Bukit Kepayang is the only hill located at Seremban in Negri Sembilan. It is sandwiched between the Seremban 2 new township on the west, and Taman Bukit Kepayang on the east. It is a moderately weathered granite hill, and its peak stands at 218m above sea level.
Because of its gentle slope gradient, the land was once ideal for planting rubber trees in the 1960s. Eventually, the land was developed as a housing area, leaving few rubber trees to co-exist with other overgrown vegetation.
My house is located about 300m from Bukit Kepayang. When my family and I moved here in 1998, Bukit Kepayang had already become a popular spot for hikers. Every morning and afternoon, hikers from the surrounding neighbourhoods as well as from other districts would come here. They are of different races and ages, young and old who come with their families or friends to hike the hill.
There are also those who come on their own for some solo trekking.
Even though I stay so near to Bukit Kepayang, I only started going up the hill in 2006. My wife encouraged me to do so after she followed our neighbour on a hike one day. Ever since then I was addicted to the activity.
I normally hike on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings (before the pandemic). The hill offers natural attractions which I enjoy very much.
Although sandwiched between housing development projects, the hill remains relatively untouched. It is still covered with plants of various species like fern, bamboo, palm trees, wild tropical flowers and, of course, lalang.
Abandoned old rubber trees are still around and one can see the famous fishbone-liked tapping marks on the trunks. It is an effective tapping technique introduced by the late HN Ridley, former director of the Singapore Botanic Garden.
The rich green environment provides a conducive habitat for birds and macaques, or commonly known as long-tail monkeys. Lately, I noticed more offspring, indicating that the population of the macaque had been growing. Different from an adult, a baby macaque has darker hair. Despite being tiny in size, the baby macaque’s limbs are strong and can cling tightly on to its mother while she moves around searching for food.
Due to frequent feeding by hikers, the macaques are no longer wary of human presence. The adult macaques would even move close to the hikers, sometimes seemingly “posing” for photographs.
I also love Bukit Kepayang for its multiple terrains. Most parts of the hill have gentle slopes that allow for a safe and pleasant hiking. Some hikers would bring their dogs on the trail too, while a few cyclists would ride on the slopes right up to the top.
There are some challenging steep slopes which adventurous hikers can climb using ropes or with their bare hands. I believe that these natural terrains make the place a nice, hiker-friendly hill.
Over the years, 31 trails were established at Bukit Kepayang. Each trail is creatively named after its surrounding conditions or the terrain profiles like Stone Wall, Sky Wall, Rubber Tapper, Bird Cage, Big Tree, Eagle, Rope Climbing, Old Ladder and Super Way. I have yet to try all the trails but according to a friend, it takes more than four hours to cover all of them. The total distance would cover over 7km of trails!
At the peak, hikers can enjoy 360° view of the town. It overlooks Seremban 2, Taman Bukit Kepayang, the North-South Highway and the old Seremban town.
On a clear day, you can even see some tankers plying through the Straits of Malacca, and the Port Dickson power stations.
Bukit Kepayang is strategically located, too, as you can catch both the sunrise in the east and the sunset in the west from the peak. Taking photos during sunrise or sunset here gives me great pleasure. At the foot of Bukit Kepayang, and just beside a narrow road to the reservoir, there is a small hidden garden. Not many hikers know about its existence except for some seasoned ones. Originally, the area used to be covered with bushes. Later, a few elderly neighbours came up with the idea to clear the area and plant flowers including hibiscus, sunflower, marigold, jasmine, natal lily, heliconia, chrysanthemum and rose.
They even added old chairs and tables in this secret garden, and planted some lotus flowers in a water retention pit, which they turned into a pond. The pond has fishes such as koi and tilapia in it.
I like to visit this garden in the morning to feed the fish and take pictures of the beautiful lotus flowers. Whenever I am there, I will search for the rare monkey cup plant or nepenthes, a carnivorous plant which feeds on insects trapped inside its pitcher.
There is a Hindu temple located at the top of the hill too, called the Arulmighu Maha Sapthakannika Devi Temple. Before the pandemic, devotees would organise an annual procession, where they would walk barefoot to the temple.
Bukit Kepayang with its variety of natural attractions is no doubt a great place for outdoor recreational activities, which I’m sure so many of us have been longing for since being cooped up at home.
The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.
Under the current SOP set by the National Security Council, hiking is not allowed in several states.