Weekend getaway: A hike up Penang Hill & Nasi Kandar
Penang has always been my favourite “tourist destination” within peninsular Malaysia simply because it provides a balance of city life (shopping malls, access by air) and nature (beach, parks). Of course the fact that Penang is the home of Nasi Kandar just makes it on top of our list for a perfect weekend getaway.
Last weekend my wife and I along with a friend hopped into a Malindo Air flight from Subang (click here to read my review on the flight) to spend some time relaxing in Penang. We only had two things in our agenda for the trip, conquering Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) by foot and pampering ourselves with multiple dose of Nasi Kandar.
Our original plan was to head straight from the airport to the Penang Botanical Garden to start our hike. Then it started to rain and we ‘diverted’ to have breakfast instead.
Not the best choice of meal before starting a 3-hour hike but it’s Penang. Nasi Kandar is a must for the energy lah!
All set for the hike.
We chose Moongate, just outside Penang Botanical Garden, as our starting point as this trail provides a mix of nature trail + jeep road.
Despite it being a weekend, the place was quite empty. Maybe because we started at 10am while many hikers prefer to start as early as 6am.
The trail from Moongate to rest area #5 (the first pit stop) is quite easy, a good 15-30 minutes of relaxing uphill trail. It was slippery at certain places due to the earlier rain but nothing that our Teva and Timberland footwear can’t handle.
After a while, the steps started to make a grand appearance.
I would rate the difficulty of the uphill stairs as slightly higher than those in Bukit Gasing but definitely easier than those that @AzrulRA and I went through for 9 hours a day in Nepal (click here to read about our Nepal trekking stories).
While at certain stretch the steps look like kind of never ending, it was never too steep and as it was not crowded, we were able to take a breather conveniently without worrying about slowing everyone down.
Approaching rest area #5.
Rest area 5. Facilities available include toilet, benches and workout area.
View of Komtar from rest area #5.
After a short break at #5, we pushed on towards the next stop which is rest area #84.
No more annoying steps for this stretch of the trail.
Nice shaded stretch.
There are a couple of areas where the trail appeared to be more suitable for mountain bikes. It added a bit of a challenge which is good but at one point we were wondering whether we had ventured into a bicycle trail without noticing. Maybe it’s a good idea to introduce a signage every 30-minutes or so.
After about 2 hours leaving moongate, we reached the second checkpoint which is the #84 stop. Facilities include toilet, nice resting area and free flow of water and hot drinks (donation system).
Our one and only group photo just before we started the second half of the hike – 2.5km stretch via steep jeep road.
The KM indicator.
Slow and easy. Mind over matter.
“Karangan” – one of the bungalows up there.
Finishing line, Alhamdulillah, we did it. We have officially hiked up the 239th highest peak in Malaysia
The reward, a nice view of Penang.
Coming down was much faster as we took the train.
Celebrating our success with of course more Nasi Kandar!
After a good rest, day 2 started with the famous Penang Transfer Road’s Roti Canai.
and a short walk around Georgetown hunting for the street arts.
Another fun and satisfying 36-hour weekend trip. One last dose of Nasi Kandar at the airport before we left Penang by air on the evening of Sunday, all set for another working week ahead.