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Ulu Sepat the wet mossy Belum Forest

Height: 2161m, the 7th tallest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia
Location: Pos Kemar accessed by boat ride via Temenggor Dam, Grik, Perak; or by 4WD ride via Lasah

Level of difficulty: The easiest trek among G10. It is said the same level of difficulty as Yong Yap, but throughout the trek, we only backpack for 4 hours to OA house and daypack the next day for total 7 hours, and 3rd day trek with backpack 4 hours. I found it more relaxing and furthermore, it has cleaner & clearer trail than Mt. Yong Yap. The trail has become much easier now as compared to the past due to developments at the village and frequent boat rides.

Terrain description:
From Kg Lerlar, turn right and there is a small trail on your left that will lead you to zero gradient open air trail along plantation for 30-45 minutes, then you see a bridge to cross.

The trek turns gradual upwards in the shady jungle for an hour and there are 3 river crossings. It was warm when we trekked in until there was a section with open air to breathe fresh air and cool down.  At that time we have trekked for 2 hours.

The next trek became steep until 3rd hour.

The next one hour is less steep now, and when you see open space area you will see few Orang Asli houses. It takes 7 minutes walk on zero-gradient and small downhill to the big river and actual campsite. After you crossed a small river by a super-mini bridge, keep diagonal left at its fork.

Costs for three persons:
1 Porter RM100 x 3days = RM300,
1 Guide = RM100 (after negotiation, my subgroup given discount RM100 out of RM200),
Food ration = RM90,
Petrol & toll Butterworth-Grik and Grik-Kuala Lumpur = RM130
ADNS Train ticket KL-Butterworth RM40x3 pax = RM120,
Return trip boat & 4WD RM900 shared by 7 pax = RM390 (3 pax).

Guide: Ah Ming from Ipoh

My members: Titan, Tuen Segeren from Netherlands and I (another member had to pull out due to work).

Why I choose Ulu Sepat: Past hikers commented that Ulu Sepat has lots of sandflies, thus the name Kem Agas at the 1st campsite. I hesitated to do Ulu Sepat due to unfavourable comments until I had such trip for New Year 2012 hike. So I gave a try as the other choice is Batu Putih that I have done, and found out from website that Ulu Sepat is located in Belum Forest Reserve.   

Actual Intinery: 
9.30am Met the group at Grik Polis Station
10.00 Departed for Temenggor Dam jetty
11.00 Arrived at jetty, prepare to load backpacks to boat
12.00 Arrived at 4WD pickup
01.00 Arrived at Kg Lelar the last OA village @ 500m
          Lunch break
02.00 Started trek
06.00 Arrived at 5 star hotel @ 1130m
06.30 Showered and collected 5 bottles of water from waterfalls
07.30 Cook & Dinner
09.30 Supper: fried fish
10.00 Zzzz

7.30am Breakfast, collected another 3 bottles of water.
08.40 Started trek daypack, trek up 300m every 1 hour
10.30 Collected water at LWP at 1600m asl
11.00 Continued to trek
01.00 Arrived at Summit @ 2161m
02.00 My group descended. 2-3 Singaporean veteran hikers arrived at summit. Ah Ming the guide stayed with them.
05.30 Arrived at the waterfalls. Trail gets muddier due to heavy rain.
          Wash up and collected 5 bottles of water.
06.30 Cook & Dinner
07.30 OA Rescue for remaining veteran hikers as it was now dark and raining heavy
09.30 Supper: ubi kayu, bamboo rice, marshmallow + choc filling, wine
11.00 Zzzz

08.30am Singaporeans group departed
09.30am My group last to depart. Hashers left 30mins ago.
12.30 My group arrived at Kg Lelar
01.00 Ah Ming the guide arrived, told us we could go swim at waterfalls. Asked OA kids take us there.
01.50 Back to Kg Lelar, the rest of hikers arrived. Tea+ biscuits and load backpacks to 4WD and depart.
04.00 Arrived at jetty where our cars were parked. Changes clothes.
05.30 Meals at Grik restaurant.
06.30 Left Grik for KL
11.00 Arrived home.

Day 1: 
A day before the trip, Teun and I boarded on night train from Kuala Lumpur Sentral at 11pm and arrived at Butterworth the next morning 7am. Titan were on holiday with family in Penang few days ago, and he directly picked us from Butterworth temporary KTM station near the bus station at Penang Sentral. No wonder Titan had difficulty to trace its location on GPS! We then had dim sum breakfast opposite Pasar Awam Sri Bandar, the nearest market 10 minutes drive from Penang Sentral, located at off Heng Choon Thian Road and dashed to the market to buy Massimo bread, tit bits and pork sausages. Most food sold at the market were wet food and fruits, so there weren't much choice for walking lunch. We departed direct to the next meeting point: Grik police station and it took 1 hour 55 minutes. 
We parked our cars outside the Police Station and registered our names. Most of the hikers were veteran- a group of Singaporeans and their Malaysian friends; and a group of four KL Hashers. Upon discovering that many participants were veterans, I wished that my dad was here to join the trip with me. We went to Petrol Station across the road for toilet break and shopping for walking lunch and bottled waters.
"Hutan Simpan" in Malay language means "forest reserve". The trail from Kg Lerlar located about 1 hour 4WD ride from Temenggor Dam. While in the car ride to jetty,  I saw a herd of buffaloes grazing grass at the hillside but I missed capturing it. I hoped to capture it again on way back but alas, on way back out from jetty we saw evening wasn't their grazing time. This was the lesson to get my camera ready especially at early morning travels. Mooo mooo....

The day was hot when we rode an open motorboat crossing clear, wide Temenggor lake. As we were enjoying the breeze in moving boat, we were greeted by lines of bare trees standing tall on both sides! A bag of fresh fishs next to our boatman caught my eyes as I was wishing them for our dinner. After half an hour, we saw a land and one abandoned 4WD that was no longer in use. We got down from our boat with our heavy bags under the drizzle. One 4WD picked the Singaporean veterans first. The rest of us exchanged our chatter of excitement with new friends, figured out Michael's new GPS and posed with the live catch of fishs. The soil under us were sands, so we barely move until the next pickup 4WD arrived. We took an hour on 4WD to Kg Lerlar, the last village there. Smiling aboriginal children spotting handmade hats were watching us. Aboriginal people is translated in Malay language as an Orang Asli (or short form "OA").  

Th trails were clear and clean. I was indeed surprised! Even at junctions, non-hikers trail had been blocked for us, so we made our way ahead of our guide and porters who started trek an hour later. I lost sight of Teun who slipped off with the Singaporeans ahead of KL Hashers, Titan and I. As I reached a dense forest, I managed to chase Teun who was resting gleefully on a wood. The Singaporean veterans were now far behind us. Most hikers loathed hiking there as there was no peak view and prefer to hike from Mt. Chamah to Mt. Ulu Sepat that take 6days 5nights for relax hike. OA porters told me their friends took two days to go from Mt. Ulu Sepat to Mt. Chamah.

First day trek was graciously finished in 4 hours of toil when we dropped our backpacks at OA's big bamboo houses. We slept there for two night with no sandflies and mossies attacks although the door and windows were ajar! On first night, I cooked rice with pork sausages and vegetable. For supper, we relished lampan fish caught by OA that I saw next to the boatman. I was even amazed they have wok and cooking oil to fry the fish. Although no ginger, garlic or soya sauce, the fish was amazingly delicious till finger licking good, whoa..  

Day 2: 
On second day, the hike was all gradual upwards with daypack and a porter. After 30 to 45 minutes trek from campsite, Titan who was in front of me, shrieked and bolted forward. I followed suit in puzzle and within seconds, "Ouch!" I screamed. I got stung at below my right eye! Some of the KL Hashers also were stung and they shouted to run fast from the chasing black and small bees, that seemingly looked like big flies. Luckily the bees were not the giant ones because I did not bring my bee sting cream along as I rushed to pack light in the morning. 

We continued our trek after removing the sting thorn and applying my ointment oil on the sting area. Along the trekking trail, we saw one after another giant trees, its diameter as wide as four men's arms! It was breathtaking view because I had never seen so many giant trees in close proximity. After taking many photos with two Mr Tree, we came upon the wriggling plant that formed a circle. Usually this kind of wriggling plant would form a Tarzan or hammock swing instead. 


As it was humid in the close jungle, we took a stop at an open air section of trail for fresh air. As we were resting there, we saw bonsai trees, orchids, pitchers, mosses and even Kacip Fatimah plant. One hour before the summit, the trail turned soft and muddy till it covers your foot. Good Lord, everywhere even at the mossy forest! 

We reached at the summit between 4 hours and 4.5 hours. It was less muddy than before, yet the soil was soft. We found our dry spot at the other side of peak and took our lunch there. We descended at 2pm and bumped the Singaporeans team on way up. We asked our OA porter to lead us when nearing the bee nest area, so we avoid them for second time. At 5pm, we washed up in joy at the waterfall after long day hike in the mud.
At night I prepared chicken fajita with vegetables. For supper, ubi kayu, lemang, red wine brought by Singaporeans, and my BBQ marshmallow

What a wonderful way to celebrate New Year eve!


Day 3:
I could not sleep well the night before as I had eerie feeling and this morning, Michael informed that his maggi mee packets were missing. I was wondering if we have done anything wrong. Another guide told me in the next hiking trip that lighting kemenyan attracts entity is his superstitious belief. Last night I lighted kemenyan intending to shoo the sandflies and mossies as it was raining heavily the night before.

Nevertheless, it was last day, so we shared food and left the campsite at 9.30am after taking the final pictures of the OA hotel. My group descended the trail pretty fast, took us 3.5 hours.

My group of 3 are the first hikers to arrive at Kg. Lerlar Village and while waiting for the rest, the guide told us we could clean up or swim at the waterfall behind the houses. We followed the OA kids and they started to cross the long log and jump down into the river. It was a sight to behold for the Dutch traveller and Titan, watching the kids jumped and somersaulted boldly from high area (the log) into deep river!

By the time we got back to meet point, the rest of hikers were already in 4WD. The OA villagers served us biscuits and tea to fill our growling tummy. Halfway ride in 4WD, Ah Ming the guide brought us to a Chinese sundry shop that sells wild ducks (I thought it was goose). Some of the members bought the live wild ducks to be eaten. We got ourselves with loads including the wild ducks into the boat. The boat ride turned to be a long ride for 1 hour when the rain poured heavily. 

The rain were falling like fireworks, and I shouted, "Happy New Year"! and wished everyone. We took our shelter under the groundsheet together with our bags and tied wild ducks in the box with holes. We laughed at each other who looked like refugees so we took our pictures. Our boat turned dead midway and had to be refilled with petrol manually. It was still raining when we approached the jetty. My heart was afloat with joy to see a land and we waded the river from the side of boat. Alas, as we unloaded our stuff, one of the ducks managed to escape out of torn box and swam in the river! It swam so fast that we lost sight of it in few minutes. However, our skilled boatman caught the duck for us by his boat in the end. What a day to end! 

1 comment:

  1. I had also such super-natural eerie experience, the sleep was bothered by an entity.