It was raining and the temperature was below 20 degree Celsius. I was in the tent, enjoying a plate of rice boiled with a lot Chinese sausages, mushrooms, and also unchopped garlic. Other than rice, we also had some Brahim curry chicken and also cucumbers. It was cooked by my dad and Edvin. At last, I am right on top of the summit of Mount Benum that is located in Raub, Pahang. But, the ‘horror’ had not ended. I am only half way. I had to descend the mountain the next day. As for now, I could relax my mind and enjoy the cool weather and the view from Mount Benum in the night.
A day ago, 29 August 2009, my family and I woke up at 4.15 in the early morning. After a lovely breakfast at Sungai Klau town, we took the 4*4s to the base of the mountain. The 4*4 ride was very bumpy but enjoyable for me. The base of the mountain is 630 meters above see level.
The climb started.We walked for a short while before making our first river crossing near the Lata Berembun waterfall. The water level was knee deep but the slippery rocks added to the challenge of crossing the river. After the river crossing, we were all walking along a cliff. After some time we came to the side of a river where we took a short break and had a drink and some food. On that day, we crossed two rivers. During the second river crossing, Dr. Wong slipped and his Nikon DSLR took a brief dip into the river. Thank God, his camera was functioning well except there was condensation in his lens.
The gradient became steeper. At that time, I was carrying a 12kg backpack. It wasn’t heavy for me as I had been training at Apek Hill with a 15kg backpack. At 2.00 p.m, we had a break for lunch. Some of us including me ate ‘char siew’ rice for lunch. I would not forget how delicious the rice was at that time although the rice was already cold. The lunch I had gave me back the strength I needed for the trek to the last water point and further on.
At 2.00 in the evening, my mom, younger brother, Dr. Wong and I arrived at the last water point junction (1293 meters above see level) to find Stanley, our guide and other hikers from MOTHs already filled their bottles with water. I went down to the water point that was located less than 5 minutes from the junction. The water source there was pretty clean. It was actually a small stream. The water is light yellow orangy in colour but it did not taste bad.
At 3.00pm, we left the last water point with 2 days of water supply. The sky was getting dark and threatening to rain. We all hope that it won’t rain as it would be more difficult to walk in the rain. The climb from that time onwards till camp bulat was more challenging. Why was it more challenging? It was because I was carrying a 19kg backpack!!! Never had I tried carrying such a heavy load on my back, not even during training. Another reason was that the trail became steeper and steeper and even steeper. At some points during the climb that evening, I had to use your hands to get myself up. To reach Bulat camp, I had to trek through a few small hills. The worst part of the climb was that I had to scramble either up and over or down fallen trees. There were uncountable amount of fallen trees along the trail I took during the 3 days.
After 3 hours of trekking (6.00p.m), I reached Bulat Camp (1735 meters above see level). Again, Stanley and about 10 hikers had reached the campsite and set up their flysheets and groundsheets for that night. They claimed to have reached there 1 hour before us, 5.00p.m. The campsite there was very small and could barely accommodate more than 20 campers. My younger brother and I went around the area to find a space for our 2, 4 men tent as there was no longer space for us to set our tent. We found a big enough space in the middle of the trail to set out tents.
For dinner that night, we had ‘ba cang’ that we brought up that day. At about 8.30 in the night, we had moon cakes for supper accompanied by 2 cans of Carlsberg beer and hot tea. Carlsberg?? Yes, I brought two cans of beer to be enjoyed at the summit of Mount Benum. Sadly, I couldn’t afford to carry it up to the summit.After supper, we slept at 9.30p.m. I curdled into my sleeping bag for that night to keep myself warm. It wasn’t really cold that night, though.
The next morning, I woke up to the smell of fried luncheon meat…. My dad and Dr. Wong had woke up earlier to get breakfast ready. I ate luncheon meat with squash bread (thanks to Edvin for carrying 3 loafs of bread up and also squashing it for us). We had hot Milo and Coffee that morning. My dad and I prepared two bottles of hot coffee that would be drank during the hike. For me, coffee is a very good drink to boost my energy. During my attempt to create a personal best time for trekking up Mount Nuang, I took a bottle of coffee with me. I would consume a gulp or two when I feel tired.
At 10.20a.m in on the 30 August, 2009, we started trekking from Bulat Camp to the Summit of Mount Benum. Again, we had to climb up and down many hills before reaching the summit. My bag was about 16kg that day. The hike on the second day was not difficult. We reached the summit (2113 meters above see level) at 4.00 in the evening. Fortunately, the campsites are the summit was very big and could accommodate more that 20 campers without a problem. Once at the summit, we set up our 2 tents. This time, we placed a ground sheet and flysheet across the 2 tents so that we could cook in the rain. After about 45 minutes, it started to rain heavily. My dad with Edvin cooked rice with mushroom and Chinese sausages for dinner. Sadly, it didn’t turn out well. The rice was mushy but the core of the rice was still hard. We ate the rice with cucumbers and Brahim curry chicken.
The sun set and the rain had stopped, but the wind started to blow…. [To be continued]