Today bengo and I inadvertently hiked the Penang Hill Forest Challenge ('the longest trail in Penang'). I had pieced together two other hiking trails and filled a gap in the middle, but it turns out that if you do this from the other end, it has an official name. Here is the GPS trace.
Anyway, we started from home, and walked to the Botanical Gardens (about an hour). We took the 1500 steps route up Penang Hill, using Path A to reach the top (about 2.5 hours) where we relaxed with fruit and fruit juice for a while.
We walked along Summit Road to Western Hill. There's a trail on the left going down, after about 20 minutes. We first missed it and continued down the road, which quickly became signposted as private property. We backtracked; the actual trial is pretty well signposted.
From there there was lots of climbing - up and down - supported by a rope most of the way. Lots. Of. Climbing. And another hill. Then some more climbing. Oh look another hill. And a vertical slope. And some scrambling. And another hill. And so on. We encountered only 3 other groups of hikers on the way. There were a few points for nice views, but mostly trees. And hills. And another hill. But just because I was cursing every step doesn't mean I wasn't having fun.
4 hours later, the beautiful sight of local families splashing in pools nearby the Teluk Bahang Dam welcomed us. We dived in and sat in small waterfalls until our legs came back. The pools are in a nice park, which also houses the Forestry Museum. It was very peaceful.
Once we'd recovered, we walked up the road to see the Dam and reservoir. Then we backed up and followed the road to Teluk Bahang village. We stuck our thumbs out but nobody stopped.
We forged ahead to the beach, and immediately encountered Cat Beach - a cat shelter on a small, beautiful, secluded beach. Run by volunteers, in exchange for housing. I paddled, and hung out with the cats for a while. I think I see... my future.
We stopped for vegetable fried rice at a small stall, then caught the 101 bus home.
Complete set of photos here.