Penang Hill: another 'lockdown' escape

This week’s lockdown escape was a return trip on our own up Penang Hill, with a walk out to the Crag Hotel/former Uplands School/’Royal Simla Club’ (new territory for us) before revisiting our walk from a few weeks ago.

The rail service is limited just now & we took the 10am train up, maybe with 15 persons onboard at the start (max capacity is 50 instead of the usual 100), stopping at most stations so workers & residents could get out. The up journey took about 12 minutes. Again, we received the local senior adult return fare at RM6 each with fast lane option, although that wasn’t needed this time.

It was a very sunny day, lots of blue sky, & lots of heat. Usually we find it cooler on the hill, but that didn’t work out this time. It was a relatively straight forward walk to the former hotel, down a bit of steep jeep track, along a rough tarmac track & finally on grass (where we were greeted by some enthusiastic dogs: they must be lacking hiker company just now!). After the buildings were renovated appropriately for Indian Summers, they have now been left to decay. We were able to walk through the main building, finding the bar & a dumb waiter, together with lots of debris. Sun birds & more were abundant in the trees outside the windows.

We returned to the jeep track, headed down a bit more & joined Upper Tunnel Road that we had walked previously. We followed this to its western end & headed towards Kopi Hutan (literally forest/jungle coffee) which was open, so we enjoyed cold drinks & cheesecake, being the only customers. By now, it was really hot (after mid-day) & there isn’t a lot of shade along the Summit Road so we accepted a freebie lift back to the main area, saving us a 2km walk in the sun & heat.

Apart from workers, we didn’t see any other hikers or ‘tourists’. Some of the by-paths & the Heritage Trail are being repaired. As soon as we passed the police station, we took our masks off & didn’t put them back on until we got to our refreshment stop.

Our 1pm down journey started with 11 persons & again stopped at most stations, but this may have been so people on the up train could get on/off.

10 November 2020

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