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The Unforgettable Trail of Gunung Kajang

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Gunung kajang had always played in my mind since I started coming to Tioman. My first arrival was basically to complete my scuba diving license where during my scuba session out in the sea I was memories with the mountain mystic and beauty. From that point I knew I need to hike that mountain forever what cost I need to bare.

FTW! Zul's gang, ready to pounce Gunung Kajang
FTW! Zul's gang, ready to pounce Gunung Kajang

That's when I meet Bryan who had the same passion for the mountain and offer a reasonable price to hike the mountain. And the price really pays off with the trill and adventure I endure whereby I can consider it as one of the toughest mountain I have hike before guys! My journey with my friends Farhan, Akim, Khai and Hafiz began when we all start packing our stuffs on Friday evening after work. All of us works at MMHE but only Farhan and me are part time student at UTM. Around 11 pm we start driving to Mersing and stayed there for a night because we don't like to rush arriving at Mersing Jetty. We slept at mersing mosque that night.

Plenty of obstacles to clear
Plenty of obstacles to clear

Early morning we stuff our bags again. Take some few pictures at Mersing Mosques and having breakfast before boarding our ferry to Tioman. We meet our guide name Lambak who is a local resident and have many times hike the mountain we dreamed to conquer. For me it was a bit late to start our ascent at 12 noon but all of us were fire up to reach the summit. We start up by doing warm up and recite doa to ease our journey. However we are prepare to face the hardship the mountain offer to us and it did not fail to impress us how difficult it was.

Like being in an episode of 'Lost' - Image by David Trippett
Like being in an episode of "Lost" - Image by David Trippett

Firstly we encounter how extremely hot the weather is and the difficultly to sweat due to it high humidity. Maybe because we are on a tropical island thus the micro weather here is a lot different than the mainland. However our misery was heal with a smile on our face when we arrived at willow tree. Basically the tree is actually a cumulative of 90 degree root with a height of 30 meter. It is pretty awesome to climb it but also scary in a way and not for the fainted heart. We took some pictures and off away we hike.

Stage 1, scaling The Ledge
Stage 1, scaling The Ledge

About one hour in our journey we cross upon a dried river which was full of rocks. We need to be careful crossing this path because the rocks are wobbly and thus it is easily to fall and to injure ourselves. Luckily all of us successful cross the dried river. Our guider said during monsoon this river will be full again with water.

We began to notice the jungle become thicker than before. The ground was full of dead leaves such like nobody have cross this path for many years. The ascent was painful but it did not stop there. The weather change dramatically then rain started dropping on our faces. We quickly wear our raincoat but I pity one of our guider name Jeff who forgot to bring his raincoat. We continue hiking but the worse have not yet to come.

Impressive boulders strewn all over the mountain
Impressive boulders strewn all over
the mountain

Within a few minute after raining we were swarm by plenty, I really mean plenty of leeches. It was like out of a horror movies were you can see the leeches' moves very quickly to find a host to suck through. There were so many we eventually let these leeches suck our blood and for the very first time I got thirteen bits on my necks guys. Gods know how many more bits throughout my entire body.

At times ropes are required to cross the chasms
At times ropes are required
to cross the chasms

This rain had made our steps become slower. It's much easier to get an injury plus this trail was not often used. Luckily we arrived at our water source to take a few rest and of course to remove leeches from our bodies. Our guide Lambak said the journey it still far and we need to cross bukit senyum before arriving our based camp. The sun is getting dimmer and the air is getting foggier. The rains still have no sign to stop but it won't make us stop climbing mount kajang.

Our minds now focus to arrive our based camp which is 800m above sea before sunset. The air is getting colder and the ascent is getting steeper because currently we are hiking bukit senyum. No wander local call this area as bukit senyum. The incline here will make you smile. Nearly one hour has passed and still there's no sign of the camp. In my head I was thinking for sure this is one hard mountain to climb and I was deceived from afar the beauty of this island and its mountain.

Window to another world
Window to another world

Lastly we have arrived at the base camp between three large rocks out of nowhere. The location is good for camp as it give natural protection against falling trees especial during draining season. But the area is a bit strait and proven hard to build our camps. Lambak says we cannot go further because the trail above is more tortuous and the night is coming. We better sleep here and continue tomorrow morning.

That's good news for me as my energy had all burn out. My bag is heavy and need to be lay down. My stomach is empty and need to be feed out. My body is aching and need to rest now. However before I slept I remove all leeches from my body especially on my neck which surprises me. It was so worse I need to leave my stocks on while sleeping to stop the bleeding. That's the pain of climbing mount Kajang. Lord of the leeches' rules here. Hehe.

Looking through the window
Looking through the window

Morning arrive quickly like we never slept. We leave some stuff at the camp and only bring the vital ones. This will improved our phased hiking up the mountain. However like Lambak said yesterday it was much harder. Our first obstacle was the big rocks. We climb above the rock. Penetrate between the rocks and also need to go under the rocks. The area was so dangerous if you fall it's like falling from a two stories house. While some place got ropes others have no rope at all and some areas are hollow's but filled with dead leave making it your worst nightmare if you fall into it.

Our second obstacle was the razor sharp jungle plant thorns which left a long cut mark on my both arms and still remains until now. Easy to say do not grab any plant even thou the soil are slippery and steeper. Lastly we arrive at the ridge of the mountain. I can fill the joy is just around the corner. Our phased become quicker and without notice we have arrived at the top of the mountain.

Squeezing past the rock face near the top
Squeezing past the rock face near the top

The joy was so tremendous we smile at one another. It takes us two hours from the base camp and six hours from the bottom to the base camp just to enjoy one hour at the top of the mountain. The day was sunny and we even saw a boat at the horizon. We take a lot of photos before we ate and rest. What I can say is the price was worth it for hiking up the mountain and achieving something no other men had done.

After a long rest we pack our stuffs and went down to base camp before packing all our stuffs to head down to the local town before returning home. We have already missed our last ferry so we might enjoy ourselves by swimming at the beach and enjoying the lovely sunset. This place still has its beauty and still has its wonders. We ate heavily that night with seafood dishes and laugh the whole night remembering the journey. Time does stop for a while at the island and your entire burden you face in life feels like gone forever. For me this trail was one of my epic trails I have ever endured. I will remember forever in my life.

The very peak. Mission accomplished. Well done, chaps!
The very peak. Mission accomplished.
Well done, chaps!

We are one of few who conquer the notorious mountain. It is the highest island mountain in Malaysia. From the beginning the obstacles were like hell but we all enjoy it. Life is bored without challenges. Life is meaningless without hardship. You won't appreciate life without working for it. Life is nature and nature is life. I felt the bond with nature have grown even stronger. I appreciate its giving and respect its colours and wonders.

I would like to say thank you all for making the expedition worthwhile especially Bryan and Lambak. It is an unforgettable trail to Gunung Kajang.

- Zul, Malaysia -
  Gunung Kajang survivor :)

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