Penang, Malaysia – I was walking leisurely amidst the lush forest of Penang Hill when my feet instinctively halted. I was faced against a group of wild monkeys in the middle of the road. It was as if the world stopped. I was trying to remain calm and motionless when the alpha charged at me.
And that was the highlight of my afternoon in Penang Hill. But let me start at the beginning.
Exploring Penang Hill
After Kek Lok Si, I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon in Penang Hill. Despite going there on an off-peak month (August 2015), there was still a small queue at the Lower Station for the funicular train. This train takes locals and visitors alike to Penang Hill every day. Since I was solo, it was easier for me to get ahead of the queue and wait near the tracks. Therefore, I got to choose where I wanted to sit. The best seat is in front which gives a good view of the tunnel going up.
Just a few meters from the Upper Station is Dataran Bukit Bendara, where the food court is. After walking around and taking in the panoramic views, I headed up to glimpse the mosque and Hindu temple. Checking out the map, I thought it would be cool to walk through nature while looking for the hill bungalows. So I opted not to take the buggy up the hill.
Nature Walk (Path A to D)
It was a relaxing walk, with the occasional jolts of surprise when I hear sounds coming from the forest. I had my paranoid moments but I managed to calm myself and think that nothing could happen to me along this concrete forest-lined road.
But more than halfway through the path, that’s when shit happened. Facing off a group of hungry looking wild monkeys was definitely not on my to-do list for the day. At first, I thought they would just mind their own business and scamper away. So I managed to snap a quick shot of them unaware, moments before the alpha decided to make a move for me. Therefore, I had no choice but to run for my life. I had no plans to be monkey snack that day. Nothing like imminent danger to make you run like hell. Coming back to Path B, I managed to warn a couple of girls heading towards where I came from.
Needless to say, I was shocked and went down to the viewing deck full of adrenaline. The cold air definitely helped a lot to calm my nerves. After Melaka, this was the second time that I felt really scared for my life while traveling. That scare cut my exploration of Penang Hill short.
After that experience, I’m now much more wary of monkeys. I also realized that sometimes it’s not worth saving a few bucks when your safety could be compromised. Therefore, when I come back here, I’ll definitely take the RM 30 buggy next time. Haha!
Quick Guide: Penang Hill
Address: Perbadanan Bukit Bendara Pulau Pinang (Penang Hill)
Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendara
11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Train Schedule: 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM (last train from top station)
Ticket Prices (Foreign): Normal RM 30/ Fast Lane RM 60
Reached by a funicular train in Air Itam, the summit of Penang Hill offers visitors the best panoramic view of Georgetown. With an elevation of 609 masl (meters above sea level), it’s also a cool respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city and its surrounding areas. The forests of Penang Hill is where you can discover interesting plants and animals.
It is the oldest British Hill station in Southeast Asia, dated late 1700’s. Penang Hill still retains its Heritage Bungalows which are mostly more than 100 years old. Bel Retiro (Governors Bungalows) is the oldest which is built in 1789. These hill bungalows make Penang Hill a good repository of the fusion of architecture of British colonial and modern Asian Architecture. The funicular train service started 93 years ago in 1923. The funicular track stretches almost 2 kilometers from the Lower Station to Upper Station, which is the longest in Asia. The funicular tunnel is also another record holder as the steepest tunnel track in the world.
Attractions: Viewing deck, Hindu temple, Mosque, Historical heritage, Owl Museum, Love locks, flora and fauna
How about you? Have you had any similar experience with wild animals during your travels?
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