It takes a lot of dedication (for me, at least) to wake up at five in the morning and make an hour’s drive to the sleepy town of Kuala Kubu Bharu. This rare piece of dedication was set in stone on the day I received an e-mail by a Ms Renuga informing me that I was chosen to be a participant of Tourism Selangor’s #TSDayOut. I was now a part of the Bukit Kutu Expedition where we will attempt to conquer Bukit Kutu, a 1,053 meter mountain set along the titans of the Titiwangsa Mountain Range.

I met up with the rest of the participants and organizers at the meeting point and was straight away issued a pink #TSDayOut t-shirt after registration. I found this to be a a genius move since the outrageously bright color contrasted well with the green foliage, making it much easy for everyone to identify each other. I just hoped that the pink color would not attract honeybees and other flower-loving insects.

“And the most important thing to remember – respect the jungle.”

We then made our way to Kampung Pertak, an Orang Asli village that marks the start of our hike. We were given a thorough briefing by the guide on the do’s-and-don’ts of treading this ancient forest followed by a quick warm up session. Once everything was packed, it was time to begin the hike. I decided to divide my ascent into four parts – how four habitats reflect four different experiences while I made my way up Bukit Kutu.

Part 1: The Three River Crossings / Familiarity

The first quarter of the hike was a pleasant stroll alongside a river and into the forest. We trekked along a gravel road before crossing the river three times – the crossings ranged from breezing through a sturdy metal bridge to walking in the icy cool waters of the river. Everyone’s spirits were high and bubbly as conversations were loudly heard along the trail. I took the time to make new friends while rubbing shoulders with seasoned photographers and esteemed travel bloggers.

Steadily marching across the river.
Steadily marching across the river.

Everyone was slowly adapting to the surroundings as eyes were seen admiring a banyan tree with its prop roots majestically rising above the ground while pace was picking up as we ushered our way into the heart of the jungle. Pit stops were inevitable as selfie sticks were brandished for group photos. It was another way for us unfamiliar participants to break the ice knowing that knowing each other “offline” once will lead us to be friends and followers “online” thereafter.

A wefie while waiting for the traffic in front to clear up.
A wefie while waiting for the traffic in front to clear up.

Part 2: Ascent To “The Rock” / Endurance

The narrow trail now slowly widened while the gradient became steeper as we undertook a great ascent within an hour. This was the point the group started to splinter as the fit warriors waltzed their way to the top while the rookies trudged along steadily. To the uninitiated, check points consisting of flat clearings were always greeted with warm smiles and sighs of relief. After a quick breather and a revitalizing water break, it was time to get back to the grind.

It's more to a love-hate relationship at this stage.
It’s more to a love-hate relationship at this stage.

Puffing, panting and a whole lot of sweating – my fitness was now put to the test. I took small steps and hiked at a slower yet consistent pace, ensuring momentum. The climb was manageable until I reached the final stretch – an almost 90 degrees climb to “The Rock,” a humongous boulder that really seemed out of place. Although visible from below, I felt like it took me ages to reach the boulder which was about the halfway point of this expedition.

“How did this giant rock end up here?” asked everyone.

Part 3: The Bamboo Forest / Solitude

We decided to use the boulder as a major rest stop while waiting for the rest to catch up. A group of early hikers accidentally stirred a grounded hornet’s nest along the route so we were deciding whether to give it a go or wait for a fire to be set up. I took the brave route and was rewarded with a sting on the hand! It was a minor inconvenience as I proceeded to move forward into my favorite part of the journey – the bamboo forest.

Solitude. Peace. Clarity.
Solitude. Peace. Clarity.

The jungle has now reverted back to its lush and dense state as I was now all by myself, only having the trail to guide me. It was a bit scary at first being alone but the joy of solitude was slowly growing on me. The sounds of the hills shrouding the storm-fallen bamboos dotted along the trail emanates a sense of serenity. I could actually hear myself thinking out loud when fleeing from the noise and clutter of the city leads to clarity of the mind.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.

At that very moment, I couldn’t agree more with Henry David Thoreau.

Part 4: Peak Of Bukit Kutu / Triumph

After a gentle walk along the surprisingly flat bamboo forest, I ascended again and felt this was the last remaining obstacle to the peak. Thirty minutes was all it takes to reach the peak of Bukit Kutu where I was greeted by the Tourism Selangor crew with a quick certificate presentation photo-op. I also saw an old chimney, a remnant from the Colonial British era where rest houses were built on this very mountain for the British to escape the tropical heat.

Climbing the peak's peak.
Climbing the peak’s peak.

Technically, I wasn’t at the peak yet because there was a matter of climbing a couple of giants rocks with the help of ladders. The rocks had space for up to five people at a time so I could only hang out at the top for a short while. I was offered a 360 view of the mountain range that runs endless all the way into Thailand, in what I see to be one of the most majestic mountain hiking views in Peninsula Malaysia.

Ain't that gorgeous? (Photo courtesy of Ding Xiang)
Standing on the shoulder of giants. (Photo courtesy of Ding Xiang)

Back at the chimney, more and more of my hiking buddies emerged from the woods and they looked famished. It was no wonder our packed lunch of rice and chicken curry tasted so good! I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around while sharing stories about each others journey to the top. After a grueling four hour hike, the warm smiles and friendly laughter at the start of this journey was seen and heard again.

 Many thanks to the awesome folks of Tourism Selangor for organizing this event, not to mention support from the steadfast team from Jabatan Bomba & Penyelamat and Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor. To know more about Tourism Selangor and #TSDayOut, do visit their website or talk to them via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Travel Tips:

  • Bukit Kutu is located near the town of Kuala Kubu Bharu, about one hour north of Kuala Lumpur. It is accessible by the North-South Expressway, through either Bukit Beruntung (Exit 118) or Lembah Beringin (Exit 120). Alternatively, you could take the KTM Komuter trains, alighting at Kuala Kubu Bharu Station and hiring a cab to Kampung Pertak.
  • Although not compulsory, it is best if you could inform the police of your intentions in hiking Bukit Kutu as a safety measure. You can do so at Balai Polis Kuala Kubu Bharu (Tel: +60360641222) located in the town center.
  • The hike takes about 4 hours one-way for the average hiker so make sure you bring plenty of water, energy bar or even a light lunch. Do pack up on rain gear in case of evening showers or thunderstorms.
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