“It’s not a steep hike. People say it’s only slightly more difficult than Bukit Padang – 30 minutes to the peak apparently” – famous last words out of the donkey’s mouth, as I convinced my asthmatic, pregnant friend that this would be a good way to end our night shift.
Bukit Perahu(Boat Hill) is located in Tamparuli town, which is about 50 minutes away from KK City and about 1km from Tamparuli town itself. It is in Kampung Ruhian and hence also known as Bukit Ruhiang. However when looking it up in Waze, I would suggest looking up St. Veronica’s Hill – though unlike some other places, this starting point is very clearly marked.
The start of the trek up is easy enough, but eventually it does get pretty steep and it is mostly rocks. We started after our shift ended, so we only began after 9.30am. Thankfully there was shade, so while it was pretty hot it was bearable. And it should take a person of very average fitness about 45 minutes to reach the top – but it’s not going to be an easy stroll, and I would definitely recommend a trail stick if you have one.
Along the way you can count the number of commemorative crosses, as this hill is also used to commemorate Jesus’s last day on earth, so you have the Stations of the Cross marking your way to the top.
The thing about this particular hill that makes it so interesting aside from the lovely view, is the story behind it. Legend is, that there was a strong young man named Gunsoloi, who heard the prediction of the local shaman that a flood was going to afflict his town after a solar eclipse. He decided to build a boat to save them and went up Bukit Perahu to find a tree large enough to do so.
He eventually found one and made his way up and down the hill daily, working on this boat. For his trips, his mother would always pack him some lunch, rice mostly. As the days went by he probably thought he was losing his mind as he would swear he would’ve been given a particular type of rice but when he was on the hill and it was time to dig in – it would become something different. He then started checking with his mother what food she would send with him, and realised that this was in fact happening. This part is a bit sketchy but he eventually finds out that his food was being swapped with the food of the “Orang Bunian” (closest translation would be elf i think) which lived on the hill.
As expected, he fell in love and married the elf princess, and did not return home while he built his boat, leaving his poor mother behind. However, when the day of the solar eclipse drew closer, he asked his wife for permission to go home to save his mother from the predicted flood. She granted his wish, and off he went. He arrived just as the solar eclipse was beginning and told his mother everything. As he was about to head back to the realm of the elves and his wife, his mother pleaded with him to stay and sobbed after him. The solar eclipse who witnessed the entire event, was overcome with sadness for Gunsoloi’s mother and proceeded to shed tears around the hill – turning the infamous boat into a rock along with all of Gunsoloi’s belongings and possibly Gunsoloi too – cause till this day, no one knows what happened to him. The moral of course being – if you make your mother cry, you might just get turned into stone.
Now while, people claim that somewhere at the back of the hill there is in fact a rock in the shape of a “perahu”/boat, I certainly did not come across it, but I guess the view made up for it.