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.