Climbing Penang Hill via Moniot Road – not fun, especially after rain

We’ve had several days of intermittent very heavy rain, but the night and morning had been dry.

7.20AM:  I started at the bottom

Starting off

Starting off

7.56: had reached the halfway point and rest area 35 minutes later.

2013-06-13 07.56.44

halfway up the road

This is the start of Moniot Road.

2013-06-13 07.57.36

Road sign

I really had no idea of the route it took, whether it went to the top of the hill at all, and how long it would take if it did. So I started off. There were absolutely no helpful signs at all for the whole walk, as it turned out.

8.00: At first it was an easy, if narrow, track through bush land. It undulated a bit, but was mostly uphill, of course.

the track at first

the track at first

the track

the track

8.02: Then the centre of the track became a narrow concrete path.

 concrete path

concrete path

8.05: I continued on, until I came to a fork.

fork in the track

fork in the track

On my left was a “Beware of the Dog” sign,but the path on the right looked very rough, so I took the easier left hand path – both headed uphill anyway. This track was again a narrow concrete path, and somewhat slippery. Unfortunately it ended at a house, so this was the wrong path – as I was also told by the owner. So I retraced my steps carefully, narrowly avoiding slipping, back to the fork.

8.10: Now on the right hand path I soon reached a muddy bank I had to clamber up.

muddy bank - it was much steeper than the photo shows

muddy bank – it was much steeper than the photo shows

There was worse to come. Mostly it was a dirt track – read mud, but not particularly bad – with the occasional mud bank to climb up.These were somewhat treacherous.

nice sign

nice sign

8.20: I crossed a few small bridges over mini-ravines.

I crossed a few bridges like this

I crossed a few bridges like this

8.24: This continued on

2013-06-13 08.24.53

in some places the track was a pleasant walk

8.28: with some more mud banks to climb up

mud bank

mud bank

another mud bank

another mud bank – not too muddy this time

8.34: until I came up to a concrete sealed road.

approaching the sealed road - retaining wall on left

approaching the sealed road – retaining wall on left

With no sign to help, I turned left as that was uphill.

easy sealed road

easy sealed road

I think now that the road to the right would intersect with the normal Penang Hill road, as I later found out that this road was Viaduct Road East, and I think I passed it on the way down.

8.35: I continued until I found myself under the Penang Hill track more or less at the Viaduct Station.

the cable car track - road sign on right

the cable car track – road sign on right

the cable car passing by

the cable car passing by

the cable car had briefly stopped here

the cable car had briefly stopped here

8.48: Indeed, the road I had been on was Viaduct Road East. I couldn’t see any alternative to continuing along that road – and did so, taking the uphill choice at any intersection.

I took the high road

I took the high road

nice country

nice country

the view

the view

8.54: Later the sealed road ended at a Buddhist retreat, but that was actually slightly downhill

another fork

another fork

8.56: and taking the uphill fork I was now back on a dirt / mud track, but wide enough for a car.

muddy again

muddy again

9.03: Later again it became a concrete sealed road, winding upwards.

2013-06-13 09.03.58

sealed again

9.05: So far, so good – but then I came across a road blockage.

blockage

blockage

Several huge trees with all their foliage had fallen over the road, blocking it for about 30 metres. But there was no way I was going back – scrambling down mud banks and down muddy tracks is a lot more precarious than going up. There was nothing for it but to get across. One motorcycle rider turned up, saw the problem, and turned back. No one else was around. No one had tried to remove the trees. It could have been a very recent fall.

very thick

very thick

I tried to walk along the trunks, but they were slippery, and I did slip and almost fall. There were also some fallen palm trees with nasty thorns in them, some of which I had to extract from my skin.

and spiky palm trees

and spiky palm trees

I did a combination of walking along and across tree trunks, and across some foliage, and finally I managed to traverse the obstacle. It took about 10 minutes.

view from above

view from above

9.19: After this it was easy walking, just uphill, even if I had no idea where I was. At another junction I turned right randomly, but there was a road crew there who told me I should go the other way.

one should turn left here

one should turn left here

9.21: A little later at another intersection I randomly turned right,

2013-06-13 09.21.38-right

I had no idea – but I turned right

9.28: and later found myself walking past a few houses.

passing a few houses

passing a few houses

9.32: There was another road crew, and a few people walking the other way,so I asked if I was on the correct road to Penang Hill, and I was. Lucky. Even a post box.

post box!

post box!

well...

well…

9.39: Later a nice view over the Penang Straits appeared,

view

view

9.43: and not long after I finally recognised something – I was approaching the Penang Hill hawker centre.

Arrived at last!!

Arrived at last!!

So, about one hour 45 minutes, with stops for photos, backtracking when I had made the wrong guess on the road, etc.  it’s about 45 minutes for me if I just go up the main road.

All in all, not a good walk, and especially after heavy rain. The banks one has to scramble up wouldn’t be so bad if dry. But mostly it wasn’t good  because I had no idea where I was.  If you decide to try it, best to have some water with you, a mobile phone in case of injury – although a signal is very patchy, and a companion in case of injury or whatever.

 

3 comments

  1. Very informative and fairly accurate description. Wish i had read this before hiking up. I hiked from the infamous Moongate but instead of climbing up the steps to the left of the gate, i went up a trail to the right. Finally reached station 84 and took the Moniot road. Yes, i was chased by dogs at the fork to the left and retraced as you did up the muddy path. Finally reachhed Viaduct road and instead of going under the rail bridge, i turned right and after another encounter with dogs along a private road, i came to the Jeep Road. Then it was a straight but tiring walk up to the top.

    Appreciate a more detail description after you passed the rail bridge at Viaduct Road. Would it have been possible to just walk up the steps along the rail track?

    Cheers for a great writeup.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I got the impression that one couldn’t walk all the way up the rail track, but I am not sure about that.

      I used to walk up to the top regularly twice a week or so, intending eventually to have covered all the possible routes. I’d start about 7.15, and if using the shortest route, the jeep track, reach the top around 8.10 – 8.15, and having spent around 1/2 an hour at the top, head down again, taking maybe five minutes less than the ascent. I’d be home by 10AM.

      However I kept on reading in the local papers about people having heart attacks and dying on the walk up, and I also wondered about the strain and possible overuse of particularly my knee joints. I read elsewhere of someone suddenly having severe joint problems after years of jogging! up. So I discontinued the walk, and I do miss it.

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