May 26, 2015

Never Stop Exploring – Gunung Lambak

A friend suggested we go for a hike in Kluang. She said it was an easy hike that can be completed in 1 and a half hour. She even said that those who are faster can do one and a half loop meaning summit 2 times. That and the thought of enjoying nice cheap seafood in JB clinched the deal and so a group of us set off for Gunung Lambak.

Gunung Lambak is a small mountain with twin peak in Kluang, Malaysia. The highest point of the mountain is only 510 metres. The distance from the foot of the mountain to the left summit is about 2.4 km. Gunung Lambak is very visible from most part of Kluang. 23-IMG_8741

Gunung Lambak as seen from the KTM Railway Station in Kluang

We reached the foot of Gunung Lambak at about 10.30 am and set off for the summit at 11 am. The signboard at the entrance said 800 metres to the first hut and then 1400 metres at the summit. Our assumption was that it is 1400 metres to the summit but it turn out the distance must be read cumulatively which means the total distance to the summit is 2.2 km. 01-IMG_8640

The first part of the hike was on a cement road and this soon became a gentle soil track. Easy peasy.02-IMG_8655

Somewhere along the way, there was a huge Malaysia flag strung across the path. 1-IMG_8656From here on, the hike became a gentle climb going up to the first hut at 800 metres. At this point, there are still visible steps so the climb was manageable for all of us.04-IMG_8665

After a short walk, we reached 800 metres where we stopped for a group photo. 05-IMG_8667Here there are 2 paths leading away. We asked a group of students who were there which way to take. They told us the path behind them (on the left) was more difficult. And so naturally we had to choose that! And that was when we discovered that our easy hike was not that easy after all. We had not taken into account that with only a distance of 1.4 km to the summit with an ascent of 500 metres, the climb has to be pretty steep. And steep is probably an understatement. Thank goodness along the way there were ropes put in place by climbers from the Climbing Association of Kluang. Even then, most times, we had to scramble and crawl up the mountain using our hands
10-IMG_8684 09-IMG_8683 11-IMG_8689Finally after a long and tiring climb, we reached the summit. 12-IMG_8693

There wasn’t much of a view though as it was rather hazy due to the earlier rain.13-IMG_8697At the summit, there was a big group of Malaysian climbers and one of them tipped us off that there was a “not to be missed” Big Tree off the summit.  She said it will only take 10 minutes to reach there. I think Malaysians only know how to count time to 10 minutes because later on our descent, whenever we asked anyone we met how far more to the next destination, it was always “10 minutes” never mind if it was actually more than half an hour!

Of course it was never 10 minutes. Like the 10 minutes distance to the big tree. A small group of us went to look at that. Thank goodness I wisely decided not to go because it took the sub group more than 40 minutes. And they said the descent and subsequent ascent was brutal. And for their hard work, what they got was just a photo with this “Big Tree”.


Photo credit: Mel Lim

While the other group was busy embracing the Big Tree, the rest of us set off for the second summit. This entails a walk down a gentle trail which was more like what I was expecting when we were initially told it was an easy hike. Here and there there were ropes thoughtfully put in place to guide us down the slopes.14-IMG_8707

And then of course to reach the 2nd summit we had to go up again and we came to this slope that looks almost vertical. The ladies were not sure this was the right way up but fortunately we saw 3 fellas coming down and what a co-incidence,  they were fellow runners from Singapore! They confirmed that that was indeed the way up to the summit.  This last stretch up to the top looks very intimidating. It was steep but thankfully short.17-IMG_871816-IMG_8712And so after slightly over 2 and a half hours including a long break at the 1st summit, we finally reached the 2nd summit where we were greeted by the sight of 3 plastic chairs! Now which kind soul brought up the chairs? The ladies wasted no times in sitting down to rest as well as pose for a group photo.18-IMG_8722There were 2 trails behind the chairs which we initially thought was the route down but after a short walk, it was clear that these were disused trails. We discussed back tracking but the thought of descending that steep slope that we just came up was really not to our taste. Eventually we found a trail to the right where someone had put a white tape and which leads down and down and down. 19-IMG_8727And after 3 hours 20 minutes, we made it back to the foot of Gunung Lambak. Easy hike? Walk in the park? Nah….. definitely not but still doable.

With Bukit Timah Hill still close, this will be a good place to train. One can hop on the bus from Singapore in the morning, reach JB take a cab to Kluang reaching around 10 am. Do a couple of ascend/descend up/down the 1st summit. That should be more than enough to generate about a 1000 metres in total ascent. No point going to the 2nd summit. Finish around 3 pm and return to Singapore in time for dinner! And for less than S$30.00.

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