Monday, August 18, 2014

Penang day 2 - Penang Hill, Air Itam Market, Kuay Chap, Chinahouse

Here's how this day went.
As mentioned in previous entry, chit chat with the other roomies and manage to convince them to go on Penang Hill by foot. 
Showed them the blog, the photos, the route - and in the morning, I did the "Are you sure you don't want to go" question - and hurray! I managed to get companions for this trek. And boy am I glad I did.

For Penang Hill, there are many routes.

And since I was here, my choice was the most difficult yet scenic route.Didn't regret it though. It was a fantastic climb!



Got the details off a very good blog (which I'm so sorry I can't find your link anymore)

"From the KOMTAR Bus Station at the tallest building in Penang, I took Bus No. 10, which has the Penang Botanical Gardens as its last station. There are trails from the Garden itself, but just 50 meters before the bus stop, to the left, lies the Moon Gate."

"Penang Hill is very accessible from Georgetown; simply take Bus no. 10 from Komtar to its last stop (RM 2). You can go down the same way and wait for the bus at the Botanical Gardens, or take the Funicular to Air Itam and take another bus to back to Georgetown."

 At Komtar though, I was very lost. Because Number 10 does not appear on the signs like usually in the bus interchange. You have to look at the screen (as below) and find out your bus number and see which berth it is at and wait there. (Timing inaccurate) - Waited for close to half an hour for our bus when it says 11 minutes.

Prepare 2 RM per person for the bus.
 The bus will stop you here at the round about.
Turn right (and follow the road to see Moon Gate)
We followed the nice path on the grass patch and realized we were in the wrong direction. 
That another route that you can take though. Its more direct and on the road so surely won't get lost.
For bicycles, that's fantastic training ground. Just like Cameron Highlands steepness but without the curves.

Here's the Moon Gate.
A bit Ulu.

This will greet your sight.
At that moment, my roomies asked me multiple times, you sure? Will we be okay?
Is this the right route.
I was not sure too. But thankfully, we did it on a weekend so there were locals who were also making their climbs and it felt less fearful knowing we were in the right direction. 

"Start at Moongate
After starting your hike the path slowly climbs up. Soon you will hear water running and come to a junction. The path to your left will swindle further along the hills and you will get plenty of steps to climb. The path which continues straight on has no steps but you can use the roots of trees and stone boulders to climb up. There are red painted markers on the trail so you won't loose direction.
When you use the "steps trail" soon in the hike you will get glimpses of Gurney Drive. The path keeps climbing, from forest trail to cement stairs and back to forest trail. There are several paths branching off the main trail but they all come back on the main trail. Unless you want to find steeper trails, stay on the main path."

"It takes about an hour and a half to 2 hours to reach 84 including some resting and viewing here and there.
It all starts by walking through the gate and turn left. Immediately you will start climbing. Depending on the choice of path, you will follow steps or jungle trails towards #5 resting spot. After #5 there are 2 options. Directly at #5 you can hike up to Bukit Cendana, which is a trail few people seem to take. Another, more hiked option is to stay on the main trail."

We took slightly more than 3 hours though. The steps were never ending.
- Breathe - Breathe - my roomies nearly gave up at this point.

"If you use the steps, after about 25 minutes you will pass the junction that leads back to the Youth Park (about 45 minutes downhill).
Both trails come together just before #5 where later in the afternoon free coffee and biscuits are available. It is custom to leave a donation too."

 => Important to note: Yes there is a downhill somewhat. And it made us wonder whether we were in the right direction. Because the path was unclear and if we were going up a hill, why were we going down?

So after you go down, you go up again.

And after climbing for around 2 hours, this will greet you. And the inflow of fresh air makes it much more bearable.

YooHoo! We finally saw the big NUMBER 5 #5.
But was told its still a long way up. And someone prepared us for the very steep climb after #84.

"At #5 you can choose to hike directly up to Bukit Cendana (about 30-40 minutes) or follow the main trail.
Should you stay on the main trail, within 25 minutes later you will find a path to your left which leads to the Riffle Ranch, an area in Air Itam. A little bit further to your right there is the second trail leading up to Bukit Cendana. This trail is harder to find and easier to get lost. Therefore I would recommend if you want to hike up to Bukit Cendana, to start just behind #5. That trail is easy to follow."

"From this point on, it's only 20 minutes to 84 and time to decide what to do next: take the Summit Road to Penang Hill, visit Bukit Cendana"

It was way beyond 20 minutes for us. We took about an hour to get to 84.

Aka #84 was under renovation.

And this was where it became 'crazy'

The steepness is beyond my imagination.

And we did it for close to half an hour. Thinking we were reaching.
Its those kind of steepness where you have to take some time to breathe every 10 minutes of climb.
And a motorcycle coming down the slope told us another 1 hour. And another motorcycle further ahead told us 1.5 hours. It got longer and longer.

Thank God!
We stopped a vehicle and hitch ride up.
If we didn't it might have taken us forever! And we were thirsty and hungry.
And the steepness even caused the car to semi stall. I.M.A.G.I.N.E!

A big shout out again to *Oppa (oh no I called him uncle) Thank you!"

And I had high expectations for Penang Hill.
Nothing much.
Its primarily for children.
And it was too hazy that day to take a photo of any scenary.

After 10 minutes made our way back down


*Malaysians have such a huge discount!
Should have brought my mother's IC!

The thing about this tram is they try to squeeze as many people inside. We were stepping on each other toes and when anyone talk, its directly in our ears.
Also felt suffocating!
And one cannot even see the scenery despite paying so much.

The best thing about Penang Hill though is.
Air Itam Market is nearby

Once you come out to the entrance, walk down the slope to the main road and just turn right.
(We didn't know and sat a taxi that charged us quite a bit)

Air Itam Market Assam Laksa
Address : Pasar Road ( Beside Air Itam Market )
Opening Hours : Daily 11am to 7pm. Closed on Wednesday.
Price : Below RM5 / USD1.50 / SGD2 per person

 Back to our hostel, we bathe and zonked out in bed. Till evening came.

And off we went to

Koay Chiap is flat sheets of rice noodle served in soup flavored with herbs, spices and soy sauce served together with different parts of the duck and pork.
The noodle or the  koay  itself is semi translucency and is slightly thicker than the koay teow and usually cut into rectangular pieces.
Address : Kimberly Street
Opening Hours : Daily 6.30pm to 11pm
Price : Around RM6 / USD2.00 / SGD2.50 per person

* If you are sua Gu like me, remember to tell the uncle you don't want the frozen blood, intestines and whatsoever.

I like the medicinal taste of the soup. But find Singapore has much better ones.

And when roomies gather, its time to chill somewhere and pig out in a classy place.
China house in Penang
153 Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

We wanted to chill and listen to singers sing their self-composed songs. But it was so crowded.

So we left for the cakes.

I think this was a good mix :)

Made me miss the Dulce in Mexico :)

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