I had been toying with the idea of going on a trek for a while now. Since, I hadn’t been on one before (gasp!), the notion threw up rather romantic images: meandering trails leading into the sunset, birds singing cheery songs from above and gently flowing rivulets filled with cool water. This would be my escape from the daily grind, from which I would come back refreshed and recharged.
And so, when chance led me to Simon and Trek for Hope, I thought, why not? I immediately signed up on the Singapore Adventurous & Nature-Lovers meetup group, ready for my return to nature….
… which was how I found myself at Woodlands MRT on Sunday (June 28) at 6.30 am. I was part of a training trek to Gunung Lambak in Johor, Malaysia.
Gunung Lambak is very near the town of Kluang, a couple of hours by bus from Singapore. Wikipedia had earlier informed me that it is not very high for a mountain. But, as I stood at the base looking up at the summit about 500 metres above me, I suddenly realized that – maybe – Wikipedia and I have very different CONCEPTS OF SCALE!
Our group set off on time – AK in front as leader, Marcus in the middle and Ian helping along those at the back of the line. The first few minutes were fine. I even had enough breathe in me to have a chat with our event host, Alice, to find out how people prepared for these outings. As she explained, it became apparent that my leisurely stroll through Bukit Timah 10 years back did not count as adequate training! A point driven home all the more forcefully when I found myself facing the ‘steep portion’ of our climb.
I am sure there are others who can better detail the finer points of Gunung Lambak. They would probably describe the way the sunlight threw dappled patterns on the leaf-strewn pathways, or the tree branches and roots that had twisted into complex shapes, or maybe even the fascinating line-up of small insects that they met along the way.
To me, however, it was nature’s own torture chamber. As I clawed/crawled/slid my way up, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to find a shady spot and just stay there forever. I didn’t think I had it in me to move an inch forward. But, thanks to my group’s encouragement, I did finally make it to the top. Yaaa…ouch…ay!
While the more adventurous of us continued to tackle the other key stations, the rest of us stayed back to tackle our packed lunches and rest our tired feet and sore arms. It was a much-easier route down to our bus. A quick wash and change of clothes later, we were all set for a sumptuous, multi-course dinner and our trip back home.
Jelly legs. Aching arms. Dirt on my face. Dead leaves in my hair. My t-shirt soaked with sweat. Not exactly the picture of a conquering hero.
But, would I do this again?