Gunung TahanNestled in the heart of Pahang lies a relatively unknown rain-forest, and in its centre, a mountain 2187 metres in height which has come to be known as Gunung Tahan. Though itís more than 1500 metres shorter than the Gunung Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, it is nonetheless more treacherous and exhasting to climb compared to its more popular cousin, its ascent to the summit requires a 130km return trek from Kuala Tahan, with trial passes through low altitude jungle, across rivers and up a narrow and broken 1,500 metres ridge to a cool mountain plateau.
On that fateful evening on the 2nd June, we left Singapore for Meropoh, and it was early morning 6 a.m that we reached the town. Following after breakfast, we were transported to the Head Quarter, whereby we made our final checking and met up our guide ,Shopi. We were given a 4 wheel- drive ride to Kem Juram, and that marked the beginning of the trek. With me were Raymond, Peng Wah, Su Hoon, Kwee Chuan, Bee Geok aka "Lan Man", Kelvin aka "Long Shu", Lewis, Jason, Chew May and Augustine aka "Long Xiong". The 2 Ĺ days climb to the undulating summit which I quote was "like hell". The terrain was steep and muddy, and after the first day, we managed to skilfully "xiam" those mud pools. These was however compensated when we were greeted by the pleasant and scenic sight - the grey foreboding cliff towered at 45 degrees over wispy clouds wrapping the beautifully flora-capped summit.
That night at the summit, everyone was relaxed and cheerful, as we admired the star-dudded sky. We were glad to have make it to the top, yet deep inside, the fear of unknown had crept into us, as we knew the days to come were not going to be easy.
The last few days we clapped our eyes upon the picturesque panorama of the mountain , it was a wonder that the landscapes changed as we took on a different path - from the vast barren field to the rain-forest enveloped jungle. It was a pity that many of us were too exhausted to enjoy it, as we trekked through the long and arduous routeÖ.
While we were quietly enjoying our last solitary night in Gunung Tahan, it dawned to us that it was the dumpling festival, and many of us were suddenly overwhelmed with home-sickness, as we dwelled in the thought of being so far away from home.
On the way back to the Taman Negara Resort, many of us were too complacent, thinking that it would be over soon, we went as fast as could, little to know that the trail back, though easy, was long and tiring. We were all dispersed, with a few of the never-say-die guys leading ahead. The 7 hours trek back, I found myself toiling through the jungle alone. Somehow, I did not understand how I manage to do so, as I ran out of water and food, yet realising, that I had at least 2 hours to reach the resort. I was even lost along the way, crossing the same river 3 times, searching for footprints and was hopeful to see any familiar sights. And the worst part was when I heard the tiger roar, I was so fearful that I ran as fast as I could, after tip-toeing through the danger zone. I drank mud water along the trail, and was delighted whenever I see a tourist. Many of them were encouraging when they realised that I had been trekking for seven days.
Finally, I reached the resort at 2pm and the rest of the team member followed at around 3pm. Some of us took a bath at the resort and joined the rest at the Tahan restaurant where we feast ourselves with sweet and sour fish, chicken burger and mee goreng.
I can only say one thing - Yes, we have made it!
This article is dedicated to Raymond, Su Hoon, Kwee Chuan, Bee Geok, Kelvin, Lewis, Jason and Augustine who have made the trip enjoyable and memorable. Special thanks to Peng Wah and Chew May for organising this expedition.
Gua TempurongThe first I organize a trip to Gua Tempurong was on 24th Dec to 26th Dec 1995. This group consisted of about 8 youth from the Bedok Youth Group. On the first day, we visited Gua Tempurong and Gua Kandu, at night we stayed in Gua Kandu. On the second day, we visited Ipoh Town and Lumut Town. On the second day, we explored Pulau PangKor. This was my first time riding on a motor bike. We enjoy the trip a lot.
By the second time I organized the trip to Gua Tempurong, was on 14th-16th Sept 1996. This trip was a two days and three nights event. This time, the group was larger than the previous one, with 24 members from the Bedok Youth Grp. There was a slight difference in the itinery, with the first day at Gua Tempurong and Lata Kinjang waterfall. On the second day, we took the same trip to Ipoh Town and visited a cave nearby. After that, we visited Gee Chong Kai market at Kuala Lumpur.
Gunung Korbu ExpeditionA group of 8 "youths" aged 25 to 50 arrived at Ulu Kinta (Perak) at 9.30 am on 16th April'97 after an overnight coarch ride from Singapore to Ipoh. we stared our ascend of the 7162 feet Gunung Korbu with 2 Asli guides. It was an uphill struggle all the way to the summit at 5pm on 17th April 1997 where we camped for the night. It rained in the night and the temperature dropped to a low 8 degree Celsius.
We broke camp in the morning and arrived at the Asli vilage at the foot of the mountain at 9.30pm after an arduous 12 hrs trek downhill.
By all accounts, this was a challenging expedition even for experienceers and this makes it especially satisfying forthe two of us who were first timers. We are looking forward to climb the next mountain.
Everest Base Camp TrekItís been a year since we went for the Everest Base Camp trek. Asked for my feedback now, I shall give an honest appraisal of the most vivid and significant memories and impression that stayed with me.
I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 weeks plus Nepal trip. What made the trip most memorable must be the capable trekking guides & supporting staffs who brought us up the Everest Base Camp trek. Their good-naturedness, warmth and patience had make the trek much more interesting, enjoyable and fun. The most satisfying meal I had in Nepal must be the lunch prepared by Ramuís wife at their house.
The trip was slightly marred by some minor disagreements that arose during the trip which resulted in some "cold war" and some unhappiness. However it is quite common for disappointment and fictions to arise, especially when there were six of us, many of us strangers initially, who were on a 3 weeks long trip together, day in day out.
However, the unpleasantness of such conflicts may be reduced or even resolved if each party is willing to talk over their differences and hopefully, come to a compromise. Each party must be willing to give and take and to be open-minded and receptive to ideas and suggestions.
Organising this 3-weeks long Nepal trek for 6 persons is no easy task, and I must thank Chew may, the leader, for making it possible. Thanks also to Puck Wah who also played a past in organising it.
GO FOR YOUR DREAMS - GO FOR GUNUNG LEDANG
Stabbing the clouds admist Peninsular Malaysia's main range is Gunung Ledang that saw a group of thirty-one venturers from the Bedok Community Centre Youth Group. The most popular trail to the summit takes you through a landscape of dramatic contrasts, from big trees on the lower slopes, through a mossy forest with several species of the Pitcher plants, to the wind-wept rocky summit with its rhododendrons and other flowering plants. The strenuous but rewarding climb to the summit culminates in a breathtaking view that takes in the tropical idylls of the mountainous region. Gunung Ledang is a good introduction to jungle trekking. Among the group members were many first-timers who have yet to savour the taste of jungle trekking. The route up the mountain was steep and a strenuous scramble in places. Although any healthy fit person climb, Gunung Ledang is not suitable for a casual family outing. There are three main routes to the summit of Gunung Ledang. The old, traditional route is now the road up to the radio station. The other two routes up Ledang are the Asahan trail from the north-west and the Sagil or Ayer Pernas from the south. We took the Asahan trail which started off from Kampung Asahan and took the whole group approximately seven hours to the summit. We were greeted by the thick vegetation along the trail. The trail up the summit was uneventful. The trail itself did not offer much variation in scenery. But the camaraderie built on the trail compensated for the lack of it. Members in the group chatted and sang along the way, making our trek more enjoyable. None of the members turned back despite exhaustion. We pressed on. Before we knew it, the summit of Gunung Ledang was in front of us, announcing its grandeur. The final haul to the summit was through a steep, short trek up through dense mossy forest to the base of an almost vertical cliff. All the members were practically on their fours as they scrambled up the last 40 metres.; holding on to fixed ropes left by earlier parties. The last 40 metres to the summit were usually cold and wet from drifting clouds that submerged the summit intermittently. While the vertical granite isunyielding, it does offers one of the most breathtaking surreal landscape on this planet. The actual summit of Gunung Ledang is a rocky platform 20 metres across, dominating a narrow 50 metres ridge just below it. Campers have stripped the summit area of virtually all solid wood. Heaps of rubbish were left evidently on the summit, making it a rather unsightly sight. But the spectacular night sky more than compensated as did the dawn panorama. Since there are no competing peaks in the vicinity, one has a virtually unmolested view of the hazy forest below and on a clear day, one can also see south to the Straits of Malacca, and if conditions are favourable, the outline of Sumatra. After a bone-chilling cold night, we were awakened to a bright, clear day. With the spectacular view of the surrounding areas, we unwillingly geared ourselves for the trail back to Air Pernas. The trail down saw us through area containing several species of pitcher plants that were still studded with morning dews and sparkled in the strong sunlight. The ground was damp and the trail lined with mosses which was in no way different from the Asahan trail. The only difference was that the trail was more mossy and vertical in several places requiring more vertical climbing and scrambling. To avoid any delay, our group members were divided into three different teams with a mixture of experienced and amateur venturers in each team. The experienced venturers led the way and encouraged the amateurs. As we moved further away from the summit, the ecstasy feeling of summiting Gunung Ledang still lingered. Talks of conquering Gunung Tahan , the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia peppered our conversation during the rek down. This profoundly, indescribable physical sensation stemmed from overcoming a dramatic physical challenge probably explained such euphoria. But one thing that marred our trip was the large amount of trash left over by other campers along the trail. The simple, tranquil forests were invaded by the uninvited trash that simply spoiled the whole environment. Trekkers have inadvertently taken its tolls on the trail both up and down Gunung Ledang. Constant use of the trail has also stripped off the soil - leaving bare rocks at some places. Though sign-posts reminding trekkers to protect the environment were placed along the trail, they were not significantly placed. Nevertheless, a trek or climb to the summit of a jungle mountain takes one through varied scenery. This may be a form of recreation for people who want to get away from the security of the modern world and into a great unknown. The immediate squeals of joy from conquering a summit filled the hearts of many. Indeed, many of the team members quest for more excitement and are willing to forego the trappings of the modern world to embark on such similar trips, to follow a dream of exploration and discovery and to get a sense of what it must have been like to be able to conquer places no-one have ever seen. Like I always say, follow your dreamsÖ.
ONG YUN LONG