I shifted this article back to my blog.
‘Venu! Venu!’, I shouted to get Venu’s attention. He was now about 5 meters ahead of me. Seconds ago, I was fine and enjoying the hike except being irritated by a leech which had hooked itself onto my leg. How irritating leeches can be… I got some ‘Tiger Balm’ from Venu who was in front of me and applied it onto the leech to get it off my leg. The leech unhooked itself and dropped onto the ground at once. I returned the ‘Tiger Balm’ and continued walking. I placed my left leg onto a slippery rock and off I go, down a 1 meter cliff. The fall was so fast. The next second, I was down right at the edge of a river. My brain literally restarted.. Like a computer recovering from a system error. After shouting for help, Venu rushed over to me. The first thing he asked me was, ‘are you hurt’. I did not feel any pain at that time. But when I look at my left elbow, it was bruised.
Venu helped me take off my bag and I got off slowing up the trail again. I didn’t have the strength to get up with my 14kg bag after the fall. My whole body was filled with dirt after the fall; my body ached a little at that time. I wore my bag again and started walking. After walking for a while, I realized that my vision wasn’t very good. Then only did I realize that I lost my spectacles during the fall.
A few hours ago, I was in the car on the way to Ipoh. The traffic situation was bad. At some point, my dad could pull the hand brakes. Appling hand brakes on the highway? Yeah, it’s the eve of Hari Raya. Everyone was either going back to their hometown or going off for a relaxing holiday. How about us? Speechless…
After a few hours, we reached Ipoh at about 6.15a.m and headed for dim sum. This time, we ate at Ming Court. We enjoyed a good breakfast there. After breakfast, some of the hiking members of this hiking trip to Mount Korbu and Mount Gayong gathered and drove off to Ulu Kinta Dam.
Mount Korbu (2184m) is the second highest mountain in west Malaysia and mount Gayong (2173m) is the 4th highest mountain in Malaysia. Both the peaks are located very near to each other near Ipoh, Perak. Recently, during Hari Raya, a group of hikers from MOTH group ascended both the mountains in a 4 days 3 nights expedition.
Upon reaching the dam, we got ourselves. We hopped onto 20 over motorcycles which were ridden by the Orang Asli in that area. No worry about the rough ride as the road is tarred. At some point, the orang asli who carried me there stopped for a while for me to take some photos. After about 5 to 10 minutes I reached the foot of the mountain.
At 10.15 that morning, the hike started. Venu and I walked together ahead as we were having the tents for our inner group. The start of the hike was easy with a slight gradient up for about 10 mins before reaching a big rock that make the hike a little tricky. The rock was slippery so we had to slowly find our way over it. It took 30 minutes for the whole group of 25 hikers to pass through it. After some time trekking by a cliff (11.40a.m), we reached the 1st river crossing. The river wasn’t deep neither is the current strong. We crossed without any difficulty. After the first river crossing, I remembered Stanley, our guide, using a parang to clear some overgrowth.
We continued trekking on the side of a cliff, crossing multiple rivers, getting attack by ‘tiger leeches’, and at some point, sliding and falling down. We were given a clear warning on the ‘many many river crossings’ that we had to make before reaching Seroja Camp which was 4 hours of walk from the foot of the mountain. Some hikers even used the word ‘manies’ to describe how much rivers we will have to cross. For the first day, I wore scandals while other hikers wore hiking shoes and ‘adidias kampung’ ( the rubber shoe where rubber tappers used to wear.) The reason why some of us wore sandals and ‘adidas kampung’ is that because these footwear give us better traction on those slippery rocks by the river.
At a point of hiking, we got confused and lost for a moment. There was a landslide near the track and the whole area was cleared. We thought that was the way before reaching a dead end. After a short time, we found our way.
At 12.20, it started to rain. When it rained, everything changes in the jungle. The ground became muddy and soft, slippery than ever, the water level in the river rose, we became wet (nobody wanted to wear a raincoat as it will be very hot and stuffy), and also, more leeches will hunt you down for your ‘tasty’ blood.
I have never experience walking in the rain during a long climbing expedition. The only time it rained during my many climbing trip was in Mount Nuang. (Highest mountain in Selangor) I will not talk about that incident here. At 1.10, we crossed the 6th river and had our lunch in the rain. My family, Venu, KG, Edwin, Jason a.k.a Camel, KL Chan and I had ‘char siew pau’ and also ‘tai pow’ bought from the infamous ‘Foh San’ Dim Sum restaurant for lunch. The rest of the hikers had their own biscuit, rice and etc.
After lunch, we continued walking in the rain up a long and steep slope before I felt an itch on my leg and found 2 leeches sucking my blood away. My brother and my dad helped me remove those two slimy blood suckers away. We continued trekking in silence; no one talked or said a single word. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Why am I here doing this? ‘.Suddenly, I heard, ‘I must force myself to like what I am doing’. I looked upwards; Danny was in front of me. I smiled to myself. Later, Danny began singing the ‘Discovery Channel’ theme song in his own version of lyrics.
After some time, it began raining lightly then stopped. We crossed two more rivers and reached Seroja Camp at perfectly 2.30p.m. I couldn’t believe that we had reached. I thought that it would be way longer than that. Seroja Camp is located next to a river at 781 meters above sea level. The campsite is very big and could fit all of us perfectly well. There is a hut next to the river. But, please be very careful of leeches! There is abundance of leeches in Seroja campsite, especially ‘tiger leeches’!
All of us set up our tents before it began to rain again. We wanted to wash ourselves but the river was murky as it just rained. The rain must have either cause a landslide near the river or soil must have been washed into the river. We waited till in the evening when the water is clearer. When the sun began to set, the mist came in and covered the campsite. It was so beautiful… like a fantasy.
That night, we had rice dumplings from Petaling Street and some hot drinks. We all slept by 10.00 that night. As the day after would be a very tough climb up to Mount Korbu summit at 2183 meters above sea level. It means, we had to ascend 1400 meters on the next day itself. At that time, I wondered how we would do that in a day with a full backpack.
It was now 20 September, 2009 at 9.00a.m. We had dismantled the tents and packed all our stuff in to our backpacks already. My backpack wasn’t heavy that morning. If I am correct, it weighed only 13kg.
Most of the hikers have left for Mount Korbu summit about 5 minutes ago. My family, Venu and I were the last few who left Seroja Camp. Nevertheless, Brendan (my younger brother) and I were among the front pack of 25 hikers after Kijang Camp. After hiking for one and a half hour, crossing a few streams, river and also passing through a waterfall, we reached Kijang Camp. From what I saw, Kijang camp was littered with rubbish and leftovers all over the ground. Someone even found someone’s solid waste 4 inches away from the river. Yesterday, 2 groups hiked up to Kijang camp and camped there.
We rested for a while and continued hiking up a steep and long slope. While crossing a river near Kijang camp, my mom who was in front of me slipped off a slippery rock and fell. I shouted at my dad who was in front of her to grab her, as I wasn’t in a correct position to grab her up. At 12.05p.m, we reached the last water point. At that time, I was really happy as we have ascended to 1496 meters above sea level and we are only 2km horizontally from the summit, the GPS reads. My younger brother and I went down to the last water point to collect water for 1 full day. The water at the last water point was clear and flowing. My mom when ahead and did not carry extra water for cooking as her chest was painful after the fall.
After collecting water, I packed my bag with 6 liters of water. My bag now weighs about 20kg. When I first carried the bag, it was very heavy. I thought to myself, ‘how am I going to make it with so much weight.’ I have never carried such a heavy backpack. But as I walked, I got used to the weight. The hike from the last water point to ‘botak’ hill 1 was steep but there you would not need to climb using your hands.
When we reached ‘botak’ hill 1, we could see a peak in front of us. It wasn’t very high. But, Stanley told us that, the peak wasn’t Mount Korbu summit. He told us, look further and higher up. We looked through the mist and we saw the dark shadow of a very steep and high peak. That was Mount Korbu’s summit. Ravi, another hiker, told us that it wasn’t steep. He came here a few times before. Later, I felt like barbequing him for his words.
I looked at the GPS hanged over my neck, it was now 2.15p.m. From that time onwards, we had to constantly use both our hands to climb up steep cliffs and a few rock faces. We reached ‘botak’ hill 2 at 3.25p.m. We took such a long time as there were many tricky climbs between ‘botak’ hill 1 and ‘botak’ hill 2. During the climb, it drizzled for a while. The whole place was cold and a little misty. We passed ‘botak’ hill 3 and 4 easily. We became used to climbing up many high and steep cliffs. Our hands were dirty and filled with dirt and mud. I used the moss on the ground to clean my hands after a few climbs. I was so dirty that I had to leave my Canon 400D in the waterproof bag to keep it clean and dry. At one point, I did take it out to capture some photos of my dad and brother climbing up a steep cliff. My mom who was ahead of me used the water filled in the monkey cup to clean the dirt off her hands right until she encountered slimy water in the cup, she stopped. Actually, you won’t need to look at the photos to know how steep it was. Just look at the GPS profile.
At sharp 4.30p.m, my dad, Calvin, Brendan and I reached the summit of Mount Korbu. My mom and Venu had already reached the summit 30 minutes ago. It showed that I am slow at climbing up steep cliffs.
If you would ask me at that time, whether I was tired or exhausted. I would reply with a simple, ‘no’. As I was climbing up, I asked myself, ‘How am I going to make my way down all these steep and tricky cliffs on the next day?’ I didn’t want to think about it, as it wouldn’t help but make me more worried.
That evening, we set our tents up on the summit and my dad cooked Korean noodles for us and Venu. Hmmnn… the noodles was so tasty as I was very hungry after the climb. When the sun began to set, the temperature began to fall and it was getting mistier. We hid in our tents as it was too cold to stay outdoors. Later in the night, we had some hot coffee and hot chocolate to warm ourselves up. Before we slept, Venu visited Facebook’s website using Maxis 3G. He posted a comment on his Facebook’s wall. This is exactly what he said, ‘writing on facebook at G.korbu summit 2184m…..believe it or not?…the 2nd highest mountain in west Malaysia has maxis service and internet access….cool huh!’
My family and Venu woke up at 6.00 in the morning on the 21st of September 2009 (Monday). It was our third day of our expedition to Mount Korbu and Mount Gayong. For today, we will hike for 2 hours to Mount Gayong which is only a few meters lower than Mount Korbu. After that, we would return to Mount KOrbu’s peak and descent all the way to Seroja Camp. It will be a long day today.
Last night, I didn’t sleep very well because our tent was on a slope. We kept sliding down throughout the night. Through the night, I could hear the wind blowing strongly none stop. It was so… so….cold that night.
By 8.20, my family and Venu packed our backpacks and dismantled the two tents. The hike to Mount Gayong was very easy. We descended 210 meters before ascending to 2,173 meters above sea level. While hiking, there were many opening where we could enjoy the scenic mountain ranges in front of us. Suddenly, everyone around me started asking me to take a picture of them against the background of the scenery.
At 10.20a.m, I reached the peak of Mount Gayong together with my family and other hikers. We had a long group photo shooting before we hiked our way back to Mount Korbu. At 1.00p.m, my family and Venu left the peak of Mount Korbu. We were one of the earliest to leave the peak. We hiked across the 3rd and 4th botak hills without any difficulty. We climbed down two rock face at around ‘botak’ hill 2.
Everything when smoothly and well until Mei who was with another female hiker dropped her beg down the cliff. Luckily, a tree prevented the beg from falling further. Since my brother and I could not do much, Brendan radioed Venu and informed him about the incident. The two of us continued to hike down for about 50 meters before we reached a very challenging climb down. It was a very high drop (about 4 meters) where we had to climb down with the assistance of some slippery branches. The branches didn’t give us much help as it was very far apart. We had to stretch our legs in order to get a footing.
From that challenging part onwards, the climb down was easy, although we still had to climb down many steep parts. The descend became not so steep after we passed the 1st ‘botak’ hill. Brendan and I was the first few among the group. We past the ‘last water point’ and continue to descend, passing Kijang camp, crossing streams and rivers before we reached Seroja camp at sharp 6 in the evening. When I reached the campsite, the whole place was empty except for some hikers at the hut by the river. Jason reached the campsite 15 minutes after we reached.
Brendan and I pitched out tents up before it got darker. After that, Ravi, Brendan and I started a fire using ‘dry fuel’. At first, the fire was very big but it died down when we tried making it bigger.
About 30 minutes later, Calvin (My elder brother) and my mom together with Venu reached Seroja campsite. It was already 7.00 in the evening, when my dad together with the rest of the hikers reached the campsite. It was already dark at that time. Some of the hikers decided to camp at Kijang camp as they were afraid there were other campers who would camp at Seroja Camp that night, but there wasn’t any other campers that night.
That night, my dad cooked —- rice for our family and also Venu. Right after dinner, I went to sleep as I wasn’t feeling so well. I was exhausted and tired.
Nothing much happened on the 4th day except that at some parts, we got lost for a while before finding the trail again. The rest of the day hiking down wasn’t interesting, except we were all eager to exit the tropical jungle.
We woke up at 7.00 in the morning. After having a hot drink and some biscuits we broke our tents. While I was eating some biscuits, I heard the sound of a metal ladle hitting the wok a few time.. arghh.. I hate hearing that sound.. Mok was again cooking some noodles for breakfast. I was envious of what they had for their meals throughout the 3 nights.
It was 10.00 in the morning already. We were already an hour away from Seroja Camp, heading back to the dam. Venu and Jason were already far ahead, out of our sight. Suddenly, my brother who was with my dad and mom about 5 minutes behind us radioed Brendan. They said that they could not find their way. After a while, they found their way and we waited for them to walk together.
I will not talk further about the hike out, as everything went smoothly without any incident. After 4 hours, at 1.00p.m, I reached the entry point. The only thing that you must be warned about is the leeches. There were many leeches everywhere near the river, especially those big red Tiger leeches.
In summary, the climb to mount Korbu and Gayong in 4 days and 3 nights is a little tough for me. The toughest part is the climb from the last water point to Mount Korbu peak. First of all, the back pack is very heavy and I need to do a lot of climbing. But, the hike from Mount Korbu’s peak to Mount Gayong peak is very enjoyable. The scenery is really breath taking. In my opinion, it is worth the climb up to enjoy the majestic scenery.
I hope my long story did not bored you to death.. =)