Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bukit Tabur

It all started over a casual dinner. One said, we should go hiking. The rest of us readily agreed. Like marathon, hiking is the in-thing right now. Like how suddenly I realised that many people I know "run", many people I know hike too. So, sure, why not?

"Shall we go to Bukit Tabur? I went once, some years back..."

Well, let's go then! I suggested asking along this guy who's an outdoor expert, to be our "guide" - the absolute best decision we made, indeed!

Over the next couple of weeks, a date was chosen and arrangements were made. It was not until the night before the big adventure that we realised just how ill-equipped we were - we didn't have the right shoes, the right clothes, nor gloves. Oh, but we'll be fine. It's just hiking, so how hard could it be? Our greatest worry would be getting too much sun, right? Wrong.

The initial ascent, though tiring, was easy enough. Then, rocks upon rocks greeted us.

The first few climbing over them were a little intimidating, as we had to use all fours, but as we got used to it, they really weren't as hard as they looked.

The hike went on and on. I kept asking if we're there yet. Our friend, the trusted Mr Guide kept saying, a little bit more; yet, the trail stretched on. After what seemed like hours of squirming around the trees and clambering over sharp rocks, we could finally see just how elevated we were.

Mr Guide mentioned a "point of no return" where once past, we would have no way of turning back, and will have to complete the entire trail. This point turned out to be a near-vertical wall of solid rocks, several times our average height. It is possibly possible to climb up, but definitely too dangerous to climb back down - especially without any protective whatevers. We did, for a while, consider turning back, though Mr Guide thought we would be able to overcome that seriously-intimidating rock-wall. In the end, however, we decided we hadn't come so far to turn back. So we proceeded. To get there, we first had to go down this really steep part, holding on to a rope tied around some tree branches.

It was actually scarier than it looks, simply because we're short-limbed - our legs couldn't reach the rocks below, and we couldn't see where we were stepping. It was here we got our first pro-comment: as one of my friend got stuck midway, hanging on for dear life, a pro-climber came by to offer advice, at the same time, asked the other friend "She's been there a long time, hasn't she?" referring to her state of hanging there, having neither the courage to descend, nor the strength to go back up. Eventually though, we made it.

The "scaling" up the point-of-no-return was not as difficult as I imagined it to be. I guess it was because I forced myself to focus on my every step, and NOT look down, nor think about how high I was, nor how surely I'd die if I fell.

We reached the first peak after that point. Mr Guide said that was The Challenge of our hike. Thereafter, we'd only have a few more smaller "obstacles", and then it would be an easy descent all the way. Easy all the way, right? Wrong again.

To get started, we needed again to go down a steep edge, hanging off a rope.

The rope reached only halfway down, and the rocks below were narrow, and right at the edge of the cliff. It was terrible. What's more terrible, I got several more pro-comments here. A pro, who was so pro he wore not hiking shoes but crocs, came by and casually spoke to me. I made a comment about how tough Bukit Tabur is to first-timers like myself. He brushed me off, saying if I wanted easy, I could go to Pavilion or Mid-Valley, and laughed heartily. We didn't get him the first time, and looked puzzled. He must've been having a ball of a time, for he then repeated what he said, and laughed even louder. Ha ha.

We attempted the ridiculous descent. I should have known better than to open my mouth again. Unfortunately, I didn't. I commented on how short the rope it. Mr Pro-in-Crocs said, "Cukup la tu. You nak pasangkan elevator?" (= It's sufficient. Do you want an elevator installed?) and he laughed again! Fine, fine. Point taken. I won't complain anymore... not even if the supposedly easy way down wasn't easy at all:

No complaints even if the rocks were so narrow I could fall off to death on either side:

Eventually, we reached the parts without menacing rocks; only the precariously slippery and narrow trails.

I found it much more unbearable because I wasn't wearing the right shoes. They had absolutely no hold! Despite being extremely slow and careful, I managed to slip and land flat on my bum, and also walk right into a branch which stretched right across my path and knock my nose into it. It was a horrible, horrible way down, but we got there eventually. The paved road we reached looked a little different from the one we left for the trail earlier, but it was civilization nonetheless.

It wasn't where we started, Mr Guide said, and he hadn't any idea where we were, or which way to walk to get back to our parked cars.

We don't mind asking for directions. We don't mind calling a cab.

Let's trek back to where we took the wrong turning and find the trail back to where we started, he said.

But we were so tired! We'd run out of drinking water!

Well then, rest a little first...

Well, we'll wait here by the unknown road while you trek back to your car. Then come get us!

He wouldn't because he said he would have no idea where to start looking for the unknown location from the other side. We had no choice; we trudged reluctantly, hanging our heads and shoulders, dragging our feet, complaining every few steps... until finally:

Never been happier to see a tar road! The trail we took would have taken a pro, or an experienced non-pro hiker no more than two or three hours to complete. We took a grand five and a half hours.

Bravo to me for undertaking such a challenging and dangerous trail for my first ever hiking outing! I'm glad I didn't die.


Odin Cards said...

Try Broga next time...much gentler and no precarious life risking steeps and slopes!

cher-ry said...

where is this place?

neil said...

Joo - no likey Broga because it's SO POPULAR! (No, I've never been there)

Bee Ree - at / near Melawati (I'm quite directions-impaired)