It had been a long hiatus since my last hike, and so when one of my blog readers contacted me regarding a hike up Gunung Santubong in Kuching, Sarawak, I was thrilled to take up the offer. As such, I found myself meeting up at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal @ Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6am on the 29th of April 2012 with Julie Nelson, Wai Mun, Kheng Heng & Shaheera. I sincerely believe that all airports in East Malaysia are basically the same blueprint just plonked at different locations. Kuching’s airport was like 95% the same as Miri’s Airport!
We had a 4 day 3 night trip planned, though Santubong was to take up only 1 day. To make it easier to get around, we rented a black 1.3 Proton Saga M-Line at RM140 per day. We later found out that apparently if via the locals there RM100 is possible??
The first day was spent visiting Kuching town. Most of the activity is centered along the Waterfront (riverbank) with the centre of it all around the Riverside Shopping Mall. Lunch was kolok mee, Sarawak laksa and mee tomato.
The Waterfront was deserted by day and we decided to do some shopping nearby for stuff to eat during our hike tomorrow. We turned in early that night and planned to start hiking by 0730H. Needless to say, things never go according to plan and at 0730H, we were just leaving the homestay… LOL
Gunung Santubong was a good 30 minute drive away, and it was an impossible task to find the entrance. It was only upon returning and checking the updated local GPS maps that I identified the entrance. There are 2 entrances to Gunung Santubong’s hike. The most common but longer route is from the Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant while the shorter route is from Bukit Putri. The Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant is on your right coming from Kuching and is after the Damai Golf & Country Resort. The starting point from Bukit Putri is unlabelled but from the GPS routes uploaded by previous trekkers, it appears to begin at approximately N1 43.750 E110 18.880.
The local police recommended we use the Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant Trail as they felt it would be safer for our vehicles as the Bukit Putri route would mean leaving your vehicle at the roadside. The Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant however charges RM5 per car, RM 3 per hiker, and RM13 per certificate. In addition, in our case, Wai Mun’s name was printed as Wat Mun – we pointed out this error to them and they refused to reprint the certificate, claiming that the ‘i’ looked like a ‘T’, to which we retorted what sane person would write ‘WaT Mun’. The management then mentioned that it was our teacher’s fault for not teaching us to write properly… Terrible customer service. If I were to go again, I would definitely take the Bukit Putri route just to deprive them of the income from their monopoly.
The thicker black trail is the Green Paradise Restaurant Trail, the dotted line is the Bukit Putri trail.
The beginning part of the hike has wooden platforms ala Gunung Mulu
The first part of the trail is labelled A, B, C, D, etc
The Jungle Trek portion starts from A and ends at P. For climbing up Gunung Santubong, the trek starts from A until F, from where it branches out to form F1 until F15. We started hiking at 0900H and by 0930H we reached the point where the mountain hiking trail split off from the jungle trek.
Most trees are marked with paint, while some have plastic tags tied to them.
At about the F5 point, you’ll end up descending down a steep steep slope to a waterfall before ascending up again. Very slippery but worse is to come in the later part of the hike.
At about 1030H, we finally reached the part where the Green Paradise Seafood Restaurant trail joined the Bukit Putri trail. Till now there had been minimal increase in elevation, we were only about 300+ metres ASL (Santubong is about 810m ASL) at this point despite having hiked about 60% of the distance. Here is the 1st viewpoint where u can get a glimpse of the surrounding area.
The trail began to rise arduously and after 10 minutes we called a break to have an early lunch. Despite a good 10 minute rest, just another 10-15 minutes later we were breathless again… I’m terribly out of shape these days. Sigh… We only reached F8 at about 1120H where we all took another long break…
From this point on the ascent began to pick up No longer content with walking uphill, we now had to climb up rope ladders as the incline was at times completely vertical! The scary part was when it was vertical for about 2 – 3 storeys high…..
Upper body strength is of great help here, and by the time we reached F12 it was already 1235H. F12 appeared to be a campsite of sorts with a large gazebo but no water source was in sight.
From here we had to descend…… then hike back up again to F14 and subsequently F15 which we finally reached at 1320H… Fuuh… Water bladder was completely drained by then and downhill until the waterfall was going to be a dry thirsty hike indeed.
We only stayed for 10 minutes before making our way down. Going down was only marginally faster as I was so out of shape that I had to walk real slow just to place my feet in the proper place and not stumble and tumble down the hill. It took us 2 hours to reach F7 (having taken us about 2 hours 50 minutes to come up) and from there on it was another 1.5 hours back to the starting point (it also took us 1.5 hours to come the other way).
As usual, my ritual after a hike – a can of ice cold Coca-Cola and KFC. XD. Unfortunately no Coca-Cola and they only had Pepsi, so 2 cans of Pepsi it was. XD We did get KFC through a Drive-Thru nearby our homestay too. Yay! We then spent the next day watching Wrath of the Titans at LFS Cinema in Riverside Shopping Centre as well as hopping around Kuching town. Free and easy but everyone was limping down staircases… The subsequent day, we caught the 1430H flight back to Kuala Lumpur and it was back to work the next day.
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