Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sungai Chiling - Before Ramadan

Two days before Ramadan, I went to Sg Chiling with a friend and we planned to explore the second and third level waterfalls.   All the while when I went there, we never explored the other levels.  I know that people can go up to the other levels as I saw them up at the second level at one time.  At the last crossing, we didn't cross, instead we hiked up following established trek until we reached the second level.  It was very high and I guessed that the water was deep too.  I don't think people can swim here unless Via Ferrata team of Mount Kinabalu do something about it!  Standing at the edge made feel aerophobic!
After a few snaps on the camera, we went up further to the third level.  Wow, it's just as beautiful. It was raining when we reached here and we took refuge under the trees and at higher ground too.  I have read and seen video of 'ibu air' and I didn't want to take the risk. 
There was another level, a smaller one but it was inaccessible.  We decided to take a dip once the rain stopped.  The water didn't look clear enough that day as the water level was very low.  Nevertheless, it didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves far from people at level 1. 
We left Sg Chiling at about 1pm and on the way back we treated ourselves to a 'durian feast' at Kg. Rasa.  We paid RM7.50 each for the feast of 101 and 'udang merah'.  It was a steal as compared to the price in KL.  We ended the day with the expensive banana leaf rice at Raju's.  Salam Ramadan to all!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mount Marapi

Gunung Merapi or Marapi is located in Bukittinggi, Padang, Indonesia.  It's an active volcanic mountain and it normally takes about 6 hours to scale to the peak.  It's 2,891m above sea level, therefore the temperature at the peak can be chilly to most people.   It's advisable to wear three layer of clothes with thick windbreaker. 
There were seven of us, 4 guys and 3 ladies and I really looked forward to this trip as this is my first oversea hiking trip.  I have been to other parts of Indonesia but it was never for hiking.  We arrived at Minangkabau International Airport at about 8.30am after an hour flight.  Our tour agent was there waiting for us outside the arrival hall and after short pleasantries,we were taken in a van to Bukittinggi.  It's 4 hours drive from the airport.  Along the way, we stopped for for breakfast, lunch, sightseeing sthat included Rumah Gadang. 
We started hiking at about 11.20pm, local time (past midnight Malaysian time). I was really excited as it was also the first time that I hike at night.  I enjoyed it immensely.    I hiked at night before but it wasn't a complete hiking trip from the base to the peak in one day.  There was night hiking from Laban Rata to Low's Peak in Mount Kinabalu and there was also a trip in Nuang to go to campsite, Kem Lolo.  I find hiking at night as fun and very effective as we are not distracted by the surroundings and no stops for pictures.  After 5 hours of hiking, we reached the last checkpoint called Chadas and we stopped for coffee before continuing with the final push to the peak.  
We were told that it'd take another hour to reach the peak and it turned out it took more than that.  It took us one and a half hours instead.  When we reached the peak, there were already about 10 people there waiting for the sunrise.  It was an awesome feeling upon reaching the peak as the hiking wasn't easy.  The peak was covered with dried volcanic ashes and soil.  It was dusty too as the morning breeze at the peak was quite strong.  I was told there was crater at the other end of the peak but I didn't dare to go as the trail was very narrow and small. 

There were smokes coming out from the caldera.  
This is the mountain opposite of Mount Merapi and it's called Mount Singgalang.  It's not a volcanic mountain and we don't have the intention to come back for this mountain.  This mountain is very common in Malaysia. 
A close look at the caldera!
The trail from the last checkpoint to the peak was full of these volcanic stones and the surface can be very loose.  We were very careful and took it slow at the same time
More picture of the caldera.

On the way back, we saw the trail that we took to reach the peak clearly.  It could be dangerous if we were not careful and at some slopes, not only the surface was loose but also steep. It's really not for someone with aerophobia. 
I took the pictures below on the trip back from the peak when we were almost reaching the base.  When it comes to speed, the group was divided into three, the fastest ones completed the trip within 12 hours, followed by 13 hours by those with moderate speed and the slowest with the sweeper completed it within 14 hours.  A few of us swear that they'd never do any more hiking that takes more than 5 hours!
Bukittinggi is about 900 m above sea level.  It's not as cold as Cameron Highlands.  Avocado trees were very common and we saw a lot of them at their backyard.  It was also my favourite drink!  I had avocado juice at all meals except the last dinner. 
This picture was taken at the peak with Mount Singgalang at the background.  Will I come back to this mountain again?  Perhaps not.  There are so many other volcanic mountains in Indonesia and we were already talking about Rinjani, Agong, Batur and Bromo.  We'll decide by early next year!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Leaving for Bandar Udara Internasional Minangkabau

In less than 2 hours, I'll be leaving for LCCT, taking a flight to Padang, Indonesia.  I am excited as this is my first oversea hiking trip.  There are 7 of us, 5 from the same office and another 2 friends from outside.  Our group is made up of 4 Malays, 2 Chinese and 1 Indian.  It's really a muhibah trip. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bukit Tabur - 2011

I haven't been to Bukit Tabur for a long time.  I don't think I have been there this year.  I decided to go there with a friend a few weeks ago.  When I reached there, there were a group of hikers from Singapore who reached the starting point almost at the same time with us.  Later on I found out that they are related, a mother and a son, her sister and a niece!  I hope I got it right!  I promised that I'd put up our picture together here in my blog!  It's nice knowing you guys.  if you decide to go to Sg. Chilling waterfall, please let me know!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Janda Baik - Waterfall

This trip was just an excuse for me and some friends to have a retreat at Janda Baik.  We were here when we climbed Gunung Nuang a few months ago.  We saw the waterfall, unfortunately we were so tired to enjoy it and we made a promise to come back.  It was also an activity for us to know each other better as majority of us will be climbing Gunung Merapi, Padang in July,  
The jungle trekking to the waterfall took about 1 hour 30 mins.  It's the same trail that people use to climb Gunung Nuang.  I don't think there were other people going to Nuang that day.  The trail was quite dry and we had no problem at all to reach the waterfall. 

I didn't realise that the rock formation looked scary in picture.  The water was cool and it felt as though it was just coming out from a fridge! My friends were saying that the water was cooler than that of Sungai Chilling.  The place is really pristine, secluded and untouched.  There were no other people and we had the place to ourselves! We left feeling satisfied after spending about one hour there. 

Tagging along in this trip was our resident 'Herpetologist' or I called him 'ularologist'.  It was his lucky day as we came across this rare baby reptile! 

Apparently, there are more than 5 waterfalls in Janda Baik area.  Perhaps, I'll come here again and again in the search for the other waterfalls!  In the meantime, I am ready for Gunung Merapi and I will start packing this week!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gunung Berembun

Gunung Berembun is located at Cameron Highlands.  Peaked at 1,836m above sea level, it normally takes about three hours to reach the summit. We used the trail labeled as Jungle Walk No. 6 located right behind Kem Sungai Pauh.  The mountain is quite high but why doesn't it take long to reach the summit?   The answer is Cameron Highlands itself is an elevated land that is 1,500 meters above sea-level.  If that was true, we only climbed for about 300 meters?  Yup!  The next question; but then if it was only 300 meters why did it take so long to reach the summit?  The answer to that is the height doesn't matter much but the distance to reach the summit that matters.  The first CheckPoint; Persinggahan LBT is about 2 km from the campsite!   

I had a good sleep after popping in panadol and piriton due to sneezing.  The dusty tent must have caused me to sneeze incessantly.  I never got the time to clean the tent, after using it, I folded it and put it in my backpack and it stayed there until the next camping trip!  The temperature must have dropped to 15 ˚C that night , it was cold and the sleeping bag helped me a lot to stay warm! It was a sunny day when we started hiking at 8.30am.  The signboard at the entrance stated that the journey to reach the peak was 3 hours.  We were ready for that with enough snacks and water. And we left after a breakfast of burnt pancake!  
After going through muddy traps at the beginning of Jungle Walk no. 6, we were welcomed by breath taking view of the forest.  It was unlike any other forest area that we have been, we had the feel of being in high country with cool climate.  Any of our pictures may not be able to depict the beauty of the forest area.  We felt as though somebody had laid out carpet for us to walk on as the ground was covered with dry pine leaves.  However, the same feeling was gone when we came down as the dry leaves can be slippery!
This picture was taken at Persinggahan LBT, the first Check Point, about 2 km from the campsite.  It was also the end of Jungle Walk No. 6.  We didn't know that Persinggahan LBT was a Check Point with good facilities to rest, about 10 minutes before that we took our first 'take five' that lasted about 10 minutes.  On the way back, we stopped here again and we met a Caucasian couple.  They were already thinking of going back using Jungle Walk No. 6 (to Mardi) but we convinced them to go up the peak of Gunung Berembun.  When it rained upon reaching the campsite I wondered how they were like trekking in the rain!

Yes, it was only 3 hours but the trails were challenging too.  When we saw this window of light, we were excited as we thought the summit was just around the corner! Our excitement was short-lived as the summit was no where in sight and it was just a false peak!
When we reached this area, again, we thought that the summit was just around the corner.  And this time, we were right, the summit was just about 5 minutes away.
We reached the summit in 2 hours including a 10 minutes 'take five' in between.  Yes, another mountain conquered and a lot more to go!  From here we had a good view of Cameron Highlands (not sure which side though) and the temperature was slightly cooler even though it was already bright and sunny.  We rested for about 30 minutes by having snacks and taking a lot of pictures! As usual, going back was faster and we completed the journey in less than 4 hours. 
At the peak I saw this trail, it seemed heading to another mountain that I had no idea what it was! And I wasn't ready to explore either as we had other plans at the campsite!   
As a summary, if someone were to ask me, how difficult it is to climb Gunung Berembun?  It wasn't a walk in the park but it was close, perhaps slightly more challenging.  And I don't mind to come here again with my colleagues!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kem Sungai Pauh

How to Get There?
It's located in Cameron Highlands, inside the compound of Jabatan Hutan Cameron Highlands.  To those who are familiar with Cameron Highlands, the exit from the main road is at Smokehouse Guest House.  Upon taking the exit, you will pass Telekom Malaysia building until you reach a small round about.  Take a 3 o'clock turn and drive down until you see Jabatan Hutan at the corner. Upon entering, you will pass through a security booth.  Drive further inside by taking the first left turn until you reach a dead road where you can park your car.   

The place can be quite popular during weekend, therefore it's advisable to call them first to check whether there's any spot left at the campsite.  I was busy at the office and forgot completely to call them before going there.  Yet, I was lucky as there were not many campers at that time.  

We parked the car right at the entrance of the campsite.  The entrance fee is RM5.  However, they never came to collect the money from us and we left without paying.  The parking area is just in walking distance, therefore it's okay if you were to bring along of stuffs.   

The campsite is furnished with the basic amenities like toilet, shower room, surau, gazebo and BBQ area.  The water from the tap is supplied from the mountain, therefore it's freezing cold.  You must be adventurous to stay here otherwise you'd end up complaining there was no hot shower!  Unfortunately, the cleanliness of the toilet is not up to the mark.  The doorknobs were gone and the toilet flush was not working too.  It's also advisable to bring a lot of bottled water, the water can be dirty when it rains!

One of the many gazebos located at the campsite.  The water from the stream may not be as cold as those from the tap.  However, it's still freezing cold.  Nevertheless, I took a dip in the water in the morning before leaving for KL. 

The campsite was lighted at night so it's okay if you don't bring your torchlight.  And you can bring along your handphone charger too as the power sockets are available at some gazebos and in the surau. 

It can be chilly at night especailly when it rains.  Don't forget to bring along your sleeping bag.  Blanket may not be thick enough!

This is the BBQ area.  Please bring along your charcoal and portable stove.  It was funny as I bought my portable stove and gas but I forgot completely to take it out from my car.  We ended up buying new stove.  I am not a regular coffee drinker, but I must say when I had my coffee there it tasted so good.  Must be the weather!    

This is the bridge that links the campsite and the amenities area. 
We were here as we planned to climb Gunung Berembun.  The trails were located right at the back of the campsite and it's labeled as Jungle walk No. 6.  

I will talk about Gunung Berembun in my next entry!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gunung Bunga Buah

When a friend in FB invited me to this trip, I clicked 'Attending' without much hesitation, after all I had nothing planned on the same date and I have never been to Gunung Bunga Buah.  After a few messages, we decided that we'd meet immediately after the first Karak toll in Gombak.  In FB, there were 4 of only who clicked 'Attending', however, after breakfast I was told there was a group of 20 odd hikers joining us.  They had already parked their cars while we had our breakfast.  True enough, there were 31 of us after the final headcount. 31 of us of various fitness levels!  It was a big group and we expected that a few of us might not make it to the peak.  We started at 9.00am and  everyone was told to turn back at 2.00pm regardless where their locations were at that time.  Otherwise, they might not make it to the entrance under the sunlight! 

I read at one time that the access to the mountain was blocked as the land belonged to GohTong family.  I am not sure whether we were still using the same entrance.  The entrance that we used was just behind a row of shop houses at Gohtong Jaya.  We had to trek through vegetable farms before we started with the first ascend.  It was a steep slope and it took us about 20 minutes to reach the first checkpoint.  Joining the trip was a 12 year old girl who reminded me of my daughter when she was of the same age.  I helped her especially at some steep trails.  It had been raining non-stop a few days before that, therefore the trails were wet and slippery. 

After the first stop, we continued the journey along the old Genting road.  The road was already abandoned and inaccessible even by 4WD.  It took about 45 minutes before we reached the 'real' entrance to the jungle!  On the way back, we felt that the same road was longer and tougher.  To a certain extend, it reminded me the never ending trails of Nuang.  

This is a 'must' place for photo opportunity as there is cliff at the background.  It was foggy as it was still early in the morning and we didn't get to take that many good picture as the cliff was covered by fog.  

Typical wild orchids that can be seen on other mountains like Gunung Besar Hantu!

The typical trails all the way up!  The trails were almost as tough as Nuang.  Some said it was tougher.  At one point, there was a checkpoint that reminded me of Gunung Tahan!  Like Nuang, there was a false peak too,  It was  stunning view from here.  A few of us couldn't make it to the peak and they stopped here at the false peak!  We were told that the distance to the peak was about 20 minutes or 'sebatang rokok' and it turned we had to trek for another 45 minutes!  After the false peak, the trails were rocky like Bukit Tabur for about two hundred meters. 

I made it to the peak after a 3 and half hours of hard work.  I thanked my friend who invited me and told him that I made it somehow, he replied  'You're most welcome, friend. Some even say this was tougher than Nuang! And you didn't make it "somehow", it was with plenty of strength, pails of sweat, and with enough determination and resolve! Pat on the back for you!   And all those who attempted as well! And the weather was very kind to us - beautiful clouds, cool winds ... and best of all, no leech bites . . . although the few that were sighted were knocked out with Mosi-guard!!!'.  Thank you again, Henry!  I found out later on the way back that the 12 year old girl made it to the peak too.  Congratulations!

Crawly creature that we saw just on the way out of the jungle!

I was dragging my feet back and the 'never ending road' seemed longer and I could feel the pain from my recent slip disc.  It was still there and it hasn't recovered as yet.  That was the reason I said to Henry that I made it 'somehow' as I really had to struggle more as compared to other people who had no medical condition.   Anyway, my slip disc wasn't a severe one and it doesn't stop me from doing all my physical works, except it has slowed me a bit!

On the way back, I stopped over at Gombak R&T to clean myself and to pray.  Unfortunately, there was no shower room here for me to bathe.  I took the opportunity to take the picture of Bukit Tabur.  Yup!  It used to be my favorite hiking place.  And then I got my slip disc.   That was the end of Bukit Tabur being my favourite hiking spot!  Well, I think I am ready soon!   I will make it there before leaving to Merapi!