Authored ArticleTravel

Penang – Murli Menon shares his experience of Trek to Air Itam

One is writing this from the City Bayview Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. Penang is an island, 350 km. Away from Kuala Lumpur. The excellent highway makes driving a pleasure, and it takes five hours to reach Penang from Kuala Lumpur by road.

Murli Menon in conversation with Prittle Prattle News

One is writing this from the City Bayview Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. Penang is an island, 350 km. Away from Kuala Lumpur. The excellent highway makes driving a pleasure, and it takes five hours to reach Penang from Kuala Lumpur by road. Penang is known in Malay as Pulau Pinang, which means beetle-nut island. It is the middle of August, but the weather is pleasant. The five-hour drive along the highway is smooth. One crosses the 23 km. long Penang Bridge just before entering the city. It is worth mentioning here that this bridge over choppy backwaters is the third-longest bridge in Asia. The nearest international airport to reach Penang is Kuala Lumpur. Penang is also connected to Singapore and Bangkok by direct flights. Alternatively, one can take the train from Kuala Lumpur Central to Penang, which takes a little longer than 8 hours to reach Penang. This train departs at 8:45 p.m. and arrives at Penang station at 5:45 a.m the next day morning. The train journey is equivalent to 2nd class air-conditioned travel in India. 

Penang is dotted with beaches and hills. Penang Hill is a verdant hillock covered by dense forests, located 9 km. Away from the city. The view from the highest point at Penang Hill is nothing short of majestic. Thick equatorial forests surround this picturesque hill, nestled in a canopy of green. The skyscrapers of faraway Penang can be seen from the summit. Air Itam is a village near Penang Hill, which is accessible only on foot. One has to trek through various shades of green, mountain-streams, and thick dipterocarp forests along the trekking route. One experiences the thrill of passing through verdant undulating terrain and varied tropical landscapes at every step of this adventure. One gets to observe tropical flora, insects, birds, and butterflies at close quarters during this jungle walk. The most soul-stirring part of our trek is making one’sone’s way through the forest floor full of dried tropical leaves of various brown shades. This is an unforgettable experience as one can observe the variety of colors, shapes, and forms of the dried leaves that stretches for miles together. One should be careful to plan the trek such that one returns to one’s base camp by nightfall, as night trekking is bound to be difficult for tourists.  

One can find a small clearing in the forest by the side of a gurgling water stream and nestle your head on the roots of the tallest tree and relax to the tune of nature while lying on a soft bed of dried leaves. This is one of the most powerful tools for relaxation and harmonizing your energy in tune with nature. Serious trekkers can continue their treks to Penang Hill. After spending a few hours communicating with nature, one reluctantly begins the descent to return to the camping site. This gentle trek is a naturalist’s delight and is suited for trekkers ranging from children to silvers. As the altitude is below 350 meters, it is accessible on the lungs. So, the gentle trek to Air Itam is a refreshing and rejuvenating experience for all souls trying to steal a few moments of tranquility and serenity, away from the vagaries of modern life, which has become more stressful than ever before. 

Penang is connected by direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Chennai, Singapore, Bangkok, and Jakarta. The city center is approximately 20 km from Penang airport.  

Penang is also connected by rail from Kuala Lumpur. The overnight train journey makes it convenient for Indian tourists arriving at Kuala Lumpur international airport Air Itam is a 9 km. drive from the center of Penang city (costs RM 25) The train ticket costs RM 45 while the bus ticket costs RM 25 (Train fares: Sitting (30 RM) Sleeping Upper deck (38 RM) Lower (43 RM). (1 RM is equivalent to Rs. 12/- at current exchange rates) 

The City Bayview Hotel in Penang is centrally located and offers comfortable rooms at affordable tariffs by Indian standards.  Lots of small restaurants serving Indian and Chinese cuisine dot Penang. You get freshly steamed vegetables with soya and boiled rice at Yaun vegetarian at Transfer Road, a short walk from City Bayview Hotel. The cooked spinach and sweet and sour vegetables are as delicious as it is nutritious. Woodlands, which is good value for money for Indian vegetarian food, is also in this hotel’s vicinity. The food at the high profile hotels is only for the gastronomically adventurous who like greasy food. Fresh fruits, including watermelons, papayas, tender coconuts, durians and mangosteens, and pineapples, are available at the local market. 

Murli Menon, author of “ZeNLP-the power to relax” is a stress management consultant based at Ahmedabad and can be contacted at 

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

1 of 115