in and when we got to the 'no entry' signs we carried on as this is just the exit route from the 'resort'.
There are lovely views across the island from the road:
Very soon there is a junction, the road to the left goes up, we took the one down to the right. We'd only been up this way once and after a short while we got worried as last time it hadn't been at all long. Eventually, Yuehong noted a 2014 date in the concrete and, of course, that was after our visit... So we struck out left at the concrete mixer, of course we should have done it earlier.
Never mind, it was just a short stretch through the orchard to the concrete path running up the hill and easier than the route we took before. However, it meant we had to climb up a bit, I knew the landmark I wanted was a small hut.
We just now needed to retrace our steps a short way and then look for a route that more or less followed a contour, it's actually a 'fruit path' but it was covered in knee length greenery. However, very soon we could see the end of a concrete path ahead.
This climbed slightly to a 4 way junction where we took a rest. Left was an alternative route back where we had come and ahead was up the hill. However, more or less on the same level we could see the hut which I knew was just above the Hakka Hill road so we went that way and soon came out by the electricity pole KC HT 41.
The road is unexciting but climbed slightly till we reached near the Hakka Centre. We knew to go left and ignored the first left turn on it - known to go up to the ridge - and carried on until we came to the gates.
The house beyond was unoccupied last time we were up here and still was. I wanted to explore the area to the right and above it but first I needed to find a way in. Now they say that the camera cannot lie and we all know that Photoshop can and does but this is what I was looking for from our first visit exactly as seen from the key spot on the ridge behind the house. We had had no time then to check things out having got ever so slightly stuffed up on the ridge to the left. It's a stream bed, but I was sure I had seen signs of the remains of a concrete trail out on the other side...
So promising to be back in 20 minutes, I left Yuehong sitting on the swing. When I got back in 10, having indeed found it as I imagined, I found her paddling in small pool. Shoes went back on and please note these instructions carefully if you ever want to repeat this route. Leave past the swings and climb gently, curving to the right past this 'altar stone' as you pass just above the house. The path then turns left along a small ridge, the stream will be slightly below you to the right...
It's very easy to scramble down and cross it. That's the end of the concrete path, right in the middle, easy to spot wasn't it? It hasn't been used for a long, long time (it's broken in parts), probably not since the road up to the house was put in. It's not too overgrown and climbs gently to the right before emerging in an area of young rubber. We knew we were doing well when we joined a trail coming up. However, first hat path to the right demanded investigation!
So once again, I left my bag with Yuehong and went off for a quick recce. From its condition, I had no great expectations, clearly the path wasn't going to be of the 'up and over' variety, I just needed to establish whether it got to the ridge. By the time I had passed several water storage barrels, I could see daylight above me on the right. Quite soon the rubber finished and maybe I could have gone ahead into the ferns and jungle but there was no time for that. Instead, I cut back and up along the edge of the estate next to the jungle and very soon came up to the narrow ridge. There was no obvious path left, right or onwards straight down but that doesn't mean there is no way through. Looking at my map later, I worked out that I was somewhere above what I have described elsewhere as the Hidden Valley; when I feel like a challenge, I'll go over there and look for a way up, knowing that there is a way down on the north side makes all the difference.
Anyway, by now time was moving on and we had the 15.00 ex-Balik Pulau 403 bus to catch as the next one at 17.00 is too late for the 17.30 501 service to Telok Bahang. It was a classic downhill route with a plethora of junctions which would have made coming up in the first instance extremely tricky. As it is we have at least one and probably more hikes here to discover all the possibilities. There's a real spring in Yuehong's step these days. We came to the first junction, decisions, decisions... Both paths appeared to go down but that on the right appeared to be in better condition and more used so we took it.
This was zig-zag stuff. The path ahead is minor and probably goes up to join with the Hakka Hill road, we had seen a concrete trail in this direction off it earlier in the day. Very soon we came to a 4 way junction. Left will probably lead to the first junction we saw, but who knows what else? Right here, seemed to go down but having tossed the mental coin we went straight ahead.
We found ourselves at the back of the extended kampung off Jalan Pulau Betong, we were never going to get lost now. As for coming the other way, we know to leave the sealed road opposite the junction by the mosque at pole HT KC 12 and turn left at the banana junction.
Guestimating the 403's time of arrival at the end of its route is always difficult but since it was not yet 15.10, we were quietly confident; the only doubt centred on possible timetable change as we had yet to visit the bus station in Balik Pulau. In fact, we had a comfortable 10 minutes or so to wait before it turned up. The area further on looks to be an area worthy of serious exploring but it will have to wait until we can face getting up for the 07.50 bus and hence the 09.00 403 onwards, something I don't think we are quite up for yet.
As it was, we were in the Hometown Food Court well before 16.00. Business was more than brisk with more hawkers than before including one of our favourites who had upgraded from our former watering hole the Green Garden which lacks the airy ambience of the HFC. Yuehong sunk a couple of disgusting looking sweet concoctions which she assured me were delicious and I had an early dinner while quaffing a couple of cold Tigers. We took the buses home and relaxed, there was a very real feeling of 'business as usual' despite the evening thunder storm.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson