The scorching Equinox Sun at 5 degrees North turned to be providing a cozy warmth as I stepped out of the funicular. After being baked and fried in George Town since morning, being dehydrated after scaling Kek Lok Si, Bukit Bendera better known as Penang Hill was a delight.
Rapid Penang Bus No 204 drops one right at the gates of the Penang Hill Funicular Railway. On the first look, the train looks peculiar and I was skeptic about its stability on rapid ascent through the high gradient. But it was more stable than the bus plying on the plains. In moments, I conceded my seat to someone else and preferred standing to videograph the quick ascent of the car piercing the lush flora on the slope. It stops couple of times, but propels the commuters from the sea level to the top station about 2100ft above sea level in few minutes.
Stepping aside at the top, the footbridge leads to the viewing deck. Sweeping views of the Penang Island, the Straight of Malacca and the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia(Seberang Perai) welcomes the visitor. Skyscrapers of George Town composes the lower third of the frame, the straight of Malacca and the hazy mainland the rest. I took the elevator to the lower portion of the cliff, which is seldom visited by the scores of travelers. Indeed, view is more stunning and I was the only person down there. A cozy Colonial era bungalow is also there though under lock and key.
Quenching the thirst of the lens again I moved up for exploring the rest. The hilltop of Penang is indeed a epitome of the World. I met people from so many nationalities. The entire area was in carnival mood as rejuvenating music at David Brown’s filled the air. Above David Brown is a plaza where roads diverge to different routes for hiking. A small museum themed on owls, some souvenir shops, and eateries are present also.
One of the route leads to the Bellevue Hotel and adjacent Ginger Garden and Aviary. Others lead to different areas of the hilltop. I took the steeper one to the temple and mosque. An impressive Murugan Temple welcomes an Indian visitor with homely feeling. A little ahead, though small but clean mosque is also there.
Taking a sharp turn, I reached at the highest point where another heritage bungalow is located among blooming garden and a pool with Lotus and Water Lilies.The air was so fresh and cool. Sun was about to set, crowd was increasing as no one would return without viewing the spectacular night view. Slowly the lights of George Town as well as Bukit Bendera came on and ohh..what a sight it was. On top of it, it was Holi the next day, so the Moon was almost full. David Brown also closed its band to relish of the majestic view. Hundreds of Tripods jostled for the perfect long exposure shot, selfie sticks came out like swords of warriors to capture the awesome moments.
Meanwhile, the funicular reminded visitors about its closing time to get down otherwise who would want to get back to the sultry George Town.