Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kota Damansara Trail Run

Trail running at Kota Damansara on Saturday morning, 27 Aug 2016 with running friends and Elsie's good-looking and adorable Roxie, a female Rottweiler ... Round trip (from Seksyen 9 to Seksyen 10 and return) was 4 hours; according to George Siew's timing device, we ran a total of 14km. 

We were trying out some shortcuts and ended up heading to nowhere, and have to backtrack for almost 500 meters. From the post-event trail map, we realised that the shortcut is the loop for Sahabat trail but we went off tangent. 

Do click here to view photos taken by yours truly.

 This pondok is the demarcation for Harmoni trail (at Seksyen 9 end, left of photo frame), and Unity trail (at Seksyen 10 KDCF end, right of photo frame)
 Elsie and her adorable Roxie
 At the Denai Tiga Putri peak
(left, behind) David Ong, George Siew, ChongYF, Eric Wong, KC Leong
(front) Josephine, Elsie Liew, Lana ... and of course the star, Roxie
 Additional challenge for the doggie to go up the ladder
 There is a giant tree along the trail to the peak
Arriving at the pond of Kota Damansara Cummunity Forest in Seksyen 10; from here, we have to run back to the other end where we parked our cars

Do click here for the trail and location map drawn by yours truly.

Posted by KC Leong

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Cutting Edge Campout 3.0

Participating in the Cutting Edge Campout 3.0 at Kem Sungai Pauh from 19-21 August 2016 ... Cutting Edge forums (in Facebook) share and exchange information on knives, cool gear and the great outdoors.

This campout event was organized by Marcus Wong and assisted by Li Kuan, Kevin Lee, Chew Soon and Ken. It was a well organized event with lots of food, camaraderie and laughter amid the cool mountains of Cameron Highlands. The event ended with a lucky draw having a few razor-edged knives as prizes.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
Sungai Pauh campsite at Cameron Highlands; it is near to Tanah Rata
The campsite is nestled in between tall trees
This is where I pitch my tent
My camping stuff just next to the Kelty Salida 1-man tent
Pat (left) is cooking a delicious fish-head curry while Marcus, the organizer of the event, looks on
Another group of students doing some serious cooking ... notice that there is electricity plug point at the left pillar
A pleasant and conducive environment for camping
Setting up of hammocks is possible since the tress are close to one another. However, one must have a good sleeping bag as the temperature in the wee hours drop to 15 degrees Celsius (which is very cold).
Another two camping sections at the upper tier. This area is a little further away especially going to the toilet at night though the entire campsite is lighted up at night
A big flysheet serving as a communal area for chill out. It has been drizzling on Day1 and Day2 at this campsite so the flysheet is a must
Day2 BBQ dinner - Marcus busy grilling drumsticks and hot dogs assisted by Kelvin and Ken
Jimmy and Chew Soon examining the the various types of knives
Some of the participants in this Cutting Edge v3 campout
Lucky draw - Wilson Ng receiving the gift from Marcus; on the right is Ken

Posted by KC Leong

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Challenging Ride to Bentong

“When was the last time that you ride your road bike?” Sri Ganesh, the team lead asked me when we met at the rendezvous point while preparing to start off our riding journey from an orang asli settlement somewhere along the old Gombak road on Sunday 14 Aug 2016 at 7 a.m.

“RHB LEKAS Highway Ride in the 78km category on 30 April 2016,” I replied. And that was 3.5 months ago!

Together with a few RHB Bank colleagues (Philip Wong, Mike Koh, Paul Yap, Chi Yean) and Team NATO cycling group (CK, Lai, etc), I followed the group without knowing where we were going. They are serious cyclists, and that has to be an endurance ride. Since I bought a new Giant bike for the RHB LEKAS ride, I should be OK. That was the first time – after many years – that I followed a group for long distance ride. Most of the time, I was doing trail running and trekking.

A group photo at the mobile drinks station ... Mike (L1), Philip (L2); KC (R1), Paul (R2), Ganesh (R3), Chi Yen (front) ... photo credit Paul Yap; clicking on the photo would display much bigger picture

The Journey 

We were heading towards Genting Sempah R & R (rest and relaxation area) via the old road. This section of the terrain was gradually going uphill all the time. There was very little traffic as the road is narrow and winding, constructed by the side of the mountains with cliff on the opposite end. Certain parts of the road shoulders are wide, but the irresponsible people dumped and burned rubbish there.

Just before arriving at Genting Sempah, there were a few downhill sharp bends, merging with the same traffic where one is coming down from Genting Highlands. Just before the downhill section under a flyover, there was a mobile drinks station doing good business with the bikers who need to replenish their drinks.

After Genting Sempah, it was going downhill all the way until one passed by the junction to Bukit Tinggi (on the left) and Janda Baik kampong (on the right). Certain stretches of the road surface were really rough, and they were long overdue for resurfacing. It sure was a bumpy ride hitting the groan area by the saddle without any shock absorber.

At one downhill sharp bend towards the right, after going into the bend, then only I realised that the road was strewn with sand. Gaining momentum with the downhill, it was a tricky moment as too much steering towards the right side would cause the bike to skid and fall. With a split-second glance to examine the road shoulder, I decided not to continue the steer but went off on a tangent into shrubs and stopped. Luckily, I pulled through without any mishap. Any cornering scattered with sand or cylinder oil would be extremely dangerous that can cause bikers to skid and sustain nasty fall. 
(photo credit: Sri Ganesh)

At Bentong Town

It was a different experience arriving at the market area. One month ago, I was leading a trail running and trekking group for scaling to the peak of Gunung Rajah and we were having our breakfast at Hooi Kee Wan Ton Noodles coffee shop. We came by cars then. At 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, the coffee shop was packed to the brim; so was the entire market area bustling with activities. We have to settle with another coffee shop with lesser people. 

While eating, we were told by the locals that the ais kacang stall which is just down the road (same row as Hooi Kee coffee shop) was better than the Kow Po coffee shop which is famous with ais kacang or chendol topped with ice cream. When I walked to this new discovery, it was packed with locals enjoying the dessert.
(photo credit: Sri Ganesh)

The Returning Journey

The interesting part of cycling is that cyclists always look for hilly terrains for the challenge -- riding on flat road is deemed unexciting. Recognizing that we crossed the mountainous areas, the returning journey with the tired bodies would be tougher in going up the same mountain, from the opposite end. 

Overall it was a fun, challenging, yet tiring and risky journey considering that we have three riders fell on the road that sustained bruises, and two tyres were punctured.

Fact Sheet (courtesy of Sri Ganesh)

Total distance: 108.6km
Moving time: 5 hr 17 min (total time spent was 8 hours)
Elevation gain: 3,609 meters

Posted by KC Leong

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Sg Lembing and Cherating Holidays

Holidaying at Sungai Lembing from 29 July 2016 for 3D2N and then adjourned to Cherating beach for another night of stay.... At Sungai Lembing, the Rainbow waterfall and the Panorama Hill (to see sunrise and sea of clouds) attract many holidaymakers. This small town is flourishing with tourists related business. At the market area for breakfast, it was crowded with people. 

To go to the Rainbow waterfall, one needs to engage a 4WD that can carry 14 persons maximum. The 4WD journey is 1 hour while the trekking journey requires another 30 - 45 minutes. 

To go to the Panorama Hill to view sunrise, the trail head is only 500 meters from the market. The trail is completed with 1,000 concrete steps. Going up the hill requires 30 to 45 min.

At Teluk Cempedak, the beach is very clean with the white sand. We stay another night at Cherating beach.

Round trip from Kuala Lumpur is about 900km. Overall, it was an enjoyable and memorable holiday.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 At Sungai Pandang waterfall en route to Sungai Lembing which is only 30 minutes away
 A group photo before going to Rainbow waterfall
 It is crowded at Rainbow waterfall even on a normal weekend
The ladies posing with the rainbow
 Nature's creation -- best time to view the rainbow is from 10 to 11 a.m. depending on the strength of sun ray and the amount of water falling from the cliff
 Free and easy at the homestay and we have BBQ dinner here 
 At Panorama Hill (second morning) to see sunrise
Background with the sea of clouds
 At around 7:30 a.m. the villages below the clouds are now visible
Arriving at Teluk Cempedak beach ... the beach is clean with the white sand
 Yeah ... Yeah ... A group of excited holidaymakers :-)
 Relaxing by the Cherating beach where we put up another night here

 From Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur ... somewhere before Benton town
The chalets (on the left of photo frame) can house 10 persons to each unit; the huts behind me are for cooking or chatting. The resort is nestled under the durian trees; beware of your heads when walking around during durian season. Or when durians fall on to the zinc rooftop at dawn, that would be the nature's morning call. There is a river behind the chalets, and a waterfall about 7km away. Good for group activities.

Posted by KC Leong

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gunung Rajah

The outing at Gunung Rajah on Saturday 16 July 2016 was a combination of three sub-activities: trail running, trekking and camping. The trail running group would set the markers and they would attempt to arrive at the peak; the trekking group would only arrive at Hijau Campsite, while the camping group would camp at Hijau Campsite and ascend to the peak the following morning. 

After a few rounds of group photos, we started from the car park of Chamang waterfall at 7:23 a.m., and the cut-off time for all to observe was 1:00 p.m. (campers excluded). We passed by the following landmarks: (a) end of earth-based road, (b) stream crossing, (c) Naning campsite, (d) Hijau Campsite.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
 Main group photo; another five members started 45 minutes earlier

Leading the pack, I was very cautious as I was relying on the memory of my maiden trip in August 2012 – four years ago! In that maiden attempt, I accompanied a trail runner who injured herself, and I could only manage to arrive at Hijau Campsite.

Along the journey, the team members enthusiastically asked questions about the terrain, the time required to arrive at the next landmark, etc. We arrived at Hijau Campsite at 11:00 a.m., questions about the peak were asked and I quipped that I could not answer as I have never gone beyond that point :-)
 Members of camping group

Arriving at the bottom of the huge rockface, I checked that it was 12:30 p.m. – 30 minutes to the cut-off time for descent. Before that, at the bongsai area where there was a clear view of the vertical rockface and the peak, we estimated that the timing from the rockface to the peak would take another 45 min or 1 hour. 

We noticed that the rain clouds started looming quickly over the peak as it has been raining at Bentong for the past few days. We decided to descend the mountain and tried again another time; after all, the mountain is always there. On a lighter note, at least that attempt was another step closer to the peak of Gunung Rajah.

 Start of jungle trail (end of earth-based road)

After descending the mountain at around 5:00 p.m., at the entrance area where the ranges were permanently stationed in makeshift tents, one of the trekkers chatted with the rangers. With the lightning monitoring devices connected to the peak, we were told that lightning struck the peak at 1:25pm. Wow! That was closed! Imagine that if we had proceeded to the peak – the timing would have been perfect for a fatal encounter!
 Stream crossing area

Stream crossing – this steam crossing is dangerous during raining season. When it rains, the water level would rise quickly impassable for return. And trekkers would be stranded for hours until the water had receded. Try to imagine that if one does not bring rain gear, sufficient food, or headlamp and the sky is getting dark.
 At Naning campsite 

We need to re-strategize in order to arrive at the peak – it is better to start from the trailhead at 6:00 a.m. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the end of the earth-based road, and the sky would be bright enough to enter the trails.

Mandatory items to bring – barring any unforeseen circumstances, good headlamp is a must. It is an anxiety to those who are waiting at the car park for their friends to return when the sky is getting dark and their friends still have not emerged from the jungle.

 We arrive at Hijau campsite at 11:00 a.m.

My analysis on camping – if one needs to go to the peak, it is better to camp at Hijau campsite; however, if one just wants to enjoy the camping and the water activities, it is better to camp at Naning campsite (a lower ground which is another 1 hr 15 min to Hijau campsite).
 The bongsai area - the peak and the rockface could be seen from here

Trekking permit – entering into the Gunung Rajah trails require one to pre-apply permit from the Pejabat Hutan Daerah Bentong. The rangers are permanently stationed there to check on the validity of entry. The process of applying permit is cumbersome, but it is a control environment as to how many or who-is-who are entering the forest. While meeting another group of trekkers, they even knew that we were the 30 trekkers from Kuala Lumpur. We hope that the Pejabat can make use of the latest technology to simplify the application and payment process. 
 The bottom of the the huge rockface ... we descended the mountain from here (Dphany and Ann Chua)

 When we returned to Hijau campsite at around 1:30 p.m., the camping group had just arrived and busy pitching tents
 A group photo with the camping group before we bid farewell to our friends. When descending the mountain, half hour later, it started to rain. The rain lasted for almost 3 hours
We adjouned to Bentong town for a sumptuos dinner

Landmark and Timing (moderate pace):

1. Arriving at the end of earth-based road (from carpark) – 45 min
2. Arriving at stream crossing – 1 hr
3. Arriving at Naning campsite – 45 min
4. Arriving at Hijau campsite – 1 hr
5. Arriving at rockfact point (require rope for ascent) – 1 hr 15 min
6. Final ascent to the peak – 1 hr

Time for ascent: about 5 hr 45 min 

Note: (1) and (2) are run-able; (3) to (6) more of trekking.

Descending from rockface to car park - 4 hr 30 min

Total time: Start at 7:23 a.m., return to car park at 5:15 p.m.

Posted by KC Leong

Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Fun Glamping at Fraser's Hill

The group went up to Fraser’s Hill for a second time glamping on the weekend of 25 June 2016. When we arrived at the hill resort in the late afternoon, we immediately started to prepare the site and set up the tents in good team work. It was a fine day and we were lucky to see the vibrant glow of the sunset. By the time we were ready for our dinner, it was almost 8pm.

At around 11pm, the whole group went out to look for tarantula spiders in the cool mountains. It was quite fun enticing them to crawl out from their nest (round hole in the earth). Certain species of the tarantula spiders are only found at the hill resort and nowhere else in the world, that prompt demand from spider collectors in capturing the tarantula there, and their survival is now under threat.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 An orchid farm somewhere at Hulu Yam en route to Fraser's Hill

At mid-night, while seated there still enjoying the food, drinks and camaraderie, we saw the bright moon rising high above the cloudless sky.

Sleeping in our tents at the cool outdoor, we woke up a few time as the wind was blowing quite strongly from 2am to 6am. My slim, light-weight Kelty Salida 1-man tent was blowing from side to side. When I went out to wee-wee, I was a little concern that the strong wing would blow my tent away … imaging chasing a flying tent in the wee hours  :-)

Post-glamping – it was quite a lot of work cleaning the tents of which I have to wash five ground sheets, wiping and drying the tents and the fly-sheets. Despite all the work, it was worth the effort for a fun and enjoyable outing in the cool mountains.

Glamping is a new word coined from the words 'glamorous camping' that also mean luxurious camping. Compare to traditional camping where one has to carry all the stuff when trekking up a mountain, glamping is most leisure-like where the camping stuff is just next to the cars.

 Beautiful and attractive flowers

(left) Kristy, Jenny Wong, Lana, Shu-Lin, ChongYF, Kellie; KC (standing)

 At the reservoir area en route to Fraser's Hill. It is now dry season and the water level is very much lower

 Busy pitching tents

 The joy of seeing all the tents are being set up

 Vibrant glow of the sunset

 It was also fun in heating up the roasted chicken ... Lana, Kellie, Kristy and Jenny Wong

 Roasting two chickens in one go ... Shu-Lin and Lana

 Lots of food for dinner

 Lana preparing the sunny-side-up eggs

 A peaceful and tranquil morning with fly-sheets completely covering the tents due to the strong wind in the wee hours

 At the clock tower of Fraser's Hill en route to Chiling Waterfall

 The whiplash shampoo pose by Lana with a lot of water being splashed up by the long hair
 Chiling Waterfall
 What it takes to go glamping with the entire boot full of camping stuff

Do CLICK HERE to view the other glamping at another site of Fraser's Hill.

Posted by KC Leong