Friday, September 13, 2013

PENANG HILL REVISITED

Photo credit: http://asiaexplorers.com/ 

The last time I was up on Penang Hill was in 1971. I remember the ride up on the funicular train was slow and jerky. But the spectacular view was worth all the heart-stopping moments as the old train creaked precariously up the steep slope. Now one can make the same ascent in the safety and comfort of an electric air-con train in just seven minutes. Senior citizens get a 50% discount, and pay only RM4 for a round trip.

A section of the old train that is on display
The Swiss-made electric train costing RM73 million started
operations in April 2011

If you are expecting to see lots of tourist attractions on the hill, forget it. But if you are a nature lover or looking for some peace and solitude, Penang Hill is the perfect getaway for a restful weekend.

Looking out from the balcony of our bungalow. There used to be a statue atop the stone pedestal.

My girlfriends and I did just that recently. We booked our accommodation at one of the old colonial era bungalows on Penang Hill. We didn't know much about the place except that it was built in 1888 by some Catholic brothers as a place of worship. None of us had ever stayed in a place this ancient, and we thought it would be quite an adventure.

Front view of the bungalow, with the chapel on the left. 

As the place is used mainly for religious retreats, the facilities are basic and spartan, but clean and comfortable enough. Meals are home cooked by the caretaker's wife. The couple has been looking after the place for the past 22 years, and they have plenty of interesting stories to tell.

Another view from the bungalow. There are several similar colonial bungalows dotting the slopes.

If you love old places, and if you enjoy nature walks, you would definitely want to plan for a short stay on Penang Hill. Here are some photos to share.

I love this flight of stone steps leading down to the bungalow.
We were rained in on Day 2. On Day 3, we were greeted not only with a burst of sunshine, but also a rainbow of colours, from the purest of white to the brightest of yellow. The garden became a paradise for those of us with cameras.
I have never seen so many types of leaves and shades of green as I did on Penang Hill.
Passion fruit but not quite ready for plucking.
Fruits, like these berries, grow well in the cool hill weather.
These are not Malaysian grapes! 
The rich variety of flora in the garden is simply amazing. 
Purple bougainvillea. If you love photographing flowers, you will be clicking away in rapture! I had to make do with my small digital camera. 
A little over-exposed. but the freshness after the rain is evident.
Can easily pass for daffodils to the ignorant like me! If you know the names of all the flowers and plants in the photos, please help me identify them. Thanks!
Nothing beats the natural fragrance of uncut flowers.
Not sure if these are red flowers or red leaves! 
Just one of many species of orchids in the garden.
This used to be the canopy walk. Now it's closed to the public for safety reasons.
As we were leaving, a mist slowly enveloped the hill rendering further photography pointless.

So there it is - a small sampling of what my camera captured during our stay on Penang Hill. If you would like more information about the place, just send me an email at seniorsaloud@gmail.com



2 comments:

Robyn Lee said...

What a beautiful spot although the steep climb does nothing for me!

As for the plants and flowers; to the left of the steps is bilbergia; the yellow flower in the next pic could be a ginger, but I'm not too sure; I think the striped plant is a hosta; passionfruit, the berries look like cherries, but don't quote me on that; passion fruit with dark red bromeliads, not sure of the yellow berries; coleus; bougainvillea; azalea; orchid; hydrangea; bromeliads.

Thank you for the beautiful photos.

el-f said...

Thanks, Robyn, for providing the names. I had image-googled 'Malaysian flowers', but still couldn't find the names of some of the flowers/plants.