The Great Flood of 2014

24 December 2014

My wife and I were back home in Tanah Merah to pick up our kids who spent the last month or so of school holiday with their grandparent. It's been raining a lot these days. The news said it's a combination of the monsoon season and the new moon phenomenon. The monsoon causes the rain and the new moon started to cause some major flooding in some areas. My in laws place were not spared although I wouldn't call it a full-fledged flood yet since water only submerged the empty field in front our house and nowhere else. Still if the rain doesn't stop soon we'll begin to prepare for the worst.

Around midnight the rain shows no sign of stopping and water started to surround our house, knee-deep. We already begun packing our stuff and rearranging the furniture into a pile in the hope that if the flood water does get into the house eventually they wouldn't be damaged. I went to bed around 3 o'clock that day but woke up once or twice to check on the water level.

At six o'clock water was already at our doorstep so we made our final preparations to evacuate the place. It is unfortunate that the house is slightly lower than the main road and there happens to be a small river running about 700 meters from the house. Therefore it is no surprise that we were amongst the first to be hit by the flood. We moved temporarily to a neighbor's house across the road who in tradition with village folk hospitality served us a modest breakfast. Since my mom's place in Pasir Mas town some 30 kilometers away is still not affected by the flood, we decided to go there for refuge.

A few hours later much of Tanah Merah is submerged with water. Water at my parent in laws place had reached the ceiling so everything is pretty much lost or damaged. Last I heard my parent in law is sheltering at one of the flood relief center. We haven't heard from them since.

25 December 2014

Unlike Tanah Merah, Pasir Mas was largely unaffected by the flood especially in and around the town center. There was still electricity and running water, at least for today. The rain is still pouring non-stop though and the Kelantan river water is rising at an alarmingly high rate. We actually had planned to go for a vacation in Cherating tomorrow hence why we still didn't leave the state which proved to be a major mistake on our part. By evening, water had started to flood the street leading to our place. Water from the river apparently flowed through the sewerage system onto our streets. By today the water supply had abruptly stopped and our tap water had suddenly ran dry. We are now depending on supply from our water tanks upstairs and also the trusty well at the back of our house. Near midnight, the electricity had gone out as well. They have shut down power for the entire town for fear of electrocuting folks on the ground. Water had risen to ankle level around our house so we started to slowly move our electrical appliances, furniture and other important stuff upstairs.

26 December 2014

Water had reached knee level around our house. No water was bad enough but no electricity means there's no TV for entertainment, no fan and no refrigeration for our food. We had to cook most of our frozen food quickly or else they will go bad. We have little information of what was going on in the world around us except for the brief time that I had to scroll my Twitter timeline every night. No power means I had to use my phone very sparingly, like half and hour each day. Later in the afternoon, I drove around town meaning to fuel up my car but sadly all of the petrol pumps are either flooded or closed because of no power. Even the ATMs are closed because of that. When the water continued to rise we were worried sick that our car might be submerged and become badly damaged. The entire district is mostly flat so there's no high places we could park our car at. People started to park their cars on the only flyover leading out of town blocking traffic in the process which is so inconsiderate of them. I guess it's true that hardship and disaster brings out the best and the worst in people.

27 December 2014

We did had a good night sleep last night because I managed to park my car at one of the schools nearby which turned into a flood relief center. The school was slightly elevated from normal road level so we don't have to worry so much about it being flooded for quite some time. Today I called the state police headquarters who informed me that only one road and one bridge leading out of town is open at the moment. All of the petrol stations around time is still closed though and I found out from a few people on Twitter that a few petrol stations in Kota Bharu and Pasir Puteh still got petrol for sale. With that information we decided to attempt to leave town for KL via Terengganu, the only route still accessible. Since Pasir Mas town is still flooded, we had to detour to small village roads to make it to the Tendong bridge, the only bridge out of town open to traffic. Unfortunately for us these roads had even more severe flooding compared to Pasir Mas town but still we had to drive submerged in water up to 700 cm deep to keep going. After all that we couldn't get pass this one stretch of road where water was up to our waist. I think we did enough damage to our beloved Alza already then to tempt fate. So with heavy heart we decided to turn around and return back to Pasir Mas. So far our car is still running okay but we'll see if it incurred any damage in the next few days.

The days are thankfully not so hot because of the rain but at night it could get very hot and humid at times. On the way back from our attempt to leave town we spotted some people selling petrol by the roadside. The going rate was 10 ringgit for 1.5 liters about five times more than the market price. Apparently the managed to secure supply from some petrol station still open in Kota Bharu and decided to make a huge profit selling it to desperate people. People like us who had very little gas left in our trunk. We had no choice but to buy 30 ringgit worth of gas for our return trip. The worst of people indeed.

By today water level had fallen down a bit but it is still raining a few times a day. If I could turn back time here's what I would do to prepare myself better for the flood:

1. Fill up my car full tank. Flood will cause many petrol station to close, blackout means all of them will not open.

2. Candles, lots of candles. They run out quickly at the shops or get really expensive.

3. Stock up on dry food - canned foods, ready to eat packs, drinking water.

4. Charge all my power banks, phones and laptop. It might be weeks before electricity returns. That solar power bank doesn't sound like a really bad idea right now.

29 December 2014

After the failed exit attempt the day before, I've decided to hang around town for one more day at least. At least until the flood subsides significantly or until power comes back and the petrol pumps starts working again. As we entered our 4th day in Pasir Mas, somehow we felt like we have overstayed our welcome there. Food are getting less and lesser everyday and there's simply too many mouth to feed every day and most of the shops and markets are not open yet. So today I thought we need to try to make our way back to KL one way or another. After breakfast we packed our bags and attempted to leave Pasir Mas for the 3rd time. Of course I called the state police HQ in Kota Bharu first and the officer in charge said all roads leading to the state capital is cleared for traffic. Kota Bharu is the closest place where there's still electricity and hopefully petrol stations with gas left. On the way there we had to buy another one of those super-expensive petrol in a bottle since our fuel tank is getting really low.

Fortunately for us the road to Kota Bharu was smooth-sailing and passed without any incidents. We did found a couple of petrol stations open and we managed to fill up our tank at one of the Petronas stations in Lundang. Our next mission is to find an ATM machine with money in it. Apparently most of the ATM machines in banks or elsewhere in town had ran out of cash since the flood begin. After stopping at like 5 empty ATM machines we finally found one that's working inside a Bank Islam branch. With a full tank and some money in hand, we made our way to Pasir Puteh town next to Terengganu border meaning to use the East Coast highway as our gateway to KL. We stopped in Pasir Puteh for our much needed lunch. For the first time in days we finally get to have a decent lunch which is not way overpriced. And also we found a mosque with running water where we can wash up and do what's necessary.

The journey through Terengganu was smooth although it rained all the way from Jerteh to Gambang. First we head to Jerteh, Setiu and then into the East Coast Highway and then out again somewhere near Paka into the Jerangau-Jabor road. It still amazes me that using this long highway still incurs no cost up until now which is 2 years after it was completed. Most toll concensionaire I know can't wait to reap toll charges from road users. In Jabor we entered the highway again and this time paid the 6 ringgit something toll charges. From Jabor we took the Gambang exit since the highway is closed because of flooding near Karak. The only way people from the east coast including Kuantan can get to the west and KL is through Pekan - Muadzam Shah and then Bahau in Negeri Sembilan which was the route that we took. The road from Pekan to Muadzam Shah were quite terrible with potholes everywhere and trying to avoid them in the dark was simply torture. I was exhausted when we finally reached Muadzam Shah, a small town in the middle of nowhere in Pahang. That's what driving for 12 hours straight does to you. So after dinner we decided to check in at one of the few budget hotels there. The one we rented was called RSD Hotel which charged R85 per night for a tiny air-conditioned room infested with cockroaches. Well at least it got hot water and we were finally out of Kelantan.

30 December 2014

After a not really good night sleep (all 5 of us were cramped on that tiny queen-sized bed), we packed our stuff and continued our journey. But not before a little disaster struck. The lone dressing cabinet in the tiny hotel room broke down and fell onto our eldest, Adam and hit his head. The mirror broke but lucky for us it didn't cut Adam anywhere on his head. Still we were furious that the landlord didn't bother to check their cheap hotel for rotting furniture which could endanger guests, especially small children. In the end after some serious talking to, the landlord decided not to charge us for our stay, even gave us something extra to pay for the clinic.

Nothing untoward happened next after that little incident at the hotel. We proceed to Bahau some 100 kilometers away and then into Kuala Pilah and finally Seremban. We reached home around 3:00 o'clock that afternoon.

My family and I in Pasir Mas had it easy compared to my in laws in Tanah Merah who suffered serious damage to most of the furniture and appliances due to flood water. It'll be a long time before they could recover and return their live to normalcy. Other people had it even worse - they lost their entire homes altogether. I guess I have to count my blessings and be thankful that we didn't suffer as much as other people.

After almost a week stuck in the flood and a few days without power and running water, we're just mighty glad to make it back into civilization again. I think we've learned some very valuable lessons from this Great Flood of 2014. Like how we should have get out of town as soon as possible when water started to rise all around town. What to prepare ourselves in case we didn't manage to get out of town in time like the one I listed earlier. My kids too learned a something valuable from this major flooding incident. They learned how to make do without TV and gadgets for a few days. How to keep themselves happy and occupied and make the most of what they have. Not being picky and just eat whatever served to them on the table. Not complain much when they have to sleep in total darkness without fans and surrounded by mosquitoes. It's a humbling experience for all of us. It makes us appreciate how lucky we are to be able to do things we normally take for granted in our daily lives.

Best TV series of 2014

It’s been 2 years since I first created the Best of TV series. Guess I forgot to list one last year since I’m so busy and stuff. So without further ado here it is, the top TV shows that I think are really awesome in the past year beginning with the 5 new series:

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the TV adaption of A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R. R. Martin. The series is set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos where a bunch of medieval royal houses butcher each other in the quest for the Iron Throne. I don’t want to bore you with the story line but this multi-award winning show offers a fresh new perspective within the epic fantasy genre much like Lord of the rings but with more violence and nudity. Of course we all watch it for the captivating story line (wink-wink). Tyrion Lannister is probably everybody's favorite dwarf actor right now.

House of cards

White House fiction like The West Wing are a bore to watch for me but not House cards. Kevin Spacey’s played his character Frank Underwood really well. Viewers will be glued to their seat while watching how senator Underwood brings himself into power in the White House. It’s an American political drama series that’s actually interesting to watch.


Homeland an adaption of a novel about a former prisoner of war who was liberated and returns home as a national hero. Little that they know that Nicholas Brody has been turned by Al-Qaeda as their operative in the United States (hence Homeland). This show features a praying Brody drinks and fucks with women like a typical modern western Muslim.

Orange is the new black

This series tells of the memoir of a real live women convict of her experience in the prison. This show is funny, witty, eye-opening and especially rife with lesbian sex (not that we get to see anything much but boobs).


The series depicts the dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father of six children. While he spends his days drunk, his kids learn to take care of themselves. You can’t find a more loser and irresponsible father than Frank Gallagher. Be warned though this show features ample boobs and gay sex (although not really explicit).

I see a trend showing where Netflix starting to produce really cool dramas from their online streaming service. They know what the viewers want to watch. It's amazing how I can watch most of these TV series which are not even (or ever will) aired in the country straight from the Internet.

Samsung Galaxy Gear review

I've been wanting a smartwatch of my own ever since the Samsung Galaxy Gear first came out some time last year. But as always they were simply too expensive for my budget. I don't really have RM1,000 lying around to throw away at a new fancy smartwatch. First generation gadgets are always expensive be it the Galaxy Gear, LG G Watch, Motorola Moto 360 or even the humble Pebble.

However these gadget's price do come down after a while, as in a year later. That's how I finally come to afford the first gen Samsung Galaxy Gear. I got it for just RM250 from a colleague of mine who bought it for a market price of around RM700+. Although I know it will only sync to a few select Samsung smartphones (and I have none), I don't care because I'd wear any smartwatch even if it only tells the time and nothing else. Why Samsung make the Gear only works with a select few of their own smartphone let alone other handphone made is beyond me. They could have owned the smartwatch market had the Gear sync and connect with other Android or even iPhone phones but no, one had to buy a lousy Galaxy Note 3 to be able to fully utilize it. Now that Android Wear which actually syncs to all Android phones is entering the scene, consumers will think twice before getting any Samsung smartwatches in the future.

Now a little bit about the Gear. It comes with half a dozen watchface to choose from. I liked the standard wathcface that came with it the most cause it looks just like in the ad. You know the one showing a guy's hand holding a Note 3. The screen only turns on when you tilt or rotate the watch towards your face so that it doesn't drain the battery too quickly. There's only one dedicated button on the right side to activate the screen and swipe through the apps and settings.

The camera takes some decent pictures, comparable to those cheap entry level smartphones. You can also record video but only 5 seconds long. You probably won't use it as your primary camera but it's perfect as a discreet spy camera (if you know what I mean). Screen navigation is via swipe and touch. You swipe left and right to select the settings and apps. Swipe down to cancel or go back to the previous screen.

The Galaxy Gear requires at least a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to setup for the first time or after you reset the watch. It comes with some kind of casing which acts as a charger and also a NFC device. You touch the casing to the Note 3 and it will recognise and sync the Gear. What happens if you don't have a Note 3 to sync? Then you Galaxy Gear will be one expensive digital watch on your arm.

Actually you can install the Gear Manager on many standard Android smartphone after a few tweaks. Just Google around for how to sync any Android phone to Galaxy Gear and you'll get a few guides. I managed to successfully sync my Gear to my Moto G after installing a few APKs although some of the features from the smartwatch doesn't work like the weather, music player, messages, call log and S Voice. I also can't transfer pictures from the Gear to my phone or desktop via Bluetooth or direct cable connection which is a real bummer because it essentially makes the camera pretty useless.

What does work with this adhoc connection are the notifications and phone dialer. You get most if not all the notifications from your smartphone on the Gear plus you can make and receive calls directly from the phone which is pretty cool (if not downright nerdy). Imagine talking to your watch in public. I only did it once.

The Galaxy Gear uses a customised Android 2.0 something as it's operating system. You can always root the Gear to use a custom ROM which unlocks may more features of the smartwatch but like most Android devices, unlocking and rooting is not easy. If you're not careful there's a good chance you might brick the Gear or even your smartphone. While the Android version of the Gear doesn't offer much, there's a much improved upgrade to the smartwatch after you update to the latest Tizen version from Samsung. Updating to Tizen requires you to download the KIES software, connect your watch to a PC and the reconnect the Gear to a Note 3 after reset.

Updating to Tizen gives your Gear a few improvements and features like better battery life and wider Bluetooth connection. You get a lot more apps for Tizen in the Gear App Store, like 3 times more than the previous Android version. You get more watchface to download and choose from and you also get a few extra standard apps like Exercise and Sleep. However even after upgrading to Tizen, you will still need a Note 3 to synchronise the Gear to weather updates, notifications and use many of the features on the smartwatch. But the best thing about Tizen is that it turns your Gear into an MTP device which enables direct cable connection to your PC. Now you can transfer music and other files from your PC to your Gear and finally transfer photos and videos from the smartwatch to your PC so the camera is not entirely useless. After Tizen you can use the media player on your Gear to play music directly from it and not just control music playback on your Note 3 like in the previous Android version.

Battery life, the Gear lasts about a day with heavy use and constant Bluetooth connection to your phone. A day and half after upgrading to Tizen. If you turn off Bluetooth and just use the Gear as a regular digital watch, it'll last about 3 days. Fortunately charging the Gear is pretty quick, you get from low battery to 100% in less than 2 hours.

In a nutshell while the Galaxy Gear is not beautiful like the Moto 360 or offers better specification like the Gear 2 I would still recommend it to you if the price is right. You can get one of these from websites like ipmart or Lazada for around 500 ringgit. Much less if you don't mind second hand Gear from Personally for an entry level smartwatch, I'd take the Gear anytime rather than say the 500 ringgit Pebble. The design is prettier and at least the screen is full color unlike the Pebble.

NM Galaxy Run

After the euphoria of my first ever official running event, I quickly sign up for another race - the NM Galaxy 10k Run. The longest distance is 21k for this run but I'll settle for 10k for now. Coincidentally my wife also signed up for this race as well even if it's only for the 5k category. You got to start somewhere right?

The registration fee is RM50 for the 10k category and 10 ringgit less for the 5k. You get a cheap-looking, lousy sleeveless shirt, running bib with timing chip and some snacks, that's it. And of course medals for everybody. But seriously the least they could do is give out a standard dry-fit t-shirt like most other races, not the thin, fluorescent green singlet which I guess shouldn't cost more than 5 ringgit to make in volume.

Anyway back to the race, I didn't have much practice compared to my previous run. Partly because of work and also I was not feeling so well earlier in the week. An hour before the race we had burgers for breakfast which was not really a good idea cause we need at least 2 hours for the food to be digested and burgers was quite heavy for a pre-running meal. Should have had something lighter like bananas or buns or something.

The race starts exactly at 6:30 AM for the 10k category and we got there just in time. Lucky for us Cyberjaya Lake Club is pretty easy to find although we did have to walk a few hundred meters from where we park. After a quick stretching I started the race with a few hundred others. We run along the roads of Cyberjaya, snaking through corporate buildings, shoplots, offices and MMU Cyberjaya. We were promised 3 water stations for the 10k category but there was only one and that's only after the 7k mark. I later learnt there was none for the 5k category. Totally unacceptable.

As expected my result was about 3 minutes later than my previous time. I'd blame it on my breakfast and also lack of training the week before. Instead of a proper post-running meal, we were only given a banana each and a tiny cup of cereal by one of the sponsor apart from a bottle of water. There were more trouble from the organiser when there's not enough medals for the 21k category. Fancy paying over 60 ringgit for the run and not even getting any medals to show for it.

This NM Galaxy Run was a near shamble compared to the 30 ringgit TM Fan Run that I joined earlier. Honestly I suspected the organisers were cutting corners to make maximum profit from the participants. Needless to say that'll be my last involvement with any NM Galaxy Run series and I'll be choosing my race very carefully in the future.

Horrible organiser aside, I still had a good time running together with my wife for the first time. I met a few of my hiking friends as well after the race. Naturally my wife is very eager to join another race soon but since these race don't come cheap, it'll be some time before we join another one.

Final words - NM Galaxy Run sucks.

Fraser's Hill stay at The Pines Resort

The first time I went to Fraser's Hill in Pahang was after climbing Gunung Ulu Semangkuk back in July. Then it was only for a short drive through and some lunch at the food court there. My next visit was when I climbed Pine Tree hill along with my wife and hiking buddies. It was a nice place, cool, quiet and serene. I thought someday I wanna stay there for a short weekend getaway or vacation or something. The opportunity came when my sister organized a little family trip there and we decided to stay at The Pines Resort, a big resort but with budget hotel facilities.

The Pines Resort is located towards the exit to KL/Bentong. It's the last resort you're going to encounter before you leave Fraser's Hill. We rented a three bedroom apartment costing RM320 that is after a hundred ringgit peak season surcharge. Which is okay I guess since we had three family staying there so it's about 100 ringgit each.

It rained all the way from Kuala Kubu Bahru to the The Pines Resort so it was all misty and really cold when we got there. The resort doesn't have air conditioners (they don't need any) only a couple of wall fans in every room. The master bedroom has a little balcony of it's own and and a bathroom with a bath tub. The bath tub is missing it's drain stopper so it's pretty useless. The living room is quite spacious and the private balcony overlooking the hills gives you quite a scenery. There's a dining table in the little space they call the dining room. The kitchen is pretty basic - a double sink, some plastic plates and tap with hot water and that's about it. There's also one little fridge but no stove for cooking. At least there's ample hot water for everyone. Trust me you're gonna needed for shower.

The bulky TV in the living room show nothing but local terrestrial channels and the reception was pretty bad. We had to go to the local restaurant in the town center to watch our favorite football game. At least they still have Astro at this remote place. We were given food vouchers which entitles us free breakfast for 6 the next morning. Breakfast wasn't really mouth-watering. They cooked up some half-arsed nasi lemak with greasy sambal which surprisingly would all be gone by 9:00 AM. Apart from that there's also sausages and toast but the roll-on toaster was broken (it didn't really toast our bread).

Is it worth it to stay at The Pines Resort? For RM320 definitely not. Honestly I'd pay more to stay elsewhere. You go to the Pines Resort only as a last resort when everywhere else is fully booked. The sheets and blankets looked worn and seasoned. The carpets was all but faded. For a place with such beautiful scenery all around and so much potential, they managed to keep the place running with only the bare essentials.

Fortunately our maiden visit to Fraser's Hill wasn't totally ruined by a substandard hotel. Like I said, I really like the cool and serene environment in Fraser's Hill. We had a little jog in the misty morning fog from the resort to the town center while enjoying the cool fresh air. We could have gone for a hike at one of the many trails there but time were pretty limited so we had to skip that. The food price at the food court that we went for the third time by now is pretty reasonable although those near the clock tower were pretty expensive. The kids get to play at the park and playground next to the food court so at least they were not thoroughly bored there.

So if you're planning a visit to Fraser's Hill, book a place anywhere but at Pines Resort. The reviews were not exactly stellar and I must agree with all their complaints.

Gunung Nuang climb (via Janda Baik)

Gunung Nuang climb Ever since I climbed halfway up Gunung Nuang back in June, I have made it a mission to actually climb all the way to the peak some day. My chance came when my hiking buddies group (now known as Kereks) made plans to climb up the mountain via the Janda Baik route in Bentong, Pahang. You see, there’s two routes to go up Gunung Nuang — one the regular (and hard) Pangsun in Hulu Langat route and the other is the less difficult Janda Baik route. While the Hulu Langat route is easier to find the starting point, the Janda Baik route is slightly more difficult to find especially if you've never been there before (duh).

All seven of us had never actually tried going through the Janda Baik route so we spent about half an hour looking for the starting point. We can’t find any videos about it on YouTube and all the blogs were mostly vague about the starting location. So we did the next best thing and actually stopped and asked for directions (shocking, I know). We asked a few locals at first but they were not really helpful with the direction until we stopped by a restaurant next to ILMU, an UMNO training center near Janda Baik. This guy finally guided us to the right true path as we found the parking lot with the green fence next to a chalet near the starting point. The parking fee at the time of writing is RM7 per entry and the landlord also provided restrooms for the visitors within his parking lot. If you find the 7 ringgit fee to excessive, you could always park elsewhere near the starting point — further up along the road maybe but there’s no guarantee for you car’s safety. Yes there’s no guarantee even if you park inside the parking lot but at least the landlord could keep an eye on it from time to time.

From the parking lot you need to cross the first stream across the road. It’s a small stream, just a few steps across and I would advice you to take off your shoes if you don’t want them wet (duh again). I know some seasoned hikers wouldn't bother and would just wade across the stream but I prefer my shoes dry for the entire 7–8 hours duration of the hike so it’s all up to you. Next you will walk across 2 or 3 kilometers of vegetables or something farm before you actually enter the jungle at the foot of the hill. At the end of the farm there’s a few indigenous people’s homes and naturally some dogs guarding the entrance. The dogs are mostly friendly and wouldn't harm you if you leave them alone. Even if they started to bark you should just ignore them if their owners didn't shoo them away already.

A few hundred meters into the jungle you will find the second stream. Again, shoes off if you don’t want them wet. After that the ascend up Gunung Nuang will truly began, some quite steep, others not so steep but they’re all tiring and challenging nevertheless.To be honest, after nearly 10 mountains and hills, I find Nuang via Janda Baik to be quite a walk in the park (#humblebrag). If yo’ve climbed any mountains above 1,300 meters before you should find this one to be not any different. It’s true what they say, Gunung Nuang via Janda Baik is half as difficult than the Hulu Langat route. So if you want a real challenge, take that one. I can testify to that.

Anyway we reached the summit after 4 hours without much difficulty. There we meet several people who climbed from the opposite site. Strangely enough we met only another group of people who went along the Janda Baik trail and nobody else. Maybe because they many also didn't know where the starting point is. The view from the top of the mountain is beautiful but nothing spectacular maybe because of the haze or fog. But of course it’s not so much about the view but the climbing experience and knowing you fucking did it, climb Gunung Nuang — one of the highest peak in the state.

After resting for about an hour including lunch, we started our descend. It was already dark and cloudy by then (2:30 pm) so it’s no surprise when it poured halfway down the mountain. We got our raincoats out and all but to our bewilderment the rain didn't last more than 20 minutes or so. Unfortunately it was enough to make our path all muddy and slippery and just like Bukit Kutu we had to thread carefully not to slip and land ourselves in a muddy mess. Of course a few people did slip and fell down, especially the newbies but we had to be really sporting and not laugh (much) and encourage them to get up and go again.

On the way back we stopped by the second stream that we passed earlier to have and dip and rest for a while. Nothing like soaking in the icy cold mountain water after a hot and tiring hike. I must do that more often in the future.

Hiking to Gunung Nuang via Janda on average should take no more than 7 to 8 hours for the return trip. But that’s if everybody’s fit and had hiked regularly before. For this trip we had one or two newbies who haven’t done much climbing before so we had to patiently wait for them to catch up with everybody else. I being the de facto sweeper in the group had to make sure that nobody is left behind or strayed away from the group. Yes they are times that I wish they would buckle up or go faster but I had to bear in mind that they've not done this sort of long and tiring hiking much before so I gave them nothing but my backing and encouragement. Everybody started as a hiking noob before so you just can’t look down on newbies because we we are once were.

However as a result, our supposed 7 to 8 hours hike ended being 11 hours long including another hour in the rain towards the end. It was already dark by the time we reached the vegetables farm and there was raining again and there were lightning and thunder in the sky and I was literally praying that we didn't get struck by lightning or anything. Scary stuff. Thanks for my headlamp, we made it safely across the farm. Normally I wouldn't recommend walking in the open space during a thunderstorm but honestly I just wanna get out of there as fast as I can. The alternative is to stop under a tree which is just as risky. It is important that you come prepared for such trips. Headlamp, extra food, power bank for your phone and other emergency items. No matter how experienced or seasoned you think you are if you go into the jungle ill-prepared, you’ll only courting trouble. And like they say if shit can happen they will happen so be like a scout and come prepared.

Overall I would give Nuang via Janda Baik climb a moderately difficult rating. It’s not difficult at all if you’ve regularly hiked before. It should be a wee bit challenging if you’ve never tracked for more than 5–6 hours but it’s definitely do-able even for the worst of you. And in case you have no idea where the starting point is, I’ve made a little video on YouTube and Vimeo about our hike up Gunung Nuang with emphasis on the road leading to the starting point. Basically you have to make your way to the Genting Sempah R&R, turn left heading to Janda Baik and find this ILMU training institute. From there on you just go straight until you find the green fence on your left next to the chalet. One more thing, remember to stretch and de-strech properly before and after your hike. You don’t want to have sore knees, thighs or legs the day after. Yes you’ll probably feel a bit sore but it’ll be much worse without proper streching. Most importantly, avoid going on a Sunday if possible. You would want to have that extra day of rest after such a long and tiring hike, trust me on this.

Now that I’ve made it to Gunung Nuang via Janda Baik it is only natural that my next mission is to complete the Hulu Langat route. Maybe some time in the next few months cause I am going to Gunung Tahan in March ☺

Bukit Tabur Extreme climb

Bukit Tabur in Taman Melawati in Kuala Lumpur actually consists of five peaks namely Tabur West, East, Far East, Extreme and Extra. I have previously climbed Tabur East earlier this year early in the morning. My maiden climb of Tabur was quite challenging yet really satisfying that it sparked my interest of hiking and climbing numerous other hills and mountains afterwards. Having done that (climbed nearly a dozen hills), I always wanted to climb the remaining peaks of Bukit Tabur.

The opportunity comes when one of my good climbing buddies agreed to lead me and a few others climb Tabur Extreme. We started early in the morning as always, meaning to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately the rest of my hiking members that day came later than planned and they took quite some time eating breakfast in Melawati. When we finally arrived at the starting point it was already broad daylight.

Construction site leading to the starting point. Beware of noisy dogs!We found the starting point using Waze and it is located at a rapidly developing construction site at Jalan L5. We parked at little clearing next to a gated private property called Rimba Suci. Then we walked right accross the construction site and made our way to the starting point but not before passing a herd of a really noisy dogs, fortunately were barking behind a fence. I have no idea why the landowner had so many dogs. Maybe they were guarding the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets or something. From the ‘dog farm’, we passed a little hut where an elderly man lives all by himself (I presume). His shabby hut had no electricity and were no bigger than 4 square meter in size. It’s either he’s really poor or he’s living a really humble (hermit) life at the outskirts of the city.

After that we started our gradual climb to Tabur Extreme. It was decided that we would climb Tabur Far East first before continuing to Tabur Extreme since they were so close to each other. After what was like 15 minutes hike we reached the junction which separates the two peaks. To the right is Tabur Extreme and to the left is Tabur Far East.

It took us just another 15 minutes to reach the summit of Tabur Far East and the little patch of rock that we had to climb was relatively easy compared to Tabur East previously. Like Tabur East, the view from Tabur Far East was just as beautiful and breathtaking. We saw the Klang Gate dam on one side, Tabur East on another but unfortunately the Taman Melawati and KL city was hidden by some three shrubs on one side.

After hanging around for half an hour or so we proceeded to Tabur Extreme next door. The trail this other peak is much further away and slightly more challenging. The trail marker was almost none-existent and we actually missed the regular climbing point to the summit of Tabur Extreme and climbed the alternative route to the peak some 50 meters away. Still we reached the summit safe and sound and despite it’s name, Tabur Extreme was not as extreme as the name suggests. In fact I think just about anybody can make it to Tabur Extreme if they know the way there.

The return trip took slightly over an hour and although it rained for several minutes, we made it to the car park in one piece. After having lunch together at one of the stalls in Melawati we parted ways and ended our double hike to Tabur Far East and Extreme.

This short but educational hike taught me a few important things. I made two cardinal mistakes of hiking — not having/bringing enough food and not taking along spare clothes. In the beginning, somebody suggested that we cook some instant noodles at the peak hence why I didn’t bring anything to eat save for a pack of Maggi noodles. However when the person who was supposed to bring the stove cancelled so we were left stove-less. Not wanting to start hiking so soon after eating, I skipped breakfast and did not have anything that morning except for the two sausage buns I had an hour earlier. Naturally, I was quite hungry for most of the hike. And just my luck, the rest of my hiking buddies that day also didn’t bring any extra food save for a few Gardenia’s Delicia soft rolls and some peanuts.

The second mistake is to wear a long-sleeve t-shirt for hiking. I read in the blogs of people who’d been to Tabur Extreme, you may get scracthes on your hand and arms if you wear regular short sleeve t-shirt. They couldn’t be more wrong. I found out the hike to Tabur Extreme was no different than any other hikes that I’ve been and what you wear made little difference in term of protection. In fact, wearing long-sleeve t-shirts made me more hot and sweaty and pretty uncomfortable for much of the hike. And since I didn’t bring any spare shirt, I was stuck with it till the end.

Oh did I mentioned I was stung by a bee or wasp of some kind while on the way back? Lucky for me I didn't develop some kind of lethal allergic reaction to the sting or else it wouldn't be writing this right now. That's why if you happens to be seriously allergic to venom of any kind, get your first aid and medications ready. There's no telling what might happen there in the jungle.

Unlike my first hike up Tabur East, this time around I didn’t find Tabur Far East or even Extreme to be hard at all. Maybe perhaps I’ve had far more experience compared to last time thus it feels much easier this time around. The most important thing is to have an experienced guide, preferably somebody who’d been there before or at least someone really experienced to lead the way. It is also recommended that you do some research, read blogs or watch videos of people climbing any one of the peaks on YouTube to get some idea of what your journey would be like. Next prepare yourself with ample supplies such as food, water, spare clothes and rain coat. Finally while it is fun and exciting to climb, always be careful and vigilant while you’re at it especially in Bukit Tabur where almost a dozen lives had lost over the years. To get to the starting point which is located at the end of Jalan L5 in Taman Melawati refer to this Google Map.

Pine Tree & Twin Peak hike

For our next excursion, my hiking buddies and I scaled the Pine Tree trail in Fraser’s Hill in Pahang. As always we had to seek the favor of my sister in law who works and live in Bentong to look after our kids while we’re away. This time around, we had two fellow hikers Bazli and Shameer tagging along.

After a good night’s rest in Bentong, we left for Fraser’s Hill early in the morning. Early morning as in 6:30 am. Our mission was to have breakfast and pack some lunch for the long (and possibly arduous) journey. Which we did at a mamak in town. There’s no other shop open anyway and the nasi lemak stall doesn't open until later in the morning.

The trip from Bentong to Fraser took us slightly over an hour. First thing first on this release. I mean first thing first we reported to the Fraser Hill’s police station. Basically we just wrote down our names, address and other important details like emergency contact just in case. The nice police officer in charge asked where we’re going and briefed us a little bit about the trail. He related the story of a group of hikers who didn't bother to check in at the station and somehow got lost around Twin Peak. They had to call Bukit Aman who relayed the emergency call to the local police station. The local police had to call the fire and rescue service who came to rescue the hikers. So while checking in is perfectly voluntary and optional, it’s a good practice just in case.

Armed with the little map that the officer gave us, we find our way to High Pines road past a place called Mallaig. Soon we found the landmark that everybody kept saying, the TM Resthouse (resort?) which is located just before the entrance to Pines Tree Trail. You can park your car outside TM Resthouse or a little bit nearer just outside Sri Pertahanan — a guest house for the ministry of defence staffs I presume. When we got there there’s no other car in sight, meaning that people rarely come there or we just came earlier than everybody at 9:15 am.

The first 200 meters of the hike was pretty straightforward and flat. It is immediately after that everything started going mostly downhill and then uphill. We knew exactly there and then that this is going to be a tiring hike because after so many descend we certainly are going to go up again if not immediately, later during the return trip. But that’s hiking for you. We didn’t exactly expect it to be a walk in the park, did we?

We reached the peak of Pine Tree Hill about 2 and a half hours later which is pretty quick by our standard. The police officer earlier said it should take 8 to 10 hours return trip from the entrance to Twin Peak and back so getting to Pine Tree Hill in less than 3 hours is a feat by itself. Anyway it was lucky that we had Bazli and Shameer along because we could have totally missed the path leading to the peak had we traveled solo. The two boys had never been here before but they did a little bit of research before about the area. I suppose it’s partly my fault cause I didn’t do enough research to find out where the peak is or watch some YouTube video of previous hikers. While the trail to Pine Tree Hill is clearly marked and straightforward, there were hardly any signboard or the usual red and white plastic trail markers that we usually find. That’s why if you haven’t been here before, I would highly recommend that you do your research first or better still, bring somebody experienced along.

Oh yes, before the final assault to the peak, we had to climb these rocks which looks pretty scary especially for newbies. I must commend my wife who carried on and didn’t chicken out during the climb.

At 1448 meters, Pine Tree Hill is one of the highest hills that I’ve climbed together with Twin Peak at 1507 meters. Despite the height, the climate is pretty warm just like any other place that we’ve hiked in the country. There’s no need for warm jackets and stuff, just a regular t-shirt will do because you’ll be drenched in sweat anyway in the end. Actually since Fraser’s Hill itself is already 1,000 meters above sea level, we actually had to hike about 500 meters more to reach the peak. But if we include the 10 kilometers trail of ups and down, it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds.

This way to Pine Tree hill

We hanged around Pine Tree Hill peak for 20 minutes or so before proceeding to the Twin Peak hill next door. In spite of the name, there’s not a single pine tree around and my guess is the hill got it’s name from the High Pine road that precede the entrance, that’s all. The view from the peak is quite pretty if not remarkable. At least we get a 360 view of the surrounding unlike Gunung Tok Wan before. That said, we got fog covering half our view which is the norm around these parts. Again we noticed there’s not a single signboard stating where we were or are we even at the right peak. None of those signboards that showed we reached the summit and the height of the hill whatsoever. It is only later when we compared our pictures with those on the blogs that we can confirm that we did reach the peak.

From Pine Tree to Twin Peak is 45 minute’s hike and this is where it get’s interesting. The track is covered by mud in several places and the trail forks out a few times though there’s still some plastic markers visible though not prominently. The view from Twin Peak is even more beautiful than Pine Tree and we spend more time there resting, having our packed lunch and just enjoying the view. Again we were the only one around. I half expected a few people reaching the peak before us like I used to in other hills and mountains. You hike alone with your group, not spotting a single person along the way and suddenly there’s a dozen people before you at the peak. Not here at Pine Tree and Twin Peak though.

Now the return journey really tested our resolve. Little that we knew it’s gonna be that though. Bazli and Shameer being about a decade younger than us, breezeed through the trail like they just don’t care. I could argue that I was slowed down by my wife but the truth is I was just as exhausted as her for the return trip. There were so many uphill climb not to mention steps to take that a few times I wondered out loud “what the hell am I doing here?”. That’s normal I guess when you’re a little bit fatigued and there’s no ending in sight. Your four hour return hike felt like an eternity.

While some people hated the sight of these artificial steps, I beg to differ. I think they’re god-sent. At least they’re sturdy and not mud-ridden like some of the paths we travelled earlier. You don’t like the steps take a hike through another route. At least upon seeing the steps, we were somewhat relieved that the ending/entrance won’t be far ahead.

At around 5:00 pm and 8 hours of hiking, my wife and I finally reached the entrance of the trail. Bazli and Shameer arrived an hour earlier (kids). We expected it to rain some time during the end of our hike and despite the slightly dark clouds in the sky, the rain didn’t come until a few hours later. Maybe we’re just lucky because it poured the day before.

We had a late lunch at the food court area near Pine Tree road before returning to Bentong. Remember to report back to the little police station before you leave or else they’d be sending a rescue party to find you. Pine Tree hill and Twin Peak was quite an experience for us. Overall I would rate it as moderately tough. Expect to walk for 10 kilometers in about 8 to 10 hours. Expect rain and muddy paths. Get ready for multiple ascend and descend down the stairs and hill slope. Prepare yourself for a long and tiring journey. Although I felt like no more hiking anytime soon after finishing this one, I’m sure I’m gonna miss hiking again a few weeks later, as always.

View Larger Map

For this trip I get to test the My Track app from Google. It basically tracks my hike and every other relevant information like speed, distance, altitude and elevation. Pretty nifty app for every hikers out there to record their journey. And it doesn’t use much power too, just 40% for my 4 hours hike.

One thing I noticed in this and my other hiking trips is how most woman have an exceptionally large bladder because they didn’t stop to pee even once even after a 6–8 hours hike. Seriously I had to pee at least once during that time or else I’d feel really uncomfortable. Maybe they’d rather hold it than to let it go in front (or near) other guys but really, that can’t be healthy.