Monday, August 30, 2010

Walking the jungle (2)

After this very first day getting in touch with my inner climber at Bako park, several other days followed for more jungle walking. The friend I was travelling with in Kuching and I wanted to see as much nature as possible, and enjoy the free access to all this beauty... So 2 days later we went walking in Santubong peninsula, the path this time was rougher and steeper, but I actually had fun getting a bit more energetic and pushing the edge of the walk / climb / hanging on a slippery slope with an old rope to prevent from falling (OK I wasn't feeling too good at this point).

Santubong peninsula - waterfalls, slippery rocks...
 and of course after one day of walk, I couldn't resist once again...

another good swim in the sea :-)
After that, the next good walk was in Mount Kinabalu park. I did not go for the whole 2-days-package-climb-that-costs-a-leg-and-an-arm (the ones you don't lose walking at 2am in the dark), but I travelled in and out one day to get a feel of the paths at the bottom of the park. It would have been great should the weather had been nice. But this time, no such luck, it was pouring rain and the thick jungle leaves were offering little shelter once I was walking in the forest. To be honest, I enjoyed it because rain makes all the smells come out from the earth, trees and leaves - at the beginning at least. But after 2 hours of non-stop tropical rain, rather cold temperature as the Kinabalu park is 2000m high up in the mountains, and having my clothes soaked wet I was happy to reach the entrance back, and get myself fanbianmian (instant noodles) and a cup of hot chocolate.

Kinabalu park

After this one, several days went without walks... Kota Kinabalu, then back to Kuala Lumpur, and off for a bus ride in Perak state, where I needed to go to the Cameron Highlands before flying back home. And these mountains kept all their promises! First thing, when you get on the bus from Ipoh and get close to the mountains, you find yourself surrounded by sugar loaf mountains, a bit like Yangshuo in China or Halong Bay in Vietnam. All this got myself really excited, until I got to Tanah Rata and realised most trails were indicated as "hard to find", "not well marked", and of course "don't go on your own, follow a guide"! I found it disappointing that after walking on my own in several parks in Borneo, in the Peninsula I had to get myself a guide to walk in one of the biggest spot of Malaysia. So of course I got myself a map, asked for directions and went on my own.
Trail 10 was a good well-marked path to go through a beautiful camelia garden, then up in the mountain and to the top of Gunung Jasar mountain, 1670m high up, but with a beautiful view over the Highlands and tea plantations. As goes in the season, the weather was beautiful but not as warm as down in the plains, and it was a good idea to climb steep slopes to get a bit of warm in the early morning (9am - ok maybe not so early then!)

Cameron Highlands - trail 10
The path was intricated with roots from the surrounding trees, with beautiful patches of blue sky through the canopy. Climbing up at some point I got out of the forest and up the small mountain top with the nice view on tea plantations...

Gunung Jasar and the view to the tea plantations
After that I tried to find my way forward to another path... After 3 fails and a lot of mud on the pants, I eventually decided to walk my way back to the hostel and spend more time in the beautifully arranged camelia garden. It wasn't a bad idea as the evening rain comes early in these mountains and it was pouring by 2pm :)

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