September 16, 2009

The Star's article on trekking

The following article was published by The Star on 31st August 2009. Many thanks to the writer Mr Sam Cheong, for giving this good exposure to the trekking/hiking sport in Malaysia.

Monday August 31, 2009

Great walks and views within an hour of KL’s city centre

AS I recall, Broga was a small town at the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Prior to my first visit to this town 17 years ago, I had never even heard of it until I was sent there to cover news on escaped convicts from the Kajang prison.

Having a breather: Shiek enjoying a break at the second peak.

This is a place surrounded by a series of rugged hills and the Broga town centre is located in a valley. Being a dead end, there are no more settlements beyond the town square. But if you ask around, this place has an interesting past.

Some said the town is haunted by its inhabitants who were massacred by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War Two.

And judging by its obscure location, it is not surprising why this legend lives on. Folklore and myths aside, Broga offers plenty for city dwellers who want a quick getaway.

I recently hooked up with an old friend, Shiek Eng Meng, who told me that there is an interesting trail called Bukit Lalang. “The reward is a scenic view of the Broga valley and a glimpse of Semenyih. You have to see it to believe it,” he said.

Shiek, who also runs a blog on his adventures, added that the location is only an hour’s drive from Subang Jaya.

Two more peaks to go: Michelle enjoying the view at a staging area on the way up.

I checked out his photographs and found that the hill in question was indeed a good location for a weekend hike. And since we live in Subang Jaya, I corresponded with him to arrange a trip there. He said the best days to hike are on Saturdays.

“If you go there on Sundays, the hill is full of hikers,” he said.

The drive from Subang Jaya to Broga took us about 45 minutes. To get there, we used the LDP and SILK highways.

Since I haven’t been to this part of Selangor for a long time, much has changed.

Our destination was the Nottingham University campus and when we passed Semenyih, we made a left turn about 2km away from the town centre.

On top of the world: The writer’s pooches waiting for their turn to descend to the trail head.

By the time we reached the campus area, my dogs were already restless. We pulled over to let them stretch and proceeded to a palm oil plantation.

“Sam, this is the trail head. It takes about an hour to ascend to the peak. First, we will hike through an oil palm plot. As we progress, you will see some tertiary forest. The hike will get a bit tough at this stage,” Shiek said.

My dogs, Sir Naughty and Dame Queenie, were equipped with their specially-made backpacks and a trekking leash.

And since this was unknown territory for me, I came prepared with plenty of water, a pair of hiking boots and a trekking pole.

This minimises injury on the trail especially during a descent from steep terrain. Michelle. my wife, was handling Dame Queenie, our two-year-old female Siberian Husky while I hiked with Sir Naughty, the older dog.

Halfway through the hike, we found an obstacle which was easily cleared by the dogs. But another one ahead proved to be taxing for Dame Queenie.

Our female pooch had to be lifted across a ditch. Our next staging point was a boulder resting on a steep slope. By the time I got there with my pooch, I was drenched in sweat.

I could feel my knees aching and my dog seemed to be panting heavily. Nevertheless, we slowly pushed to the last stage which was an easy walk to the first peak.

Shiek, who is in great shape, was already waiting at the clearing. There, we were greeted by a group of hikers who went there to catch the sunrise.

We spent about 15-minutes there before proceeding to another peak. The Broga hill is like a dragon’s back. There is a series of three peaks and the last one is heavily wooded.

And the view up here is spectacular. We were lucky that it didn’t rain and the weather was excellent for a hike. After we reached the second peak, Michelle and I took turns to give the dogs their drink of water.

Many of the hikers there took turns to snap photographs with our Huskies. After spending about an hour at the peak, Shiek signalled that it was time to leave.

The hike to the trail head took almost an hour. After we concluded our hike, Shiek told me that other than the hills, Broga has a rabbit farm for visitors.

“There is also good food here. There are some restaurants that you can check out on your follow-up visits. And Broga is also the place to be during fruit season,” he said.

Soon after we loaded up the dogs in our car, we parted ways. To sum it up, the hike was excellent and it cost us nothing to carry out such an activity. From Subang Jaya, our petrol cost no more than RM25 on the return trip and the toll was roughly about RM5.60.

For all you Internet savvy day trippers, there are plenty of resources on the Broga hill on blogs and personal websites.

Meanwhile the Lat, Long grid reference for GPS users are: Lat 02 56 830, Long 101 54 050 for the hill peak, while the trail head is located at: Lat 02 56 304, Long 101 54 071. Good luck and happy hiking!