February 10, 2018

Never Stop Exploring but………

Read the case of the 2 hikers lost in Gunung Pulai with much interest. As a hiker and trail runners, I can empathized with their plight especially since I had a few scary moments myself in the past. But having said that, I think people getting lost in the secondary forest of Malaysia or even Singapore should never even have happened in the first place. And I am just amazed that people continue to get “lost”, even in places like MacRitchie where one could think that it is impossible but it happened!

Me think the main reason people can get lost in these places is because they went off-track and strayed from the main trail. I have done some of the mountains in Malaysia, almost all the trails in Singapore and I can swear that if one stick to the main trail, it is very difficult and almost impossible to be lost. The worst that can happened is taking longer than expected and spending a night in the jungle like when I thought I had to do so at Bako in Sarawak.

Here some common sense advice from Uncle what to do/not to do In the jungle/forest :

1) Always be prepared when going for a hike in a forest/jungle or mountain. Bring sufficient water (I recommend minimum 1 litre if planning for less than 3 hours hike), some food (fruits and food bar will be good), a phone with spare battery/battery charger, a torch or headlamp, a whistle, a rain jacket, an emergency blanket and a small first aid kit comprising bandages, painkiller, cleaning solution. A jack-knife or multi-tool knife will be good too. And this is applicable even if it is just planning for a half day hike.

2) Never go alone. Always hike with a friend preferably someone with experience. Best is to go in a group. Accident can happen – a branch can drop on you anytime as had happened to me at MacRitchie; you can fall and injure yourself. Without someone by your side to render first aid and call for help, by the time people come to your assistance, it may be too late.

3) Curb that curiosity. Do not go off the main trails. In the jungle, everything looks the same. Just look at this photo taken in a forested area of Singapore. 

It can be anywhere in the forest of Singapore or Malaysia. Heck, even the trails look the same most of the time.

Stay on the trail and at fork and junctions, take specific note or better still photograph of the place and the direction you are travelling in case you need to back track or find yourself wandering in circle.

4) Do not bash through any bushes or thick foliage. If you have to bash through, it mean you are travelling the wrong way and nobody else has come this way before. The danger of bashing through besides getting even more lost is that there might be creepy crawlies like snake lurking in the bush, poisonous spiders or scorpions that may fall out onto your body. Or you disturb a hornet nest. The consequences can be horrifying.

5) Plan your time well. Before starting, check out online the average time for the particular trail or to reach a summit. If you love to take photographs like me, add a couple of hours more to the average time. And before you start off, make sure you can complete within that time otherwise do not go ahead. You might have to spend a night walking in the jungle (unless you have that intention) or worse case you freak out when it get dark and believe me, it get dark very early under thick canopy and you lose your way in the dark. As a rule of thumb, I do not start any hike in unknown places after 1 pm because I know I am unlikely to get out of it before 5 pm when the place starts to get dark rapidly and I have no desire to spend the night in any jungle.

Happy Hiking!

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