The International Steam Pages
Selected Penang Walks - Titi Kerawang to Balik Pulau
This is part of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang.
This is a Grade 3 walk, based mainly on length. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed.
Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.
The kicking off point is a small path some 500 metres after the Titi Kerawang waterfall on the round-the-island road. The blue sign opposite reads FT/0006/041/396/EL. It's got the GPS co-ordinates too but if you need a GPS to find this path, then you're not safe to be let loose on this trail. This ascent is not to be taken lightly, not because it is difficult but because there are many chances to take a wrong turning. Print this report out or at the very least make some rough notes. We've done it several times now and never get lost but... The pictures were taken on 2 different hikes, as you will see we had company (John Baker from Bangkok) on one of them..
The initial views are pretty mediocre, that new housing estate is yet another blot on the landscape. The first junction is easy, just head straight ahead back into the old rubber.
This is a proper view. The round-the-island road is just off centre and the hills behind are the last peaks before the National Park.
You'll return into the welcome shade we went and after a zig-zag or two you'll came to the first critical junction - that small path on the right is what you want. If you go left, probably you'll find the trail again later but it may take a while.
That's Bukit Laksamana I think in the distance, Yuehong is only teasing, don't take this or any other contour path, at least not yet...
This is critical junction number two. Turn left and treat yourself to what for a while is a gentle shaded trail.
Your reward will be another very nice view looking north.
That's Bukit Laksama ahead again with a solitary nutmeg. Cue the next critical junction... Do not take the curved exit left but continue straight ahead up what is to my eye, the minor path.
Your chosen trail winds up and above the other and soon reaches the single most critical junction of the whole ascent. You need that small path behind Yuehong while the concrete version carries on up. Take this and from here on the climb will be straightforward.
You've earned a gentle spell, follow this path straight across a four way junction with brand new concrete left and right. At the second junction there is now a metal barrier with 'keep out' signs.
The path now is less used, it tends to be clear in the dry season but if more hikers don't start to use it then it may be less pleasant to tramp in the future.
Once you emerge on to the wide trail, the rest is easy, just follow it up to the temple which a good spot to take a rest.
Continue from the temple, the road climbs slightly, you'll eventually come to an arcade of ginger and if you're lucky some of it may be in flower.
When you get to the Y junction above the ginger, you have to take a U turn back to the right. (Continuing up the hill will eventually lead to the Air Itam Dam.) As you go down the new wide trail you will see a concrete road across the valley which you will follow shortly.
This area is a disaster compounded by guest workers wasting water on mint plantations, quickly pass on to the next section beyond the bamboo.
It is possible to turn left at the top of the hill but the road does not go through and there is some serious 'off-piste' work to do. Instead carry on through the bananas (behind where Yuehong is).
You'll get this magnificent view down to Balik Pulau and Pulau Betong.
At the end of the cleared area, do NOT go ahead past the open gate, instead turn left onto the wide trail which leads downwards. Someone has even installed a swing seat to enjoy the view.
It's subtly different from the one from the top.
The track winds on and on and eventually ends just above this chain. Go on down carefully for the next section.
There is a trail below this point but in 2014/5 it was part blocked by cut trees, it's not too difficult to get round them although some may find it unwelcome!
Somewhere in this secondary jungle - I know exactly where but I'm not going to reveal it here for obvious reasons - in 2014 we found this magnificent member of the Arum (lily) family. I believe it's an example of "Amorphophallus Prainii" and while not exactly totally unknown in Penang, it's rarely reported, see http://tungkinfoongsblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/amorphophallus-prainii-aka-voodoo-lily.html. In English, it's often called the "Voodoo Lily" or "Devil's tongue" and its Latin name is unsurprising given its shape. It's another one of those plants attracts pollenating insects with an awful decaying smell. Certainly, I've never seen one before and it was an absolute treasure.
.There is no more nonsense to come, but there is an ever such a small hill to climb because the road right would lead down to the dreaded Botanica development.
If one or more of your companion is not used to such exertions they will be flagging by now....
You can do the boring thing and go down the concrete road which winds around and brings you gently down to the concrete path to Jalan Chai. Or you can take the short cut on offer to the right, fine except the path expires at the estate boundary and Yuehong was left with her unfavourite minor scramble.
However, it does save all of a couple of minutes!.
After this just continue straight down the hill into Jalan Chai, a long winding 'jalan kampung' which starts at a Chinese temple.
The road comes out below 'Titi Heights', about 1km west of Balik Pulau. It's not too pleasant a stroll after the hills, consult the Penang buses page to see if there is likely to be a 403, 404 or 501 bus along soon.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson