How to climb Bukit Kledang

There are two ways to get to the top of Kledang Hill in Menglembu, Perak; on tarmac road or trail. With an elevation of 808 meters, the Kledang Hill can be spotted from Ipoh city. It houses four broadcast stations on top of the hill.

Look down for motivation

I took the easiest route, a 7 km walk up on a tarmac from the main car park area. (map) There were many people hiking up the hill over the weekend from all walks of life; young and old. As you ascend, you will see lesser people and more friendly faces. If you walk non-stop, you could reach the top within 1.5 hours. You will reach a T junction when you are about 1km away from the top. Take left if you want to reach the top. Both paths take you to broadcast stations.

Some tips:

  1. Wear suitable shoes, especially if you choose to go on the trail route. If you are not used to walking or running down the hill, don’t rush.
  2. Bring enough water, especially during hot weather
  3. Bring energy bars or other lightweight food to fuel up yourself
  4. Put on or bring along sun block as the round trip journey would take 3 hours
  5. Come early if you don’t want to get caught in the sun.
  6. The climb is pretty easy so keep moving and do not give up. There are many stops with shades and good views for you to rest at
  • Centipede as long as my shoe
  • You don't need to ascend high to get a good view
  • The view from the top of Bukit Kledang
  • The top. Make sure you take left at T junction

Some facts on elevation of other popular hills which are about 3 hours away from Bukit Kledang :

  • Bukit Gasing : 160 meters
  • Bukit Tabur 396 meters
  • Bukit Broga 400 meters
  • Bukit Saga 402 meters

So, if you want to try out higher elevation go climb and forest bathe at Bukit Kledang. If you have 3-4 hours to spare while in Ipoh, just hike up and concur the hill! Go for an injury-free hike!

As for me, I will go back to Kledang Hill again, but the next time on a trail route.

Embracing elevation at Gunung Nuang

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My partner had no idea what she got herself into when she agreed to go on a hike with me!

People hike for various reasons. Some love breathing in the fresh air, some enjoy the meditative feeling of being close to nature, or some are addicted to the thrill and exhilaration of a strenuous sport. I, on the other hand, learnt how to embrace elevation.

Hate it or love it, hills and slopes are a part of any run regardless of the distance. A few hundred metres of elevation adds challenge and fun to a run, however, a few thousand metres that I will encounter in my next ultramarathon is a different league of its own.

Running in loops at the base of Gunung Nuang, that I affectionately call as Nuang loops (from the entrance up to the first checkpoint before Camp Lolo) is my favourite spot for trail runs because of its elevation and long stretch of uphills and downhills. Since this is the last week of training before Cameron Ultra, I decided to go all the way to the peak, giving myself 2 weeks to recover if anything goes wrong. At 1493 metres, it is the highest peak in Selangor, providing the perfect spot for some last minute elevation training.

What we plan to accomplish for that day.

What we plan to accomplish for that day.

We hiked up at about 7am and reached the peak of Gunung Nuang at about 12.45pm. Overall, it took us about 10 hours of hiking from Pangsun entrance – Peak – Pangsun entrance. While still in Nuang loops area, I proceeded to run-walk to the first checkpoint, Camp Lolo, because it is the easiest part of the hike. The real ‘fun’ begins after Camp Lolo. The distance between each checkpoints are reducing, but the route was getting more challenging. From the starting point to the peak, it was around 10-12km. It was definitely not a hike for beginners. Not to mention that it was drizzling too, so the ground was muddy and slippery. Personally, I found the hardest portion of the journey was between Camp Pacat and Puncak Pengasih. There was a lot of natural obstacles such as big rocks and fallen tree trunks that required using all 4 of my limbs. It was also very steep, so I had to use a lot of my quads to push myself up (strength training was slowly paying off!).

This was just the beginning

This was just the beginning

The second hardest portion for me was going down. I confess that I am scared of heights, so the sight of a really big gap forced me to get down on my bum and slowly slide down until I trust my footing. However, once I gained the rhythm and technique, I jumped and ran down at every opportunity possible. I was also rushing to get back to Camp Lolo for Zohor prayers. It resulted in a few miscalculated landings, but hey, what is hiking without a few bruises and cuts.

What goes up, must come down. The question is now HOW do I get down???

What goes up, must come down. The question is now HOW do I get down???

Resting and zohor prayers at Camp Lolo before we head back to the starting point. There is a waterfall and stream, perfect for washing up and ablutions. Previous campers also left tarps and kiblat indicators.

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Resting and zohor prayers at Camp Lolo before we head back to the starting point. There is a waterfall and stream, perfect for washing up and ablutions. Previous campers also left tarps and kiblat indicators.

Now I understand why hikers like to subject themselves to the ‘pain’ – there is an indescribable sense of accomplishment once you complete the trek, and it’s a addictive. While nursing your legs in pain, you find yourself wondering which mountain or hill to scale in the nearest time. You just want to go on and on. Runners, does that sound familiar?

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

From trails to tarmac

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After one week of resting (with the exception of a couple of crossfit sessions at Fuel Athletics) to give my knees a break from last week’s full marathon at Kuching Marathon, I finally decided that it is time to start training for my next big race: Cameron Ultramarathon or Cultra for short.

I did an ultramarathon once, so I am not worried about the distance. With enough LSD training, I have a high chance of completing the race. However, Cultra will be different because it will be a trail run, and elevation is not a stranger. In fact, trail running IS elevation. Therefore I must learn to embrace it rather than being in denial thinking that road LSD will be sufficient. I have to prepare my feet for a lot of uphills, downhills, and uneven terrain.

To get a taste for Cameron Ultra’s elevation (2240m) I head to the tallest peak in Selangor called Gunung Nuang. Gunung Nuang has a trail fondly known as ‘Nuang loop’ among the running community. The loop consist of 5km uphill to the first checkpoint called Camp Lolo, then another 5km downhill to the entrance. The 10km loop was only 530m total of elevation gain, however I was panting! Overall, it took me about 2 hours (at a very leisurely pace) to complete one loop. Then I repeated the same thing again.

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Hey guys can I know what your legs are made from? Because I need the same thing for my legs to keep up!

 

There is never a lack of company in the trails. “Why is this human with only 2 feet is so eager to run? I have hundreds of feet yet I never want to go up and down these Nuang loops.” – said the giant centipede.

There is never a lack of company in the trails. “Why is this human with only 2 feet is so eager to run? I have hundreds of feet yet I never want to go up and down these Nuang loops.” – said the giant centipede.

Looks like the Nuang loops will be my training ground for the next few weeks. I will be back again to train harder!

The next day, I head to an event called My Buddies Run for a quick 5km fun run. I rarely participate in short distance events, but after yesterday’s hard work I took this fun run as a way to reward myself. The highlight of this event was not to break any PB, but rather getting dressed up in costumes and just simply enjoying the race since the route was easy.

IMG_2933IMG_2940IMG_5330IMG_5352Many came dressed to impress! My Minnie Mouse ears was nothing compared to the scale of their costumes.

Clearly I was excited to get dressed up. Just like any event, one must do their best to follow according to the dress code right?

Clearly I was excited to get dressed up. Just like any event, one must do their best to follow according to the dress code right?

Fun runs gave me a fresh perspective on running. Since it was a non-competitive and friendly event, many families came with strollers, elderly couples walked holding hands through out the route, and kids jumping around in their costumes…Looks like it is never too young or too old to inculcate the joy of running!

It has been a productive weekend for me. Now I am all recharged and ready to face Monday again!

Until next week,

KL Towerthon 2016

Once again I find myself at the base of the iconic KL Tower on a fine Sunday morning, ready to take on 2058 steps to get to the top of the tower. I did this Towerthon race last year, so I decided to participate again this year to challenge myself if there was any improvements and if I could beat last year’s personal record of 36 minutes.

As usual, they flagged us off in waves to prevent bottlenecks at the staircase, so as everyone fell into their own pace the crowd was evenly spread out. No one was jostling or pushing to overtake each other on the staircase. I recalled feelings of claustrophobic and monotony last year, but this time I was mentally prepared.

IMG_3976Are we there yet?

Upon completing the race at the top, I did not feel any muscle aches or joint pains from climbing the stairs. Maybe all of those squats and strength training paid off, or maybe the recent mini-hike during Taman Negara’s trip had prepared my legs. However, I was feeling breathless and nauseous from the elevation gained. I can feel the blood pounding and pumping in my head. Unfortunately, I don’t think I beat last year’s record of 36 minutes.

IMG_3977One more floor to go until we reach the finishing line at the top!

The only way to get down was to get on the passenger lift. I was disappointed with the crowd management this year. Last year, transferring the participants from the finishing line to the base of the tower was very fast and smooth. We did not wait for a long time to get into the lifts. But this time, hundreds of participants ended up waiting for 1 hour and 15 minutes (or more!) in a very narrow and hot space for the lift to get us down. There were a few participants who fainted due to the heat, exhaustion, and dehydration. The poor crowd management portrayed a negative image to our country’s iconic attraction too, as there was an international participant who expressed her dissatisfaction by saying she will never participate in an event like this again.

IMG_3989What goes up, must come down. Or in Towerthon’s case, it might take 1 hour 15 minutes to be able to go down. Everyone was getting agitated at this point.

On a positive note, I decided to continue last year’s spirit of being a tourist in my own city. Despite being born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, I could not remember when was the last time I visited the observation deck of the KL Tower. So my friend and I took advantage of the promotional price offered and bought tickets to the open-air observation deck and a new attraction called Skybox.

IMG_4015Skybox is an extended platform made from glass, giving viewers an unobstructed view of the city. Just a piece of glass separating you from going 431 meters down.

Looking at KL city from a different perspective, I can’t believe this is the city that I grew up in because it looked so different from above. I felt as if I was discovering a different city. Sometimes, you don’t have to go very far to feel like you are on a mini-vacation – all you need to do is explore your own backyard.

IMG_3999Hello Kuala Lumpur. You look beautiful from up here.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

The Weekend Runner: Rock Climbing at Xero Gravity, PJX

If you have been reading my blog posts for some time, you might notice that 1) I have absolutely zero experience in rock climbing 2) I am scared of heights. Yet I found myself hanging at least 10 meters in the air with a harness, and trying my best not to look down. My arms were shaking from gripping, and the fear was paralysing. My instructor who was belaying me from below, continued to encourage me: “Just two more steps to reach the top! Trust your shoes and harness, don’t look down, and just reach for it!”. I looked up, and I was so close to finishing. I have to complete what I started!

IMG_2458The funny thing about rock climbing is that you can’t think too much about your next move. Take a deep breath, and just do it! 

I came across this indoor rock climbing gym while collecting my race kit at the same venue. I was drawn to the indoor rock climbing concept – modern, bright, safe (upon supervision), and you can climb at any time of the day under any weather condition. So I signed up for the Explore Climbing class, and it includes one hour of coaching to cover the basics + one week free access to all facilities + equipment rental, all for RM50. I think it’s great value for money; the facilities are top notch, the instructor is knowledgable and professional, plus you have access to the pool as well.

 

IMG_2431It looks like a massive playground to me!

IMG_2477Xero Gravity also has an outdoor pool. Access to the pool is included in the Explore Climbing class.

IMG_2430Climbing shoes rental were included (blue colour), bring your own socks. It’s meant to be tight and uncomfortable because you have to rely on your toes to be able to pivot on the rocks.

 

In my humble opinion, I don’t think you need special talents to be able to do rock climbing. It’s a matter of logic sequencing and finding your balance. Even kids can do it too. As simple as it sounds, there are some basic techniques that you must master to be able to progress, which is why having an instructor for your first session is highly recommended. So we started with some very simple moves while bouldering. Bouldering is climbing on low walls without a harness or rope. But don’t worry, there is 12-16 inches of protective padding if you fall down.

 

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Before moving up, you must learn how to move sideways. This is called traversing. The rocks are coloured for a reason. All you need to do is pick a colour and follow it until the end.

Lastly, it was time to strap on our harnesses and go for top-roping. Top-roping involves scaling a wall with several meters of height, and it takes the challenging factor up a notch because the rocks were close to mimicking the natural conditions of outdoor rock climbing. Unlike the bouldering area which is open for anyone to drop in, this area can only be entered under the supervision of a certified belayer.

IMG_2469Yeah I made it to the top! This is the part when I tried my best not to look down.

I had a good upper body work out, even in the muscles that I never knew it existed. I think this is a great way to build strength as an alternative to pumping iron at the gym. Plus I think I can overcome my fear of heights in the long run because it helps to improve my confidence and mental endurance. I can’t wait to go again next weekend!

For more info, head to their website: http://www.xerogravity.my/

Note: If you are already an experienced climber who does not need any classes, and a subscriber of the KFit app, you may book a slot without paying an entrance fee (since it’s already covered in your KFit monthly subscription). Explore Climbing class is not available through KFit.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.