Going down was fun. Despite it being tiresome on the knees, it was still treacherous and slippery. One still has to pay careful attention to 'not fall down' like a humpty dumpy on the way down. As we retreat to home base, we trekked along the sides of a river. The gradient was up and down, meaning several streams joined the main river by the sides. With a drop of at least 60-70 degrees at some points, it was fascinating to see nature at its works. Streams pour little droplets of water into little rivers, that led to the rapids.
We crossed a couple of rivers. The first required us to get wet, where a log was available but no very feasible to cross. Thankfully, experienced Orang Asli's were available to help. Next up, we had to cross a wide body rapids at its shallow grounds. Through my experience crossing it, I've learnt the darker areas or non-sand colored areas may lead to deeper and un-crossable areas. In the end, I crossed the river while barely wetting my undergarments! Damn...
Soon, we reached the final river, where we had some much needed soaking in the otherwise clear river water. Sitting at the rocks, I could simply feel the impacts of nature's acts that allow the forest to be as alive as it could be. The final leg was to trek to the home base, aka the Orang Asli Village, whew, I thought it was a short one! No it's not, I was a little long and a little too warm.
Next, we hopped on the 4WD, a 3 hour ride to Lasah. Despite getting sun burned and the bum of the hood, the ride was memorable and fascinating. On the way, we passed some other villages and a logging farm. Despite nature's efforts to grow, mankind and Nature will continue to have its hands here and there. Mankind rely on logging for hardwood for construction, buildings, furnitures and products. Nature builds as it goes, generating more oxygen with every tree grown. Thus, it is important to strike a balance between using and overusing nature to its fullest.
We washed up (except me, a long story) and we set off to Dinner. Ipoh Hor Fun, BeanSprouts, Salted Chicken, Fish balls and Meat Balls with Soup. An hour of shopping was given, and we set off to the comforts of daily life, our home, Singapore.
A pleasant journey indeed. A mountain conquered is one down of many. Many more to go, I'd say. Till then.. 😀
The sky was beautiful. With the cool wind brushing across my face, cool evening temperatures were starting to fall. The journey down was slippery and at some places, dangerous. As it was getting cold, I put on my windbreaker, the only extra layer I had at that point of time. At many times, I stop to admire the amazing scenery I came to, and the vast greatness of the mountain region. Evening was truly beautiful.
Led by our trusty Orang Asli, well let's call him Abang (brother in Malay), Abang let me through even the toughest terrain even though he wore only slippers and shorts. It was nightfall. I handled my headlamp to him so he could lead the way. Surely we'll understand each other through sign language and simple words. On the way down, he made sure I followed closely and showed me where to hold, where to be careful at. Great guide indeed.
At the last quarter of the way down, we were joined by Abang's bros where we were led to the only river crossing we had, near base camp. As we got near the river, the gushing of water and the familiar lights of our team members gave me a sense of relieve as we were near base camp. The current was swift, yet shallow enough for me to cross. Soon after, I reached base camp, accompanied by the team leader.
Cold and tired, I was grateful to be given a cup of hot milo as I sat and untied my wet boots. Thanks Robin! After a quick wash up, I proceeded inside, where dinner was served. Damn, I needed it. Canned curry, Sardines, omelette eggs, long beans and white rice were reheated for us. Hot, satisfying food was a welcoming sight away from the troubles of the day.
The night ended early that night. Thinking back, the forest was beautiful. The forest had a gradual change in temperature as we got higher, where tree trunks grew thinner as we neared the top. Mission Accomplished I would say.
We started our ascend to Gunung Ulu Sepat around 8.30am. Hyped up and refuelled with purified river water, we begin walking to the peak. The first obstacle, shallow rapids with a log across. I could walk across, or simply step through the water. However, the thought of stepping across and soiling my shoes for the rest of the journey didn't seem very appealing. I chose the other. Next, the route took us up and up and up and up. On the way, we came through a huge tree, the largest I've seen so far. With steep gradient that shared similarities to huge steps, undergrowths that made us go on all-fours to crawl, slither and climb up the mountain. We finally made it to a false peak, before making into a window in the forest. In the forest, tall tropical equatorial trees reach up onto the canopy to get the best cover.
Near the forest ground, a barrage of overgrown roots, slippery granite rocks and parts of muddy grounds was spread out over the entire route. The window gave us a glimpse into the vast areas of the mountain range. As cloud float over the horizon, trees swayed as the wind bellowed through the forest. A sense of peace and calmness greeted us as we walked across the window.
At the final stretch, the journey was arduous and grueling. 60 - 90 degree upward climbs made climbing slow and precarious. At one point, a fallen tree made way for a large ravine which created a natural ladder all the way up - and that was not just it. Boulders and fallen trees created huge steps that required us to climb up on all fours. Somehow rather, ignoring our fears and overcoming it. I felt stronger and more resilient with every step accomplished.
'30 more minutes' was the constant answer to 'How far more?' to the top. In fact, it was difficult to gauge the top, yet again judge how long more. The weather was even evolving as we neared the summit, temperatures fall below 15 degrees with a gentle breeze. Below the summit, the forest was mossy and cool. Despite its super muddy grounds, the mossy forest was green and felt like heaven. Albeit it being slightly creepy, the mossy forest was alive with fresh air and made walking through as cooling as possible. The journey to the top was cool and saddening to see my crisp timberland boots sinking into the Nutella colored mud, knee deep. Damn...
The summit was a flat, a 'botak' head with several bushes around. As with other summits, the summit had placeboards that displayed the height, and landmark of the summit. Gunung Ulu Sepat, you had been tough, but fun, and muddy 😁 At 7000ft, I stand tall but tired amidst the hovering clouds below. The sense of achievement and the everlasting feels of cool air brushing across my face felt like eternity. I could spend ages at the top, but it was time to head down. And so we did.
(Day 0-1) / The trip to Gunung Ulu Sepat was organised by Adventure Village. Led by team leader Robin Wong, the team of 25 experienced and literally un-experienced hikers gathered and set off to the adventure in the mountainous regions of Ipoh, Perak. The plan was to bus to Ipoh, have breakfast then take a 4 wheel drive to the Orang Asli Village where we'll start our hike to base camp. The next day, we'll ascend and descend in a day before departing the mountain range on the third day.
The team gathered at 8.30pm at Woodlands MRT station, before boarding our private bus bound for Ipoh. Departing at 9pm, the journey to Ipoh was an overnight one. In spite of the several stops we made along the trip, we reached Ipoh around 6am in the morning. Breakfast was held at the famous Dim Sum place. Damn that was nice!
Next, the bus drove us to a Mosque in Lasah, we then boarded 4WD to take us to the Orang Asli Village deep in the mountain range. Taking over 3 hours, the drive took us over bumpy terrain and logging routes where there were still signs of logging activities.
The Orang Asli village was clean, large and spacious. Despite my assumptions on the Orang Asli living in squatter houses, they actually live in proper elevated bamboo houses with slightly modern facilities. For example, some houses feature satellite dishes outside while most houses have zinc plate roofs. With running water and proper areas for play, living and transportation, the village was far from what i imagined.
We ate our lunch and prepared for the trip into the mountain range. Led by a few Orang Asli guides, and Uncle Ming (Our forest guide), we set off into the mountain range. The route was muddy and slippery. As the gradient was constantly heading upwards, the weather gradually improved too. We crossed many stream and rivers, and walked and walked for about 5 hours, before reaching our base camp.
The route took us upriver, on steps along the rapids and steep slopes up and down hills as we crossed streams. With weathered paths and the lush tropical rainforest, the forest was alive with activity from all areas. With deadfalls and overgrown roots, fallen trees and rock boulders to cross, the journey was eventful indeed. The last part was completed with a slight drizzle.
Base camp was a pretty and welcoming sight. Warm milo and cosy interiors greeted us when we reached the hut. The hut was slightly elevated with bamboo interiors. Despite the cold weather in the open, the hut was warm from the fire lighted within, where dinner is prepared. As I settled down and took off dirted clothing, I found myself aside the fire, slowly absorbing the heat while sipping some warm Milo. One word, shiok.
Base camp was beautiful too. Outdoor toilets were a 3 minute walk away, where the shit-hole was against a slope. Simple - Just shit and cover with your toilet papers. The wash area was a 5 minute downslope away at the shallow rapids. Running water from the river was available near to the hut, where the water color was yellow in color. Soon, dinner was served. Dinner was Stir Fried Long Beans, Salted Chicken, Omelette eggs and a whole lot of white rice - cooked perfectly.
After dinner, we had an early rest. The night was beautiful. As i headed out for a toilet break, the vast amount of stars were so much that I found myself bathing in awesomeness. Damn.. I'm not kidding. It's just like the opening in Star Wars!