Trekking in Gunung Bunga Buah, Malaysia

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Some people love diving in the big wide scary oceans (that are filled with sharks! *shiver*), while some people simply love to hike in the thick of the jungles or open mountains surrounded by gorgeous greens and scenery. I am one of the latter. I absolutely love hiking! I can walk and walk and walk for hours in a day and I just enjoy it so much.

My adventure for hiking/trekking and loving the mountains was first discovered during a boring afternoon one day at work in my first job in KL. I was browsing the newspaper (mind you, I was not was part of my job and key performance indicator! yep, it was!! se-ri-ous!) and lo and behold .. a small notice ad in the 'Events Page' caught my eye and interest. It was a short blurp by the Association of Backpackers' Malaysia (ABM) who was welcoming new members to the club. It was calling for people who would love exploring nature through trekking. I got excited and mentioned to a colleague of mine, and since our first meeting with the club, I never looked back on trekking or loving the mountains (altho' I am no longer active now since I relocated to concrete skyscraping Singapore).

View from Gunung Bunga Buah

My first hike with ABM was a day's trip to this mountain called Gunung Bunga Buah (gunung is mountain; bunga is flower; buah is fruit, so in translation, I guess it is called "Mount Flower Fruit") located in the Genting Highlands region. Including me, there were a few newbies as well. The seasoned hikers had assured us that this mountain was the easiest of all the other mountains we're gonna trek and climb in the next few months as we prepare for the ultimate adventure of CTA (Cameron-Titiwangsa Ascent). And so, we naively trusted them. Suffice to say that it took us newbies about 3 hours to hike to the top of the mountain in what was supposed to be a 1.5-2 hour trek! (by then, we had painfully learned that the time frame was by the seasoned hikers' standard of course!). It was exhilarating, tiring, aching and full of complaints all the way up. About 100 metres upon reaching the peak of the mountain, all that sigh-ings and complaints instantly evaporated into the breath-taking scenery of the highlands. I remembered we just stood still in awe as we emerged from the thick jungle tracks onto the clear open path close to the peak. That's when I just knew, mountain hiking and trekking will forever live in me. It was truly, truly awesome. The scenery, the cool clean air and the feeling of achievement were spectacular. So, for me, Gunung Bunga Buah has always been special and fondly remembered as my first hike which brought me to many more mountains around Malaysia and as far as to Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.

Gunung Bunga Buah stands at 4,700 feet above sea level. Many climbers use it as their training ground for tougher trek on other mountains. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is near to Kuala Lumpur, only about 1 hr drive from the city. Trekkers may opt to do a day trip or camp overnight as there is a flat land area on the peak. It has one of the most spectacular views of the rolling mountains in that region and on clear nights, one can perhaps see the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur from afar. The air here is just so clear, cool, calm and crisp. The best view is just before sunrise, around 5.30am. The tracks are a mix of steep terrains, uneven slopes and tracks. Another challenge is that it can get really muddy after a heavy rain.

Here are some pictures which I had scanned from my printed copies.

Newbies and ABM "veterans" at the peak of Gunung Bunga Buah. See the joy on our faces! At the back of the 1st above photo, I had scripted "With Mr KP Ng, on the way to reach the peak, 26.7.'98. A beautiful scenery and cooling breeze".

Here we are - the newbies or "sacrificed virgins" of Gunung Bunga Buah. At the back of this photo, I had scripted "Gunung Bunga Buah, after leaving the summit, 26.7.98"

This is me covered in mud after we had descended the mountain. At the back of this photo, I had scripted "Right after descending B. Buah's peak, listening intently to Dr Wong speaking about the trails of other mountains as we prepare for CTA '98. All soaked in mud. Such a great feeling to be dirty!"

Dr Wong was the President of ABM. He was a local Assemblyman, a practicing GP and a trekker who had led teams to Kilimanjaro. Amazing!

Anyway, the Monday at work, I had my whole body ached that I could not even climb the stairs without feeling that my knees would fall apart! Nevertheless, it was fruitful.

I must say that although the ABM-ers have climbed many peaks and achieved great heights (!), they remain one of the most down-to-earth and nicest group of people I've ever met in my life. I really miss those days! I've learned so much from them. I remember one of the members once said to me "never say you've conquered a mountain even after you have reached the peak, because you can never conquer a mountain and you never can tell with a mountain!". When we apply this within ourselves, this is a lesson that one should always remain humble.

Perhentian Island, Malaysia

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

As a tribute to my motherland, Malaysia, my favorite island of all time (so far) - Pulau Perhentian, and my appreciation of the long-lasting friendship with my group of wonderful friends since my undergraduate days, I shall post some pictures and share fond memories of my 3 trips to the pristine Perhentian Island way back in the mid 90s..when life was not so complicated, yet! .. as well as information and pictures on Perhentian Island itself.

Pulau Perhentian (Perhentian Island)

Pulau Perhentian, meaning 'stopover island', is not to be missed. Situated 21km off the coast of Terengganu, it consists of the islands of Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Covered by unspoilt jungle, windswept palms, powdery white beaches and surrounded by sapphire blue waters, Pulau Perhentian is a sanctuary for fishermen, migratory birds and of course, discerning holiday-makers.Located just off the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine Park, Perhentian's coral-fringed waters have excellent underwater seascapes for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Arrangements can also be made for island cruises, and boats can be hired to go exploring for private bays and secluded coves. A trip to these tropical islands is also a must for those who enjoy windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and deep-sea fishing.

Of the two islands, Pulau Perhentian Kecil is more geared towards backpackers. Here, you'll find a wide range of budget options for both food and accommodation. Pulau Perhentian Besar, on the other hand, is more developed and therefore offers better facilities. Nevertheless, there are chalets, dormitories and campsites on both islands.

(Above info fr. Tourism Malaysia & pics from Google images)

The above are pictures from my 3rd trip to PP to celebrate our final undergrad year and submission of thesis. This was truly a fun trip that further cemented the friendship bond for this group of friends. We snorkeled all day and as much as I feared deep waters, I had the time of my life! I remembered we stayed at Paradise chalet. The Mama chalet next door made the best ever lemonade and till this day, we remember it so fondly.

These were the good, glorious and free-spirited student days I cherish very much.