Nov 10, 2008

Gunung Liang Timur, Perak

After a long break from mountain trekking due to busy schedule 'Old Lee' inform us on the next climb up to Gunung Liang Timur (1933m) that will take 2 days/1 night where the meeting point is in Tanjung Malim and the entry point Kampung Dara (Sg. Dara). Our guide is a local 'orang asli' by the name of Alex. And now for some short description on Tanjung Malim and a bit of its History......

Tanjung Malim
is a parliament constituency in Malaysia and is a town in the state of Perak. It is approximately 70 km (43.75 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur via the North-South Highway. It lies on the border of Perak-Selangor state, with Sungai Bernam serving as the natural divider.

Today, "Tanjung Malim" usually refers to the territory under administration of Tanjung Malim District Council or Majlis Daerah Tanjung Malim (MDTM), which includes the smaller towns adjacent to the town such as Proton City, Behrang, Behrang 2020, Sungkai and Slim River. "Tanjung Malim" is lately also referred to the Old Town and New Town divided by the KTM Komuter rail at its heart, from which the town grew. Commuter train services from Tanjung Malim is expected to begin in 2010.


An early settlement nearby Sungai Bernam is named Kampung Kubu (Fort Village). The Bugis community planted jambu fruit trees along the river bank. As population grew overtime, the area is referred to as Kampung Jambu. A mosque is also built to cater its Muslim community. During a visit by a British Straits of Settlements official, Sir List, the state officials headed by Raja Itam referred the area as Tanjong, as quoted by its local ulama Tuan Haji Mustafa bin Raja Kemala. However, it is also known locally as Kg.Kubu, Kg.Bugis, Kg.Jambu and Tg.Jambu. Hence, Sir List 'officially' named it as Tanjong Malim to avoid confusion. (Malim or mualim refers to the pious local Muslim community)


In the early AD1700, a Bugis settlement was established along the riverbank of Sungai Bernam, as part of Raja Kecil's plan to set up one of its kubu, fort along the river to fend off the northern Perak Sultanate threat. The plan fell apart with the fall of Raja Kecil in Johor Sultanate power struggle. Over the century, the small village known as Kampung Kubu/Bugis remained idle or rather isolated.

Click on this link for more details on Tanjung Malim thanks to Wilkipedia.......

Sungai Dara route is a much shorter route to Gunung Liang Timur and usually can be completed in 2 days although some prefer 3 days. We gather at the meeting point which is the 'the tarik' shop next to Hindu temple at the traffic light. I guess most people knows where this place is in Tanjung Malim. Everyone was confident because they have completed The G7 mountains of Malaysia. As for our usual team of 4, Michael could not make it due to work commitment. Only three of us, KC just recover from the flu, Wong from muscular tension and myself from flu and fever. Like I said beaming with confidence but said too soon. There are about 7 cars and we convoy towards Behrang Ulu and our first stop to pick up 2 guides from Kg. Orang Asli Chinggung and then towards Kg Dara About 12 km from Tanjung Malim town. Then through winding route another 4 km before parking our cars just outside of 'Logis Pembersihan Air, Sg. Dara'. (See Picture and Alex our guide)

We started trekking at about 10.15 am from a starting height of about 500ft above sea level and a slow gradual trek passing through Behrang Permanent Forest Reserve. Cross over 4 to 5 streams, in the month of November and with the wet season, definitely leeches were giving us a 'high 5' to latch onto our shoes as we pass by. Well this time we were prepare with some other counter measures. We used Camphor Soap Pagoda Brand and the active ingredient eucalyptus oil that repel leeches. Do not pull leeches off as this can tear the skin and cause infection, its better to use salt or fire to make them drop off. On our way we didnt have any problems with them but after getting wet from crossing the river eventually one or two will have their feast. As Wong discover a leech bite at the neck area. As we past the last waterfall crossing which is crystal clear. The height here is around 1800 ft and there and a good place to camp and swim near the waterfall. Average time taken is around 1.5 to 2 hrs. From here onwards the trek is up up and up until about 4500ft where our campsite is. It takes about 3 to 4 hrs to reach the campsite with drinking water source down a 70 degree slope which takes about 3 mins. With 15 kg on my back and with the many steep slops, big fallen tree crossing and many thorns to content with I reach the campsite at around 3.15 pm. We were over confident, its raining and cold and both my calf felt sore, and the campsite floor was literally cover with tree roots which makes sleeping over it challenging. Wong and KC arrive around 4 pm thanks to Chong who help to carry KC's backpack up. As I tried to set up camp alone in the rain proves difficult. After setting up camp and cooking area, KC settle down to prepare a hot tea drink before dinner to warm up our bodies. Its raining at 4500 ft and to take a bath is brrrrr..... cold. Our menu for tonight is Salted Chicken bought from My Lim Salted Chicken (Semenyih) and vegetables. Our dinner was rudely interrupted by pesky sand flies which inflicted painful bites (itchy) on the exposed skin especially on our face, hands and feet. We forgot to bring our mozzy guard and after our meals we rested in our tents. My face was flushing hot and full of sand flies bites, sore calf and tired legs. Slept early at around 7.30 pm and it started raining and since our campsites is situated on a ridge and exposed on both sides it gets windy and very cold in the night.

The next morning the group departed towards the peak which is a 2000 ft steep climb and takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to reach. KC and myself decided not to proceed due to body aches and pains. They left around 8.30am and reach Gunung Liang Barat (West) and Gunung Liang Timur (East) and descend an hour later and came down around 12 pm. We approach our guide and request to carry my backpack down for a fee. I realize that I would have a painful problem descending to our car park, a very wise move.

Well the lessons we learned is never underestimate any mountain especially since we have completed the the 7 G7's Mountains of Malaysia. Train adequately and always ensure check list is strictly adhere to.

Otherwise it has been a good experience!

Have fun and be happy!

May 25, 2008

Pulau Ketam and Sungai Lima

Uncle Ong from Broga Happy Fruit Land Farm invited us to attend his niece wedding dinner at Sungai Lima Village in Pulau Ketam or literally translated as "Crab Island". This was also Uncle Ong's hometown.

Pulau Ketam is an island located off Port Klang and is reachable using its ferry services which operates 8.45 am - 6.45 pm (Mon-Fri) and 8.45 am - 7.10 pm (Sat-Sun & public holidays) and it is better to reconfirm the return time unless you want to stay for the night at either Sea Lion Hotel, Pulau Ketam Inn or Huan Kyu Hotel. The KTM commuter services operates from KL Sentral and ends at Port Klang and just about a stone throw to the Pulau Ketam Jetty.

Brief History

Pulau Ketam (crab island) not only it is famous for crabs but also for its mangrove swamps (click on this link to know the importance of mangrove swamps and the ecosystems). A long time ago three Hainanese fisherman from Port Klang made a living catching crabs in Pulau Ketam because the journey took almost a day and later they built a small house for overnight stay before going back to Port Klang with their catch. In 1872, they built a temple named "Chuan Eng Bio" located near Jalan Timur. In 1967 and 1972 a big fire destroyed all the houses and shoplots in Jalan Besar and Sungai Dalam. Thus the Bomba Sukarela Pulau Ketam "Pulau Ketam Fire Bridgade Volunteers" was formed. To read more about the history click on this link Pulau Ketam history...........

We park our cars at the KTM parking lots next to the Port Klang Commuter terminal and a days parking cost about $6.50 Even there are parkings just next to Pulau Ketam Jetty we felt it was safer to park at KTM parking lots.

Uncle Ong and his family arrived at around 10.30 am and we boarded the air con fast service ferry which cost about $7 per person and takes about half an hour to reach Pulau Ketam Village. If you board the normal ferry it will take about 45 mins. Upon reaching Pulau Ketam Village rain was approaching. As we disembarked to the Jetty and walk towards the village area, the atmosphere felt as if we have journeyed to the past. Wooden stilt houses and bicycles greeted us. It felt a world of difference without motorbikes and cars. As we stroll through the houses and shops which were all on stilts connected by wooden and concrete walk ways. It was low tide and you could see remnants of mangrove swamps which was taken over by development. Mud skippers and crabs move about in the mud together with dogs and cats.

Having a wedding in Sungai Lima Village at Pulau Ketam I was told in the early days everyone would contribute to the preparations from food to entertainment, no frills but plenty of thrills. Today restaurant prepares the food and even there is singer cum emcee for the wedding dinner. We were at the brides house and while we were having our lunch ala Pulau Ketam style delicious and simple. The bride was preparing for this evening's dinner at 5.30pm sharp. There was no special car to ferry the bride. The bride and escorts walk about 15 mins to the hall. Cool ! huh. The quest flow in steadily into the hall and meanwhile there was karaoke singing marathon mostly in Hockkien and Mandarin languages. Dinner was served sharp around 5.30 pm. Something I was hoping happening back in mainland Malaysia. Pulau Ketam folks sure love to sing. Dinner ended around 8.00 and one last ferry (chartered by the newly weds) to board back to Port Klang unless you plan to stay overnight here.

Apr 29, 2008

Sungai Klah Hot Spring, Sungkai Perak

Mountain Spring Pool (Octopus Section with water slide)

Sungai Klah hot spring is easily accessible either through the North-South Expressway between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh exiting from Sungkai Toll. Once you exit from this toll, turn left and travel about 1 km. You will notice sign board directions to turn left and for another 9km to the park.

Hot Spring Pool

Our group comprising of 58 participants from toddler to grandma planned a camping trip. The cost of the packages including overnight stay (own tent $10 ground charges, rented tent $30 for 2-3 persons), 1 tea break, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast, 1 morning tea break and lunch for only $59 per person.

Mr. Tan & Family Setting Up The Tent

We have friends from Kajang and Klang and we plan to meet in Sungkai for lunch. Sungkai is a small town located of the main trunk road from Slim River to Bidor. From the toll exit turn right about 1 km to Sungkai town. One of the famous local food is the Salted Chicken or 'yim cook kai' in cantonese only available on Saturdays and Sundays at Restaurant Sun Kee. Once you see Sungkai Police Station turn left and follow road until a junction then turn left you will notice S.J.K. (c) Khai Meng Sungai primary school just few meters away is the Restaurant Sun Kee. From the outside it looks like any ordinary restaurant but it serves delicious dishes as well. That afternoon it was particularly hot and luckily 'ice kacang' was available to cool us down.

After lunch we proceeded to Sungai Klah Hot Spring which takes about 12-15 minutes and we call up to inform Mr. Azizi (Sales & Marketing Department) of our arrival. It so happen the park was having a family day function organized by a large corporation and parking was filled to the brim. With a further of 15 vehicles from our group we had to park haphazardly until the group left at around 4.00 pm.

As it was such a hot afternoon it was not advisable to dip in the hot pool and instead the cold mountain spring pool. The Sungai Klah mountain spring pool is such a big pool divided for the children and adult. One of the parks' officers told me that the water is piped from a small dam up in the mountains about 2-3 km away and is cold hence the name Sungai Klah mountain spring pool. It strictly opens from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm. While the hot spring pool opens from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm.

Egg Boiling Pools (7 mins for Hard Boil) . Splashing Time Beneath Water Fall.

As the members were beginning to settle down after exploring the place, tea was served at 4.15 pm. The local cakes were delicious but the hot tea served was too sweet and ice was added to dilute it. After tea break members continue to enjoy the mountain spring pool till 7pm and went to enjoy hot pool till dinner served at 8.00pm. After dinner our family went for another round of dipping in hot pool. At night the children went to make hard boiled eggs at the 'egg boiling pool' and they were good at it. The place is well lighted and children can roam around safely.

We had ordered about 23 packs of Sungkai famous Salted Chicken which was to be delivered at 10.00pm where we will have it for supper. Actually Sungai Klah Hot Spring management forbids outside food to be brought in but we had made a special request and off the record it was allowed. The salted chicken (village running chicken type or kampung chicken) tasted delicious. KC made "tea tarik" to go with the Salted Chicken

Sungai Klah Hot Spring has another natural uniqueness is that its windy due to the geographical position with the hills on one side and flat land on the other. It is windy throughout the night making it cool and breezy and free of mosquitoes.

The next morning after breakfast, some members went for the boardwalk and enjoy the natural sauna. Today no more hard boiled eggs because the night before they had have too much of them. Most of them went for a dip in the hot pool while waiting for the mountain spring pool to open at 10.00 am. There is also The Family SPA which was not included in our package. It cost RM75 per hour. After the morning tea, most of the members were ready for the mountain spring pool. After lunch we left Sg. Klah Hot Spring around 1.30pm for home with fun memories.

Click Above For More Photos

Felda Residence Hot Springs
En. Mohd Azizi Bin Mohamad
H/P 012-599 4702

Mar 18, 2008

Klang Gate Dam, Hills

While traveling along the Middle Ring Road as you pass Zoo Negara on the right you will start to notice rocky hills shape like the back of a sleeping dragon to the right looking similar from different angles. To view from Google Earth by typing "Klang Gate Dam, Kuala Lumpur". We were invited by 'lau Lee' or 'old Lee' to join him to trek up the hills (can someone shed some light on the name) on the right of Klang Gate Dam intake which was less popular compare to the left which is also known as Bukit Tabur (Tabur Hill).

Waking up at 5.15 in the morning proves to be challenging task on a Sunday morning especially after a late Saturday night. Nevertheless when you have enthusiasm you will soon forget the struggle.

Traveling from Ampang towards the Melawati area, turn at the underpass to the right (Giant hypermarket is on the left) and proceed until you reach the Bulatan Hillside roundabout take the 12 o'clock route, pass a mosque, turn right at Jalan H-16, further down turn left towards the end of the road. You will notice large water pipes (I mean really large ones) on the right and park your cars there towards the end. Take care not to obstruct traffic.

The trek follows the 2 large water pipes for about 20m and a steep climb after that. Just follow the clearly mark trail and to reach the peak of this hill takes about 1 hour of casually climb and advisable to follow somebody who is familiar with this trek. Remember to bring half gloves for holding rocky surfaces. Take care to concentrate and place
your footing carefully. Climbers have been known to fall due to carelessness (unreported fatal injuries). There are many spots here to catch a breath taking view of Kuala Lumpur city skyline (KL Tower and Twin Towers) towards South and the view of Klang Gate Dam stretching from North West to North East and of course sunrise view. Reasonable fitness is required and not recommended if you have cardiovascular health problems, breathing problems and 'scare of heights' problem.

Click on the above for 37 photos slide

Click on the above for a short panaromic video.

Feb 21, 2008

Kelantan (Kota Bharu)

On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year 2008, together with 3 friends and my family decided to visit our friends in Kelantan (Kota Bharu - state capital). We have plans to stay in Kelantan for 2 nights and then proceed to Nibong Tebal (Penang) to visit another friend and stay for a night. Kelantan is the east coast state of West Malaysia and is known as a charming destination with colorful traditions, handicrafts and food. It is festive holidays and bookings for hotels room are scarce. Instead our Kelantan friends recommended budget stay or salesman club stay at RM$20 per person per night. So why not to expect a different kind of experience.

Day 1. Our trip started on Saturday 9, Feb 2008 (7.30am) and our takes us through KL - Kuantan highway where we turn off at Bentong which was to be our breakfast stop. Bentong is about 80km from Kuala Lumpur. The morning air was cool and refreshing especially with the windy season. There are actually many interesting places to visit on the outskirts of Bentong but Kelantan was waiting and the route from KL - Bentong - Gua Musang - Kota Bharu (Kelantan) would take about 7/8 hours of leisurely drive including breakfast and lunch stops. And finally arrive at Kota Bharu around 4.00am, the journey took longer than usual because of the increased traffic especially we were told that Deputy Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak was attending a function in Kelantan which explains the heavy traffic (election year). The majority of Kelantan people are Muslims and therefore their weekend holiday starts on Thursday and Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays are working days.

Having last visited Kota Bharu 10 years ago, I was surprised with the increased number of cars on the road and with new buildings and road changes. Our friend HW Tan guided us to his house which we promptly found with his road directions. HW Tan welcome us with the warmest hospitality and immediately we felt very comfortable at his place. HW Tan who had planned to return to Kajang on Sunday, graciously delayed to Monday so as to bring us to interesting places to visit in Kelantan. Our first place to visit was to 'heal our stomach' or dinner at Chiengmai. We immediately protested that none of us brought our passport, HW Tan continued and said 'Chiengmai Restaurant' much to our amusement. We left early at 5.00pm to avoid the heavy traffic. Chiengmai Restaurant is situated around Tumpat district.

The Chiengmai Restaurant is village style design and can accomodate around 50 tables. Eleven dishes were ordered for 3 tables each where nine of us occupied one table. The eleven dishes came out fast and the table size was not enough. We went along and thought to ourself that maybe this is how they eat in Kelantan as the saying goes 'when in Rome, do ....'

After dinner we check into our budget accommodation which look and feels like a home. After the long drive, nothing like a hot cup of tea or coffee at a nearby cafe. HW Tan told us tomorrow's itinerary starts at 7.30am.

Day 2. HW Tan arrive promptly at 7.30 and everyone was ready. Breakfast, Nasi Dagang at Restaurant Kwang Ling. The favorite Kelantan breakfast meal for everyone.

Visit to the Padang Market (Open air Wholesale Market) which will close by 9.00am. Here plenty of local and Thai goods available.

Kelantan State Tourist Information Centre

Handicraft Village and Craft Museum which is closed situated to the Padang Market. The complex houses a craft museum, plenty of handicrafts shops, sometimes cultural shows and crafts demonstration (with traditional tools) are held here.

Also nearby is the Istana Batu (Royal Museum) which was originally a palace and venue for royal weddings. It was not open to public on that day and we only took pictures from outside.

Next on our itinerary was to visit the Wat Machimmaram, a Buddhist temple with one of Southeast Asia's largest statue of Sitting Buddha. Inside the temple complex you can see many paintings and three dimensional paintings.

Visit to Wat Photivihan, which is the most famous Buddhist temple in Kelantan. It contains the biggest statue of the Reclining Buddha in Southeast Asia. The statue which measures 40m long and 11m high and 9m wide was completed in 1979, after six years of construction work at a cost of RM350,000. The funds came from public donations and the Buddhist Association of Malaysia and Thailand. It was the brainchild of Tok Phra Kru Prasa Prachacorn. The temple is located in Kampung Jambu in Tumpat near the border of Thailand. It also has herbal bath like most Buddhist temple in Kelantan.

What better way to quench your thirst on a hot day with coconut drinks. If you can stomach this try a local delicacy which has Thai influence and is called 'son dum' consisting of raw papaya, mango, special gravy sauce, fermented fish and mini crabs. The taste is a little spicy, fishy, sourish and sweet. Eat and don't think, you will find it tasty but the minute you think.. arrgggghhh!

Visited Wat Mai Suvankhiri featuring a huge dragonboat but not seagoing.

Lunch time at another local delicacy called 'kow cyump', it used to have 99 ingredients but today it has been cut down to important ingredients of vegetables and with herbs pounded and sprinkle over rice with vegetables, fish and prawn crackers. I find this a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and herbs. At a special price of RM$1.oo per plate, thats even healthier on our wallets. Also available, porridge with chicken strips. Eleven of us ate to a cost of about RM$50.00.

Wat Phothikyan which is situated in Kampung Balai, Bachok. The entrance consist of The Twin Dragons and inside the temple grounds stands the Statue of Amithaba, Buddha. When completed stands at 108 feet. The project started in 02/11/2002 and is almost near completion.

Visited a 221 years old temple with authentic architectural design and construction, it was built by local Chinese fisherman.

Finally a visit to the Siti Khadijah Market, it is one of Kelantan's landmark attractions. The unique feature here is that the majority of traders are of the women folk. Picture below taken from above makes it very colorful.

Took a rest, everyone was tired as we have squeeze 2 days of sightseeing into 1. Dinner tonight not to be missed is famous Ayam Percik Kelantan style. There are many places to have this and our host HW Tan took us to Yati Ayam Percik. We had Nasi Kerabu, ayam percik and kuih kuih for dinner.

Went to rest and relax at Hayaki Cafe in the heart of Kota Baharu and watch the locals go about their daily life.

3rd Day. Decided to go back for Nasi Dagang to sample other various combinations. And continue our trip to Nibong Tebal, Penang. We have to drive to Machang - Jeli - Grik and take the new highway towards Baling before hoping on the Penang - Nibong highway to exit. Sounds complicating, well actually it was a leisure drive. As you pass Jeli, the road will ascend to about 3000 feet, because of the exposed main range you can wind down the windows and enjoy the cool and refreshing breeze until the top where there is a Rest & Relax area which is managed by Restaurant Amiza Titiwangsa. The toilets here are clean. I mean really clean! We decided not to make any stops and go straight to Nibong Tebal for our lunch.

Upon arriving around 2.00pm the usual restaurant (Cheang Kei) was closed for the festive season, instead we went to Swee Garden Seafood Restaurant.

It looks like to celebrate the Chinese New Year 2008 we cross over to Kelantan and on the way pass by many major and smaller towns visited places and plenty of food. After the four days and the benefits to everyone was about 2kg in additional body weight. Had a enjoyable time and wondering when we will visit Kelantan, hopefully in the near future.

Click on the above to see photo slide.