Friday, March 28, 2008

Gunung Stong Expedition

On 20th march 2008 at 6pm, I embarked on a journey with a group of not so close people to conquer the highlands of Gunung Stong, at a height of 1,399m. This is my 2nd attempt at scaling the mountains, the 1st being Gunung Belumut at 1,010m. So it's a slight improvement! All thanks to Kin Peng (the link between me & the climbing grp. She was the one who jio-ed me to join her.) I almost cldnt make it to this trip, cos initially had a diving trip which was cancelled (thanks to Sebast!!) so last min decided to change gear & try climbing. Since it was a long wkend, y not do sth adventurous & interesting! Luckily she had a vacancy (someone pulled out) & in I went!
Being a Thursday and a working day, I had to pack my bags & bring it to work. So had all my barang barang, shoes torches, meshtin, sleeping bag & what's necessary for climbing & staying overnight at campsite ready & carried it to work. Luckily it was a training day, and thanks to my nice colleagues (they actually chased me off b4 5pm), I could easily leave office at 5pm, took a direct bus & arrived just on time 530pm @ tanjong pagar railway station!

A group of us, led by Lester, took a short ride from SG to JB to meet up with the rest of the gang. Tired pig as I was, I fell asleep soon at 9pm. Of cos, not b4 I met up with some of the pple in our grp & chatted with them. And begun the 11hrs tedious train ride to Dabong in Kelantan. Yes, surprising alot of pple (even those from Kelantan) have no idea where Dabong is! The train bunk was alright but extremely cold. Well at least I got a few hours of sleep & got up ard 6am for alighting!
21 March 2008
630am: Reached Dabong and headed to a nearby mamak stall for breakfast. N that's when we found out a group of TJC students were also conquering the same mountain as us, with exactly the same itinery!! Our itinery - Caving on 1st day, hike to basecamp & sleep, 2nd day up Gunung Stong. N TJC students had the same itinery! That's when the rivalry officially started! More on that later...

Group photo taken @ Dabong station

After our breakfast, and when dawn broke, we waited and waited and waited for our guide to embark on our caving tour. From 7am, to 8am, still no sight of the guides. So, to occupy our time, we started to play Pepsi Cola 1-2-3! While the TJ students stretched stretched & stretched... Like stretch for what? We were only going for caving...For those who don't have child-hood, it's a game where u start by jumping apart, and the aim of the game is to step on ur opponent's foot to eliminate them! Last man standing wins! Our aim - to defeat Lester!!! Round 1 ended in defeat, so round 2, we ganged up and strike! Finally Lester was defeated & I was the last woman standing!

Playing Pepsi Cola 1-2-3 and aiming @ Lester

830am - Started our caving trip with guide Jai (should be spelt that way). It was to be a 2-hour caving trip visiting 3 caves. Guide's instruction was to wear shoes (cos some rocks are sharp), but I did not bring shoes only strapped sandals, so I was the only one with sandals. Hey, I survived so it really doesnt matter!

Most interesting was the 1st cave! We had to walk through the very narrow pathway in the cave which is pitch dark, only lit by our torches. Then came the most interesting part - To crawl under the stone through a very narrow opening on the ground. This will surely get u down & dirty! Which it succeeded. Luckily i was a bit skilful & only got the tip of my t-shirt muddy. But it was fun! Following, we went the 2 more caves, climbing up and down to reach them & looking at stalmites & limestones formation. Quite interesting but the 1st cave still is the best!

Crawling my way under

Trying our hands @ being creative

Picture perfect!

After 2hrs, it's back to the mamak stall for lunch! Our dear OBS instructor He Yu struck gold when he stepped on a pile of elephant shit right in front of him! Haha sure strike 4D. He still had 'nightmares' about the incident on the last day of the trip.

After lunch at abt 1230pm, we embark on our hike to our basecamp!! Yes, that's when i realised, we have to trek with our full pack to our basecamp through the forest trail!!! Nobody told me that & that was y i went with a slingbag & a small bag, like going to beach resort. So since what's done had been done, I had to carry my slingbag & trek 1.5hrs up up up to basecamp. Yes, i was made fun of by Lester & gang but hey i'm not going to give up ok!

So up up we went, the trek up is not easy i tell u! some parts are rather steep & slippery. But i perservered, with my slingbag on one side & my bag on my back.. N back to the TJ students, they were right behind our backs when we climbed up! Obviously following our trails!!

Yata! Finally reached camp!

After 1.5hrs, finally we reached Jelawang camp! Camping by the waterfall! Cool! But on condition that no soap & shampoo allowed in the waters. Cannot contaminate the environment. N the toilet is rather disgusting... U had to flush with water from the river but most of the time, it is not done cleanly.

After settling down & pitching tents, we went for some R&R at the waterfall, dipping & washing up to clean ourselves. Not much to totally cleanse ourselves but sufficient. Anyway, e'ryone is dirty so doesnt make much of a difference! We had fun by the waterfall, dipping in the water, cooking milo & drinking milo.

Me & Angelina

Scenery @ Viewpoint. Beautiful!

Us @ Viewpoint

530pm: Cooking dinner time! E'ryone (18 of us) gathered ard our campsite & started cooking with our meshtins, stoves. Opening up maggie mee, canned food & even eggs! Nothing fantastic but it was great fun! And at close to 630pm, mother nature decided to cleanse us once more and brought upon us rainfall! Hurriedly, we shifted to shelters & continued cooking & eating!

3 musketeers @ waterfall!

Cooking dinner

Luckily the rain lasted for abt 1hr only, at 730pm it kinda cleared off, and brought upon a rather cooling weather! We went to the viewpoint for some moon appreciation night! Clear blue sky with a full moon. Quite nice and romantic! Good for couples!

Night scenery

Then it was R&R time again. We started to play cards - DaiDee, loser will be changed. I shall not explain the game other than the name comes from just that - Biggest card (literally translated as 'Dai') is 2 (which is called 'Dee'). Rounds after rounds, it seemed like dear Angelina is the big winner, so our aim for the night was to defeat Angelina, the so-called 'Gao Ren' (meaning Queen of DaiDee). Even though we did not manage to do so that night, we deeply believe that there is no such thing as Queen of DaiDee. And we had a record - Record 12 cards held by Kin Peng and 11 cards by Lester (FYI, total cards handed out at the beginning is 13).

9pm: Sleeping bug started to catch on all of us & it was lights out. Immediately it was back to slumber land rather instantly. We had to get up at 6am the next morning (for Gunung Stong people) and 5am (for Gunung Ayam people).

22nd March 2008

615am: Woke up after much stretching & reminding & procrastinating. Packed the day bag ready for the climb & went over the the view point for breakfast with the sunrise! Yes, now i can officially say that I have seen sunrise! I mean, who would wake up at 6am in the morning for nth but sunrise. SO now, with the climb to commence at 7+am, i had a reason to wake up early! N i did. We had our breakfast at the viewpoint, waiting for the sun to rise. At 645am, the sky was slightly amber, still waiting for Mr Sun to show us his face! At 715am, starting to see a slight glimpse of his round face. At close to 730am, finally, Mr Sun has awaken! And my mission is completed! Yes, I was tasked as the unofficial photog for Gunung Stong Expedition (Kevin was the photog for Gunung Ayam). So armed with shots of the sunrise, I returned to the campsite & started on our climb up!

Cloudy morning..Beautiful


Sun is up!!

And that's where the TJ story begins.....

At our 1st rest point, after our 5min rest, we spotted the TJ students approaching us. N we started to continue on. At our 2nd rest point (which is abt 40mins into the trek), TJ students were again at our back after we stopped for 5min. Instantly, we hurried up & started to continue our trek. At our final water stop, the TJ students overtook us! We stopped to get water, but they did not n went ahead. This sparked our desire to power on! Our leader for Stong, Kin Peng, hurried in front and gave me & Angelina an order - To overtake the TJ students, forget abt the rest of the group behind, as long as we get up there 1st! It doesnt matter that the whole group cannot reach the summit 1st, as long as part of the group reach 1st, we win! Haha.. So armed with this order, Angeline, myself and the guide powered on. Fastened our pace, never really stopping & on and on we went. Until we finally caught up with the TJ students & their rest point. Yesh! We told our guide that we cannot afford to rest, we had to carry on. Poor Jai (our guide). He only had a piece of biscuit & had to carry on at our orders hahahahaha...

Since that rest point, we powered on relentlessly non-stop, keeping an ear on the TJ students (yes, they cheer & sing along the way). Finally after close to 2hrs of non-stop trekking, we reached the summit! The 1st group up!!! Yesh!!! After a total of 3hrs, we reached the summit. An interesting note, I broke one side of my sandal strap on my way up, but still i managed.. Hehehe.. I pity Jai, he had to power on at our orders not getting much rest on the way up but he knew we had to beat the TJ students.. He was funny as well. He showed his butt in anticipation of the TJ students approaching (cos their chantings were really really loud).

Me @ Summit!

Us @ summit!

After abt 15mins, the TJ students came cheering & singing up the summit. But no matter, we reached 1st! Another 15mins past, and our group came strutting up! We had our light lunch at the summit, comprising of just bread, biscuits, muesli bars & fruits. We rested for almost 45mins, took our group photo & prepared for the descent. The rest of the group descended at 1145am while Kin Peng, Angelina, Me & Jai waited till 12noon to take a photo. The story is this:

Photo taken @ 12noon!

This is the 10yr anniversary for the climbing group. So their mission was to conquer 10peaks concurrently on 22nd march at 12noon. So we had to wait till 12noon, take a picture b4 we descend. No cheating!

12noon: We started our descend. Going down is always harder than going up. Going with the gravity flow. N it is not good for ur knees when going downhill. After abt 2.5hrs, we reached the basecamp. N started to pack our bags for the descent down to resort. Some people started cooking noodles to fill their stomach b4 the descent. After abt 45mins, the Gunung Ayam People came back. They reached the peak at 11am and stayed till 12noon as well! Slight rain started pouring but that did not disrupt our plans.

430pm: Started the descent down from basecamp. With full pack again. N once again. the TJ students just love to follow behind us! When we start descending, they start descending behind us! Of cos, we are not giving way!

Close to 6pm, we reached the resort, and rushed to the toilet for a more thorough bathe. It was no luxurious bathing area, just toilet with hoses for bathing, but at least better than nth. At least I smelled much better.

7pm: After all the cleaning up & packing, we left for dinner! Much better dinner at a Malay stall.

Us @ dinner place!

815pm: Headed to the train station to wait for the 1030pm train. While waiting, we started our DaiDee again to dethrone the supposedly Queen of DaiDee. N we proved! That she is a fluke! Haha, beaten terribly by us! Then it was stupid talking nonsense sessions & just playing a fool while waiting for the train, which was delayed for 1hr. So instead of 1030pm, it came at 1130pm.

1130pm: Boarded the train & instantly slumberland! Everyone was too tired.

23 March 2008

1030am: Reached JB and bade farewell to some of the pple who decided to stop in JB for some food while the rest of us carried on to SG

1115am: Reached woodlands checkpoint finally & Home Sweet Home!!

Total expenditure: S$130 (1st collected at the start of the trip)

Refund: RM50 (due to the superb savings by Kin Peng)

Actual expenditure: About S$105

Not too bad. & a great experience! It wouldnt be the last climbing expedition I hope! The best part is the crowd. Climb was tough at times but the people and crowd made the whole event fun & interesting!!! We are just a bunch of crazy fun pple hahaha... Don't be fooled by appearance, e'ryone is crazy outside of work!

FYI, the day i reached back to SG (23March) I had to fly to KL for training.. So off i went to the airport 2hrs after i reached home hahaha....