First agenda on the trip - the Executive Committee Meeting at the MARDI Agrotech Park
1. Introduction. The trip to Cameron Highland from August 27 to 28, 2016 was organised for three main considerations: to have the monthly Executive Committee meeting of the Alumni Association of MARDI, to visit the Association's strawberry project and finally, as part of the healthy program of its members, to climb one of the summits of the mountain around Cameron Highland. Seven of the members of the Committee were able to participate whilst four extended their apologies. We departed at 8.15 am on Saturday August 27, in a van provided by MARDI and were in Tanah Rata at around 1.00 noon.
2. Committee Meeting and Visit to the Strawberry Farm. The Committee meeting covered the usual items of the Agenda. With the adoption of the minutes, reports from the Secretary, the Treasurer and the various bureau - Economic and Entrepreneural Activities, Sports& Recreation, Religious and Spiritual, Communications were then tabled and discussed. It was followed by the visit to the strawberry farm. The farm extending an area of two-and-half acres are rented from MARDI and have been grown with strawberry utilising the fertigation system. It is being managed by AlMashoor Sdn Bhd whose Chairman is a member of the Committee. The Committee was happy with the progress of development of the farm and discussed a few challenges encountered in its implementation. The delegation was treated to a steamboat dinner at the Passadena Hotel, Brinchang, hosted by the Chairman of AlMashoor, Dato' Syed Rahman.
Second agenda on the trip - visiting the strawberry farm of the Association
The strawberry farm on fertigation system
The new strawberry area being prepared for planting
The steamboat dinner
3. Trekking to the Summit of Gunung Berembun (GB). On the second day (Sunday Aug. 28) of our visit to the Highland, the three members (Ezanee, Dagang and I) who have indicated interest to go trekking were up early. We were informed during the Committee meeting earlier that the original plan to trek to Gunung Irau was not possible as we cannot get the permit to climb from the Forest Department. The trek up G. Irau, we were informed, takes a total time of three hours to get to the summit and three hours to get down. G. Berembun was said to be a relatively easier peak to climb and that the return time to get to its summit is half that of climbing G. Irau. We had no option except to trek G. Berembun. The starting point was at the compound of the Forestry Department at Tanah Rata. As soon as the three young guides (Khairi - leader, Shafiq and Nordin) joined us at 8.30 am we started our climb. Initially it was an easy low slope trek but subsequently the first challenging hill was the obstacle. I knew I needed a walking stick to assist in the climb which I managed to get and Shafiq assisted in trimming it. Nordin led the pack followed by Ezanee. In front of me was Shafiq and Khairi was the sweeper. Both Dagang and Ezanee were fast and able to keep the pace of Nordin, who I was informed, was the fastest guide among the three of them. Before long, both Dagang and Ezanee, were way ahead and did not respond to our voice call. After having managed to get over the steep hill, it was followed by a steep downhill trek and finally reaching the resting point at around 10.00 am where I caught up with my colleagues. After 15 minutes rest we were on our way to the summit. It was a difficult and testing climb. Shafiq was assisting me in the climb, showing the easier path to take. Khairi was uplifting my spirit and saying that this was a real mental test. I told him that, as far as I am concerned, I am strong mentally. If anything it is my physical, my body whether it could withstand this physical endurance. I was glad to reach the summit at around 12.00 noon where Nordin has already prepared Milo drink for the trekkers. Soon after we were joined by two German trekkers who were on holiday in Malaysia. Both are teachers on summer holiday and were specially impressed with the hospitality of the Malaysian people, but however, did not like the traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur. Shafiq who appeared to be well-informed on the various treks around Cameron Highland, said that there are16 peaks that adventurers can trek and the most popular is G. Irau. The other popular peaks are Brinchang, Jaga and Berembun. The flora of Berembun has a number of herbal species good for diabetes. He indicated that G. Irau is relatively easier to trek and more popular among adventurers. On the morning that we were trekking GH there were 3 other groups of trekkers (foreigner) we met whereas the number that were climbing G. Irau were many times more.
The downhill trek was very challenging and for considerable distance I had to be assisted by both Khairi and Shafiq. It appeared to be no end in sight. At last we passed through the strawberry farm and ended the challenge in MARDI Agrotechnology Park at 3.00 pm. In my assessment this climb is more challenging and difficult compared to trekking up Mt. Kinabla at 4013 m asl.
After a quick refreshing bath and late meal, we departed at 5.00 pm from Tanah Rata and reaching home 11.00 pm after going through two very bad traffic jams on the way.
Third agenda of the trip - trekking up Gunung Berembun: Office of the Forestry Dept was the starting point of the Climb
The signage showing direction to the summit
The trekking with Dagang and Shafiq
It was cool in the morning and the jacket was still worn
Khairi with the label identifying the 'berangan' tree
The old fallen logs on your way
The rich flora seen along the trek
As the morning warmed up the jacket and hat ended in Shafiq's bag
The obstacles along the trek
At last reaching the summit - with Dagang (in orange) and Ezanee
With the guides, Shafiq next to me and Nordin on the extreme right
The other peaks around C. Highland as viewed from G. Berembun
Photo with the German couple at the summit
The start of the challenging downhill
The diverse flora seen along the trek
4. Concluding Remarks. It is an exhilarating experience to get away for a short period from home. Glad to see the strawberry project of the Association is progressing well. Most of all the success of getting to the summit of G. Berembun definitely gives a great feeling of physical achievement and inspires me to pursue the trekking of other summits in the near future. Next in the pipeline is going up for my 16th climb up Mt Kinabalu scheduled for early 2017. Hashim boleh!
Posted on Hari Kemerdekaan 31st August, 2016