Yesterday, 11.30am Penang Hill at the summit waiting inside the train to go downhill.
The photo was sent to me by a concerned Penang resident, who added:
The guy just keep loading people on. A (tourist) refused to go in… so (the guy) waited for another two to come in to my coach. The doors closed and we waited for what felt like 15 minutes before moving… treating people like cattle. This was around 11.30am going downhill. Not even peak (hours) yet. Is there a weight limit?…
Some things never change, it would seem.
Meanwhile, has the carrying capacity of Penang Hill of 10,000 people per day – as laid out in the Penang Hill Local Plan – been exceeded by now?
Speaking of Penang Hill, if you can, get hold of Mike Gibby’s brilliant book Penang Hill: A Journey Through Time, tracing the history of Penang Hill as a getaway from the sweltering humid tropical weather.
Lots of old photos of Penang Hill in this book not seen before. It may be a tad pricey at RM95, but Mike has done plenty of research and has some fascinating stories to share.
For instance, one English couple spent their honeymoon 1866 at Fern Hill, which employed cook, cleaners, and even groomers for ponies. And because the bride enjoyed playing the piano, a piano was brought up to the hill-top in advance, and after the honeymoon, 16 ‘coolies’ had to carry it all the way back down again.
Mike also discovered the remains of the Spout resort, which had a stone-lined bathing pool once filled with water that was “deliciously cool and not very deep with a sandy bottom” on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Botanic Garden waterfall.
Back then, many loved it up Penang Hill, which provided a stress-free cool getaway from the humid and bustling crowds from the city below.
Has Penang Hill lost that early charm? What do you think?
Blog visitor tunglang reminisces:
The revamped Penang Hill Railway, which I call Speedy Gonzales Fridge Train because of the packed air-con coaches travelling in haste, is unlike the magical old days. Back then, the slow rides allowed passengers to take in the cool air while enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of Nature and quaint colonial traces.
The present-day fridge coaches are time synchronised to the ka-ching ka-ching @ ticket sales counters. Make money while the hill railway cables can still stand the strain of overweight of excess passengers and overworked stress schedules.
I have never taken a ride on these Fridge coaches since its day one and I think (twice) before contemplating it as I don’t have nine lives unlike CAT. Better to still recall good old memories of my slow rides than to be marred by a nightmare of a Speedy Gonzales ride downhill!
For nearly six years, I have not hiked up Penang Hill. I wonder if Ubah has make any difference to its charm, for better or worse.
I truly miss:
– the cool early morning air and mist rising from the wet hill road,
– the old colours of century-old tree tops,
– the cockerel wind-vane of a quaint bungalow,
– the old colonial street lamps with tungsten bulbs covered by spider webs,
– the huge flowers by the roadside,
– the migratory birds booking nests in the trees,
– ferns, ferns, ferns everywhere,
– the quiet and narrow road to Tiger Hill,
– the whispering bungalows,
– the rare wild boars tip-toeing across the path,
– the busy bees or hornets competing with the cicadas,
– the RMAF radar station (a white dome) @ Western Hill,
– the waving fern leaf of Cik Pon (Pontianak), and
– of course sipping hot Kopi-O kau-kau-kau and munching fried rice at the misty cafeteria (opposite the police station) while my body was still wet and lungs cooled after an hour’s hike from Botanic Garden.