Gunung Datuk

After hearing from Helen that the rovers trek are fun, I decided to jio Zhan Vic and kc to go on a 2D1N trek to Gunung Datuk (870m) with me. I always wanted to climb a mountain/hill, and going to Santa Cruz increased my liking for hiking. As it turned out, there were 2 other girls Adele and Xiuling who are assigned to our group. We had to wake up early to meet at 6am to take a bus to Johor Bahru in order to take a train from JB to Tampin at 0912. Although the train comes from Singapura, it is cheaper to do it that way. The train ride was fun initially, as I always loved trains. It’s nice to explore from one end to another, viewing the tracks from the tail carriage and catching the wind from the open doors. It’s interesting that KTM has money to buy LCD TVs for every carriage now as forms of entertainment, although the Capcom-like midi music in the background was super irritating that Zhan went to turndown the volume. Lol.

At Tampin, we ate at the little hawker place opposite the train station. It was slightly hilarious as the aunties did not expect such a large crowd and said that they may not have enough rice for nasi goreng and noodles for mee goreng for us lol. The food took like 45mins to arrive, reminding me of the slow pace of life in rural areas.

Cabs were hired to fetch us to the foot of the hill. The “gang leader” of the cab drivers, a Chinese, was grumbling and scolding all the other cab drivers for various reasons which I do not comprehend. It was slightly hilarious as he complained to everyone about his concerns in getting enough cabs for 31 of us. As we sat in his 36-year-old retro Mercedes cab, he continued telling us how effective he is in getting all the cab drivers’ contacts.

On the way to the mountains, we saw some bulls and rubber plantations. The car probably climbed a little of the hill for us before alighting us at the entrance. The initial part was interesting to see a little waterfall/pool from spring water which kids were playing in it. Then it started to get super straineous, with slopes as steep as 60 degrees. At various parts, we have to use the tree roots as steps, hug onto tree trunks for support, and use rocks and ropes as our support. Some parts were continuously steep with no respite in between, and often we have to use our hands to pull ourselves up. Not easy. I would say we are going at a pretty fast pace, with not much time for me to stop and take photos. But I still struggled to take many photos nevertheless with the camera in sling, although it was slightly hindering at times.

At the halfway mark, there was a resting plataeu. By then we were all drenched in sweat, my shirt was totally wet. I was contemplating to bring mh ukulele, which would be fun, but would not have survived all the knocks on my fieldpack. Some of us were struggling for breath, and we were utterly dehydrated. After a few minutes we continued. The second half was slightly less straineous with gentler slopes, though mostly still 30-50 degrees. There were some nice flater parts towards the summit.
There weren’t much wild animals, we spotted some colony of giant ants (really giant) and heard many noises of weird birds and insects. There were many parts we had to cross over fallen trees and logs. Fortunately the weather was good, cloudy and not too sunny, with the air going damper and cooler as we ascend.

Towards the end, the rocks and boulders grew bigger. That was the sign that we are reaching. And at last, we reached the summit base camp which was a small flat area that could got a few tents. Remains of ash and rubbish were evidence that this place was well used. We are kinda above the clouds, with some fog and mist in the trees above us.

We pitched our tents, which is quite a huge 8-man one, and I must admit I have little experience in tent pitching other than the school camps I attended lol. We decided to climb the summit before dark, and we ascended on a series of giant boulders via ladders. As we go higher, it became scarier as the ladders were hanging precariously on the rocks with little support or tied my ropes. If we slip, we would fall far down below, very far down. And some parts were literally rock climbing, as we had to hold on to the robes and squeeze our body through the rocks

At the summit, which is mostly rocky, it was cool and amazing. It was too cloudly to see anything or any sunset, although we are really in the clouds and could make out an orange glow in the west. It was a satisfying and accomplished journey. I’m on the top of the world looking…

As it turned darker, we descended slowly using torches. Some parts were very trickly and would cause your feet to wobble as we try to tackle the ladders. With the help of the experienced ones from NUS rovers, we came down for dinner!

There was a group which was very pro, as they brought trays and charcoal for a BBQ. Very amazing. We started up
Our burner/gas stove and cooked our instant noodles, accompanied with various canned food like corn, tuna, sardines, peanuts. It was quite food and I didn’t cook my campbell soup in the end.

At 10pm, we decided to change and go to bed. Sadly, it was too cloudly to see any stars. I suggested to play card games but none were interested to play in the dark. Other tents were gossiping and telling hilarious “bedtime stories” about “epic failures” and topics like “have you ever thought of committing suicide”. As I couldn’t sleep, unintentional eavesdropping was funny. Haha. I decided to get out of my warm tent, enjoy the cool breeze which reminds me of Santa Cruz weather, and reflect on the year that has passed.

We woke up at 5+am for the sunrise feeling super cold. Zhan suggested to cook at the summit, which was actually an extremely good idea after all. We cooked both our Campbell soups for breakfast, as we watched the sky changed from dark to light. There wasn’t really a sun as it was too cloudy, but we saw the orange rainbow glow. Kelvin’s tripod was pretty useful for photos. It was a nice misty view of the town lights below and the many mountains in the horizon. Reminds me of Malang when I went Mount Bromo and there was a very similar but nicer view, just that we drove up instead of climbing up haha.

After being satisfied with hot soup and the view, we descended back to camp, realizing that our tent had collapsed due to strong winds. Hahaha. Just nice for us to dismantle. After a group photo, we began the descend. It was so much easier! Some parts we had to sit down and slide down the rocks, but overall it was more enjoyable going down. Some portions were so steep that I marvelled how we actually made it upwards earlier. As we were in front, we had to slow down often to wait for the others to catch up. There were curious loud sounds of monkeys later, and we were afraid of provoking them or if they throw shit at us. Lol. There were two instances of monkey shit on the floor, wonder if they did it intentionally.

After the descend which still took about 2 hours, we greeted the pool with a splash. The water was super super cold, and there was a nicer upper part with a small waterfall which functioned nicely as a shower. It was like hard massage! We bathe in the water and had some fun, although initially i thought of going to the proper shower but what’s the point lol.

After a cab ride back to Tampin, we had an interesting lunch at a Chinese hawker center. The laksa tasted a little like Mee Siam, and the bak kut Teh was very tastety with many spices. After a short walk in Tampin town in their rural old shophouses, we took the Transnasional bus back to JB.

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