Chim arranged most of the things, including Hassan’s van to drive us there. Merapoh is in Kelantan (near Kuala Lipis). We depart at night and reach there sometime after midnight, where we have to “self-service” at the dorm.
Before we start our journey in the morning, one of the officer will have to take not of how many containers, plastic bags, batteries, etc that we have with us, to make sure we take them down with us as well. This exercise is quite time consuming, and we doubt its effectiveness as well (it’s impossible to keep track of everything, perhaps it’s just meant to sent a message). We took a 4WD to go through to sloppy road (and we pretend it to be a roller coaster ride) to reach Kem Kuala Jeram, a river where they keep the fishes.
The journey on the first day is quite slow and tiring, perhaps we over carry too many food (afraid will die of hunger). We cross 4 rivers and camp at Kem Kor after 7 hours of journey. Nothing spectacular about the route or the camp. Gotten about 10 sand fly (“agas” in Malay) bite mark (nothing as compared to my record of 50 in Liang). Thong cook us a good dinner with Thong Sui, satisfying. It rains on the 1st night, and out tent leaks, so Chim the handy man solve it by covering it with an extra layer of rubbish bag.
2nd day is the main challenge, expected to walk a minimum of 10 hours so we have to depart around 7.30am. Thong packs us some black soy fish with rice as lunch, very appetizing. We ascend quite a lot (I notice it even more when we come down), walk, walk and more walking. The “prize” of the mountain is after Bonzai, where the view is spectacular. We can see more than 180 degrees of clear mountain range, and the area is rocky with sand, marble, short bushes and plenty of small monkey pitches. We spent quite a lot of time here with a lot of pictures taken. It’s really spectacular. We collect water at Kem Botak and proceed to the top.
The peak had quite a wide space, but it did flood when it rains. We have no choice but to “move house” from the more sandy ground to some rockier surface, else we would have a sleepless night. The night is really very very cold, and my glove and thick socks (covered by sleeping back) seems to provide very little insulation. It’s windy and definitely one of the coldest night ever. The peak is full with wild orchid, and there is an amazing “ocean of cloud” in the morning in multiple directions. The view is definitely one of the very best, as good as Jelawang (or better). We get some casual wedding photo taken here :) We we have peninsular's highest toilet here as well.
The journey down is really very painful, because the ground is hard most of the time with lots of roots, and I am wearing Kampung Addidas. Perhaps boots are more suitable for Gunung Tahan, as the path is quite wide. After 9 hours of excruciating pain and “bubbles” popping up beneath my feet, we finally arrive at Kem Kor and had a good dip in the water. The worst part is over, and everything else is just a piece of cake.
Most of the time, we travel with Siong Har because it’s comfortable, thus we seldom have chance to mingle with a new gang. Our last trip with Jian Hwa and Ali Baba to Gunung Kuning is quite refreshing as well, as we are more involved in the cooking for the 1st time (we always depends on Siong Har and Ah Fong most of the time). For the Tahan trip, we did meet many people with interesting personality and story.
Soo Min is a very funny and special girl, who somehow hooked on Marathon and now trying hiking and camping. She is someone who like things clean (imagine she use wet tissue to clean her feet before having lunch), yet able to bear the messiness of hiking. She can’t sleep together with stranger, thus she take sleeping pills and put on ear plug; she is willing to explore and adapting. Teacher Tham come to Tahan to fulfill his dream of hiking Tahan 20 years ago, and he met his colleagues in the mountain. He “retires” early to become an editor for student comic and magazine, made quite a big change. He did this trip with his son, which I think is a very precious adventure between a father and son (we don’t get any father and son team so far). He is a funny person in a funny way, and he categorizes himself as a “violent” teacher; perhaps the job of teaching really put people on a lot of stress. Chim is as caring and friendly as ever, and Cynthia is a person hard to imagine being involved in hiking. Perhaps like what Teacher Tham said, I am also “too gentle” for hiking. There are more interesting things about this group of friends, just that I don’t know how to describe further. Min Yi is supposed to join us, but she had to take some Chinese exam to qualify for something in China. She is also another interesting character, having travelled Europe in backpack and perhaps planning to move to China for a while.
The experience is really fun and good; perhaps it had been a while since my last hiking and camping trip. I always find peace and fun, and good company; not to mention a whole lot of dirt to clean up when I get home (and thanks mom and dad for the help).
Perhaps I might come back to Tahan again for the Merapoh-Tahan-K.Tahan 7D6N trip. I was told the K.Tahan trail is more spectacular. Who knows :) Life is full of surprises ...