January 20, 2010

Conquering Gunung Nuang via Janda Baik

For more photos, please "click here"
We have trekked up Gunung Nuang, the highest mountain in Selangor (4,898ft) several times. It was always via the Hulu Langat (Pangsun) trail. From fellow trekkers, we found out that there is a trail up this mountain via Janda Baik in Pahang (this mountain actually borders 3 states … Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan). We then searched the internet for more information and drove to Janda Baik to find out exactly where the trail starts. We found it quite easily and decided that we will trek up Gunung Nuang via this trail the following week.

So, on 16 JAN 2010, six of us, Jean Soh, Lim Guan Toong, Lim Chin Keat, Edry Wong, Karvinn Teh and I set out at 6.00am. We met at Keat's house in Kinrara, Puchong (our regular meeting point) and after a quick breakfast at a mamak stall nearby, we headed to Janda Baik.

(For those who do not know how to get to this trail, here are the instructions. From Karak highway, head towards Janda Baik. After reaching Janda Baik, go directly to Kampung Janda Baik. It is fairly easy to find, straight drive all the way. Look for the UMNO training centre called ILMU. And when you find the UMNO training centre on your right, you are on the right track. After passing UMNO training centre, you have to drive straight in front for about 2km until you come to a junction. Here is where the tar road ends. You can park your car here. The trail to Gunung Nuang is the right trail. If in doubt, please ask the farmers around)

(UMNO Training Center "ILMU")

We reached the start of the trail at about 8.30am and started immediately to trek up Gunung Nuang. With Jean who trekked up this trail before, we are quite happy to have someone who can tell us what to expect along the way. At the first stretch of the trail, we passed some vegetable farms and crossed a small river (the first river).

Arrving at the trail

The trail on the right leading to the farms and up Gunung Nuang

Standing from left : Shiek Eng Meng, Edry Wong, Jean Soh, Lim Guan Toong & Lim Chin Keat
Karvinn Teh (Squatting)

Passion fruit farm

Crossing the first river

We saw more farms along the way and finally we reached the beginning of the jungle trail that leads straight up the mountain. Here the terrain is quite rough. We have to pass through some thick bushes, several fallen trees and thru a bamboo forest. A few times we practically have to “duck walked” underneath some massive fallen bamboo trunks.

Keep right at this junction

Going into the jungle trail

Fallen bamboo trunks along the way

Resting at second river

After walking for about an hour, we reached another river (the second river). The water is cool and fresh. Nearby there is also a small waterfall. A quick freshen up and we started to trek again. From here, the trail gets tougher and rougher. The terrain was wet and there were a lot of muddy and very slippery areas. Leeches are aplenty not to mention other creepy crawlies. Slowly and carefully we made our way up. We rested a few times and my salute to Jean Soh … I did not see her put down her back pack at all. She is one tough nut. Jean and I took lead while Keat acted as the sweeper. Along the way, we separated but kept within hearing distance of each other by shouting to each other every now and then to make sure that we all stayed within range.

Half way into the journey, Toong got muscle cramps and slowed down. This is the second time he is trying to peak Nuang, the first time unsuccessful via Hulu Langat also due to cramps. But this time, he is determined to reach the peak. Edry and Karvinn did well even though they did not have any sleep the previous night.

We continued to trek up the tough terrain. Along the way we were greeted with more muddy pits, fallen trees, slippery slopes as well as wet mossy shrubs. Finally after more than 3 hours we made it to the peak. Jean, Edry, Karvinn and I were the first to reach the peak on that day. It was a very cold day at the peak … strong chilly winds had us taking shelter underneath some bushes. Then we saw other trekkers reaching the peak. They came from the Hulu Langat trail.

Taking a short break along the way

As usual, Edry with his charming pose

A while later, we were glad to see Toong and Keat made it to the top. There were several groups at the peak of Gunung Nuang that day and we were the only group trekking up via Janda Baik. We had lunch at the peak and our food was especially tasty after carrying it up 4,898ft. It was a very chilly and misty day at the peak so we did not stay long. At about 2.00pm we started our journey down. Other groups going down to Hulu Langat base have already left as they have a longer journey to trek down. We have a much shorter trail and we knew that we should hit the base at Kampung Janda Baik in about 3 hours or slightly more.

The peak of Nuang at 4,898 feet above sea level

Group photo at the peak. Notice the arms folded? It was very cold windy at the peak

So we began our descent and we were extra cautious on the way down. Keat was leading the way along with Edry. Again we trekked through the rough terrain and crossed the various obstacles we encountered while coming up. Along the way we stopped to rest and at one of these stops, I must have angered a bee and it stung me on my left ear … nothing serious, just a bit swollen with an uncomfortable itch. Then Karvinn got a slight pain on one of his knees. He put too much stress on the knee ligament going against gravity while descending. He has to slow down with Toong accompanying him just in case. Slowly but surely we all reached the river inside the jungle. After a quick rest we continued to trek out of the jungle. From here it was quite an easy walk out to the farms.

Keat and Edry were the first to reach the base and by the time the rest of us made it out to the base, they have refreshed and changed. It was good that they drove the car nearer into the farms to meet us (the car was parked outside the farms earlier) so that we don’t have to walk another kilometre or so. We went to the nearby river to freshen up and change. In the meantime our stomachs were already growling. And not too far away (at Bukit Tinggi) our food is waiting to be ordered. We took a short drive to Bukit Tinggi, found a decent restaurant and reward ourselves with a good meal. Full and happy we headed back to Puchong with two sleeping soundly at the back of the car, while the other 4 of us were chatting non-stop about our conquest. Though very tired and sore, we were all very satisfied with this new experience of trekking up Gunung Nuang via the Janda Baik trail.

January 12, 2010

What are your values measured by?

I read about a lot of very successful people and heard of how they achieved their successes. Each and every one has their very own success story to tell. Whether it is hard work, determination, tenacity, perseverance or just plain luck, it's never a secret. Did you ever know a successful person that didn’t tell you all about it?

I personally know quite a number very successful people. Some of them are my good friends and they are very simple and down to earth people. Millionaires and multi-millionaires, they still find time to sit down with me every now and then, chatting over a cup of kopi-O, in a food-court somewhere. We talk for hours, sharing common stories of our simple beginnings and our humble pasts.

We talked about the days when school bags were hand sewn from old lorry canvas and when our schools books were wrapped with used calendar sheets. We shared stories about hand-downed Bata shoes, free oat meals from school and free tuition at YMCA. We joked about our first “kup chais” (motorcycles) and laughed about how we learn to drive with manual Datsun cars (now Nissan). We are proud of the humble way we were brought up. We appreciate those who helped and supported us. We are grateful to those who stood through thick and thin with us. We are indebted to those who helped us and gave us opportunities.

Successful or not, rich or poor, it was through all these experiences, we learned to measure our values by respect, friendship, loyalty, faithfulness, honesty, trust, promise and commitment.

Then there are other people who after achieving success in their lives, they forget about a lot of things. Not that there are forgetful in nature but they just choose to readily and conveniently forget. They forget how to be humble, only to display their arrogance. They forget about their simple beginnings, only to embrace decadence. They forget their friends of trying times, only to accept companions from the affluent. They forget about the lesser folks, only to be associated with the rich.

Oh yes, I almost forget … they definitely have forgotten about me.

But ironically, while they choose to forget, they want to be remembered. They want to be remembered how many times their photos appeared on the social pages of top lifestyle magazines. They want to be remembered among the “who and who” of the higher echelons. They want to be remembered by their fame of opulence. They only want to be remembered for their present glamour but not to be reminded of their struggling past.

And their values? Well, they have their very own set of values that are measured by their X6s, LVs, GUCCIs, ARMANIs, BREITLINGs and the luxurious houses they lived in.