TABUR EAST (21 April 2012)

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Flag of Malaysia  , Federal Territory of Kuala Lum,
Saturday, April 21, 2012

It was an uphill scramble from the word go! The path was quite easy to follow but challenging to tackle. Soft muddy ground made it tricky to get around and under the twisted tree roots that criss-crossed the path. And because of the thick vegetation around, we soon became "breakfast" for the mosquitoes. It was hardwork all the way, and I was swimming in a pool of sweat 10 minutes into the climb. Thankfully there are a few clearings along the way - that became our pit-stops to recharge. The landscape gradually changes as we got higher, with lesser vegetation and more rocky surface; but there are some small trees that provide shades to rest under. And at this point too, those pesky mosquitoes were no longer bothering us. The three of us were in high spirits, now and again posing for the camera whilst enjoying the cool breeze and the vista.

We trekked up and down the narrow ledges, constantly aware of the sheer drop hundreds of feet below. It pays to go slow, especially for beginners, and to be sure-footed. According to the literatures, the Tabur Ridge is only 200 meters wide and stretches over 14 kms. It's a magnificent sight to behold, especially when viewed from the MRR2 expressway. A friend of mine once called it the Rock of Melawati, a spin-off from the Rock of Gibraltar. From afar, it resembles the back of a dragon. Trekking along the undulating terrain at some points, one could see raised areas as if forming the humps on a dragon's back.

We were the only ones on the first leg of the climb, but as we got higher, we bumped into many hikers, some were making their way down after camping out the night before. One of them was Khushairy a.k.a Khush. When he heard it was our first attempt on Tabur, he offered to be our guide. None of us has ever met him before that morning, but he was so accomodating and friendly that we couldn't refuse his offer. Besides, there's always safety in numbers.

It was a good thing we met Khush when we did coz the treks ahead proved to be a lot harder, and more dangerous. At some points we had to climb a near-vertical wall. There are ropes to assist, but it isn't always safe to rely on them since no one knows for sure when the ropes were last changed or maintained. In fact, some were already frayed and seasoned. So time to test my upper body strength and legs! Thankfully, the wall was only about three-storeys high.

We reached the peak soon enough. The scenery atop was quite beautiful. We could see the Klang Gates Dam and the surrounding forests in the valley below. We rested for a bit on the small clearing - luckily for us there weren't any one else there or it would have been quite uncomfortable. Although it was almost noon, the sun wasn't too strong and there was a cooling breeze, so we took our time for smokes, and (what else) pose some more for the camera.

Not one to sit still for long, Khush led us down a path not far from where we were resting, and showed off what seem to be a dead-end. I imagined it as being the pointed end of a dragon's tail, or an unfinished bridge with the link to the other end missing. It's the kind of spot where when someone tells you don't look down, you'd better listen. The four of us made our way down on to its ledge, and despite its tiny size, we all managed to squeeze in for a group photo.

There was a sudden gush of strong wind and the sky became gloomy. Time to get down. We retraced our steps almost all the way, and that includes climbing down the section with that dreadful vertical wall. I was like a cat stuck on a tree, meowing (yes, I actually meowed) for Farhan and Khush to get me down!! Of course they didn't have to carry or drag me down (over my dead body, man..!), but it was reassuring to have them there to guide my steps. My heroes...

We made a turn down the slopes through "the orchard" as Khush puts it, which provided a welcoming shade from the now fiercely-shining midday sun. There are plenty of durian and jackfruit trees and we passed by a few tin-roofed shacks belonging to some Malay families. A newly-built housing estate greeted us at the end of the trail.

Thank God, we all made it down safely. It was a personally gratifying experience for me to have completed the hike, and having a wonderful company tops the day! Thank you God, and thank you FR, Kheira and Khushairy. One last thing which I must put on record: Kheira did exceptionally well for a first-timer. She showed us what she's made of and completed the hike with not so much of a chip off her gold nail-polish! Way to go, girl!
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