Monday, February 23, 2009

Return to Broga Hill

Sunday, 22nd of February 2009, 4:00am.
While most people were counting jumping sheep deep in their 2nd stage of REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep, I found myself hurtling down the lonely KESAS highway heading towards TTDI for a rendevous. It was so early in the morning, even the customary shroud of morning fog that envelops the section of KESAS near my home in Bandar Puteri hasn't formed yet.

The light of a taxi receded behind as I overtook it at speed.

"Nobody but taxi, lorry drivers and very dedicated diagnostic equipment sales people will travel at this ungodly hour!" I thought out loud.

"And perhaps a few die hard Trail Trackers!" came the unbidden addition to my mind.

Actually I was looking forward to this trip, especially after the harrowing experiences from last week. This time, we were returning to Broga Hill for yet another round of training to prepare ourselves. Our next major goal was to trek Endau Rompin on the 7th-10th of March 2009.
But I was late... :) Even leaving at 4:00am in the morning wouldn't guarantee my arrival at TTDI at 4:30am, the agreed upon meeting time. And I was weary of putting the pedal to the metal, with hardly 3 hours of sleep, I was still a little bit groggy.

The inevitable phone call came at 4:20am in the morning. Dennis, this time's trip organizer called me to check on my location.

"On the way!" I replied, using the most common excuse by late comers in Malaysia to explain my current position, before adding some element of truth, "just passing Shah Alam."

"We'll meet you at Devi's corner then," said Dennis.

And thus I find myself, standing amid grand applause as I reported myself at Devi's Corner for breakfast in TTDI at 4:45am. :)

Applauding for the late comer (me) was the usual suspects: Dennis, Linus, Aaron, Henry, Timmy, Yee Wei, Audrey and her friend, Kim. Aurelius, our great leader :), was nowhere in sight and I was later told that he had some stuff he needed to attend to and therefore was not able to make it for the trip that day.

Breakfast was standard 'mamak' fare though Aaron had a very interesting combination of Roti Canai with half boiled eggs spilled over. I was not as adventurous in my choice of food and settled instead for Indo Mee Goreng and Teh Tarik.

We left TTDI at 5:15am, making 2 drive bys and 1 rather long stop-over to pick up more people along the way. All of them are first timers to our trip: Hern Foong, Selina, Synn Wooi and a rather mysterious fellow, Chris, whom appeared at the stop over and dissappeared as easily as the mists that surrounded the hills that morning. :p :)

We spent quite some time waiting for Chris, which inevitably awoke the 'pixies' in a number of our members who decided to stage an impromptu performance, prancing and hopping in the twillight outside Nottingham University's campus guardhouse. (Wonder what the guard was thinking) :p Nothing but a little bit of 'exercise' to warm up the muscles for the upcoming hike huh? ;)

When the last member of our group appeared, we continued our journey, reaching the starting point of our hike near the rabbit farm (Rabbit Farm Land) on the road to Broga. To our surprise, we found that the palm oil groves on the opposite side of the rabbit farm where we planned to park our vehicles, filled with cars! Looks like 'Broga Hills' had gained quite a following since the last time we came and we were not the only ones drawn to it's pre-dawn attractions.

Finding our parking spots and unloading our gear, we set off on our trek, 13 of us down twisting, winding trails through the palm oil estate in darkness, the beam of our torchlights leading the way. It was already 6:15am. We passed the palm oil nursery, a small open clearing just beneath a gentle rising slope of hardended laterite soil which we had to negotiate.

It was after this familiar landmark before we found out that we were lost! :p

Somehow, we missed the branch on that laterite incline that took us up into the jungle trek beyond. Instead, we found ourselves keeping on the laterite trail that led us to this 'lalang' overgrown clearing when we realized our mistake.

We backtracked, (Henry making sure to 'mark' a bush not far away so that we will not return to the wrong trail on the way down) and found the branch.

Taking the now familiar trail, we passed gaping holes of collapsed soil on the left and right and over a small bridge made of what looked like a fistful of sturdy wooden sticks before we met the jungle trail. A short walk down and we soon reached the grassy foothills of Broga.

The ascent was steep in certain places but not as difficult as it was when it rained the last time we were here. Nevertheless, the hike had slowly taken it's toll on a few of us and we had to slow down to keep the group united.

"We leave no man/woman behind!" declared Linus when Synn Wooi told us his girlfriend, Selina is having difficulties and asked us to go ahead.

Not that we can go far if we intended to. The track up ahead was clogged with other hikers; those that had left their cars in the palm grove and set off ahead of us. Taking a breather, Linus also helped 'mark' the trail for us (hmmm... maybe Footstool will be leading us the next time since the trails are now clearly marked? :)).

Dawn came to us as we were still on the slope of the lowest Broga hill though fortunately the skies were overcasted with clouds so the first rays of the sun could not be seen. It however, motivate us to finish up the last few steps up the hill, overtaking the hikers in front given the opportunity to do so.

The top of lowest hill was FULL of people. There were probably 30 people already on top when we got there. The first rays of the sun was now peeping through with the rest of it still blocked by the clouds, highlighting it with a beautiful halo. It was magnificent!

Hern Foong, Yee Wei, Linus and myself rushed to the next higher hill, hoping to catch a better less 'crowded' view of the sunrise but no luck there either. Another crowd was gathered on this hill as well and the third rocky summit ahead.

Thinking this is the best view we can get, we dropped down our gear and settled down to watch the rising sun as a cool gentle morning breeze blew over the hills of Broga.

And while we wait, there is always the opportunity to do a little bit of cam whoring, strike up a conversation and scare a few people with Dennis's parang! :) (They were trying to get themselves within the recording field of two cameras set up by Linus to record the rising sun).

We finally left the hill at about 10am, backtracking down the trail we came from and through the oil palm estate before reaching our cars.

We dropped by at the Broga Hill temple, finding it equally an attraction for tourists as evident by the many tour busses there and taking the chance to freshen up in it's clean shower equipped toilets. I also took the chance to light a few joss sticks and burn a few 'gold' paper for the Gods, thanking them for their continued protection and hoping that they will bless my family and myself with good health and happiness. (Hopefully, that also means chasing all those 'sueh' yan away as well!) :p

Lastly, we completed our Trail Tracker trip with our customary feast, again returning to the Broga fish farm for a round of delicious (though somewhat overly priced) aluminium foil wrapped barbeque fish.

Where to next week? Nuang! Er... Chemeroh! No! Strata!... Ah... Nuang!.... Er.... ;)


  1. Dear buddha...i admire you gentle recording of our events as we ascended the hills to possibly have a greater view of our father in heaven...and the fact that you said your prayer after was all the more potent to me...oh how I wish I can one day mirror your spirituality and praise at our father's splendor =P J.C.

    this posting was sponsored by J.C.

  2. So detail... makes me want to stop blogging already T-T.

    "We leave no man behind" is my line :P