One of the main attractions in Penang is Penang Hill, 833 metres above sea level. At first sight it looks like a green mountain covered by jungle forest. In real, it is much more than that.
Penang Hill is a popular tourist sight but it is also visited by locals wishing to spend a day in the cooler atmosphere, since the temperature on the top is usually 5 degrees less than in Georgetown. The place is easy to reach from the capital since it is only about 6 km away. The next step is to choose whether you want to hike up the hill or use the Penang Hill Railway. We decided to take the train up and hike our way back down. The way up to the top took about ten minutes, and was absolutely beautiful but also slightly nerve wracking, when you realised how high you actually are. The train tickets cost 30 RM back and fort, having special prices for locals and students.
The Hill is also a home to Penang Botanic Gardens, which is still in our bucket list to visit since last time we were too tired to go through it after our long hike. Anyways, a lot of tropical fauna and flora can be found from here and we also had the opportunity to meet bats, yellow giant snakes, colourful birds and Malay giant black squirrels.
On top of the hill was a restaurant complex offering local cuisine and delicious desserts! We had a lunch break here before starting our adventure and we must say that food there was pretty nice together with the amazing fruit plates to finish it all.
After eating we visited Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan (Penang Hill Hindu Temple), which was a neat place to visit and take pictures of since it was thoughtfully decorated and colorful, and also having a table inside full of things you can purchase and offer to the Gods if you wish so. In addition to that we stopped at the viewing deck to take a look over the city below us and see all the hundreds of love-locks attached to the fence on the top.
We also noticed that on the top of the hill is some sort of wild animal attraction as well, but we decided to leave that to another time together with the gardens. We will be back for the animals for sure!
We got the idea that by following the marked jeep track, it is possible to make your way down easily, but in extremely steep conditions. Calves, prepare yourselves! This trip should take about 2-3 hours if you are not in a hurry.
We thought this way would offer a peek to the jungle and all it has to offer. In reality, in halfway of the asphalt road down, we had been looking at the same view for couple of hours and started to get frustrated. Of course we had lots of things to photograph, but deep inside we were looking for more authentic experience. Then this German hiker comes out of nowhere and suggests that we continue our hike through the jungle for more enjoyable trip! We were a bit sceptic if this was a good idea, but decided to go for it anyways. He said it should be about a 20 min walk until we would reach this resting spot with toilets, water, coffee etc. After that it would be about a half an hour to reach the bottom of the hill. Sounded great!
The road in the jungle was narrow and muddy and offered very little guidance to where we should go next. The further we went, the more nervous we (Kia :p) got. At the same time Daniil was over the moon about seeing all kinds of bugs and recording their moves, enjoying the cooler air and getting a chance to be a true jungle explorer! We often had options to go right and left, neither of them looking any better. The view of the city slowly disappeared together with the sounds of other people and cars. We were long overdue our 20 minutes and panic started to rise. When we came to dark caves inhabiting bats, it was time to increase our speed!
After a nearly one-hour trek in these conditions we reached the resting spot, hallelujah! It was crowded with Japanese tourists in professional gear looking like they were enjoying a Sunday walk. We were relieved to find the spot we were told about and also realised that we were not lost, and neither it was dark yet so everything was going to be all okay! After a little pause we made our way through millions of stairs and reached a parking lot in front of the botanic gardens. You simply cannot guess how good a can of Coke bought from a little kiosk tasted after all this traveling!
We realised that by jumping off the ‘safety’ of the jeep track we actually found something much better and saw tropical nature in its real form, things like this won’t be forgotten. Shaken by the experience, but smiling from ear to ear as well as being exhausted, we took a taxi back home and promised to come back someday.