Monday, June 18, 2012

36-hour in Taiwan

Gavin has started to invite me for his wedding dinner on 16 Jun 2012 for quite some time. However, upon checking and considering, it's quite costly to fly to attend a wedding dinner. Then, it happened when I was in Shanghai for work and so got permission to have a stopover in Taiwan on my way home. 

I have had few transit in Taipei airports on the way to States, but, have never been into Taiwan. So, this is my very first time. Kinda excited about it.

Then, as I also have not met YaYing and Annette (my uni friends) for a long time, since I graduated, I have also decided to pay them a visit. When Gavin told me that he has arranged some friends to take care of me on Friday night and Saturday morning, I shared with him my plans. And I went with my plans, which was kinda crazy.. :D Super pengsan.. 

I arrived into Taipei on Friday 3pm. Cleared custom, checked-into hotel and catch a 5pm high speed train to Tainan. Arrived Tainan around 7pm, met Annette and family. Had dinner with them and spent the night at Annette's place. Thanks to the high speed train which travels around 290km/h, the journey really got shorten. 

On Saturday morning, I took a 10am train back to Taipei from Tainan. YaYing came to the MRT station with her son to take me for a lunch. We chatted, and I went to her house for more catch-up, met her husband and all the 3 boys. Wow!!! I left her house close to 5pm. Took a cab back to hotel, changed, and off to the wedding dinner. Dinner supposed to start at 6pm, I arrived at 6.30pm. And the dinner started at 7pm. phew.. Gavin throw-ed fairly handsome dinner at 86th floor of 101 Tower in Taipei. I make some new friends. Dinner was over by around 9.30 - 10pm. I took a cab back to hotel, showered, and off to the 24-hour bookstore, 诚信书店, at around 11pm. I was at the bookstore till around 2.30am when I kept sneezing that I think it's time to go back and have a rest. It was safe in Taipei. There were many cabs waiting outside the bookstore. And surprising so many people inside the bookstore at late nights. There is a cafe inside the bookstore as well. 

So, the next morning, I didn't go out with Gavin as he thought wanted to take me around. Instead I went to a few nearby sportswear shops to check out some climbing equipments. Rushed back to hotel at 12noon, checked-out and off to airport. 

It was a sweet and too short 36-hour in Taipei. I wish I could go back again one day. :) 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend breakaway to Hangzhou 杭州

A few colleagues had mentioned that we would like to went out of Shanghai city on my next visit so that we can do some travel and short breakaway. Furthermore, May and June are good timing for travels and trips.

So, when I was there, I just let them handled everything and I just followed. I think it's easier rather than I have my ideas while I am not familiar at all. hahah...

A colleague (Cindy) came to fetch me and another colleague (Carmen) with her husband and son in their BMW. So, we departed from hotel at about 10.30am. And met with Bill and his friend at one of the highway rest area. We so many sports cars at the rest area.

It took us about 2.5 hours to reach Hangzhou as the traffic was heavy into Hangzhou. We went to 外婆家 for our late lunch, then, checked-in to hotel. Next, walk on the Westside Lake 西湖。 We had a short boat ride too. It's a big lake. So many people and happening there.

As Carmen needs to go back to Shanghai by high speed train, we went for early dinner at 状元馆。 I couldn't comment much on the food as I also let the locals to order. I told them, very easy, don't have to worry about me. Just order, I will eat what I can and dare to eat, some that I am not comfortable, I just pass. So, I just eat and no question asked on what is this and that. oh.. for sure, they said, once you are in Hangzhou, one must eat 东坡肉。 It's very fatty. ;P Still I tried, not the fat part. hahaha..
After dinner, we walked around further. The night market. And on the way back to hotel, Cindy and family decided to take a cab back as the son needs to rest. So, left the 3 of us continue doing our straw at 西湖。 The night scene was simply awesome with the lights. I like it. Yet, Bill got tired, and we all went back to hotel. Initially, we wanted to take a cab back. However, it's not easy to get taxi in Hangzhou, so, at the end, as we waited and walked, we ended up walking back to hotel. It's quite a distance, but, with the nice scenery, that's ok. :)

Next morning, as I woke up very early, I went to the lake again, all by myself. It's very bright by 6am as it's close to summer. There were many senior citizens having their morning exercise, writing on the ground by using the water from the lake. Saw joggers, bikers, etc. It's interesting to see the local lives.

When all have arise and shine, we proceed to another place, 九溪。 It's a reserved forest with 9 streams. It's easy walk as the paths are all done nicely for tourist. This place is simply awesome.

We headed back to Shanghai after taken our lunch at one of the local home style cooking, 农家菜。

Overall, it's just a short weekend breakaway. But, I truly enjoy every bits of it. So, where are we going next? hahaha...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gunung Nuang via Janda Baik route

The team going to Mt. Kinabalu in Oct is having a scheduled training supposed to Gunung Datuk. Somehow a team going to Mulu, Miri in end Jun invited the team to Gunung Nuang via Janda Baik. 

Gunung Nuang is the highest mountain in Selangor and one can access it via Selangor, Pahang or Negeri Sembilan.

It was tempting to me to go, however, it was also quite crazy to climb Gunung Datuk the day before and Gunung Nuang. For Gunung Nuang has left me with memories of toughness. So, I was hesitating. And somehow I decided to go anyway being: 1. couldn't join the Gunung Nuang via Hulu Langat on 9 Jun, 2. challenge myself to summit, 3. stretch myself, 4. training

So, there were 2 groups of us. 1 from Seremban and the other from KL. For those from Seremban, we were told to meet at OK Tuck at Lobak at 5am. I picked Rachel Tan up at around 4.30am. Then, everyone car pool to KL. We use the route of Lekas highway link up to MRR (Middle Ring Road), then, to Janda Baik. 

We arrived at Genting Sempah R&R at around 7am. That's the meeting point for those from Seremban and KL. Pre-ordered nasi lemak was also being distributed out here. 

From here, it took about 30 minutes on a slow drive to the starting point. The entrance is not far away once you saw the ILMU building. It's quite easy, pretty much go straight all the way. It is not a big space for us to park our cars. So, some have to park quite far away. So, it is good to car pool. 

Upon counted the number of people as well as some short briefing, we started the trail at 8.30am. There were altogether 58 of us. And we also saw other groups on this route too. So, it is quite a busy trail. We were told that the climb would take about 4 hours to ascend and 3.5 hours to descend. We were told that turnaround time was at 1pm regardless.

Timeline was communicated via email earlier:

0800 Roll Call & Short Briefing.
0815 Start hike.
1200 Sweeper eta Summit
1230 Descend
1600 Sweeper eta Base
1700 Optional early dinner at the Janda Baik restaurants, opposite Selesa Homes

We have to cross the first stream. Most of us took our shoes and socks off. Some decided to just go through it. The first 20-30 minutes was slow incline with a lot of vegetation plants on both side. Some stretches are filled with tall weeds. Then, slowly it changed to muddy area with a lot of bamboo bushes. So, we have to bend, duck walk to proceed further. 


We came to the 2nd river crossing after walking for about 1 hour. Turning left is to summit, and detour by turning right (about 50m away) is a magnificent waterfall. Worrying that we will be slow, Rachel Tan and I agreed to continue the summit trail. 

It's not as wet once we passed the river, a little steep at certain part, some of the paths are not as clear, a lot of fallen trees, some we have to climb over, some required us to go under. 

I took the trail slowly so that I could enjoy the nature. :) 

It was not that difficult for me, but, I do having chocolates handy and keep replenishing myself with energy and drinks. 

After 2.5 hours, we saw a big rock. It's moss area after the rock. We met a few people on their way to descend, we were told it's 15-20 minutes away to the summit. Then, another big rock, where we have to pull ourselves up. There was a rope that we could use. 


And we came to a real horseback. It's a very narrow path where only 1 person can go through at a time, and it was steep drop on the left and right. Immediate after that, we need to think of way to pull ourselves up. So, ropes, roots, all sorts. 

I took 4 hours to summit (12.30pm). It was great view up there. My 3rd attempt of Gunung Nuang and 1st time summit of 1493m/ 4898ft. :) 

We started our descend after photos taking, lunch, rest at around 1.30pm. 

My boots was hurting me quite a bit, and I got tired towards the end. Also, slipped a few times as my toes were in pain. Once we were out of the bamboo area, it was scorching hot. Total exposure to the hot sun. (Got me more tanned). I took 3 hours to descend. And I did a small transaction in the bush for the 1st time. :D

This place does not really have facility to watch up, so, one has to think how to at least change and could utilise the water at the stream to clean up a bit. 

Overall, I think this is a good climb. Rachel Tan said, it's too easy climb. For me, maybe I have a climb the day before? Or, I am still weak or not as strong.. Still, I enjoyed it. :) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gunung Datuk, Rembau, Negeri Sembilan

Got to know that Khoo Swee Chiow (the experienced climber from Singapore) is planning to bring his children for their first climb somewhere near Seremban in June. So, I gave my traveling date to him and hopefully, he would come while I am around and I could join him for the climb. It is more of getting to know him more as I missed the first meet up with him.

It was quite last minute that we were informed that he would be climbing Gunung Datuk on 1 June. I joined him since that day was a replacement public holiday for Agung's (King) birthday which is on 2 June.

I was told to meet at the foothill at 9am. Then, delayed to 9.30am. He and the family arrived at around 10.30am. And we started the climb after registration. Registration fee has gone up from RM3 to RM5 already. I couldn't really remember when was the last time I have climbed this mountain. Perhaps 1-2 years back.

After crossing the river, the trail started with lose rocky part. Not just rocky, it was quite steep too. The rocky session lasted for about 1 hour. We went slow as it is the first time for the kids (4 and 6 years old).

It was quite an easy path after the hut session.

We reached the summit after 2.5 hours climb. I was so amazed by the attitude of kids, they were just willing to try and push on, persevere.. Of course, the parents were very encouraging too.

Gunung Datuk summit session has the new staircase. Very much like the fire engine elevated stairs. The first ladder part was literally vertical. Quite scary (for me).

It was indeed a very good weather on that day. We spent almost 45 minutes up at the summit/ peak (that's where I got so tanned).

We took 2 hours to descend, was slow especially on the rocks session.

Overall, good climb. :)