Bukit Gasing trail

Before Bukit Tabur, Bukit Gasing was my first ever hiking trail that I tried. Situated on the border of Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Gasing is the perfect setting to hike, walk or stroll. The trail is quite easy to follow although there's about a dozen path you can choose from. This forest reserve is great for first timers or beginners to try hiking or some basic climbing.

Getting to Bukit Gasing forest reserve is pretty straight forward. Just head on to Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya and enter the affluent housing area and look for this little archway which marks the entrance to the trail and forest reserve.

The place gets quite crowded during weekends and parking space is very limited so it would be a good idea to come early during those times.

The first 100 meters of the trail is well kept and on one part paved with a short path of reflexology stones. There's also a small hut near the entrance where you can rest your tired legs or just hang around in the park.

After that, the trail basically turned into dirt and in some parts mud. If this is you first time here, you could easily get disoriented or confused where to go. It would be good if you can get somebody familiar with the trail to lead the way. If not, don't worry because the place is literally overrun with people on weekends so you can just follow somebody or ask around for directions.

The best route you can take is by hiking to the watch tower and then proceed to the hanging bridge. From the hanging bridge you can walk a little bit further up the hill before making your way back to where you came from.

To get to the watch tower, walk about 300 meters from the entrance and look out for these signboards. Turn left over a little bridge and go up the stairs.

This little watch tower is the feature landmark of Bukit Gasing. From up there you'll see a scenic view of the surrounding jungle and some buildings and transmission tower on top of the hill. Excuse the excessive graffiti  inside the watch tower though.

The hanging bridge built over a little stream there is another landmark that you might want to visit. The bridge can only hold a limited number of people at one time so make sure there's a safe gap with you and the person in front of you.

If you are the adventurous type, you can stray off the beaten path and find your way to the little stream running through the forest reserve. The water looks crystal clear and fresh enough but not knowing where it came from, I'd advise against drinking it (LOL as if anyone would).

During my visit, it was on a weekday and there's hardly any other people around. Therefore I simply boldly go wherever my feet took me. In the end my feet took me over 8 kilometers of walking and hiking, covering almost every part of the forest reserve including a water plant at the far end of the park. I literally let myself get lost in that little jungle.

Bukit Gasing was formerly a rubber plantation that was abandoned for 50 years. During that period, nature has overtaken the hillsides to produce a lush secondary forest brimming with woody herbs and large tropical trees.

Apart from insects (and a lot of mosquitoes) there's not much animals to see or find in Bukit Gasing. I was (lucky?) to chance upon a black snake on my hike there which I hope is not poisonous or anything. The snake was all to eager to avoid any contact with humans it seems because it clearly ran away upon my arrival.

Surrounded by the nation's capital and the bustling urban center of Petaling Jaya, Bukit Gasing is slowly encroached by development. On the Kuala Lumpur side of the forest reserve, I found the hill being actively cleared for some residency of commercial development. I'm sure they are probably private land but still, one has to ponder how long this invaluable forest reserve would last.

In scale of difficulty, I would rate Bukit Gasing 5 out of 10. The forest reserve clearly lacks adequate signage or some form of direction communications. Getting lost in the forest reserve is although distinct, is still a real possibility because there's so many paths to choose from. The hike itself is not that hard or really challenging unless you're not so active or led a healthy lifestyle. It does tests your stamina going up, down and around the forest reserve.

I saw people from all ages came to visit Bukit Gasing and it should be a good place for beginners who's about to embark on the world of hiking and the outdoors in general. My advice is to come early, bring sufficient water supply (one 1.5 liter water minimum) and always be on the move to avoid being bitten by the merciless mosquitoes. Seriously, if you stand still for more then 5 seconds, you'll be swarmed with mosquitoes.

Compared to other hiking trails that I've been, there's not so much panoramic views or scenery to enjoy at Bukit Gasing unless you really like trees. Still since it's conveniently located in the urban area and easily accessible, the place is really quite popular with city folks. After the hike, I would recommend you freshen up at Raju's just round the corner from the main street of Jalan Gasing. I heard the roti canai is marvelous there.

The workshop by the cemetary

Flat tyres are among the top most dreaded thing to a motorcyclist. Apart from riding in the rain, running out of gas or breaking down in the middle of nowhere. About 5 miles from work today I had a flat tyre. There's not much I can do except carry on riding slowly while trying hard to balance the wobbly bike. Riding that way during peak morning traffic rush is no easy feat I assure you. Still I made it safe and sound to work and clocked in just in time.

After work comes the cumbersome job of getting my flat tyre fixed. Previously I had to ride it anyway flat and all to the nearest workshop in downtown Jalan Pudu. That was before I found out about the make-shift illegal workshop at the back of the school by the cemetery.

When I got there in the pouring rain, the workshop owner was sound asleep covered with cardboard blanket. I could sense that he was half irritated by my presence rather than welcoming a potential business prospect. Grudgingly putting away his cardboard blankets and rearranging the place a little, he then casually went to a corner of the cemetery, unzipped his flies and took a leak on somebody else's ancestor.

Don't expect pit-stop style efficiency or speed, this ah pek took his own sweet time to fix my bike. My urgency is the last thing on his mind. Occasionally he would remark how my tyre is all cracked up and in dire need of replacement. Next he would suggest I take his second hand tyres which cost as much as a new set of tyres. If I wanna change my tyres I'd rather get a brand new fucking tyres elsewhere not at his stinking shop. Still he managed to convince me to change for a larger size tube for slightly more. I just want him to stop nagging me so I agreed. That is not the first time he tried this trick and it won't be the last. There's always something more wrong with my bike and he'll try to up sell everything.

I guess in one way I should be thankful that he's even there. On the other hand, the way he's tried to rip me off every time is really annoying. You get some you lose some.

Next time I'm going to invest in a decent tubeless tyres so that I don't have to put up with this kind of shit again.

Bukit Tabur east climb

I've got a confession to make. I'm addicted to hiking and climbing. The thing about hiking is, you just can't do it alone. You must have a buddy or a group to tag along. Lucky for me I've got a fellow hiking/climbing enthusiast at work. He's been actively participating in outdoor activities for quite some time now and I must admit I am quite envious of him (in a good way that is).

So a few weeks ago I asked him to bring me somewhere for a little bit of hiking and climbing and he suggested Bukit Tabur in nearby Taman Melawati. Reading the news and reviews only Bukit Tabur sounded like a pretty dangerous and difficult place to climb but that doesn't dampen my resolve to climb it anyway.

From a two man journey, it turned into a 6 person trip when my friend Syiaful asked some of his climbing buddies to join as well. I like how we organize this climb. Ask anybody on Facebook if they want to come and tell them to turn up at Taman Melawati at 5:00-ish in the morning. Simple as that, no fuss, no fees, no bs.

I set my alarm clock for 4:00 am that Saturday morning to make the 5:00 am rendezvous time. By 5:30, we were already at the foot of the Tabur east hill and began our hike. Unlike Tabur west, we didn't need no permit to enter the hill. Besides, I doubt nobody will there to bother you at 5:30 in the morning.

The climb up to Tabur east peak took about one hour. There were 5 guys and girl. Most of the participants are experienced hikers and climbers including one Ah Tong, a professional mountaineer who has been to some of the highest mountain peaks around Asia. I was so lucky to have him around and learnt a lot of tips and advice on climbing.

Climbing in the dark is somewhat more difficult than during the day, especially for a challenging hill like Bukit Tabur. I had my torch light ready but for some of those rocky patch, I had to hold the light with my teeth so that my hands are free to climb. It's probably a good idea to get a decent head lamp for my next trip.

That said, climbing in the dark is also much faster since I can't see anything much except for the trees and rocks in front of you. In a way, it's much easier to climb in the dark since you can't see how difficult the terrain is up ahead and your mind is focused only on the route in front of you.

After 50 minutes or so we finally reached the peak of Tabur east, after stopping a few times to catch our breath and admire the magnificent view of Taman Melawati. Our initial plan was to catch the glorious sunrise at the peak but it was just not our day. The sky was cloudy all morning, in fact it began to rain while we started to descend down the peak. So no sunrise for us today. Still the view and panorama from the hill's peak was absolutely stunning and gorgeous even without the sun. It makes all the hardship we endure during the climb more than worth it.

We hung around on top of the hill for 30 minutes or so before making our way down. The descend downhill was much harder than the climb. Probably because for once I can see the route up ahead and how difficult it is. It's all psychological I think.

About 80% of our climb that day was land and trees with the rest are rocky and sharp boulders which are quite a challenge to climb (up or down). The boulders were hard but they're not impossible and even beginners like me who had no prior experience of rock climbing before should be able to do them without much difficulties. If I can do it, I should think most people can do it. It's all about your determination and resolve.

We took a completely different route for our descent downhill which was much easier than the climb. Still, since it drizzled a little, the slopes was wet and slippery and you can forget about keeping your shoes clean. Ah Tong said it's dangerous to climb anything during the rain. The ground is slippery as well as the rock. If it rains, you might as well pack your bag and go home and try again another day according to him.

We reached the foot of the hill at around 8:00 am and come out among some big ass bungalows in Taman Melawati. We stopped by a mamak nearby to have our breakfast and a little chit chat before parting ways. I learnt a lot from my first serious climb up Bukit Tabur. How to dress properly (shorts, not track bottom), get a proper head lamp, eat something before you climb to the secret climber's hand shake (there are such thing!).

Bukit Tabur may sound dangerous or difficult to some if you only read the blogs or news about the recent mishap and accidents. For me, honestly, they are not that hard provided you have an experience guide to guide you. Experienced as in someone who had been there before a few times or somebody with years of climbing experience. I was lucky to have a couple of them during my last trip there. And respect nature and the environment. No fooling around or doing daring pose on top of the rocks. One wrong step and you might fall down the rocky ledge and end up as a statistic for tragedy at Bukit Tabur.

The climb is moderately hard but the reward is truly worth it. You get to see the entire Klang Gate dam or reservoir up to Genting Highland on one side and the entire Taman Melawati and the Kuala Lumpur skyline on the other. Like Mandela said, it always seems impossible until it's done.

Alright Syiaful bring on the next rock!