Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gunung Rajah

The outing at Gunung Rajah on Saturday 16 July 2016 was a combination of three sub-activities: trail running, trekking and camping. The trail running group would set the markers and they would attempt to arrive at the peak; the trekking group would only arrive at Hijau Campsite, while the camping group would camp at Hijau Campsite and ascend to the peak the following morning. 

After a few rounds of group photos, we started from the car park of Chamang waterfall at 7:23 a.m., and the cut-off time for all to observe was 1:00 p.m. (campers excluded). We passed by the following landmarks: (a) end of earth-based road, (b) stream crossing, (c) Naning campsite, (d) Hijau Campsite.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
 Main group photo; another five members started 45 minutes earlier

Leading the pack, I was very cautious as I was relying on the memory of my maiden trip in August 2012 – four years ago! In that maiden attempt, I accompanied a trail runner who injured herself, and I could only manage to arrive at Hijau Campsite.

Along the journey, the team members enthusiastically asked questions about the terrain, the time required to arrive at the next landmark, etc. We arrived at Hijau Campsite at 11:00 a.m., questions about the peak were asked and I quipped that I could not answer as I have never gone beyond that point :-)
 Members of camping group

Arriving at the bottom of the huge rockface, I checked that it was 12:30 p.m. – 30 minutes to the cut-off time for descent. Before that, at the bongsai area where there was a clear view of the vertical rockface and the peak, we estimated that the timing from the rockface to the peak would take another 45 min or 1 hour. 

We noticed that the rain clouds started looming quickly over the peak as it has been raining at Bentong for the past few days. We decided to descend the mountain and tried again another time; after all, the mountain is always there. On a lighter note, at least that attempt was another step closer to the peak of Gunung Rajah.

 Start of jungle trail (end of earth-based road)

After descending the mountain at around 5:00 p.m., at the entrance area where the ranges were permanently stationed in makeshift tents, one of the trekkers chatted with the rangers. With the lightning monitoring devices connected to the peak, we were told that lightning struck the peak at 1:25pm. Wow! That was closed! Imagine that if we had proceeded to the peak – the timing would have been perfect for a fatal encounter!
 Stream crossing area

Stream crossing – this steam crossing is dangerous during raining season. When it rains, the water level would rise quickly impassable for return. And trekkers would be stranded for hours until the water had receded. Try to imagine that if one does not bring rain gear, sufficient food, or headlamp and the sky is getting dark.
 At Naning campsite 

We need to re-strategize in order to arrive at the peak – it is better to start from the trailhead at 6:00 a.m. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the end of the earth-based road, and the sky would be bright enough to enter the trails.

Mandatory items to bring – barring any unforeseen circumstances, good headlamp is a must. It is an anxiety to those who are waiting at the car park for their friends to return when the sky is getting dark and their friends still have not emerged from the jungle.

 We arrive at Hijau campsite at 11:00 a.m.

My analysis on camping – if one needs to go to the peak, it is better to camp at Hijau campsite; however, if one just wants to enjoy the camping and the water activities, it is better to camp at Naning campsite (a lower ground which is another 1 hr 15 min to Hijau campsite).
 The bongsai area - the peak and the rockface could be seen from here

Trekking permit – entering into the Gunung Rajah trails require one to pre-apply permit from the Pejabat Hutan Daerah Bentong. The rangers are permanently stationed there to check on the validity of entry. The process of applying permit is cumbersome, but it is a control environment as to how many or who-is-who are entering the forest. While meeting another group of trekkers, they even knew that we were the 30 trekkers from Kuala Lumpur. We hope that the Pejabat can make use of the latest technology to simplify the application and payment process. 
 The bottom of the the huge rockface ... we descended the mountain from here (Dphany and Ann Chua)

 When we returned to Hijau campsite at around 1:30 p.m., the camping group had just arrived and busy pitching tents
 A group photo with the camping group before we bid farewell to our friends. When descending the mountain, half hour later, it started to rain. The rain lasted for almost 3 hours
We adjouned to Bentong town for a sumptuos dinner

Landmark and Timing (moderate pace):

1. Arriving at the end of earth-based road (from carpark) – 45 min
2. Arriving at stream crossing – 1 hr
3. Arriving at Naning campsite – 45 min
4. Arriving at Hijau campsite – 1 hr
5. Arriving at rockfact point (require rope for ascent) – 1 hr 15 min
6. Final ascent to the peak – 1 hr

Time for ascent: about 5 hr 45 min 

Note: (1) and (2) are run-able; (3) to (6) more of trekking.

Descending from rockface to car park - 4 hr 30 min

Total time: Start at 7:23 a.m., return to car park at 5:15 p.m.

Posted by KC Leong

Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Fun Glamping at Fraser's Hill

The group went up to Fraser’s Hill for a second time glamping on the weekend of 25 June 2016. When we arrived at the hill resort in the late afternoon, we immediately started to prepare the site and set up the tents in good team work. It was a fine day and we were lucky to see the vibrant glow of the sunset. By the time we were ready for our dinner, it was almost 8pm.

At around 11pm, the whole group went out to look for tarantula spiders in the cool mountains. It was quite fun enticing them to crawl out from their nest (round hole in the earth). Certain species of the tarantula spiders are only found at the hill resort and nowhere else in the world, that prompt demand from spider collectors in capturing the tarantula there, and their survival is now under threat.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 An orchid farm somewhere at Hulu Yam en route to Fraser's Hill

At mid-night, while seated there still enjoying the food, drinks and camaraderie, we saw the bright moon rising high above the cloudless sky.

Sleeping in our tents at the cool outdoor, we woke up a few time as the wind was blowing quite strongly from 2am to 6am. My slim, light-weight Kelty Salida 1-man tent was blowing from side to side. When I went out to wee-wee, I was a little concern that the strong wing would blow my tent away … imaging chasing a flying tent in the wee hours  :-)

Post-glamping – it was quite a lot of work cleaning the tents of which I have to wash five ground sheets, wiping and drying the tents and the fly-sheets. Despite all the work, it was worth the effort for a fun and enjoyable outing in the cool mountains.

Glamping is a new word coined from the words 'glamorous camping' that also mean luxurious camping. Compare to traditional camping where one has to carry all the stuff when trekking up a mountain, glamping is most leisure-like where the camping stuff is just next to the cars.

 Beautiful and attractive flowers

(left) Kristy, Jenny Wong, Lana, Shu-Lin, ChongYF, Kellie; KC (standing)

 At the reservoir area en route to Fraser's Hill. It is now dry season and the water level is very much lower

 Busy pitching tents

 The joy of seeing all the tents are being set up

 Vibrant glow of the sunset

 It was also fun in heating up the roasted chicken ... Lana, Kellie, Kristy and Jenny Wong

 Roasting two chickens in one go ... Shu-Lin and Lana

 Lots of food for dinner

 Lana preparing the sunny-side-up eggs

 A peaceful and tranquil morning with fly-sheets completely covering the tents due to the strong wind in the wee hours

 At the clock tower of Fraser's Hill en route to Chiling Waterfall

 The whiplash shampoo pose by Lana with a lot of water being splashed up by the long hair
 Chiling Waterfall
 What it takes to go glamping with the entire boot full of camping stuff

Do CLICK HERE to view the other glamping at another site of Fraser's Hill.

Posted by KC Leong

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kota Damansara Community Forest Trails

Trail running at Kota Damansara Community Forest (KDCF) with ChongYF, Dphany and Voon Lee on Sunday morning, 29 May 2016 ... We ran from Taman Rimba Riang (TRR), Seksyen 9 of Kota Damansara and connected to KDCF (Seksyen 10), and returned with a total distance of about 10km with shades under a canopy of trees.

The extension of KDCF trails connects to another part of Kota Damansara. After this recce run, I understood better the trails network. From KDCF side, the connecting trail is Sahabat Trail via Unity Trail (refer to sketch map below drawn by yours truly).
(To download the trail map: point cursor at map above, right click; select Save Picture as)
Sign post showing the entry point from Taman Rimba Riang, Kota Damansara (photos courtesy of Chong YF)

In the middle of the two entry points, there is a pondok with picnic benches, good for taking a breather. The trail that is nearer to TRR is called Harmoni Trail while the other trail beyond this pondok is called Unity Trail. We met a few friendly mountain bikers at the pondok who were cycling from TRR to KDCF. 
At the pondok area

Trail runners and the friendly mountain bikers (photo courtesy of Lau Tuck Hoong and Lum Chee Wei)

There is also the Denai Unity peak where one can have a good view of the surrounding areas. With the steep terrain, it is not advisable to go up the peak with the mountain bikes, other than oneself.

Overall, it is an excellent venue for mountain bikers and trail runners, testing one’s ability in maneuvering the various bends, uphill and downhill.
Emerging at the Kota Damansara Community Forest side

In Kuala Lumpur, the other hills that are good for trail running are:
1. Bukit Kiara
2. Puchong Hill (or Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve)
3. Gasing Hill
4. FRIM Kepong
5. Broga Hill and Tok Wan Trail (the extension).

 At Taman Rimba Riang park - LOVE
 (left) Dphany, Voon Lee, ChongYF, KC Leong
At Taman Rimba Riang park

Thanks to ChongYF for showing the way to Taman Rimba Riang and sharing of photos taken with his handphone. 

Do CLICK HERE to view photos of the previous trail running at Kota Damansara Community Forest.

By KC Leong

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fraser's Hill Camping

It was such a fun camping overnight in the cool mountains of Fraser's Hill on 14-15 May (Sat-Sun). For the short duration of 24 hours, we have the impression that we have done quite a lot of things. That weekend, it was also the birds' watching weekend. Many birds enthusiasts were there complete with binoculars and huge cameras to have a glimpse of the migratory birds. When I woke up at 7:00 a.m. (Sunday), lying on my sleeping bag just one inch above the ground, it was such a tranquil and nice experience listened to the chirping sound of the various species of the birds -- what a moment!

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of ChongYF.

 Pitching a tent - YY Lim, Ivy Wong, Lana, KC and LeeWY
 A huge tent courtesy of Lee WY - back to the basic
 A nice 2-man tent bought from the USA
 Togetherness in the evening (this photo courtesy of ChongYF) 
 The ladies preparing for light supper (this photo courtesy of ChongYF)
A cool and tranquil morning woke up by the chirping sound of birds
 At Jeriau waterfall
 Lana with the jumping pose
 Challenging spot 
Lots of laughter 

Posted by KC Leong

Monday, April 18, 2016

Gunung Ledang Hike

The group went trekking at the legendary Gunung Ledang on Saturday, 16 April 2016. One way to the peak is about 5 hours; the descent journey took about 3 hours. Starting at 8:15 a.m., the team returned to the base at around 6:45 p.m.

Other than good fitness in going up the mountain, after Checkpoint #5, there are many steep uphill climb aided by thick ropes and metal ladders; as such, the hands muscle must be strong.

In the evening, the group stayed in the homestays in Tangkak town, and returned to Kuala Lumpur the following day, Sunday, 17 April.

Climbing this mountain requires one to engage mountain guides as they will oversee the safety of the team members in the entire journey especially at the steep climb areas.

Overall, it was a good and enjoyable trip with good camaraderie, nice food, and pleasant homestay.

Do CLICK HERE to view 117 photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 The starting point of the trail leading to the peak of Gunung Ledang
 Excited faces at Checkpoint #2 -- another 6 to go !
 Checkpoint #3 -- more huge bolsters are seen scattered along the trail;  there is also another Gua Kambing here
 Beyond this Checkpoint #5, the terrain is getting steeper 
 Tougher and steeper terrain in the climb aided by metal ladders and thick ropes
 Batu Hampar area -- this is by far the steepest climb area
 Ban Yu demonstrating the technique to maintain balance by using only one hand
 Shu-Lin overcoming fear and taking the challenge one step at a time
 Taman Bonsai with a nice view
 ChongYF and yours truly (KC) - organizers for this trekking trip
 Our teh tarik man, Khoo Ban Yu, tarik kow kow at the peak of Gunung Ledang 
 Graceful posture by the cliff ... Lana and Adelyn
 Soaring high just like the birds above ... Lana
 Finally, a group photo at the peak of the legendary Gunung Ledang
 The weather was just superb -- while we were up at the peak for almost one hour, the sun was shielded by the sky; when we were above to leave, the sun emerged.
 Lana cooling herself with the the cold and clean mountain stream water
 Sumptuous dinner in Tangkak town
 Clean, comfortable and convenient homestay in Tangkak excellent for big group of trekkers spending one night together 
En route to Kuala Lumpur, we stopped by at a premium outlet in Alor Gajah

Posted by KC Leong