Hiking Gunung Lambak Recreational Forest, Kluang Malaysia

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After completing near 10 training hikes within Singapore, I started to feel the lack of variety in our hill's terrain and slopes. Though the most challenging Bukit Timah Hill Dairy Farm Loop remained demanding (largely due to its man-made steep wooden steps), the round circuit training quickly bored me. I proposed to attempt a 1 day climb in Malaysia to expose the team to natural uphill and forest terrain. The longer climb duration would also allow us to test our gears and shoes.

I was suddenly exposed to an array of climbs, many doable in a day and within Johor Bahru, Malaysia. These included Mount Arong (300m), Gunung Panti (453m), Gunung Lambak (510m), Mount Pulai (654m), Gunung Muntahak (713m), Mount Belumut (1,010m) and Mount Ophir (1,276m), which I had attempted before. Knowing that we have options to attempt day climbs just 2-3 hours drive across the causeway got my adventure bug fired up.

With recommendation by Dav's dad, we settled on Gunung Lambak, which we felt was a mid difficulty mount we could do up and down within 4 hours. Being our very first overseas climb, we somehow felt Lambak was just right with some rest and relax time after the climb to chill in the city centre if desired.

The ride took us 2.5 hours from Singapore to the quiet, rustic town of Kluang in JB each way. With a few drop-outs for the trip; which made the private van hiring too expensive for the remaining few of us, we opted to travel to Kluang via VIP coaches. We were essentially paying for comfort and the hassle of traveling into JB to catch a public bus. Upon arrival at Kluang Bus Terminal, we hopped onto a taxi for a 15 mins ride for around RM$12, to the foot of Gunung Lambak. All-in-all, it cost us SG$32 for the VIP coaches and RM$9 each for taxis both ways. There are sufficient instructions online that illustrates a cheaper travel alternative which we can attempt in our next trip to Kluang.

I'm proud to introduce the Climb Team, who each played their role flawlessly for Gunung Lambak.
1. The Director - In-charge of travel instructions and maps
2. The Purchaser - In-charge of purchasing bus Tickets and insurance
3. The Foodie - In-charge of preparation of food before, during and after climb
4. The Guide - In-charge to lead and guide during climb
5. The Nurse - In-charge of 1st Aid Kit
6. The Time Keeper - In-charge of keeping time and phone to call in Malaysia

As the crisp chilly morning air lingered before the break of light, we gathered at Golden Mile Complex to board the VIP coach direct to Kluang. A storm brewed with heavy rain as the bus drove into JB. As I gazed out at the rain splattered coach window, I figured maybe we might just activate the wet weather plan to enjoy seafood in Kluang town. The weather took a turn after the causeway and though gray, cloudy skies loomed, the rain had completely stopped. As we approached Kluang town, I saw the Lambak twin peaks from a distance and had a good feeling about the climb.


Rain, rain go away...

Following religiously to the climb schedule I drew up, we started our climb at 1045am from the Gunung Lambak Resort. The resort had a 1980s like water pool which local families enjoyed. Hikers can choose between 2 paths up to the summit. From the climb map and consultation from locals, the path on the left leading through the midway point or half way hill was more challenging with steeper slopes and rougher terrains. We would end up at the highest point of the peak greeted by the transmitter of the television station RTM. We came for a challenge and the challenge we took!


Gentle mountain streams flows as we entered deeper into the forest

It was no easy feat climbing up to the midway point. After crossing 2 hanging bridges and a stretch of paved tar road we started our uphill trek through uneven forest grounds and thick tree roots. Armed with my Deuter Nomi backpack filled with 1.5 litres of water in my hydro bag and 2 cans of 330ml isotonic drinks, every step of the climb burned the thighs. My Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX Hiking Boots proved to be truly effective for maximum grip and support during the climb. Ropes were lined along the tree trunks to assist climbers. My pair of gloves for gripping frayed, rough ropes was another wise move. Thank goodness for the ropes though I need to learn how to depend on them less as some knots were already coming lose. Parts of the climb required us to be on all fours, pushing and pulling our entire body weight. It took us 40 mins to reach the midpoint where we took a rest and digged into our sandwich breakfast.




Breakfast of tuna, ham and egg mayo sandwiches prepared by Dav and Dennis


Part 1 Climb Stats

The second half of the climb was equally brutal as we battled near 1.5 hours of uphill continuously. There were numerous breath catcher breaks while we waited for one another to pace up. Somewhere along the remaining 300m mark of the grueling 1km climb, we spotted markers indicating the distance to the summit. One of our happiest moment was spotting the 100m signage which incidentally I missed but Joy discovered! It was with certainty that we were indeed at the tail end of the ascend.


Just look at those delighted, overjoyed faces!

As I trampled through the last couple of steps toward the highest point of Gunung Lambak, I lifted my arms for my victory cry and cheered on the rest of the team! We survived in good timing around 12:40pm to a crowded summit of local students and leisure climbers. And as I breathed in the humid afternoon air, there was a great sense of relive that we all made it up. It was time to enjoy my can of Aquarius Sports and packet of Chips Ahoy! My well deserved treat painstaking carried.


The defunct television station transmitter was a highlight together with a worn signage indicating the peak's height and latitude / longitude position


View from Gunung Lambak looking west

On schedule at 1:30pm, we stared our descend back to the foothill. The confronting uphill meant an equally demanding steep downhill which worked a totally different set of muscles. While we watched climbers sprint pass us down the slopes, we took our steps ridiculously slow and steady. A lot of knee strength and stability were required and again I was thankful for the ropes, which aided me in preventing a few possible falls. It was also in the descend that I really appreciated my hiking boots which I felt definitely supported my ankles to escape injuries. After what I felt was a really long return, we finally arrived back to the resort to change and freshen up. The entire climb including breakfast and lunch breaks took us 4 hours.


Part 2 Climb Stats

There is so much to give thanks for, in achieving our goal of reaching the summit, for the brilliant weather, a safe and injury free climb (not sure if the leech attack on Dennis count), being able to keep to our clockwork timetable and all the experiences that we have gained in making us a more confident climber for Mount Kinabalu. God's hand was definitely on us and most certainly in the pretty bizarre taxi screw up that led to Dennis' lost and found incident of his GoPro. He apparently dropped his camera in the taxi on the way to Lambak. We wouldn't have connected Mr. Anapalan for the return ride should the original taxi driver had turned up. God works in strange mysterious ways but always one with our best interest.

Climb Schedule
0700am – Board bus to Kluang from Golden Mile Complex. Expected travel 2.5 hrs
0930am - Arrival at Kluang Bus Terminal Point
1030am - Arrival at Lambak Mountain Base. Introduction to the mountain and conduct a safety briefing
1045am – Start of climb
1300pm – Reach summit and lunch
1330pm – Start descend
1600pm – End of climb, wash up, lunch and back to Kluang Bus Terminal Point
1800pm – Leave Kluang for Golden Mile Complex. Expected travel 2.5 hrs
2030pm – Arrival Singapore Golden Mile Complex for Dinner

Climb Checklist
Mandatory
1. Small lightweight hiking backpack
2. 1.5 liters of water
3. 1 bottle isotonic drink
3. 2 energy bars
4. Dry T-shirt
5. Towel
6. Hiking Shoes
7. Lunch (packed sandwiches)
8. Mini 1st Aid
9. Passport
10. Money (both SGD and RM)

Optional
1. Gloves for rope
2. Sunscreen
3. Whistle
4. Plastic Bag
5. Poncho / Raincoat

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