If you google ‘Gunung Nuang’, chances are you will not see many photos being taken. I believe it’s because after hours of hiking and climbing, one would be greatly disinclined to snap many photos! Personally, on this climb, I snapped the least number of photos. I’d like to share them with you here.
But first let me tell you how I almost gassed some one to death high up on Gunung Nuang!
“How?”, you ask.
On that fateful, we were given instruction to wait at the Kemayan Square in Seremban at 4.20 am. Yours truly was there before that and since there was no one else (except for 2 other climbers), I decided to take an early breakfast at the Al-Azhar restaurant nearby. At the time, the Chelsea-Liverpool was being telecast live (Chelsea won, btw, in case you want to know, by 3-2).
The restaurant was packed but I got my food real fast. One roti canai with dhal and a cup of hot milo.
Because by the time I passed Kem Pacat on the way up Gunung Nuang, I felt the first tremors of stomach cramps. “Food Poisoning!!!”, that was my immediate thought. “Oh God, this is not the time to get food poisoning”, was my next thought. Later I found out that a few others who also ate the same mamak restaurant had similar complaints. I didn’t fancy making any organic deposits up in the mountain! I mean, people might chance upon me, with my pants down, doing my business and before you know it, the video would be on youtube!
Another hour into the climb, I felt the urgent urge to release some biogas. Unfortunately, by then, the climb was pretty steep and you know-la, when it’s that steep, the guy behind you (an unfortunate Malay chap from another group) practically have his face in your, well, rear end.
“PooooOOOOOOTTTT!!!!” ,out came the first gust of biogas. I mumbled a quick apology to the slightly-blue-in-the-face guy behind me whose nostrils were just inches from my, you know, there….! Instinctively, I put my Kegel muscle into hypercontraction but it was useless.
The first gust was followed by a few very loud, very prolonged, very disgusting “poot, poot, pooooots!!!” followed by the final short decrescendo of small short “poots”!!! Gosh! I was so mortified at the uncivilised behaviour of my unruly bowel! I turned around and this guy behind me was in a much darker shade of sickly green. I thought he was going to keel over and fall off the steep incline! I almost killed him by gassing!
I mumbled a few more ‘maafs’ (sorry in Malay) and finally stepped aside and asked him to pass me, which he gladly did, and in a hurry too.
Now, back to the climb. One word:
Anyway, here are the pictures…
Briefing by Peter Lai before the climb. We were delayed by almost an hour because some couldn’t wake up in time that morning. As a result, the climb started late. There was a small drizzle when we started but it did not turn into a downpour. Thank God.
Picture before the climb. I think it’s time to change my much abused camera, lately the pictures are a bit blurry. Youngest in the group: two 15 year olds; the oldest is 54 years old.
The initial 2 hours or so of the climb consists of these gravel+mud road with a gentle upward gradient. These few guys were the first to summit the mountain. I never saw them again until I met them high up there when they were descending and I was still struggling to go up! Youth sure has its advantages! :(
The first part of the climb, you will see a forest of wild bamboos. Perfect for ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ or ‘House of Flying Daggers’ fight scenes!
An Orang Asli house along the way. Yeah, it’s blur. I know. It’s the camera.
The river at Kem Lolo. It takes an average of 2 hours hike to reach this place from base.
The first river we had to cross. Altogether we had to cross 5 rivers (or was it 4?), some like this one is easy as you can just hop from rock to rock. Others are deeper and may require footwear to be removed unless you fancy hiking/climbing in wet soggy socks and shoes.
The non-functional dam which we had to cross. It’s about 100 meters from Kem Lolo.
Removal of footwear is recommended here as the water is deep and the current swift. One of the students dropped his precious water bottle containing 700 ml of clean water here!
Another river we had to cross. Here another student dropped her socks into the water, and effectively contaminated the water supply of half the population of the Klang Valley. Heh heh! Just kidding.
After that the gravel road gave way to this trail which gets steeper and more slippery by the minute. This kind of trail goes on forever and ever. It gets on your nerves after a while.
I saw some wild flowers on the way.
And some fungi on old rotting tree bark.
And lots of ferns naturally.
Some parts are rocky, like this one. Just about now, my left knee began to hurt. It was an injury I picked up while climbing Gunung Angsi last month which I thought has healed. Apparently not!
Kem Pacat. “Pacat” is the Malay word for leeches! Indeed, along the way, I saw many of these slimy creatures on the ground, tree barks and leaves, waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting climbers and sucking the blood out of them! One student was bitten by 4 of them! Another was bitten on her right inner arm. EeeeWWWWW!!!
The sign says “Beauty is the eye of the beholder”. I thought the correct phrase should be “Beauty is IN the eyes of the beholder”. Anyway, by then, I wasn’t much in the mood for beholding any beauty as I felt the first tummy cramp of food poisoning, which led to the near-death-by-biogassing- incident I mentioned earlier.
By now, the pain in my left knee was a bit more intense. To get to Kem Pacat from Kem Lolo would take an average of 2 hours climb (I am referring to the time taken by mere mortals and not super-fit people!)
I decided not to stop at Kem Pacat. One of the reason was because the place was full of honey bees! At any one time, there would be about a dozen bees just buzzing or sticking onto your clothes! I found it especially annoying to have these awful insects just buzzing within earshot while I was climbing. I wished I had a full can of ‘Shieldtox’ at the time!
After Kem Pacat, the trail gets even more steep with tree roots forming the main leg hold for the ascend.
My injured knee didn’t give me much problem then as it only hurts when I flex the hamstrings which was not really active during a climb (the quadriceps are active during the ascend). I knew that going down would be torture.
The mist rolled in at noon and the peak was nowhere in sight.
Right about then, I spotted this sign up ahead and thought I had reached some sort of rest place (or the peak ~ I hoped) but it turned out to be just a sign that does not help at all! I wonder why they bother to put up sign boards like these. I would prefer sign boards that say “40 minutes to the peak” or “Starbucks available at the peak”.
Next to that sign board was this dark upward trail. Not very inviting. In the jungle, the light dims pretty quickly even though it was just past noon at the time.
At one self-imposed stop, I took pictures of these leaves with these unique swellings on them.
On the flip side, these swellings has these pink pointy protruberances! Reminded me of one of Madonna’s costume! Heh heh!!! :)
And then, suddenly I could see the sky clearly. I thought the peak must be near! It was almost 1 pm by then.
I hobbled up (yup, by now the pain in the knee was much worst and I had my knee guard on, and I popped 2 tablets of Ponstan to help ease the pain a little), only to be greeted by this sign. Apparently this was the ‘false peak’ that I overheard some people talking about while on the way up. This peak is known as ‘Puncak Pengasih’ (Lover’s Peak?) but I didn’t feel any loving vibes then. I was too tired and too disappointed to feel any love! :)
From Puncak Pengasih, I had to descend down a steep slope which took about 20 minutes during which time my knee began to hurt very badly. I met a number of my fellow climbers along the way (they were on their way back to base) and they told me the peak is still a long way off; “maybe 45 minutes” they said. Gosh!!!
I seriously considered turing around at the time because the ‘turn-back-time’ was supposed to be 1 pm. The order was that no matter where or how high on the mountain one is, one MUST turn back at 1 pm, in order to make it back to base before dusk.
Then I met the leader who was on his way down and he said I can probably stretch it to but not beyond 2 pm.
Decision, decision, decision…..
I decided to press on. I wanted to reach the peak so badly. (Pride la, what to do. But now in hindsight, I think it was a foolish decision. I could have hurt myself badly).
Two paractamol tablets, a few sprays from an ethanol can, lots of pain bearing jaw crunch and 40 minutes later from Puncak Pengasih, I finally stepped onto the peak!
Gunung Nuang’s peak, at 4898 feet above sea level!!!! Woooo hooooooo!!!!!
By then , it was so misty I could not see anything! I am told, on a clear day, one could even see Genting Highlands at a distance.
I was the last one from my team to arrive at the peak. There were a few groups of people up there. I got one of them to take my pictures next to the sign board there (no one to jubilate with! Sigh!), changed into a fresh set of clothes, gobbled down my packed lunch, ate an apple, drank a fair amount of water and bid a hasty descend starting at 2 pm. I knew the descend would be very tough as my knee hurt with every step down.
My stomach still had the cramps and I felt the first urging of solids waiting to be evacuated! Gulp!!!
Lichen on a tree. I still remember what I learnt in Botany class as a Science undergraduate in UKM! This was the 2nd last picture I took.
Strange fruits on a tree. On closer look, they were swarming with ants! “Must be sweet stuff”, I thought to myself.
And that was the last picture I took because after that all I did was to concentrate on getting down as quickly as possible, as painlessly as possible and drinking as little water as possible. I wanted to reach Kem Lolo before sundown because it would be dangerous to descend in the dark. It’s safer to walk on the gravel road in the dark than to be trapped up in the mountain. No time to linger and snap photos!
Along the way, lots of people passed me by, each either enquiring whether I was on my way up (!!!) or those who actually noticed me walking funny and in pain, whether I am okay and what’s wrong with my knee.
One by one they passed me by.
And then, I was all alone…..
The last guy descending from the peak, in pain, with only the jungle noise for company and the lights quickly fading. I was scrambling down as fast as my painful knee would allow.
Thank God, I reached Kem Lolo at 6.30 pm while there was still some light. By then I had managed to catch up with a couple from my group (they were going down slowly ~ wanted to enjoy the walk it seems, holding hands and all!), another couple (because the girl sprained her ankle) and another older Chinese chap (who incidentally, will be joining me in the PD Half Marathon sometime this month!).
Together the 5 of us made the slow painful journey back to base.
Meanwhile, my people back at the base had waited for more than 2 hours, and getting worried. They sent Good Samaritans (but ride like demons) on motorcycles to come get us.
I managed the last part of the descend, hanging precariously for dear life, with 2 other guys on a motorcycle going down at break neck speed; fervently praying that my life would not be extinguished by a crash or a quick descend into the deep ravine just next to the road shoulder! I didn’t know whether to be grateful for the lift or to curse the guy for trying to take my life away.
Miraculously, the 3 of us reached base in safely!
It was so good to see my fellow-climbers and the relief on their faces! They all heard I hurt my knee.
It was one fantastic climb. Very challenging indeed. Extremely grueling.
I don’t think I will ever go for it again.
Sun, 040508 @ 0700 (the knee is much better now)
1. Nuang Conquered