Friday, December 31, 2010

Sg. Chilling Waterfall - Misadventure & Beautiful Moments

Sg Chilling Fish Sanctuary

Located about 105km from Shah Alam, Sg. Chilling Fish Sanctuary is a popular picnic spot during weekends.  From Kuala Kubu Bharu, we had to drive towards Fraser's Hill passing Sungai Selangor Dam.  The entrance is located on the right side of the road about 200 meters after the dam.  It's hard to miss it especially if you reach there after 9am.  This is the only stretch before the exit to Fraser's Hill where there are a lot of cars lining up the left side of the road.  
My story
There were 5 of us including my son who was the official photographer for this trip. 

We reached the campsite early, at around 9am.  There were already tents being put up everywhere by overnight campers! 

We were told that we didn't have to wait for the caretaker to pay for the trekking permit to the waterfall.  So, we simply went ahead with our jungle trekking 15 minutes later.  We paid for the permit when we came back to the campsite. 

We had to cross the same river 6 times to reach the waterfall area and the first one was by using the suspension bridge.

My son was carrying our backpack that was half filled with tent, clothes for change and camera. And I carried the day pack that was filled with snacks, fruits, chocolate and nuts.

It was raining heavily the night before and it rained again a few minutes after we left Shah Alam.  So the water was not that clear.  However, it was so cold, it's chilling!

Due to the rain the trails heading to the waterfall was filled with water and it looked more like small stream.  

We missed the trail, instead of heading to the waterfall, we ended up on a hill in a middle of no where. It was a pleasant misadventure though as the surrounding view was stunning.  We spent about one hour getting lost and finding our way back.  We were told by the caretaker that the trails were the alternative route to Bukit Kutu.  Perhaps we will go to Bukit Kutu again using this trail!

Using the right trails later on, we met our friends from Port Dickson and Seremban mid way through.  The trail was quite flat after all with a few steep terrains that didn't pose any challenge at all. 

Over an hour later and after crossing the same river 6 times, we reached the waterfall area. It was a stunning view, with the water gushing down over two levels.  It could be 20 feet high! And the water at the bottom of the waterfall could be 7 - 8 feet deep!  Like the rest of the picnickers, I took the opportunity to jump into the water and I didn't get to reach to the bottom!   

The sanctuary is a protected area for kelah fish.  Over the years, the population of the fish has grown and the size of the fish has also grown.  Here at the waterfall, we could play along with 6 -8 inches long kelah fish.  There were so many of them.  It was such a nice feeling swimming and playing along with the fish.  Feeding the fish is prohibited and that didn't stop some people from doing that! 

We spent about one hour enjoying the beauty of the waterfall and playing in the water while taking a break enjoying our snacks as lunch every now and then.  When it was time for me to get back into the water I couldn't do it!  Oh God, I got my slip disc back and I could hardly stand straight due to the pain.  We had to cut short the trip and made our way back to the campsite immediately.  And I had to grab whatever stick that was close to me to use as my walking stick!  Luckily the pain was bearable. 

Upon reaching the campsite, while my friends continued to dip into the water and cleaning themselves up, I was busy doing my physio work-outs.   It helped slightly and gave me the confidence to drive back home. 

Six days have passed since the incident and I feel so much better now.  I thought of seeing my Orthopaedic again but I didn't as I don't want to go through the long physio sessions at the hospital.   

My son who also enjoyed himself during the trip is planning to go there again with his friends.  And  I don't dare to leave them by themselves.  Therefore, I am going there again this week!  I don't mind it all I am okay now and I really like the place! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BUKIT KUTU - Lost & Rescued

Bukit Kutu
Bukit Kutu is located in Kuala Kubu Bahru and I must say it is an interesting place. Although it's called a “bukit” (hill), peaked at 3456 feet above sea level, it can be classified as a mountain. In fact, based on the challenging trails, I refuse to call it a hill.  The aborigines in the area called it Bukit Sekutu. It was renamed Treachers’s Hill by the British.  They built a bungalow complete with a cart rail to reach the peak.  Later on, a sanatorium was also built.  I was told that the place was bombed during the Japanese occupation.  These days the mountain is popularly known as Bukit Kutu instead! Or better still; Gunung Kutu.

How to get there
It's quite easy.  From Kuala Kubu town, head down to Fraser's Hill.  We passed Empangan Selangor and immediately after the bridge, we turned to the right at Kg. Pertak, it's a settlement village for the aborigines.  From far the village looks like a resort!

The Trails
We underestimated the trails, just because the name is a hill and a bungalow was built at the peak, we thought how tough could it be?  We were wrong, we all agreed it's rather tough with steep trails almost all the way up.  The trails could be confusing at certain stretches, therefore it's advisable for first timers to have experienced hiker along.

It took us approximately 1 hour 30  minutes from the last stream to reach the most popular check point before reaching the peak.  It's the gigantic rock formation that provides shelter to hikers.  I was awed by the sheer size of the rock.  With the top of the rock formation jutting out from its base, it must have looked like a mushroom from a bird's eye view!

From this check point it took us almost 1 hour to reach the peak after passing through some 'bamboo traps' and some slippery trails. The hill is not that high so there is not much change in temperature!  It's slightly cooler at the peak!

My Story
I have been wanting to go to Gunung Kutu for quite some times and the last time I was supposed to go there I had to cancel it at the last minute due to health problem.

I heard that the trails can be confusing at certain stretches so when I planned to do it again, I prefer not to venture out on my own.  I asked around from my fellow hikers in Facebook and my friend Lucas agreed to lead us there. 

There were supposed to be seven of us but only 5 turned up on the event day.  Four of us left in two separate cars from Shah Alam and stopped over for prayers and breakfast at Rawang R&R.  Breakfast was home cooked Nasi Lemak prepared by Azinda.  Thank you, and I really enjoyed it.  We met Lucas in Kuala Kubu Bahru town at 7.15am.  

It's Lucas' second trip to Bukit Kutu and when he was there the first time, the group got lost and couldn't find the trails to the peak.  I really couldn't blame Lucas when he was lost again with us!  We spent almost two hours looking for the right trails.  

At one time his leg got caught in the trap being put by the aborigines for fowls, was it meant for wild boar instead?   Luckily he wasn't injured!

We almost gave up and wanted to change the location to Sg. Chilling waterfalls nearby instead. 

However, when we were ready to make the move we saw a big group of recruits from Fire & Rescue Department heading to the peak.  After exchanging greetings, we took the opportunity to join them.  Thank you, they didn't know it but they rescued us!

Gunung Kutu, unlike its name, you'd never see lice there.  However there were 'dancing queens' and they were were everywhere.   Each one of us got at least 5 bites from these leeches! 

We reached the peak 2 hours 45 minutes later.  I must say this is one of the most satisfying hiking trip ever and intriguing too!  I wanted to know more about the place and I searched for more info in the web about this hill.  I even went into the website of Arkib Negara to look for more info! 

We spent almost 1 hour at the peak and to those who are not acrophobic, they can go up to the top of the rock and have a stunning 360 degrees view of the surroundings including Selangor Dam.  Be careful, the big rock is not that stable and at any one time it can accommodate up to two people only!

We were ready to leave when suddenly we met Ah Fatt, a fellow hiker that I met at at Gunung Besar Hantu.  He led us to what he said a fortress which was 15 minutes away from the peak.  However, I believe it was a sanatorium. Thank you Ah Fatt, this was really the icing on the cake, we enjoyed the historical ruins of the sanatorium.

As a summary, I really enjoyed the trip, it was challenging and tough (I still have my slip disc!) but it was worth the effort.  I don't mind to go up there again and when I go I know what to expect.  As it was, we underestimated the 'hill'!  

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I was in Penang two weeks ago and I must say that I enjoyed the trip.  Top in my list, I enjoyed the food, mamak food at Line Clear, hawkers' food at Gurney Drive and Batu Ferringhi!  I can't forget the steamed calamari with dipping at Gurney Drive and mixed fruit pancake at Batu Ferringhi.  Other than the foods, I enjoyed the only hiking activity that I did there.

I took the opportunity to go to Penang National Park, located in Teluk Bahang, about 4 km from Batu Feringghi.  It's the smallest national park in the world covering an area of 9.9 square miles and it boasts a 
collection of habitats not found in other national parks in Malaysia: meromictic lake, wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches! 
There are eight beaches in the park and due to the fact that they are not easily accessible,  these are some of the beautiful beaches in Penang.  Most of the beaches can only be accessed via hiking for about 1 hour or so or via boat from the park's management office. There is no admission fee to the park.  However, you have to pay RM5 if you opt for the canopy walk. 

I planned to go to both destinations in the park; Muka Head (with light house and beaches as attractions) and Pantai Kerachut on the other side (with meromictic lake and other beautiful beaches as attractions).  However, due to the weather condition, I managed to go to Pantai Kerachut only!  Even then, we had to rent boat to go back.  True enough, it started raining when we reached the park's management office.  

The boat ride was an experience by itself and the friendly boat operator showed us around and pointed to rock formations in the form of turtle and crocodile head! It cost us RM80 per boat for 15 - 20 minutes ride. 

This is the starting point for any hiking activity in the park. 
This is the view of fisherman's jetty located next to the entrance of the park.  The boat ride ends here and if you're lucky you can see the catch of the day by the fishermen!   

We came across small waterfalls in the park, on the way to Pantai Kerachut.  We were advised not to drink the water here just in case it was contaminated.

The bridge connecting the trail area to the beach with meromictic lake running beneath it.

Meromictic lake was the highlight of the trip. It's my first time seeing meromictic lake. There are not many of such places in the world. In Asia, it is only here in Penang and in Palau! It's called meromictic because both fresh water from the river and salt water from the sea do not mix. The low density of fresh waters layers the top of the high density of salt water.

The fresh water from the meromictic lake goes into the sea here at Pantai Kerachut.  it's one of the beautiful beaches in Penang. I don't fancy the idea of swimming at Ferringghi beach.  But not here!  It's crazy to miss it.  I was not prepared to come here for swimming.  What the heck, I went in with my hiking pant!  I had to cut short the trip as it was about to rain.  I missed the canopy walk on the other side of the park; of which I had bought the ticket earlier.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the hiking experience at Penang National Park.    I'll definitely come back!