Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fashionista's Escapades: Climbing Bukit Tabur East

This is my final hike for the month of January. And since I am running out of places to hike, I might be posting less hiking in the following months (I think). There are plenty of places to hike in Malaysia (or Selangor specifically) but I have yet to finalise my own target list (i.e. which hills or mountains that I'd like to try out).

Anyway, we decided to try and hike Bukit Tabur for two reasons; (1) on most of the hiking blogs, almost every one of them would recommend hiking Bukit Tabur; and (2) due to its challenging nature, some blogs have even recommended not to hike Bukit Tabur.

Note: We need a permit to hike Bukit Tabur (although some of the hikers that I met yesterday said they didn't obtain the permit) and here's a link of how to get the permit [click here]. We obtained our permit on Friday from Pejabat Hutan Daerah Selangor on Friday morning. The permit is only RM5 per person.

Bukit Tabur is located in Taman Melawati. I used Waze to get to the entrance of the trail. There are two routes for Bukit Tabur, which are Bukit Tabur East and Bukit Tabur West. Some people have told me that Bukit Tabur East is shorter but more challenging and Bukit Tabur West is not as challenging but the route is longer. Having never hiked on both routes, we decided to try out Bukit Tabur East. So, here's a photoblog of our hike yesterday:

We left for the hike at 9 am (after having breakfast) and arrived at the entrance to Bukit Tabur at around 9.30 am. Parked carefully around the nearby housing area (so as to not disturb any of the residences) and proceeded to our hiking route.

The first few meters from the road, we had to pass by these huge water pipes.

The climb begins.

Initial hike.

This way please. If I'm not mistaken there were a handful of these in the initial hike up.

A little bit of scampering around the rocks. 

On several parts of the hike, there are ropes provided to help your climb. Do use gloves because if you don't, you might end up with blisters on your hands.

Some parts had an almost 90 degree incline.

Having a strong upper body strength is definitely an added advantage.

First peak.

Went forward (with some ups and downs) to the main peak.

Some parts of the climb were relatively easy.

The main destination is up this peak.

Almost there.

The final climb up the main peak. 90 degrees incline. One tiny route (thus those going up would have to wait for those coming down to clear the route. As one of my friends had commented, only in Malaysia you would find traffic jam when hiking and you have to wait for your turn to go up.

Climbing up the main peak. Caution: This peak is treacherous. One tiny mistake would definitely cost you your life (or limb). So do be careful.

And we have finally reached the top. Hurrah!

Me, Aatif and Nihal. We finally made it to the top.

The dragon back ridge. Checked!

Another traffic jam. Getting down is equally (if not more) treacherous as going up. One rope and your own imagination on where to put your footing on the rocks.

The route down is different than the route up. So this route is definitely way faster than climbing up.

The final 10 - 15 minutes before arriving to where our car was parked.

Bukit Tabur East.

The view from the top of Bukit Tabur. Masha Allah.

And got to enjoy a beautiful view of the KL skyline as well. 

Let me just say that I had my concerns prior to climbing Bukit Tabur, one of the is regarding the accidents that has happened on the hill [click here] and some blogs/ write ups that were not favourable (i.e. they warned us against hiking up Bukit Tabur) thus I was initially afraid that climbing Bukit Tabur would be a difficult task. But having hiked up the top, I must say that it's not as difficult as what people say it is. If you've hiked before, then Bukit Tabur is definitely doable. However, do bear in mind that if you have any second thoughts on climbing, feel free to stop your climb and proceed to descend. A hike is always a personal achievement and if you feel you are not up to it, you can always try again later.

In terms of timing, we reached the first peak in about an hour and proceeded to reach the main peak in another hour (it would have been less but because there are so many people, I think we spent maybe around 20 - 30 minutes just waiting for the route to clear up and to give way to those who are descending). And going down took only perhaps 45 minutes because it's a straight (no fuss) route down the hill.

Now that I've climbed Bukit Tabur, I wouldn't say that it's that difficult (although I am not able to say the same for Bukit Tabur West because I have never climbed up that route before). With perseverance, you will definitely be able to make it. On some parts I did feel kind of cheated because I expected the route to be more difficult (so far I would have to say Mulu Pinnacles is the most challenging hike that I've ever been to) but the climb to the final peak of Bukit Tabur is definitely very, very dangerous and do be extra careful if you make the decision to climb up the main peak.

That being said, if you love hiking, Bukit Tabur is definitely a must hike! The hike was enjoyable and the scenery is definitely worth the climb.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fashionista's Escapades: Sungai Chiling

So I've decided to mix my exercise routine with some recreational activities and yesterday we decided to go on a short hike/ jungle trek and a picnic at Sungai Chiling, located at Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor.

The drive took about a little over an hour and when we arrived at Sungai Chiling, the place was already packed with visitors. Since we were already there, we decided to join in the crowd. Here's a short photoblog of my trip:

The entrance to Sungai Chiling.

After a 5-minutes trek from the entrance, you'll arrive at this small clearing. Do register yourself at the office (located next to that red car). Entrance fee is RM1 per person. And if you bring food/ drinks, there's a rubbish deposit (just to make sure you'll bring them back and the deposit will be refunded back to you).

A map of the route to the waterfall. In my opinion, you need not reach the top. Just stop where you feel comfortable and where the depth of the river suits your swimming/ picnic needs.

Sungai Chiling.

Your trek starts after the wooden suspension bridge. Your trek/ path is to your left, not straight.

Trekking to the top is relatively easy. With an incline of only about 10 - 15%, there were even pregnant ladies and kids as young as 2 years old trekking along the way.

The most interesting part about this journey is that you have to cross the river 6 times before you reach the top. There will be signs along the way, so don't worry.

Crossing the river. At some parts, the water was up to the waist!

As Sungai Chiling is a fish sanctuary, there were a lot of fishes in the water. 

Another crossing.

After the 6th crossing, we finally made it to the top part of the waterfall. Woot! Woot!

And there were a lot of people at the top. So do come early if you want the best seats in the house.

There were six of us on this trip =).

Since, there were too many people at the top, we decided to look for a suitable place further down the waterfall. The guys were having a competition on who would be able to hold on the longest in the water without floating away with the currents.

The view from where I sat.

Another view of the waterfall from where I sat =).

Me, myself and I. The guys behind me were also holding a competition to see who would be able to withstand the currents the longest.

Heading back. Crossing over the river on a log.

Me and the fishes. One of my favourite moments at Sungai Chiling =).

We had a great time at Sungai Chiling. It's a great place for a picnic with the family and kids. The hike to the top took maybe only about an hour (or less) and along the way, there's plenty of spots along the river where you can stop and have a picnic if you don't want to go all the way to the top. 

To new adventures and beautiful Malaysian moments =). 

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Monday, January 18, 2016

Beautiful Patience: Tafseer of Surah Yusuf

After coming back to Kuala Lumpur from Mulu, last weekend was spent learning the Tafseer of Surah Yusuf with Dr Reda Bedeir at Taylor's University lakeside campus. I have always enjoyed Al Maghrib's seminars and to date, this is my 7th seminar with them. 

Here's a short summary of what I learnt in Surah Yusuf:

1. Surah Yusuf was revealed all at once. 

The surah contains only one story, i.e. the story of Prophet Yusuf and nothing else. According to some scholars, the surah was revealed when the Jews wanted to test the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. and instigated some of the disbelievers to ask the Prophet on why did the family of Prophet Yaakub moved from Palestine to Egypt. This knowledge was contained in their books but the Arabs were unaware of it. Thus the surah was revealed there and then.

2. Surah Yusuf is a surah of 3 dreams and 3 shirts. 

The surah started with Prophet Yusuf sharing his dream with his father, Prophet Yaakub where he saw the sun, the moon and 11 stars bowing/ prostrating to him. The middle of the dream revealed the dream of two prisoners whom Yusuf have met in prison and they had asked Yusuf to interpret their dreams to them (the Prophet Yusuf had been gifted with the ability to interpret dreams). And the final dream was the dream of the king, towards the end of the surah. 
For the shirts, the first shirt was the shirt of Yusuf whom his stepbrothers had smeared with fake blood as evidence to their father that Yusuf had been killed by a wolf. The second shirt is where Yusuf's shirt was torn by the Azeez's wife (who was running after Yusuf to entice him to engage in illicit relations with her). And the third shirt is the shirt of Yusuf which was pressed over Yaakub's face and it returned the eyesight of Yaakub. 

3. Surah Yusuf is a true example of patience. 

Despite being of noble lineage, (the Prophet Yusuf is a son, grandson and great-grandson of Prophets)   his life is filled with trials and tribulations. From an early age, he lost his mother. And his stepbrothers were jealous of their father's love for him and it compelled them to plot against him. He was thrown into a well when he was just a child (some scholars say perhaps between 6 to 7 years of age). Thus he lost his father and his family although they are still alive. 
Then, he was sold as a slave, thus losing his own freedom. As a slave, his master's wife was enthralled with his looks so much so that she plotted for him to have illicit relations with her, and when that didn't happen, she brought her friends to her house and strategised to get them to help her. Because he refused, he was thrown in jail for many years and even after interpreting the dreams of the prisoners, the prisoner who was freed forgot about him for a number of years until the king himself had a dream that had to be interpreted. Even when the king requested for Yusuf to be with him (i.e. to aid him in the administration of Egypt), Yusuf refused to leave prison until his case was heard and his innocence proven. Thus only many years (some scholars say 40 years), did Yusuf finally leave a life of hardship and went on to become the Azeez (i.e. minister who was in charge of treasury) of Egypt. 
Even then, it was only much later that he was reunited with his family i.e. during the times of famine and drought.

There are many more things which I've learnt from this weekend's seminar (which I am unable to share in this short blogpost). But among the best of them is Yusuf's beautiful dua'a which is in verse 101 of the surah, "... Creator of the heavens and earth, You are my protector in this world and the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous."

Such a beautiful surah and an amazing lesson on patience. May Allah grant us all patience. Ameen.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fashionista's Escapades: Climbing Mulu Pinnacles

One of my personal aim this year is to tick off one or two items off my bucket list. Mulu, or more specifically climbing the Mulu Pinnacles is one of them. I made arrangements to climb the Pinnacles last November and since then have begun my training in preparation for the hike. For those of you who know me, you might have noticed my sudden interest in sporting activities such as hiking and running. All those are just my preparation for this single hike. 

Anyway, here's a photoblog of the trip:

Before climbing the Pinnacles, first we need to reach Camp 5, the base camp for the Pinnacles. To get there, we have to take a long boat for about an hour from Mulu to Kuala Litut.

Long boat. As the river is very shallow, the long boat used for transportation is also small and narrow. 

Some parts of the river may be quite shallow that your guide may have to push the boat either with a stick, or push it himself by getting down into the river.

Kuala Litut. I was expecting a proper jetty of some sort but no, this is Kuala Litut. It's as remote as it gets.

From Kuala Litut, you have to trek for 9 km to Camp 5. It took us almost 4 hours to get there.

Me, Nihal and my Mum with our two guides, El and J.

You have to carry your clothes and whatever gear that you'll be using yourself to Camp 5. So make sure to travel light!

Luckily the trek to Camp 5 was pretty easy. Except for the distance and the backpack, it was a good trek. The pathway is mainly flat, except for two small hills which you need to climb as you get closer to Camp 5.

You need to cross two hanging bridges as well. One is after the first kilometre and another is halfway i.e. 4.5 km to Camp 5.

Camp 5. We arrived at Kuala Litut at 12.40 noon, trekked for about 4 hours and arrived at Camp 5 at 4.30 pm. Accommodation is mixed (i.e. men and women in the same room), there's only a flat mattress (and no pillows) provided for each camper and there's separate washrooms for the men and women. The room is open, no doors or windows, and there's a small space (about 3 feet) between the ceiling and the wall. So, you might have some bugs and creepy crawlies climb over you when you sleep but they are pretty harmless.

The next morning we left for the Pinnacles at 7 am. Honestly, it's a tough climb. Elevation is about 75 degrees almost all the way and the path is covered with either roots or rocks.

Plenty of markers along the way.

Rocky terrain. 

On some parts, there are ropes for you to hold on to.

And some parts may have footholds as well.

The motivation that kept me going was the view. Nothing but the view.

Me and my amazing super strong mum made it! Alhamdulillah.

What comes up, must come down...

The last 400 meters climb had 16 ladders for you to climb on before reaching to the peak.

Me and the Mulu Pinnacles. Mulu Pinnacles bucket list, checked!

So if you're wondering about whether you should climb the pinnacles or not, I'd say, go for it! It's a great climb, extremely challenging and definitely not for the faint hearted. It helped me to realise that I am stronger that I thought I was, and also helped build my determination and character. But before you go, make sure you prepare for the climb. It took me 5 hours to climb up and 6 hours to climb down, a total 11 hours of climbing is not easy and especially with terrain such as these. On average, most climbers would complete the climb within 7 hours. 

The distance from Camp 5 to the Pinnacles is only 2.4 km but the elevation and terrain is what makes it difficult for most climbers. Some do not complete the climb to the summit. A word of caution, the terrain can be extremely slippery if it rains (it rained for a bit while we were climbing down) so your guide may stop the climb (due to safety reasons) and ask you to climb down instead of proceeding to the summit. 

But seriously, go for it! If my 63 year old mum (who has never hiked in her life) can make it to the summit, I am sure you would too. 

To more challenges in the future and an interesting 2016.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista