The tale of Tahan, Yali, and the Ophir Man

Came back from Gunung Tahan this morning. Didn’t really buy much from there (mostly because there aren’t much souvenirs there). Photo-wise not many too (I mean who would want to take photos of KTM?!) For the second time, I shall do a chronological recount for the camp.

Day 1 – Assembly at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
I think we are the only group to take the TRAIN to our campsite. Anyway this TRAIN (KTM) is probably a cheapskate mode of transport, and we deduced this on our way back from a couple of factors:

1 – Cafeteria
On our way there, we (the four scouts, plus some other people like LimTH, OPHIR MAN and GohYY) decided to have a short meal at the cafeteria). Foodwise it wasn’t THAT bad as we expected, but service the service was really (Y). Firstly, the cups of tea that we ordered never came, and when we reminded the waiter (of course it is difficult to converse with him considering the language barrier) he just looked at us and smiled. That happened like TWICE. Then, he charged us 5 RM for the fried rice and tea (presumably 4 for the rice and 1 for the drink). The next time we went there to have another tea, we realised it was actually 1.50. LOL. In the cafeteria we were joking about what we would install in the train, and Lokky was saying he’d build some mall for travellers to shop during the ride. So its like… Macdonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, Swensens, Seoul Garden, Guardian ALL IN ONE TRAIN! And an INTEGRATED RESORT. If he ever becomes the chairman of KTM I’ll take it more often =)

2 – Train attendants
On our way there, we encountered two main attendants, named SABRI and AZWAN (should be spelt like this I guess). Sabri liked to dao me when I said hello as he walked past. That happened for like FIVE times. Later we realised SABRI was slacking off in the cafeteria during the train ride. So much for being a train attendant.

3 – Cleaners
So. These are the cleaners, a.k.a. PINK LADIES. I say this because their attire is just totally PINK, i.e. a pink tudong. How remarkable is that. But the thing that was most hilarious is their method of cleaning up. On our way there, we noticed the pink ladies were cleaning up with a broom and a dustpan (or something like that). The first time we saw them again on our way back, they were using just BARE HANDS and a trash bag. Then Guan Hui joked about KTM getting poorer and poorer, since they can’t afford a broom now so they have to degrade their method of picking up litter. So we then made a prediction that the next time we saw them again they would be using their BARE HANDS WITHOUT trash bags. Guess what? That really happened. Then we made a prediction that the next time we took the KTM, the pink ladies would be eating the rubbish up. Maybe that will happen.

4 – Speed of Train
Can you believe that the train took ONE HOUR to get from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar? And I heard that the trip across the Causeway cost 7 dollars. That is insane. I’d rather meet at JB and continue taking the train to Gua Musang. Even taking a 170 is less turbulent.

Well. At least they don’t have air stewardesses named MELISSA who accompany you on both the trips there and back.

Day 2 – Roller Coasters, River Crossing, KEM KOR (Morale – Medium)

Ok, enough bitching about the KTM (even though I have much more to say about the woman dressed in white going to the male toilet). Upon arrival at Gua Musang station the next day… we got to eat some noodles with LimTH, GohYY and this guide who calls himself OPHIR MAN (for having climbed Mt. Ophir 100 times, how godly is that). We then took this van to the base camp and had an equipment check (I think there are fines for people who litter on Tahan). So all done, we took a JEEP to the start point. While the others were just taking a normal jeep ride to the start point, it was really a ROLLER COASTER for both Lokky and I, sitting in the uncovered jeep through 13 km worth of hills (and when you turn back you can’t imagine how the hell you went down those 75 degree slopes) and BRIDGES. At 80-100 km/h. Enough to give you the thrill that a 20 minute roller coaster can give you. So after we arrived with the first batch, we decided to go back on the jeep again to fetch the second group. If I ever join JC Tahan, I’ll be the bag I/C and sit at the back of that jeep again =D.

So when we started after a packed lunch, we crossed 5 rivers on a so called easy trek (actually it was quite easy). The difficult part about it came in the biodiversity. Almost all of us had leech bites (well actually its quite cool, you get bitten, spray insect repellent on it, it removes itself, you bleed a little and not much pain). Well, it was only the first day, so many of us were still quite humji.

Upon arrival at Kem Kor (or Camp Kor) we were greeted with a RIVER. Yeah, Camp Kor was beside a river. And to our delight, Mr. Goh said there shouldn’t be any leeches at this part of the mountain, as the water there is rather alkaline (so much from science teachers). So off Lokky, Guan Hui and I went to bathe in the river (FREE JACUZZI!!, do you feel our insanity?) and so we did that like 5-6 times (i.e. Guan Hui’s Nestle’s NESMILK shower cream had 3/4 of it used up). That’s really an indication of desperate campers trying to get themself clean of the leechy aura. Haha. Then we got to pitch our tents, and slept. Got rather cold at night.

Day 3 – Permatang and KEM KUBANG (Morale – Low)

We were warned that today’s campsite would be rather miserable. So we set off at around 9+ (10 hours of sleep! WOW) and went on a “steep uphill” climb. Much tougher, didn’t get myself that mentally prepared so started to lag a little here. Some campers were really suffering at this point, and Lokky’s AIR SALON PAS had much effect here (to relieve some of the cramps others got). I declare that I still haven’t got a cramp/sunburn in my whole life. Reached Permatang a bit later, and many campers went to LS (erm… guess what that is). Was a little difficult at this point considering I suck at uphill/downhill climbs. But I still got to Kubang rather early, and we played some cards there with Darrell/Tai Boon/Lokky/Guan Hui. Got a tent, and realised the water source wasn’t that bad after all, just that the water was a little yellowish (well we were forced to use Aquatabs all the while). So we had our meals, and also got a real laugh out of GohYY’s spare tire (oops). Quite sad. Oh, almost forgot to say. If someone wants to get a kick out of tea, don’t add milk. Add SUGAR. Lots and lots of SUGAR. Try it. I think I’m still awake because of it, its addictive.

Day 4 – Belumut, Bonsai, BOTAK and Tahan (Morale – Medium)

Didn’t rain this night, so wasn’t very muddy (but there was still quite some mud this time). This track was a little easier than the one on day 3, the exception being the part about avoiding mud. Skipped lunch to reach Botak earlier. So when we finally reached Camp Botak (its really quite bare, having little vegetation as compared to Tahan) we realised that the water was now GREEN. Got our tents up and then started on the way up to Tahan (2.4 KM WITH SLIPPERS). A little scary, thought I would slip a few times. Worst of all, when we got up there, it started raining. Thus we didn’t get to take many photos at the top, and chiong-ed down just before sunset (Lokky and I were trying to wait for the rest, so we ended up playing with rocks at the “50m rock wall” and trying to make the rainwater flow in another direction, but failing terribly). (Sadly Guan Hui and GohYY had to go down when the sun had set) I opened the can of sardines at the top. Hehe. This night was freaking cold. Almost couldn’t sleep and managed to get about 4-6 hours in the end.

Day 5 – Down from Botak to Bonsai, Belumut (Bela – mud), Kubang, Permatang and finally KEM KOR (Morale – Nirvana)

I’d say this day was the most enjoyable, mostly because I wasn’t walking with the first few. You see, when you walk in front, you get pressurised to move quickly with everyone and miss out on all the fun. At the back, you get a SCENIC WALK (food for the camera!), and can talk lots of rubbish around the back. That’s exactly what we did this day. While the rest were slogging at the front, we decided to change our strategy this once – instead of walking at a constant (and rather slow) speed, purposely lag, then chiong. Too bad this method kind of failed, cos when we rushed we caught up with the people at the back too quickly and so we waited more. Had quite a few laughs with Lokky and GohYY (plus that insidious photo of GohYY which will hopefully grace the cover of the HIP magazine?). And we did another thing. While on our way up, we learnt that walking through mud (ankle deep, not as bad as VMC) wasn’t that bad, especially cos you get to wash it off in the end. So what we did was to purposely walk through the muddy paths, and it was really quite cool because you don’t have to cautiously walk like the people in front. Plus, you get the grip that slippery leaves and roots don’t give you.

Towards Permatang, Lokky and I decided to move at PORTER SPEED (we had 5-6 porters carrying our tents and food, and we gave them nicknames like Scorpion, Kronos etc.). We became damn fast and overtook quite a few people, and caught up with Kang Yan (after letting them go ahead by like 10-15 minutes). So we decided to wait for the people behind like the 4D people and GohYY. Had a chat with the porters (using english/malay) and we learnt that they support Kelantan soccer club (or sth like that). It was quite funny really, with us niao-ing the Young Lions by saying “Perlis 2 Young Lions 0 (that actually happened), Young Lions lousy” and then later on stuff like “Kelantan Bagus”. In the end they decided to offer both of us some GULA GULA before they went off ahead of us.

Reached Camp Kor and did the usual stuff. Noticed that the front group was really quite sad, with people hitting beehives and causing some people to get bee stings. See, its nice to walk at the back =).

Day 6 – River Crossing, Roller Coaster, KFC, Yusmimi and KTM (Morale – High)

Got back down to the start point after crossing the rivers again (and 1 leech bite). Not hard at all this time and we moved at partial-porter speed. We then took the roller coaster again back to the base camp (and this time it was more meng, there were planks on the lorry/jeep thing so we could have our head even higher and more wind). Damn siao this time I suppose the jeep went over 100 km/h this time. Then we went back to Gua Musang Train station, where we deposited our bags and went to do some shopping/eating. Upon arrival at KFC there was this YUSMIMI person who was damn funny. I mean, Guan Hui, Lokky and I like to despise people with such names (like Sabri) cos its just damn lame. Later some of us walked around the pasar malam, and really got nothing much to buy (unless buy all those fake branded goods for Tok and Chin Seng). Then went back to KFC to play some cards. I suppose we pissed YUSMIMI off by playing cards cos she YU SHI MI MI di ba deng guan diao. So it was probably some blackout/ploy to chase us out. So we played cards at the train station instead. At 11.45 pm, we got on the train, and from then on it was bye bye Gua Musang, hello Singapore… (and hello cards too)

Now on to OPHIR MAN (and the talk about brand of underwears). He’s this 50-60 year old guy who says he has climbed Mt. Ophir 100 times. We actually thought it was rather remarkable until we saw him climb. I mean, he lags like siao. Worse than GohYY (but well GohYY isn’t that bad too). Well, maybe because he’s 60. And… worst of all.. his LEECH EWWW (insider joke) So now about the underwear brands (sick joke if you understand it, if not then good) –
Yali – China brand – despise – Snail (haha not applicable to me =D)
Goldlion – Lion
Hush Puppies – Dog which can bite (dogs which bark don’t bite)
Byford – Antibacterial organism hmm
Master – Servant (hehehe)
Amiro Valentino (spelt correctly?) – Dragon

How about the leech then? Brand name Off?

Day 7 – Back to Singapore

Well, be a part time porter someday? But training wise its a little insane, 1 month of survival and 1 year of training. Miss the culture there (and the jacuzzi hahaha). JC Tahan? Who knows, I might go there myself without the JC group someday. Well for me, its 3 conquered – Ledang, Kinabalu and Tahan. What’s next?

One for all. All for one. Venturez ’06

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