November 2, 2015

Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)

West Entrance to Coney Island
With the opening of Coney Island in October we decided to include it in the next weekly walk.

The Route

The planned route was to start from Pasir Ris White Sands Mall and walk along Pasir Ris Drive 3 westward all the way to Lorong Halus. From here we would enter Coney Island via the Serangoon East Dam. We would end our walk at Punggol Point. Here we would take a feeder bus to the Punggol Interchange.

Beach at Pasir Ris Park

Pasir Ris Park

At the start of our walk we diverted to Pasir Ris Park to show new members the mangrove swamp along the Tampines River. Despite the haze season the haze reading was in the healthy range. At the beach we noticed that it was at high tide with water level reaching the park. After enjoying the views at the park we walked along Api Api River to Pasir Ris Drive 3 to continue our walk to Lorong Halus.

At the end of Pasir Ris Drive 3 (at the bend) we continued our walk along the canal to Pasir Ris Farmway 3. We kept going past Lorong Halus until we reached the Lorong Halus Wetland. We took a rest here to recover from the heat. Well-rested we approached the East Dam to enter the island park.

Boardwalk at Pasir Ris Park
We came across many groups of cyclists coming or going to the park. And there were some hikers too. That was unusual on a weekday afternoon.

Coney Island

There are two entrances to the island across the two Dams built to create the Punggol Serangoon Reservoir. There is an earth road all the way along the island. Besides cyclists and hikers, maintenance vehicles also use it. Then there are several approaches to the beach areas facing Pulau Ubin.

Main Trail
How to get there

The most convenient way to get to Coney Island is to take the train all the way to Punggol MRT Station then change to the feeder bus service number 84 to Punggol Point. From here one can either walk or hire a bike from the last shop. The West Entrance is only 800m away. The length of the main track through the island is 2.4m. One possible route is to first explore the island then exit via the East Entrance to the Lorong Halus Wetland and back via Punggol Promenade or the Punggol Waterway back to Punggol Point.

Related Posts
Punggol Park Connector - from Buangkok to Punggol
Punggol Point
Punggol Waterway Punggol Promenade

Route Map

Map data ©2016 Google


August 3, 2015

Climbing Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera)

View from Moongate Trail

Climbing Penang Hill

There are many trekking routes to Penang Hill from different starting locations such as the Botanic Gardens and Ayer Hitam. We chose to climb Penang Hill via the popular Moongate trail because it is well marked through popular use. The start of the trail is just before the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.

Moongate Trail

The trail can be divided into three stages. The first stage of the trail consists mainly of steps - easier on coordination but still tough on knees and heart as the vertical ascent is 250m over a distance of 1.2km (Bukit Timah Hill about 140m over a similar distance). Just before the rest stop at #5 the steps change into a well-kept earth trail. I came across a man sweeping it clear of leaves. Later on I saw that he was the same guy who prepared hot tea for trekkers. Usually the local trekkers will stop here then turn back to the Botanic Gardens.

Jungle Trail

The second stage of the Moongate trail is basically a jungle trail. It is easy and the elevation change is gradual - about 180m over 2.3km. It ends at #84 rest stop where it meets the Jeep Road.

The final stage is along the Jeep Road which is a steep ascent of 340m over 2.5km. While tough one can walk at one's own pace rather then being dictated by the varying heights of the steps in the first stage.

The Climb

We started at 9.30am with nephew and girlfriend of BP. They climb up to #5 three times a week and to the top of Penang hill once weekly. During the walk their fitness showed and waited for us often. Early on in the first stage they led us on the jungle trail but we decided to change to the staircase trail because the jungle trail needed more coordination of hands, legs and eyes as there were protruding roots caused by over usage.

Staircase Trail

When we eventually reached the #5 station we had a rest here and had a cup of hot tea. There is also a gym here and a complete exercise equipment.

The next stage to #84 was not as steep although at some stretches we have to be careful of our footing as we sometimes moved downhill. #84 was under repair when we visited.

After resting for a short while we continued the final stage on the Jeep Road. It was tough because of the steep incline. The fitter ones moved on ahead while I reduced my steps to conserve my breath. Occasionally a motorbike or vehicle would pass by. In the earlier two stages we were sheltered from the sun by the canopy but here on the road we were occasionally exposed to the overhead sun.

Finally we passed the first bungalow called Grace Dieu and know that the destination was near. We arrived at the junction with Summit Road at 1pm. It took us about 3hr. We mounted the steps of David Brown's in anticipation of a well-deserved lunch. Although we did not try to schedule a meet we were glad to hear that our wives were on the way up by train so we could lunch together. They had just finished a tour of Kek Lok Si before taking the train up. It was a joyous reunion.

David Brown's Restaurant and Tea Terrace

David Brown's has a restaurant on the upper level and a Tea Station on the lower level. The Tea Station being nearer to the edge of the hill has a beautiful view of Georgetown and beyond so one can enjoy a drink and take in the view. We had lunch at the upper level at the restaurant. There were a total of 16 of us.

David Brown's Tea Terrace

Summit Road

After lunch the wives took the train down first while we proceeded to visit the Indian temple and posed for pictures with the cannon in front of it.

Along the Summit Road we passed a lookout point that gave a good view of Georgetown below. Then we walked to the Convalescent Bungalow and the abandoned bungalow beyond it which was situated at the highest point of Penang Hill at 790m.

We returned to the Top Hill Station to take the train down to Ayer Hitam to take our bus back to the hotel.

Our Routes

Moongate to Penang Hill. Map data ©2017 Google

Summit Trails. Map data ©2017 Google

July 12, 2015

Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)

Kerachut Beach

Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)

The Penang National Park lies at the north-western corner of Penang Island next to the village of Teluk Bahang. To get there we took bus no. 101 from the Komtar bus terminal. The fare was 4RM and it took about an hour for the ride.

Just next to the entrance to the park was a booth where we negotiated with a boatman for a ride direct to Kerachut Beach. The purpose was to avoid backtracking on the same trail to save our energy for climbing Penang Hill two days later. The price quoted was 80RM. We then went to the park office to register our visit. Registration is free.

Kerachut Beach

We then went to the beach to board the boat to Kerachut Beach. On the way the boatman stopped or slowed the boat to point out some rock formation eg a crocodile head. I thought it looked more like a turtle. We also sighted some eagles. The boat ride was bumpy and took half an hour.

Meromictic Lake
On landing we visited the Turtle Hatchery Centre (opens at 10am) for a briefing on turtle conservation. Then we walked around the Meromictic Lake before taking the trail back to the coast. We were lucky that the lake was full of water when we visited with the water held back by a sand dam on the beach. The lake gets its fresh water from the rivers and at certain times salt water from the sea. The saline water would sink to the bottom. This creates two layers of water - cool fresh water on top and warm sea water on the bottom.

Sand Dam holding back Meromictic Lake
The trail back to the park entrance involved crossing a hill up to a height of 160m. Some places were steep but safe to trek. Rope supports were provided at locations which were more difficult.

We snacked at a rest stop as we would not be leaving the park for lunch. This trail took 1.5 hours for us to walk.

Monkey Beach

When we reached the coast we decided to continue on for Monkey Beach. The going was tough as we were traversing a rocky cliff face even though the elevation change was not as great as the earlier trail. At Monkey Beach we located a stall where we had durians and coconuts. We also ordered mee goreng for lunch.

This beach is secluded. Some visitors hire a boat from park HQ to get here for a quiet picnic and swim before going back by boat again after several hours.

Trail from Kerachut Beach
My knees were wobbly and thighs tired so we decided to return to the park entrance by boat. The drink lady readily obliged and quickly got us a boatman. It was a 5min ride and cost us 50RM.

Back at the village we waited for the bus for half hour when a local guy told us that no bus would be coming to this bus stop until after 8 because of Ramadan. Food stalls would be set up along this road in preparation for 'break' fast.

We had to walk to the bus terminal just after the roundabout for the bus. We moved and informed the other pax as well.

Monkey Beach

Just before reaching Georgetown I experienced cramps in the thighs. When we alighted from the bus near Komtar I had to hobble but after a short walk was okay. When back in the hotel room I drank more 100+ to replenish the salts sweated out during the day's walk. This seemed to help as I did not experience any more cramps even after climbing Penang Hill.

We got back to the hotel just after 5pm. We had dinner at the Starview Restaurant to celebrate the completion of our first trek. This restaurant would be moving out before year end as the New World Complex will be redeveloped.

We planned to rest the next day by taking a sight-seeing trip around Penang Island. 

Our route

From Pantai Kerachut to Monkey Beach. Map data ©2017 Google

May 29, 2015

Gangsa Bike Track

Trail under the BKE
The Gangsa Bike Track

It runs north south next to the Bukit Timah Expressway BKE and stretches from Chestnut Ave to connect with the Central Catchment Park Connector to Mandai Road. It is popular with both bikers and hikers.

At the southern end is Gangsa Hill where mountain bikers practise their jumps and other stunts.

The Route

The route described here will take us along the Gangsa Track northward to the Central Catchment Park Connector to Mandai Road then back along the Bukit Timah Pipeline Trail to Bukit Panjang.

We accessed the trail from Bukit Panjang Road near Block 276 where there is a footpath leading to Zhenghua Park and here we turned right and almost immediately turned left to go under the BKE.

Leading to the Gangsa Track
After the BKE is a vegetable and fruit garden tended by nearby residents. They maintained a rest area under the BKE to relax with their stray dogs and while away their time. This area used to be more widely farmed but some of the gardeners have migrated to the community gardens nearby.

We turned left along the trail and crossed a small drain and proceeded to walk uphill northward. Part of the track was formerly a kampong road but now the jungle had overgrown and provided a canopy to shelter us from the sun. Occasionally a lone cyclist or two passed us by.

Eventually we walked beside the Kranji Expressway KJE junction where there were some exposed stretches. Then we came to a junction with a road leading east to a pumping station.

Gangsa Track

We continued walking straight onto the Central Catchment Park Connector. This was built to allow us to experience nature and keep us away from Track 15 used by the Army to get to the Rifle Range nearby. On some days we could hear the sound of firearms.

There are a few durian trees along this part of the trail and when in season you can see the fruits hanging from the branches.

The Pipeline Trail

When we arrived at Mandai Road we turned left and walked past the Mandai Camp II to the pipeline control valves enclosure next to the camp. We located a path next to the enclosure and got on to the Pipeline Trail. It was uphill for about 400m through open grassland. On the right of us is a forested area inhabited by a man who loved living alone and growing fruits and vegetables. There are a few durian trees here and the nearby residents would come for the fruits when in season.

This trail continued under the BKE on the west side. Here it is undulating and eventually we arrived at the KJE junction. Just after walking under the KJE we reached Zhenghua Park. We followed its trail which was paved and offered occasional shade from the sun. And we came across a man collecting water from a spring just above the drain. He claimed that the water has health benefits.

We finally arrived at Bukit Panjang Road where we ended our walk and replenished our depleted salts with a refreshing 100plus.

Related Posts
Chestnut Nature Park

Route Map
Map data ©2017 Google, Urban Redevelopment Authority

March 8, 2015

East Coast Park to Gardens Bay East

Pedestrian Bridge Across Fort Road
Ford Road

While on the bus along the East Coast Parkway I noticed that the barricade to the newly rebuilt bridge across Fort Road had been removed.

The old bridge was meant to separate pedestrian and cycling traffic from the heavy vehicles below. It could only take pedestrian traffic and cyclists had to push their bikes across.

It was torn down last year in order for a stronger one that would allow cyclists to ride through.

Route Across MCE
The bridge leads to a track that connects East Coast Park to the top of the Marina Coastal Expressway MCE. The MCE here goes underground then under the sea to Marina South. So by cycling on top of the MCE we gain access to the Marina Barrage and the southern end of Gardens Bay East without having to go by Tanjong Rhu Road.

Many cyclists have already discovered this as I cycled past them two weeks ago.

Gardens Bay East

There is another track between the Marina Golf Club and the East Coast Parkway being completed. The track has been tarred and lights installed but final landscaping are in progress. When completed it will link East Coast Park directly to Gardens Bay East.


Good news!

This track was opened on April 6th so we can now cycle all the way from East Coast Park to Gardens Bay East without going through Tanjong Rhu Road. See the route below where I cycled around the Marina Bay Golf Course. There is a short stretch just south of the Barrage where I had to push the bike and another on top of the MCE.

Related Posts
Gardens by the Bay South and East
Kallang Basin and Marina Reservoir Walk

January 10, 2015

Bandung Tangkuban Parahu and Kawah Putih

Day 1 - Bandung

Our Air Asia flight landed at Bandung at about 10am. Just after exiting Immigration and Customs was the taxi stand on the left where we booked a taxi for the hotel. After telling them the destination which was duly noted down on a chit, we left the building turned left for the taxi stand where we showed them the chit and were assigned a driver. The hotel where we were going was the Grand Royal Panghegar Hotel. It was about half an hour away. The fare was stamped on the chit at Rp.50,000. When we arrived we could not check in as no rooms were available yet. Since another couple was on a Tiger flight that would be coming in an hour after us we decided to check out the facilities at the hotel. We checked out the May Star Chinese Restaurant. The captain JL was friendly and helpful so we decided to have lunch there. We did not know then that we would end up having all our dinner there.

Having Kopi Luwak at Cikembang

When the other couple arrived we had lunch at the May Star and with the recommendation of the concierge we took a cab to Paris Van Java PVJ at Jalan Sukajadi. At PVJ we broke up into 2 groups, one to go to the neighbouring Zen for a massage while the other loitered around at the mall. When they returned after one hour and a half, we decided to return to the hotel as taxis were not easy to get. Luckily we did not go to Kampong Daun which was outside of town.

So we had a most pleasant dinner at the May Star again as the dishes recommended were interesting and tasty.

That night, I was disturbed by the noise of motor-bikes from the front of the hotel. I thought it was due to the traffic from the main road. The next day I found out that it was due to Harley Davidson bikers all congregating from many parts of Java for a meet in Bandung and they were staying at our hotel!

Day 2 - Tangkuban Parahu

After breakfast we waited for our car at 7am. The driver was able to find us as I had earlier emailed his boss what clothes we were wearing. I had been communicating with the AlvinaRentCar by email. The company was most responsive in answering my queries ending in my booking a car with them for 2 days at Rp550,00 per day for a Toyota Innova, a 7-seater. When we stepped out of the hotel we saw rows of Harley Davidson bikes parked outside. These were the ones making noises the previous night as they arrived at different times.

Tangkuban Parahu
Our destination was Tangkuban Parahu a volcano shaped like an overturned boat. It was a 2-hr drive through North Bandung. It was uphill all the way. Along the road we saw many individual cyclists cycling uphill. During the journey, we made use of the wifi provided with the car hire at no additional charge. We were merrily video-phoning home and messaging. It seemed that the company offers in-car wifi on all their cars. What a convenience.

The driver Pak B dropped us at the carpark next to the crater Domas. As we were busy taking pictures, 2 guides voluntarily offered to accompany us. We told them we do not need guides. One claimed to work for the government and his services was free. We did not buy and told them we did not want any guides. After that they left us alone. There were many sheds lined up along the route along the edge of the crater offering to sell all kinds of stuff. Peddlars were around also offering keychains made from volcanic rocks, etc. The edge of the crater was protected with a fence to prevent accidents. As the ladies were not interested or attired with proper footwear we did not walk far. One could walk around the crater for about 2 hours or even walk downhill to the nearest town. But this will have to be done another time with fellow hikers.

After half an hour we left the place and drove downhill to Lembang Floating Market. Here the main attraction was ordering food from boats floating on the lake. These boats were moored next to a sheltered walkway with tables provided for us to consume our food. 

Strawberry Farm at Saung Gawir

We had lunch in the same town to try out the local food. Each group of dinners was allocated a thatched-roof hut built over water and you sit on cushions beside a low table. They also catered to company functions at the larger huts. We ordered the recommended set menu that included several types of fishes and prawns. This was supposed to be the better range of food but we were to find out the next day that the more simple a la carte offering was more enjoyable because their style of cooking the fish was not suitable to our palate.

After lunch we visited Kampong Daun, similar to our lunch place but on a larger scale. It is situated on the slope of the hill so the dining chalets were spread out and on a slope. It offers the same type of food but the ambience and surrounding was on a grand scale. This place was recommended by our hotel. Luckily we did not try to reach it the day before because it was outside Bandung.

One couple wanted to try the massage opposite the Zen so we left them and were taken to CiWalk short for Cihampelas Walk to while away for an hour. After that because of the traffic jam, we again returned to our hotel for dinner at the same Chinese Restaurant. That was a fateful decision as Bandung experienced its worst traffic jam due to a confluence of several events that brought many visitors to Bandung, including our HD bikers.

Why the same restaurant you may ask. Somehow we clicked with the lady captain. She was from Malaysia and spoke Cantonese. She recommended dishes we did not try earlier including shark-head cartilage. She recommended a larger head instead of 2 small ones. This turned out well as we can see more cartilage.

Day 3 - Kawah Putih Situ Patangan

We told the driver to come at 8am. We checked out of our old room as we wanted to upgrade to the new wing to enjoy the better interior. we left our luggage with the concierge then meet up with the driver.

For today, we drove through South Bandung to reach Kawah Putih or White Lake. The driver told us where he lived that he took 4 hours to reach home last night when normally it would take 30-40 minutes. As we drove past South Bandung we came across some horse-driven carts. We were told that this is also a form of transport for the local at a cheap price.

Kawah Putih

We stopped to taste some civet cat coffee or kopi luwat. Next to this stop was an asparagus farm and we bought some.

At the park entrance we bought tickets before driving another 8km before reaching the lake. Those who came by buses had to hire a vehicle to bring them to the lake at Rp.500,000 per vehicle. At the crater lake we climbed down a flight of steps and stepped into a wonderland of white water. Being a Sunday it was crowded with people mostly local tourists. We walked along the sulphur-coated beach. There was a hint of sulphur in the air but bearable. The temperature was not so cold.

After leaving the crater lake we were taken to Situ Patangan another natural lake. Here one could hire a boat but we did not do so due to lack of time. We bought some passion fruit and avocado. The avocado was not as tasty as Malaysian ones.

We then went to Saung Holiday Chalets and Restaurant for lunch. This place serves local food. We ordered several rice dishes such as nasi timbel and they turned out good. The restaurant also has a strawberry farm by the side and we plucked some fruits to try. On the return journey the main road leading to Bandung was jammed so we took the toll highway. We dropped in at Novotel to check out the buffet but it was not available on Sunday. The ladies did check out the rooms. Due to the traffic situation we decided to return to our hotel to the same restaurant for our dinner. Luckily we reserved a table for the restaurant was full due to a wedding dinner.