Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Impression of China (1)

Impression of China – 11 days tour (from 15 September 2011) of Feng Huang Ancient Town, Zhangjiajie, Yangtze Cruise, and a brief tour of ChongQing and Guangzhou cities.

Please click here to view photos taken by yours truly (KC) ... In Picasa photo album, click Slideshow for bigger displays and captions.

Touch-down at Guangzhou International Airport ... upon arrival, take high speed train to Changsha. After the freak accident happened a few weeks ago, the speed is reduced from 400 km/h to 300+
For the entire journey of 2.5 hours, the speed is set to 310km/h maximum for a comfortable, steady, vibration-free and silent ride. We alighted from the train at almost 12 mid-night; when we retired to bed in hotel, it was almost 2:00 a.m. the next day.

The famous Phoenix Ancient Town (or Feng Huang Ancient Town) of history and culture with the unique local architecture.
Walking on the wooden slabs requires confidence and stability; however, it requires a bit of manoeuvring when confront with people from the opposite direction without dropping into the water.
A senior is seen here collecting litter on the river.

Nina – our friendly, dedicated and untiring tour guide at Zhangjiajie. Graduated from a local university and speaking fluent American English, she belongs to the Tu Minority people in Zhangjiajie – one of the minority tribes in China.
This is how we should carry our backpack to avoid pickpockets.
According to her, she is practising the 'cry wedding' – a custom of her Tu minority people where a new bride is to cry for one month preceding the wedding ceremony. The cry is a reflection of a girl's ability and virtue; the better the cry, the girl would gain more sympathy from the relatives and would then get more ‘ang pow’ (reward) money.
Seeing double – enchanting night view of Phoenix Ancient Town

The famous UNESCO World Heritage of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
In the National Park, 3,000 skyscraper-like stone pillars stand in various shapes are arranged in vertical-cutting appearance.
The unique and majestic mountains in the background are where the floating mountains in the blockbuster movie, Avatar, got the ideas from.
Yours truly (KC) in the photo.

The tour group of 20 from Malaysia.

Comfortable and luxurious hotel stay

Good food for every meal including two bottles of beer and a bottle of soft drink.

Taking a mini train into the inner part of the park for better view of the mountains ...
yours truly (kC).

Close view – taking cable cars up the mountain. Unfortunately, it was bad weather for the past few days and the whole mountains are covered with mist or cloud.
At higher ground, visibility is bad and could not see anything. The group then descend the mountain queuing for almost one hour for the cable cars to return to base.
Looks like I need to re-visit this heavenly mountains another time.

Enjoying the performance at night for a grand feat of sight and sound at Zangjiajie

Theatre hall with high-tech equipment in an ancient setting

Start of the Yangtze River 5-star cruise from Yichang town.

We met a group of French tourists, almost 50 of them and the biggest group; follow by the Malaysian group, about 30.
A few of them join us in light exercise and a bit of fun on the top deck. 
The ship is ferrying 150 passengers – maximum capacity.

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. This project benefits in flood control, power generation, navigation improvement and promote tourism.
The spillway dam, located in the middle of the river course, connects the two powerhouses at both sides.
With the completion of the dam, the water level at the upper river rises substantially; while the water level at downstream is now much lower ...

Hence, the large-scale shiplock for ships to travel from lower to higher ground, and vice versa.
Currently, the China Government is building the large-scale shiplift, a one-step vertical movement elevator for smaller boats that would take only 45 minutes to clear (compare to 4 hours of the shiplock); target to complete by 2015.

Precision handling – notice the two cruise ships are parked touching one another when entering the chambers of the shiplocks.

Cheers! Welcome dinner from the Captain. On his right is the English/Mandarin speaking guide; on his left is the French/Mandarin speaking guide.

Entertainment in the cruise ship while waiting to clear the five shiplocks that require a total of 4 hours.
To be continued ...

From KC Leong

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Wet Challenge at Gunung Nuang

Note: I shall be away from 15 to 26 September for holidays in China.
The presence of haze recently means there isn’t enough rain to clear the excessive dust particles in the air created by man. With the dry weather, it is good for outdoor activity; but for avoidance of the haze, authorities advise people to stay indoors. So we have quite a contradictory situation. According to the report in the Star newspaper, the rain will only come next week. I was pleased. That means the trail running at Gunung Nuang on Saturday, 10 Sep 2011 should be a dry day.

While driving to Gunung Nuang at 6:00 a.m. on the event day, there was a slight drizzle. Unfazed by the rain, I continued the journey. The report in the Star newspaper boasted my confidence as high as Gunung Nuang. About 5km before arriving at G.Nuang, the whole area was dry. I was pleased to hear over the airwave at that moment at 6:30 a.m. the song sung by Jimmy Cliff: "I could see clearly now that the rain is gone ...  It is gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day ... “ Yeah, I believe so.

Tony Q sent sms informing that Siew Lee’s group from Singapore would be slightly delayed and informed us to start first. After the group photo, we proceeded at 7:25 a.m. at trail head. Edwin, Rothman, AB Tan and Tan Han Bin was in the leading group; I was with Sivalingam; Mark BG, Karen and Chiew Hong formed the trailing sub-group.

Do click here to view photos courtesy of Chiew Hong (using waterproof Sony compact) and yours truly (KC).

L-R: KC Leong, Edwin Goh, Rothman, Sivalingam, Mark BG, Karen, AB Tan, Tan Han Bin, Chiew Hong

Just 10 minutes after that and, lo and behold, it started to drizzle! The report in the Star newspaper must have given me lots of confidence. I would think that the rain should stop very quickly. So we pressed on.

We passed Kem Lolo and Kem Pacat – in the rain. The mountain was engulfed with mist or rain clouds. Visibility was quite dark something like 7:00 a.m. though it was already 9:30 a.m. It was lucky that the ladies did not join us in this extra tough challenge. Gauging at the weather, I did not think that the rain would stop quickly.

When I arrived at False Peak at 10:00 a.m. (2.5 hours later), it was still drizzling. So I decided to descend the mountain while Siva proceed to the peak.

I then met Mark BG, Karen and Chiew Hong at Kem Pacat. Chiew Hong even pitched up a flysheet to shield the rain while waiting for the rest. At that moment, the rain gathered momentum. So the initial thought of MarkBG to continue was partly dampened by the rain. All decided to descend the mountain.

By the signature tree at Kem Pacat ... Chiew Hong, Karen and Mark BG. 

Yours truly at Kem Pacat... despite the rain, it is still thumbs-up pose ... ha ha

On the way down, not far from Kem Pacat, we met Siew Lee and her group of friends who were on their way up. So we exchanged pleasantry and chatted for a while, and taking group photos in the rain. I joked that the presence of VIP brought rain to Kuala Lumpur (rain in Cantonese means money), which is very much needed here!

Rothman – he is just amazing. Despite the wet and slippery ground, he just ran down the mountain just like normal dry day; occasionally, he was seen jumping high in the air followed by precision landing. Respect! Respect! Within seconds, we lost sight of him.

Along the way descending the mountain, I slipped and fell due to the slippery ground. We returned to Kem Lolo at around 11:30 a.m., only by then the rain stopped.

On the whole, it was quite an experience soaking in the rain for almost four hours in the mountains to continue the journey. Nevertheless, it was a good training – to train in wet condition.

We met part of Siew Lee’s (3rd from left) group from Singapore, lead by Tony Q (left) for a wet journey to the peak of Gunung Nuang.

Other than the first group photo, all photos were taken in the rain.

Note: I shall be away from 15 to 26 September for holidays in China (Fenghuang, Zhang jia jie, Three Gorges, Guangzhou)

Posted by KC Leong

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Bukit Kiara @ TTDI Trail Running

This is the first time that I do a trail running at Bukit Kiara @ TTDI on Thursday, 1 September (which is a national holiday). For a change, the organizer is Aleximon Lee – a youthful looking, friendly, humble and jovial guy.
Arriving at the destination before 7:00 a.m. as suggested by Aleximon Lee at Taman Rimba Kiara (next to Plaza IBM, now Plaza VADS in Taman Tun Dr Ismail), there wasn't a single soul there. While standing right at the entrance frantically calling for help, Jeff Ooi spotted me and directed me to the correct venue which is about 1km away along Jalan Abang Haji Openg, opposite Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 2.

Do click here to view photos taken by yours truly (KC). Click Slideshow and F11 for bigger displays.

Back (L-R): Wendy Liu, Patricia Yap, Jeff Ooi, Vance, Chin, Aleximon Lee, Paul Lee, Yim Heng Fatt
Front: KC Leong, Karim, Dannie, Carrie, Karen Loh ... this photo courtesy of Yim Heng Fatt.

Bukit Kiara @ TTDI has often been described as the 'green lung' of Kuala Lumpur, boasting many jungle trails through its characteristic hills. Despite rapid housing and commercial development in the areas, the hills still stood there though the lush greenery may be diminishing in size in compromising for development. Hopefully, in many years to come, the trails are still there for trail running.
Seeing that most of us are keng chow trail runners (maybe the look... ha ha), after a brief discussion between Paul Lee and Karen Loh (two experience trail runners), we decided to do a long-distant loop which is about 7.5km one way. 

At View Point area: Karim, Yim, Karen Loh, Vance and KC Leong

There are many split trails to arrive at the destination. The whole team was sub-divided into 4 groups each led by Aleximon Lee, Jeff Ooi, Paul Lee and Karen Loh. Nevertheless, we managed to assemble at the destination.
Assessment of the terrain: there are about 5 to 10 hills to tackle. The trail is long but not too steep – a little harder than Puchong Hill. Apek-Saga Hills is much steeper and gain elevation very quickly.

In single file going uphill ...

Finally, the full team arriving at the Orang Asli settlement

This is the way we came from ... Being trail running here twice, Karen Loh is good in recognizing the trail.

The View Point Area -- The KL Tower and Petronas Twin Buildings at the background can be seen here (near to Patricia Yap's right hand).

Karen trip and fell, damaging the yow yeng and expansive CWX compression pants at the knee area. On the brigther side - she is okay and safe.

One runner friend commented that we look so fresh even after a 15km trail run. So I quipped that the air in the hill is fresh, thus making us looking fresh. Running in the mountain inhaling lots of fresh air (and negative ions) has rejuvenating effect on us ... this photo courtesy of Dannie captured using his iPhone. 

This is Taman Tasik Lembah Kiara which is directly opposite Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (2). Another park is 1km away is called Taman Lembah Kiara.

The group went to Devi's Corner, a mamak restaurant in TTDI for brunch ... Carrie and Wendy Liu.

Aleximon Lee (left), the organizer of this trail running, is a youth looking,  friendly, humble and jovial guy; assisted by Jeff Ooi (right). The other two important persons are Paul Lee and Karen Loh who guide the team in the right path in the many split trails.

Do click here to view previous postings at Bukit Kiara.

Posted by KC Leong

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Puchong Hill Trail Running

The group – quite a big group this time – went for trail running at Puchong Hill (or Air Hitam Forest Reserve) on Tuesday, 30 August, the first day of Raya holiday. Other than the regulars, the new friends are Chin, Vance, SC's son, Gandhi, Lohita, Kirandeep, Wuan, Bernard Lee, and Siaw Cheng.

This time, all were running. From a distance, it is just like a line of runners meandering through the trail around the hill.

To add fun to the event, Lady Su came with two of her newly acquired pet doggies. In outdoor activities, the doggies are like children that require constant supervision to avoid straying away due to their inquisitive mind.

While taking a breather, I could hear a few runners were breathing extra hard; not that they were panting for breath, I would think that they were trying to breathe in more fresh air and the good negative ions.
Do click here to view photos taken by yours truly (KC).

Back (L-R): ChongYF, SC's son, Vance, Chin, SC Yong, Kirandeep, KC Leong
Middle: Mak, TeeEK, Bernard, Wuan, Lohita, Gandhi,
Front: Wendy Liu, Tee's wife, Lady Su, Lai Kuan, Siaw Cheng, Patricia Yap.

Very busy exchanging ideas about doggies ... Patricia Yap, Lady Su and Lai Kuan. That black and white dog likes Patricia (sniffing and social connection in progress)... :-)

Lady Su’s doggies are named Dolly and Parton. Every time we call ‘Dolly Parton’ loudly, I could see other trekkers start looking around to see whether the one from the USA is here trekking in Kuala Lumpur ... :-)

Just like human beings that exhibit different characteristic, the yellow dog is more intelligent and not afraid of water, but not the black one.

 Taking a breather

  In most hills, the peak is just a barren ground that we hope to be able to see the sky.
In this track, the icing on the cake is that it is a waterfall and a pool with clear water.

The pristine pool

Part of the group went for Dim Sum for brunch. All Dim Sum restaurants in this Puchong Commercial Centre are packed with people. The ‘lau sar pau’ (pau with butter and yellow milk custard filling) taste fantastic!

Posted by KC Leong