Hiking Trails of Penang Island

Its been a long time that I’ve wanted to make a trail map of the trails in Penang Island. From the time I began using a GPS device (my phone app, Sports Tracker) in 2011, I’ve been constantly tracking the various trails we have on the island. By no means would I say this is a complete map but this is the closest I have gotten in my 13 year hiking journey (I’ve been hiking since I was 12)!

If Penang were to be compared with the other cities in Malaysia, I can very confidently say we are the hiking capital of Malaysia!
Here is a rough picture of the trails we have in Penang. I hope to complete more in the days to come and make this map a lot more colourful!

Trails of Penang Island

PART 2: Forest Reserves in Penang under increasing threat of encroachment?

This post will be a continuation of the last post, Forest Reserves in Penang under increasing threat of encroachment? and it will explore the ever increasing threat of encroachment in Bukit Relau Permanent Forest Reserve’s southern end. Bukit Relau Permanent Forest Reserve is a forest reserves in  the central hills of Penang.  When the Tun Sardon Road was built, it  cut through  this forest reserve,effectively slicing it into two separate chunks, the bigger northern tract of the  forest reserve and the smaller southern tract which has been badly fragmented. In today’s post we will be exploring a small part of the northern edge and the southern chunk of the forest reserve.

bukit relau southern.jpg

A google earth image of the forest reserve, with Jalan Tun Sardon slicing across it. The red pin points show the places where active clearing or tree felling is currently happening.

Most people often stop by Anjung Indah to get fresh air or to buy durians before heading down to Balik Pulau or to Relau. However most don’t realize that one of Penang’s most embattled forest reserves is at either side of this pit stop. If we were to walk up the slope behind the Anjung Indah carpark and the Thai Restaurant, and further into the forest reserve you would probably see that clearing had come up right to the forest reserve edge about 6-7 years ago (adjacent land is privately owned).

forest reservesign.jpg

Hillside clearing which happened 6-7 years ago right at the forest reserve boundary. Trees perched precariously above the steep slope.

Further in a small section of the slope within the forest reserve has collapsed. This area was clear cut 6-7 years ago when a path was made through the forest before works came to a halt. Land clearing activities in this side of the slope has been dormant for the last 5 years, however the slope has yet to recover and stabilize fully.


Part of the slope which caved in, at the periphery of the forest reserve

Moving on to the southern section of Bukit Relau Forest Reserve, one can notice that this area is now a hotbed of clearing activity,both legal and illegal. Improper demarcation of land boundaries has meant that parts of the fragmented southern tract of the Bukit Relau Forest Reserve has been heavily encroached upon.


A signpost indicating the southern part of the Bukit Relau Forest Reserve.

If you were to cross the Tun Sardon road from Anjung Indah  and walk into the southern half of the forest reserve, you will  walk on a wide cement trail and pass a maze of fragmented forests and farms. Forestry Department signposts have been left idle while the surrounding forests have been cleared out.

edited 9.jpg

Forest reserve boundary,showing the border between a private piece of land (indicated by the gate) and what was supposed to be a forest reserve. However the forest which was supposed to be on the right side is long gone.


Evidence of agricultural activity in Forest Reserve land. Rehabilitation or encroachment?


Even Forest Reserve signs have fallen to the ground.

Going on straight from this area and climbing up the road which goes gently up the  Bukit Pondok Upeh  slope, one would also notice that small pockets of the forests have been cleared to plant ginger. This small farm which would only be about 1-2 years old, was seen further up along the trail. Tree stumps from clearing activity are still very apparent in this patch.


About two years ago this small patch was a secondary forest, now a new ginger farm has sprung up in this area.


All that remains of the forest in this patch are the stumps of trees which were felled to make way for the ginger farm. Ginger fetches a good price in the markets below and thus it is no surprise why they are being cultivated with increasing intensity.


New ginger farms have replaced the forest.

Ever increasing farming is an increasing threat to our shrinking forests. Will we let this forest reserve fade away from memory?


This picture sums up Bukit Relau Permanent Forest Reserve today. A forest  being squeezed out of existence.

Hike: Bukit Zizai Trail

Duration : 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes
Length : 2.3 km (Uphill most of the trail)

Trail Mapsacna.jpg

Bukit Lang or now more commonly known as Bukit Zi Zai is one of the lesser known hills in the island. Before the trail to Bukit Zi Zai was upgraded by YB Teh Yee Cheu and the local residents in 2015, most people only knew this hill as the hill on which Teik Quarry is, a huge quarry which has defaced the western slope of the hill. Amongst the adventurous hiking circles, this hill was known for the “haunted house”, a dilapidated century old house at the top of the hill which looked eerily haunting before it was spruced up. Today, a good trail winds its way up Bukit Lang/Zi Zai from the Tanjung Bungah area, making access to this once remote and isolated place all the more easier.


The “Haunted House” or now known as the Bukit Zi Zai Lodge. It has been given a new coat of paint and has undergone minor repairs ever since the trail was spruced up in 2015.

To get to the starting point of this trail, one has to come into Jalan Lembah Permai which can be accessed from the Tanjung Bungah coast or the hilly and winding Guilemard Reservoir road from Pepper Estate. Once you are along this road, lookout for the Tenby School (Tanjung Bungah Branch) and turn into Lintang Lembah Permai 1, which is the road in front of it (If you are coming from Pepper Estate, you will be turning left at the traffic light in front of Tenby).

Keep going for about 500 meters straight along this road. At this point you will notice that the road takes a bend to the left and continues to TAR College Penang. Do not take the bend but turn right instead,and continue for about 300 meters till the end of the road. At this point you will notice that the road hits a dead end and a signpost in front of two rocks greets you to Zi Zai Lodge. This is the trail head.



Getting to Bukit Zizai Trail Head

This trail head is not just the trail up to Bukit Zizai but also a connecting trail which leads you to the Botanical Gardens, Penang Hill,Western Hill,Batu Ferringgi and Mount Erskine . The signpost at the start does depict that quite vividly.


A welcoming signpost to all hikers.

From the starting point continue up for about 1 minute before you come to a junction where you notice a huge rock right in front with a painted arrow pointing left. Take the left junction and you will soon be bashing your way through some grass into a small stream at the edge of the forest. Cross this stream and you’ll notice that the trail takes an upward fork and continues up the hill slope. Continue along this trail, uphill. The trail is dotted with DAP flags which have been stapled to the trees as markers.


DAP everywhere!

Continuing for about another 30 minutes, you will come to a small rock ledge which has been named the “Peace Ledge”. From the “Peace Ledge” you’ll be able to get a glimpse of Tanjung Bungah through a small opening in the forest. Take a short rest here, as you are only half way through the trail.



Looking into a different world.

Continuing along the trail, it continues upward and comes to another junction in 1 to 2 minutes. At this junction, you have the option of going to “Living Waters”, a small stream along the slope about 10 minutes from this point, or continue upward with our Bukit Zi Zai trail.


Thick forest along the trail.

The trails continues upward in a similar fashion for another 30 minutes, leveling at a few parts but generally, steep.
Here, you will come to another junction where the left fork leads you to the “Bolster Rock” , an oblong rock, 30 meters away, which supposedly has the shape of a bolster.



Bolster Rock Junction.

Take the main trail (right fork) which continues upward. Within 10 to 15 minutes you will be at the Zizai Lodge, which is our destination. Take a good rest here and check out the century old bunglow which has been spruced up but has retained a few of its age old relics among which is a beautiful altar and a table. You have the option of continuing up to Penang Hill along the trail to the right of the house entrance (which is another 2 hour 30 minutes away) or continuing the same way downhill. Happy Hiking!


The Zi Zai Lodge.



Hike: Bukit Penara, the Center of Penang

Bukit Penara is an easy Two and a half hour hike you can do on a busy weekend. Standing at 561 meters above sea level, this unassuming and trapezoidal looking hill has a checkered history which has shaped many events in Penang. Not only that, if an “X” is drawn across Penang’s map,Bukit Penara comes almost at the middle of this “X” making it the geometric center of the island.

bkt penara

Bukit Penara view from Bukit Relau,

It was the strategic base of the Malayan Communist Party in Penang, but the days of Malayan communism have all but faded. What remains is the farms and historic temples which dot the hillside. Its on Bukit Penara’s slopes that what is reputably the largest Buddhist temple in Penang, Kek Lok Si stands majestically with the imposing Kuan Yin statue watching over Air Itam. Today, due to its strategic location,it is the site of three communications towers which can be seen clearly from Air Itam,Balik Pulau and Penang Hill.

Ayer Itam to Bukit Relau Trail Map.

There are many paths up to Bukit Penara but in this blog post we will be looking at the one which starts near the Kek Lok Si Temple. The trail up to Bukit Penara starts at the same place where the Tiger Hill trail starts from and only parts off after reaching the Air Itam Dam . This post assumes thay you already know your way up to the Air Itam Dam. If you don’t please refer to my older blogpost  Ayer Itam to Tiger hill to get the directions (https://rexymizrah.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/ayer-itam-to-tiger-hill/).Reaching Air Itam Dam you will be able to see a panoramic view of the dam,and the hills beyond. The taller hills to your right constitute the Penang Hills complex while on the left beyond the dam,you see a small,densely forested hill. This is Bukit Penara.
Bukit Penara, visible across the other side of the dam.

Take the straight path which goes to the right,in the direction of  Bukit Penara. As you do so,you will be walking across the dam to the other side where there is a carpark. At the other side walk up to the carpark and within two minutes you will see a junction with a road on the left winding up the hillslope and another to the right circumventing the dam. The road which goes left leads you up Bukit Penara but we will be using this only on our descent (You always have the option of walking this way up too.)

An Interesting find near the Air Itam Dam.

Take the right path and continue along it for about 13-15 minutes before you hit another junction where you will be able to see a small well kept motorbike path on your right winding its way through the dense forest. Take this turning and continue up along the cement road for 15 minutes before you come to a Chinese temple.Continue heading straight ahead after the temple and within 2 minutes you should come to a small rest shed. Take a short rest here. At the shed the path branches out in 4 different directions. The one in front of you leads you down to Balik Pulau, the one on your right leads you up to a Chinese Temple,the one behind you leads you back the way you came and the one on your left which might be a bit overgrown leads you up along an old farmer’s trail to Bukit Penara. Take the left turning and make your way through the dense undergrowth.


Path through the farm.

While it may be overgrown, patches of cement on the ground tell you that you are going along the right path. Continue along this path and you will come to a small farm. Here the path is easier to follow. Always keep to the path which circumvents the farm at the edge of the forest. You will be able to see how the farms keep expanding and are already at the edge of the Bukit Penara Forest reserve. Let us hope no further encroachments happen.20141206_105106
Cleared land right up to the edge of the Forest Reserve.How long before the Forest Reserve itself is encroached?

The trail takes you at the edge of the forest and you will be able to see a spectacular view of Penang’s Southwestern Coast  and parts of Balik Pulau.


A beautiful view along the way.

In another 12 minutes you will see that the path enters the forest again. Keep following the path and stop when you come to a Forestry signboard highlighting the Do’s and Don’t’s inside a Forest Reserve. This place is overgrown with young ginger shrubs,but look carefully and you will be able to see two paths winding off from this point, one winds off to your right going in an upward direction following the forest fringe, while the straight path goes deeper into the forest. Follow the straight path.
At this signboard take the straight path.

The straight path is a jungle trail which connects up to the Bukit Penara service road. Continue along this trail for the next 9-10 minutes and you will hit the Bukit Penara Service Road. At this point you will see a path across the road which leads to the 150 year old Cheng Yee Chan Temple while the service road winds its way up to the Bukit Penara Peak.


Junction to Cheng Yee Chan Temple.

Follow the road up and within the next 12-15 minutes you should be at the top of Bukit Penara.
Communications towers atop Bukit Penara.

As you wind your way up you will be able to see three communications towers. You’ll know that you reached the peak when the road ends at the TM Bukit Penara Station. Do not enter the Communications Stations unless you have permission to do so.


TM Station at Bukit Penara Peak.

On your way down you have two options, either to follow the earlier mentioned route or the easier walk down along the Bukit Penara Service Road. The walk down along the Service Road will take about 30 minutes before joining up to the Air Itam Dam carpark. For those who have’nt been to the Cheng Yee Chan temple,seeing this old temple is worth the visit. Just take the earlier mentioned turning and within 6 to 7 minutes you would be at the temple. Shavua Tov!

Cheng Yee Chan Temple.

Hike: Teluk Bahang to Bukit Batu Itam

The trail to Bukit Batu Itam from Teluk Bahang is one of the newest trails in Penang. While this hill has a long history behind it its relative remote location has made it known and accesible to few till recently.Standing at around 460 meters above sea level,Bukit Batu Itam is the tallest peak in the Penang National Park and its slopes form the eastern boundary between Penang National Park and the Teluk Bahang Dam. The “black rock” or “Batu Itam” from which it got its name is visible from the Teluk Bahang Dam.

This trail is almost 10-11km for a full loop and is not recommended for beginners. Be prepared for a full day’s hike and bring ample supply of water and food.

A huge tree in Penang National Park

The trail starts at the Penang National Park Entrance in Teluk Bahang. Stick to the main trail till the hanging bridge. You will come to a junction where the trail diverges in two, one going to Pantai Kerachut and the other to Muka Head.

Take the left turn to Teluk Kampi and Pantai Kerachut.

Take the trail that leads you to Pantai Kerachut and Teluk Kampi. For the next 20-25 minutes this trail will take you uphill.You will pass a river,a junction to Sungai Tukun and finally emerge at a rest shed after the “Tunnel”.

The “Tunnel”

At the rest shed you will see that the trail diverges to two again. Going straight will lead you down to Pantai Kerachut while taking left will lead you up to Bukit Batu Itam.

A well marked and safe trail! Rexy recommends this as one of the “must try” trails in Penang!

The trail is clearly marked with a huge signboard at this point. Take a short rest and take this left diversion uphill.For the next 20-25 minutes you will be going steep uphill till finally you reach the peak of the hill. PERHILITAN who are in charge of the upkeep of the park has done a good job by making benches and rest points along the way.

Steep Uphill Climb.
Image I call them the the “Three musketeers”

From the peak the trail goes downhill before heading uphill again.Within the next 20 minutes you’ll will come to a small patch of secondary rainforest where there is a good view of the Teluk Bahang valley,Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana.Take a rest here and don’t forget take ample photos too as this is the only good view along the way.

At the viewpoint.
Teluk Bahang.

Image Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana in the foreground. Penang doesn’t offer anything higher than these two monoliths

Image  There is much to learn in a trip to the Penang National Park.Be sure to spare a few minutes and read the information put up by the National Park Authorities. You’ll never know when it could be useful!

Image Primary Rainforest. Olam HaZeh in all her beauty.

Within 2 minutes of reaching this point the trail winds back into the forest and continues for another 700 meters or about 20 minutes till you come to the first Bukit Batu Itam campsite. At this point you would have travelled about 3.90-4.00km.

The campsite has all the facilities you could ask for.

The campsite, while equipped with all the facilities you could as for is unfortunately quiet due to its “far flung” location. You’ll notice a marker saying that the right diversion will take you down to Teluk Kampi while going straight ahead will lead you to Bukit Batu Itam. Go straight for the next 40-45 minutes.


This is the toughest part of your hike,as there would be a final steep slope before you reach Bukit Batu Itam. After this stretch of steep ascent the trail will level at around 420 meters above sea level,from which it is an easy walk to reach the Batu Itam Summit.

The steepest part of the trail.Brace yourself!

In about 5.50km from the starting point,you would be standing at the peak of Bukit Batu Itam.There is another campsite here and a small rain gauge right in the middle of the summit. This is an ideal place to break for lunch and refuel.

Image  At the peak!

Image Bukit Batu Itam Summit Campsite.

There are many options of going down,either to the Hokkien Cemetery,Balik Pulau or even Teluk Kampi. This trail guide discusses only the trail down to Teluk Kampi and Pantai Kerachut. From the peak continue down till you reach the first campsite which you passed earlier. At this point take the left turning which goes down for 30-35 minutes before emerging at a three way junction.

Image Going Down.

Image  Three way junction.

At this point you have an option of taking the left fork down to Teluk Kampi or taking the straight path which goes gently uphill and then finally down to Pantai Kerachut.

Image The trail goes gently uphill before going downhill to Pantai Kerachut.

The trail down to Pantai Kerachut will probably take you around 15 minutes after which you have an option of taking the boat back the trail. Happy Hiking!

Image Pantai Kerachut

The Meromitic Lake is dry this time of the year

Image Trail Map

Hike: Middle Station to Penang Hill

Till 2011, Middle Station on Penang Hill used to be the stopover for commuters who took the funicular train up to Penang Hill. I used to remember how people hurriedly got out of the first train to the next connecting one in hopes of getting a seat on the next train.
Well those days just remain a memory now, as the new train has more space,does not have a pit stop at Middle Station and takes only 10 minutes to reach the summit! That being said, Middle Station which used to be abuzz with people till about 3 years ago, now remains quite empty and eerily silent.
Middle Station now is filled with flowers.

This trail description assumes that you come to the Middle Station through trails from the eastern slope of Penang Hill (or more accurately the north-eastern side) like the Hye Keat Estate trail or the Botanic Gardens trail and wish to get to the summit through trails on the western slope of the hill.
Trail from Hye Keat estate gives you a magnificent view of the Bukit Cendana slope.

Air Itam and Paya Terubong

If you are coming from Hye Keat Estate trail which passes a temple, keep going till you hit a junction at the end of the farms where the right turn leads you steeply up to Claremont Station while the left turn leads you steeply down to Middle Station.Take this left turn and within 5-10 minutes you’ll be at Middle Station.

Going to Middle Station.

At Middle Station cross over to the other side of the tracks and follow the cemented path which passes through the metal fence up along the  side of railway track. Stay a safe distance away from the railway tracks and make no attempt in touching or getting too close to the track. 10 meters on, you will come to a row of steps on your left which leads up to a dwelling and a cement road going gently up the slope on your left.

Follow the small path which goes through the metal fence.

Take the left turning and continue straight ahead for the next 15 minutes.You should be passing many farms on your left and right with an amazing view of the Paya Terubong-Air Itam valley below.Keep to the main cement trail and don’t take any diversions until you reach a small junction within 15 minutes where hikers have marked clearly with the words “Penang Hill” and “Middle Station”.

Take the right turning up at this point. Leads you to Penang Hill.

Much of the natural vegetation along the first stretches of this trail have been replaced by flower and vegetable farms

Take this left turning up and within 5 minutes you will come to another junction where you should take right. In about 600 meters you will come to yet another junction where you should take left.As you progress along this left turning, you will soon notice that you are in a primary jungle.

Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve

This section of the trail is part of the 2287 hectare “Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve”. Soon the cement trail will come to another junction where a left turning leads you down to the Brother’s Bunglow while the right turning leads you up ahead to Penang Hill.Take this right turning and continue.

Along the trail.

300 meters along this trail you will hit the next junction.To the left,the road leads you Mon Sejour,and to the right to Penang Hill. Take the right turning and within 20 meters of taking this turning you’ll notice a left diversion going uphill. Take this road and in the next 20-30 minutes you will arrive at Tunnel Road West.
At this point you have the choice of taking the right turning and continue up to the top  or take the longer left turn which leads you to the Upper Tunnel Station,Tunnel Road East and finally connecting at the Penang Hill Police Station. Happy hiking!

Looking down from the Upper Tunnel Station into the Penang Hill Funicular Railway Tunnel.

Trail Map.

Rexy’s Thoughts: Penang Hill Special Area Plan (SAP)

In the last one month Penang Hill has made headlines again. Not for landslides this time though,but instead for a revival of development plans on its slopes which include among many others building a cable car which runs from Botanic Gardens all the way to Teluk Bahang.

While special care has been taken when dishing out this new set of plans to develop Penang Hill under the ecotourism banner, questions remain as to how the implementation of the many projects under this plan will impact the health and continued existence of hills. A recreational spot for thousands of Penangites,we are not willing to see this hill of ours become a barren moonscape.

Anyway the plan is still in its draft stages and for the last few weeks,the Penang State government has taken the proactive step of engaging the public in getting feedback for the implementation of these plans for Penang Hill.

ImageThe Penang Hill Special Area Plan (SAP) draft was up for viewing till the 11th of December 2013 in Komtar and the Penang Hill Lower Station

Well here is my take on two of the more questionable projects under this plan.

1. Proposal for the Construction and Completion of a Cable Car System to Bukit Bendera.

Cable cars are often mooted as a more eco friendly access uphill as compared to service roads. But while its green side may be applauded, there are a few points which require special attention.

a) Supporting Towers.
All cable car systems require supporting towers to carry the weight of each cable cart. Building of supporting towers are said to involve minimal damage to the surrounding eco system but :-

i) Will each supporting tower require a service road to upkeep their maintenance?

This will involve a lot of clearing of vegetation especially along environmentally sensitive ecosystems in parts of the cable car pathway 

ii) Penang Hill slope is very prone to landslides and slips especially along slopes with more than 25 degree inclination. How will the cable car be engineered to overcome this problem?

Lets take the example of the Mat Chinchang cable car in Langkawi. This model cannot be followed here in Penang as it consists of pillars which are directly drilled into the limestone mass of the mountain. Landslides are of a lesser chance in Mat Chinchang as the top soil is thinner than that of Penang Hill which is more of a granitic mass and has thicker top soil. The cable car route from Youth Park and Botanical Gardens would follow an already landslide prone slope and which was hit by 10+ landslides in the month of September 2013 alone.

While the slopes between Teluk Bahang and Penang Hill have little or no history of human induced landslides, they are sharply steeper than the slopes between Botanic Gardens/Youth Park and Penang Hill  with Class 4 slopes (gradients of more than 35 degrees) at many parts. Landslides are a certainty if any concrete structure is built on these slopes, as construction in the forest leaves gaps in the forest floor which are prone to landslide when it rains

ImageProposed route for the cable car consists of 3 separate streches between Penang Hill and Teluk Bahang (8km),Penang Hill and the Botanic Gardens (3km) and Penang Hill and Youth Park (3km)

Box in Yellow

Stretch between  Penang Hill and Bukit Laksamana and down to Taman Rimba Telok Bahang.Between Penang Hill and Bukit Laksamana hill slopes drop 250-300 meters steeply. Between Bukit Laksamana and Rimba Telok Bahang,the trail is also a steep drop of 350-400 meters. Part of the last non degraded stretch of rainforest left on Penang Island. Contains Class 4 Slopes

Box in Red

Part of the visible slope of Penang Hill and serviced by the jeep road and many natureGentle slopes but very prone to landslides. Has Class 4 slopes but lesser than yellow area.


Landslide at Station 84,located in the Red area

How do you ensure fatal landslides do not occur along the path of cable car in such a landslide prone area?Will the path of the cable car crisscross current nature trails and will the nature trails be affected (i.e. public barred from using the particular trail)?

b) Impact of Cable Car on Biodiversity
Penang Hill’s ecosystem is the one of most well preserved and untouched natural landscape left on the island. Building this cable car network is inevitably going to create gaps in the forest which would be detrimental to the ecosystem and might result in erosion of forest floor soil

i) How many square meters of land will be cleared to make the base of the supporting towers?

 Bigger the base of the supporting tower, the more trees are cleared and more exposed soil.

Image                        The thick forest between Bukit Laksamana and Penang Hill.       

ii)Most cable car paths require vegetation below it to be felled to prevent the cable cart from colliding with the trees. Will this be carried out for the Penang Cable Car? If so, a total of 14KM has to be cleared for the cable car path. How many hectares of forest will need to be cleared for this project? Will it affect environmentally sensitive areas especially near the summit of Penang Hill,Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana?

Image  An example of a cable car path.Note the blue box shows the area where the  vegetation has been cleared for smooth movement of  cable car.

c) Impact of Cable Car on Water Catchment Areas

i) The Cable Car from Botanic Gardens up to Penang Hill will cut through the Waterfall Catchment Area which feeds the reservoir in the Penang Botanic Gardens.

ii)  The stretch of Cable Car from Penang Hill to Teluk Bahang also cuts through two important water catchment areas on the island which are:-

-The stretch between Penang Hill Summit and Bukit Laksamana cuts through the Batu Ferringgi Catchment Area which feeds into the Batu Ferringghi Aquaduct and the Chin Farm Resevoir.

– The stretch between Bukit Laksamana and Teluk Bahang cuts through the catchment area for the Teluk Bahang Dam.

With this in mind, how do you ensure that while the construction of the cable car is carried out, siltation of these important catchment streams does not happen?

What would the implications of a service road to upkeep the Supporting Towers be towards these catchment rivers?

ImagePilling work upstream to build Supporting Towers for the Cable Car may result in siltation of rivers like the on shown which feeds into the Batu Ferringghi Aquaduct.

2. Proposal for the Development and Hiking of Existing Girdle Road and Forest Trails

I would applaud this idea but I would like to remind the authorities that while it has noble intentions to develop forest trails caution needs to be practiced such that the NATURAL CHARACTER of the trails are not disturbed

A few  suggestion on preserving trails include:-

i)Do not cement or tar existing nature trails
Most tourists/hikers love the feel of natural ground below their feet. Tarring or cementing trails only creates a non natural environment and leads to erosion and cutting of slopes. It is also a sore waste of taxpayers’ money to tar/cement  a trail in the jungle, when tourists/hikers come to experience “real” nature


Cementing of trails is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers money.It also clears alot of vegetation in its path

ii)Markers should be placed at each 10-20 meter intervals along trails.

iii) When nature trails are widened, trees which are along the trail should not be cut down but instead the trail made to skirt around the tree.

Hike: Gunung Jerai

Gunung Jerai or also known as Kedah Peak is one of the nearer and more accessible 1000+ meter peaks near Penang. Topping 1217 meters near the coast,its jagged peak is visible from Tanjung Bungah,Batu Ferringgi and Penang Hill.During the Hindu Buddhist era,it was often considered a sacred mountain with a few temples built at the foothills and up near the summit.


Gunung Jerai Peak from Kepala Angin Point.

 Even now it has not lost its mystical charm,with many legends and stories about meeting the invisible “Orang Bunian”. Well,legends and stories aside,this peak is still one of the more interesting 1000+ meter mountains which you can complete in a day with relative ease.There are a few paths which wind up to the top of Gunung Jerai,but this post will talk about the trail which starts from Merbok.


Trail from Merbok to Gunung Jerai.The trail down to Yan is not shown in this picture

For this hike, I joined the V2 kembara Group,a relatively well known hiking group which organises hikes to many interesting mountains in the Peninsular. For those of you who are interested to know more about them  find out  here :-https://www.facebook.com/V2Kembara?fref=ts .

ImageGroup Photo with the V2 Kembara hikers

We started in the Lembah Bujang Archeological Site in Merbok which is on the Southern Slope and ended in Yan which was on the northern foothills of the mountain.To find out more about the Lembah Bujang Archeological site (or perhaps to get directions) just visit their website :- http://www.jmm.gov.my/en/museum/lembah-bujang-archaeological-museum

Image Lembah Bujang Archeological Site.

Park your car outside the Lembah Bujang Archeological site as the hike might take anywhere between 9-10 hours return.Standard time for most government agencies (Lembah Bujang is under the purview of the Department of Museums Malaysia) or departments to close is at 4.30pm or 5.00pm,so i’m pretty sure you do not want your car to be locked inside till the next morning. At the site,you’ll see a small waterfall.Cross this waterfall and you’ll see a old malay house across the waterfall.This is where the trail starts.


Waterfall at Lembah Bujang Archeological Site.Cross this waterfall to reach the trail head.

Waterfall Crossing

The trail goes up the slope behind the house and within 3-4 minutes you should be on a clear laterite track.Follow this track up the slope.There would be a small junction in 2-3 minutes from that point where you should take the right turn.


Clear track  on the slope behind the Old Malay House.

Within 8-10 minutes from the first waterfall you will come across the second one.Continue along the path and within 1 minute you will reach a river crossing.Be careful when crossing as the rocks here might be a bit slippery.Once you cross the river you’ll notice that  the vegetation is thicker.


2nd Waterfall along the trail.

Continue along this trail for the next 30-50 minutes. Along this stretch there might be certain parts which are overgrown but most of the way,the trail is wide. The gentle ascent slowly  gives way for more steeper and strenuous slopes. Be sure to take rest along the way.Finally after 30-50 minutes, you will come to a parched hill slope.A fire broke out on the ridge not to long ago and left a barren hill slope. Be sure to stop here a while to take a few shots as the fire created a gap in the forest where you can get a good view.


Majestic trees along the trail


Result of fire-Destruction.


In this burned out gap you could get awesome views of the surrounding slopes and occassionally a few outlying islands along the Kedah coast.


Ephyphytic orchids on the ground still firmly perched onto their burned out branch.


The Kedah plains.

Keep going straight along the trail after this burned out patch and within 2-3 hours you will reach the next viewpoint,Kepala Angin Gunung Jerai. There would be uphill and downhill slopes along this stretch but most of it is gentle except for the final slope before Kepala Angin which might require some skill in negotiating the rocky slope. This is at KM 5.6-KM 5.8. Once you’ve overcome this rocky slope it would only be a short 5 minute walk along the ridge to reach Kepala Angin Point.


Walking along the ridge towards Kepala Angin. Notice the different vegetation on the ridge.


Pitcher Plants abound in the upper reaches of the mountain


There are even “pine tree lookalikes” in Gunung Jerai!


Kepala Angin Point.Awesome views,great for a Facebook Profile Picture.

The lesser peaks of Gunung Jerai in the distance.

Looking up to the Gunung Jerai Summit (1217 meter)

Enjoy the views at Kepala Angin Point and be sure to take loads of photos.If you’ve brought lunch,this would be an awesome place to break for lunch.From Kepala Angin it would take another 30-45 minutes to finally hit the Gunung Jerai Summit road where the trail ends.A 20 minute walk uphill along this road will bring you all the way up to the peak of Gunung Jerai where a small military outpost is located.Be sure not to cross beyond the gates of the military outpost or take any photos of it.


Jewel Orchid (Anoectochilus sp)


Padang Tok Sheikh is an interesting rocky area located 5-10 minutes uphill from the trail end.


Interesting rock formations at Padang Tok Sheikh.


Stunted tress dot the Padang Tok Sheikh area.


At the Gunung Jerai summit.Slightly below 1217 meters.


Gunung Jerai comes alive when the countless species of plants it hosts,bloom.

On your way down you have a few options.First you could follow the same trail back which would also take an equally long time.If you are looking at something shorter probably follow the tarred road down or take the “Tangga Kenari” trail down to Yan. To get to the Tangga Kenari trail follow the road down to the Gunung Jerai Resort. Just before you reach the resort you’ll see a wooden entrance on your right with a small  path winding down below it.Take this path and continue down for the next 2.30 to 3.00 hours before you finally reach Yan. Happy hiking!


After reaching the end of the trail at Yan.We arrived slightly after 7.00pm.

Hike:Batu Ferringghi to Teluk Bahang

Distance: 5.2KM

Time: 2.30-3.00 hours 
This trail is one of the more well used trails you could try in the Batu Ferringghi area. It crosses a steep hill ridge and leads you down to the Teluk Bahang Recreational Forest. Although short in distance,you gotta be prepared for the steep ascents and decent along the trail.

Trail Map courtesy of my new Garmin Forerunner 405.

The starting point for this trail is opposite the Bayview Beach Resort.As you pass Bayview (heading on the road toward Teluk Bahang),you’ll notice an Indian Eatery and  beside it a small path going away into the bush.

Along the trail you’ll be able to get glimpses of the majestic Bukit Laksamana

Park your car here and take this unpaved path and in 5 minutes you’ll come across a junction.The path that goes straight leads you to the once famous Chin Farm Waterfall while the right fork continues up along our trail.

Hills of Northern Penang. Steep,untamed and wild!

Chin Farm Waterfall,once a tourist spot in Penang,today relatively unknown to many.


At the junction you’ll see a path diverging off to the right.Take this turn.

In 5 minutes of taking this turn you will come to yet another junction.Take the left turn and continue beside the river till you come across a huge water tower.

Chin Farm Water Tower.

Forestry Department has done a good job in erecting a signboard along the trail.

After the watertower the trail is quite clear and well marked.Continue on,passing a river and finally you’ll be standing in front of the grand Batu Ferringghi Resevoir.

You’ll be surprised as to what you’ll find along the way.

 You could take a short rest here,as the rest of the trail meanders through thick jungle after this point.

The still waters of the Batu Ferringghi Resevoir

Batu Ferringghi Resevoir. Follow the arrow down.

At the reservoir,you’ll see a small arrow pointing down towards the dried river bed. Go down this path and cross over to the other side.Be careful as the stones might be slippery!

Looking up to the dam from the dried river bed.

Dam Overflow

As you come to the other side you’ll see yet another signboard which leads to a clear path  into the forest.Brace yourself as the path might be really steep and requires some effort. After 40-50 minutes of climbing you’ll come to Rain Gauge 15.Continue another 15-20 minutes and you’ll be at a junction with a signboard.The trail ahead continues up ahead while another leads steeply down on your right.It is marked as “Simpang 4”.Follow this downward branch.

Take “Simpang 4”

It will take another 1-1.15 hours of steep descent before you finally come to the Teluk Bahang Recreational Park. At all junctions after the signboard on the hill,be sure to take the “Simpang 4” turning.

Part of this trail is called “Denai Permatang”.

Along the way,look out for the viewpoint where the Foresty Department has built a watchtower looking down at the idyllic township of Teluk Bahang. On reaching Teluk Bahang Recreational Park,you could either take a taxi from the Butterly Farm or walk to Teluk Bahang town and take a bus back to Batu Ferringghi. Happy Hiking!!

Teluk Bahang

Finishing Point.

Ayer Itam to Sungai Pinang

If you are a Penangite or if you’re on a long stay in Penang,I would say this is one trail you MUST try.Beautiful waterfalls,breathtaking views,interesting landscapes easily make this one of the best trails if not the best in Penang. The trail starts of at the Ayer Itam Dam (Refer to my account on “Ayer Itam to Tiger Hill” on how to get there).


ImageA waterfall on the way up to the 5 way junction. 

Take path on the right side of the dam and continue till you come to a small junction with a cemented trail going up to your right.It is the same trail which leads to Tiger Hill (You could refer to my previous account to know more).Continue along this trail for 45 minutes till you come to a 5 way junction.Take a short rest here if you feel exhausted.We usually break for a meal once we reach this junction before continuing on.At this 5 way junction take the trail which leads straight ahead down into a valley.

ImageTake this trail down 

As you go into this valley,you’ll notice there are many junctions diverging to the right and to the left.Take the trail marked with the “Red” Signboard (I dont read Chinese but i’m presuming it says “Tua Pek Kong” Temple) until you reach a small Chinese shrine along the path.

ImageFollow this signboard. Leads you to the Tua Pek Kong Temple along the trail

This too is an excellent place to break for a meal.A gentle reminder to all who embark on this trail:-Do bring lunch with you!It took us almost 4-5 hours to complete this trail and another 3 hours to get back to our starting point so skipping lunch is out of the question!!

ImageBitter gourd.

ImageFarms dot the trail.

At the temple take the trail that diverges down to the right.Keep in mind that this trail is descending downwards at all times so there is no possibility that the trail would be ascending at any part after the 5 way junction.

ImageThe forests of Penang.

Most of the time,you’ll be walking side by side with the catchment area of the well known Titi Kerawang Waterfall.

ImageParts of the trail go through forested areas.

Dont risk straying off the path to take a glimpse of the stream as at most times the riversides are steep and precarious.

ImageThe hillsides here are steep,especially along the sides of the Titi Kerawang Stream.

As you continue along the trail you would soon come across a signboard in a small durian farm pointing right with the words “Sungai Pinang” on it.

ImageFollow the signboard down

Take this fork and continue until you come across yet another junction.At this junction take the left turning.

ImageTake this left fork which leads you along a path beside rubber trees.

This will lead you to yet another junction.At this junction you have a choice of taking the right fork to see the Upper Titi Kerawang Catchment Waterfall or to continue straight on Sungai Pinang.

ImageLooking down at the Titi Kerawang catchment stream.

If youre a fan of beautiful places and landscapes,I suggest spare half an hour to behold the beauty of the Upper Titi Kerawang Catchment Waterfall.

ImageUpstream from Titi Kerawang

You’ll never regret it! To get to the Upper Titi Kerawang Catchment Waterfall,take the right fork which leads through a small gate and follow the steep decent down through the Durian Orchard. As you continue lower and lower,you’ll be able to hear the gush of the waterfall and see the stream that flows from it.

Continue all the way till you finally come to the end of the trail.If you wish to have a dip turn right and there would be a small path down to the stream beside the marked Durian Tree.

ImageUpper Titi Kerawang Catchment Waterfall

Spend some time and enjoy the ambience and beauty of this waterfall while its still there.To continue you could cross over the river and follow the trail on the other side of the bank (I do not know where it leads to) or come back the same way you used earlier and take the left fork all the way down to the main Balik Pulau-Teluk Bahang Road.

ImageThere is a trail going up the hillside on the other side of the stream.

ImageAnother look at the gushing waterfall

From the junction it would probably take another 30 to 45 minutes to get to the main road. This stretch is also equally scenic with views of Bukit Laksamana and Pantai Acheh.

ImageHills of Sungai Pinang.

ImageThe lofty peak of Bukit Laksamana in all its majesty

ImageLooking down to Pantai Acheh and the mangroves of Balik Pulau.

ImageDurian flowers.Watch your heads if your coming during durian season.The place is filled with durians!

Once youre at the main road,you have an option of following the road to the right down to the Sungai Pinang township (and take Rapid Penang 404 or 501 to Balik Pulau) or going left to Titi Kerawang which is just 5-10 minutes away and take Rapid Penang 501 to either Teluk Bahang or Balik Pulau from here.ImageTiti Kerawang Waterfall.A mere 5-10 minutes walk away from the end of the trail