Gunung Panti hike 2016, and one proud Daddy

We did it! We hiked up Gunung Panti with the boys recently. Rated “simple to moderate”, this hill near to Kota Tinngi waterfall is 513m and will take 5 hours round trip. In contrast, Singapore’s tallest hill is Bukit Timah, read our 163m review here.

This milestone will lead us to many more summits!

More than the climb, more than the view, this hike made me super PROUD to be their Dad! It is not an easy climb but their resilience and attitude impressed me. We parents always underestimate the kids’ resolve and determination.

Gunung Panti family

(Photo below) The trail starts on the right, there is a small path and we have added “estimated” GPS below.

Three minutes into our hike, we need to cross a stream and our socks and shoes turn soggy yucks! But once kids are conditioned that hiking is sweaty and dirty, it is so much easier to march forward and upwards :p

Take note we had started on the wrong path, otherwise we would have crossed the “Monkey bridge”.
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We were supposed to link up with our volunteer guides from “Freewill Hikers’ Club“, but we park at the wrong corner. After asking around, we decided to follow the trail up the hill.

In the spirit of adventure (actually, we did not want to return empty-handed haha), we decided to do some DIY venturing. We followed a guide and his guests some of the way, and the local police who were practicing near the hills helped too. They must be wondering why this Dad is bringing three boys up the hills alone haha.

HIKING is a bit of Unknown, a bit of Adventure right :p

We try to spot the next ribbon and marking as we hike deeper. We would not recommend diy hiking, as it is easy to get lost as there are a few junctions along the way. When we are tired, anxious (or even dehydrated), we can easily lose our sense of direction.
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Use our hands to feel, grab the branches to balance, give each other a helping hand. It is important to let kids understand that hiking is not walk-in-the-park 🙂

Uneven slopes, muddy floors, thick under-growths, mosquitos for companions. More than the physical climb, our mind is always scanning the path infront to avoid tripping or slipping. The roots and fallen leaves are especially slippery.

I need to constantly remind the kids to go easy on the jumping (Take care of your knees!)
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HELLO Hiking, kids are in good spirits!
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Rainforest Exploration

Huge tree trunks, some are so thick we need to skirt around.
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Flora, some plants are interesting, moss or the star shaped flower.
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Rich Fauna too. The millipede is 15cm (long!) and the Upsized ants look menacing! But the most eerie creature must be the blood-sucking leech (our video shows it trying desperately trying to latch onto us!)
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Savour the moment, the nature and strive forward. The crickets and symphony greeted us along the corridors.
I purposely rotate the “leader” so everyone had a chance to navigate and lead our team, perhaps this will give them a sense of mission?
Gunung Panti

One hour into our hike, we found our guide Richard and his grandson Rain. I was really relieved that we were on the correct path all along.

Further up, we were fortunate to meet Gunung Panti’s guardian Angel too, 小黑 (Little Black).
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Never give up, Just do it!

The last 50m is a 90 degrees rock wall!

Step by step, we slowly find our grip (and grit) and inch upwards. A sense of liberty and freedom as we try to defy gravity. Richard guided us where to place our balance.
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Oh, it helps if you do not look down! As long as we hug the wall, we are safe.
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Although tired, we must always motivate each other 🙂
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Our hair was never dry once we started, 2.5 hours UP and 2 hours down.

Summit view,Boon Kang counting the number of Gunungs across the horizon.
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Group photo at the top, friendly folks who help each other 🙂
(Image credit Freewill Hikers)

Video (link) : Our virgin hiking experience

Please remember to bring your thrash down.
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After enjoying the fresh air, time to go down. We move gingerly down the steep wall, going down is harder than going up 🙂
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Boon Yee and Boon Wee managing a smile. Halfway down, they unanimously say “YES” when I ask them whether they wish to attempt another hill.

As their Dad, I was beaming with PRIDE.
Gunung Panti with kids

Fast forward to the end point, we can use Monkey bridge or sandbags to cross the stream. Adventures all the way 🙂
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We started and end our hike in wet conditions. When we started, we had missed the monkey bridge and waded in ankle-deep water. At the end point, the torrential downpour was refreshing and washed away our fatigue 🙂
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Introducing our hiking gear:
– Decathlon Quechua hiking shoes for the kids, from $17 onwards. Cheap and good!
– We had a 10L $3.90 bagpack (yes so cheap!!) for some snacks
– I got a 30L backback for the water
– Poncho
– I brought some salt-water for the leeches too (not sure whether effective)

Hiking shoes are a must, those wearing running shoes kept slipping.
deacthlon hiking shoes

This is my first hike in Johor too, glad the kids could accompany me. This climb would not be possible without the friendly “Freewill Hikers’ Club“. Subscribe to them and start charting more adventures ahead 🙂

The best way to train for Gunung Panti is combining Bukit Timah Hill (steepness) and MacRitchie Tree Top walk (distance and endurance)

We can start to look forward to more challenging hikes. From (L to R), hills in comparison. Bukit Timah, Panti, Ophir, Ijen, and Mount K :p
hill mountain peaks height

More tips about Gunung Panti and hiking with kids:

– Gunung is Malay for Mountain, and Gunung Panti’s Chinese name is 猪头山 (literally Pig Head!)
– Gunung Panti GPS “1.808107, 103.845048“, entrance to trail is next to Rainforest Resort.
– Hikers normally park along the main road, some will drive further into the small roads

– Climb to rock wall is 2 hours, add 30 mins to rope up last 50 metres
– My Fitbit signal was unstable, as a conservative estimate, we trek 15km and 150 steps (two way)

– Long pants or bermudas? Richard recommended that bermudas might be better as long pants might conceal the leeches!

– Have ample rest to catch your breath and let body accustomed to heights. Kids, especially tend to overestimate their own fitness and like to dash from point to point

* It is very humid under the canopy, drink plenty of water

– Touch wood if we are lost, kids should follow stream downwards until they reach village or settlement. That will be our meeting point. (Please provide guidance for me if my understanding is wrong)

* You may wish to cool down at Kota Tinggi Waterfall, a short 5 min drive away

hiking Gunung Panti

Read all our hiking stories HERE, Kawah Ijen is recommended.
More photos have been uploaded on our Fanpage album. We hope more families will pick up hiking too.

Hiking is like parenting, we all have our summits to conquer, I am always telling the kids that although the end destination is nice, we must always remember to savour the journey.

To all the DADs out there, Happy Father’s Day 🙂

*updated Jul2016 – we submitted Gunung Belumut too (1000m)

Bukit Timah Hill hike, the 163 m summit

Bukit Timah Hill is Singapore’s highest hill. At 163m, some might not associate the climb up as hiking.
But this hill will still make you breathless and your heart pounds faster.

The proper way to ascend a hill (same for mountain) is slow and easy, if our body cannot acclimatise to new heights even athletes will succumb to fatigue. Alas, the kids will always ignore parents’ advice and treat every adventure like a 100m sprint, quickly losing their reserve energy hee hee.

Bukit Timah Hill is popular with nature lovers over the weekends (ie no more carpark space).

We reach the summit in 20 minutes (kids were a bit eager), you can do it comfortably in under 30 minutes.
Fitness buffs love to train on the hill’s steep inclines and steps.

Partial Bukit Timah Hill Park map.
bukit timah hill map

As restoration is in progress (till end 2016), only Summit Trail is open to public on weekends, from 7am to 6pm.
bukit timah hill restoration

Only one way to go, UP the steep incline ! The first two slopes are easily 40 to 50 degree incline, and they will sap up to 60% of your overall “hiking” energy. Distance is about 1.7km to the summit., go SLOW (haha) and everyone shall enjoy the greens.

Starting point is just next to the carpark.
bukit timah hill photos

After the slope, the steps welcome us. Going up is tiring but relatively easier compare to coming down. Go slow when descending as you do not want your knee to absorb too much “jumps”.

Some folks will be running up and down the steps, keep one side to avoid injury and falls to you or them. Kids are visibly tired after the steps :p
bukit Timah Hill with kids

Before you know it (or before the kids caught their breaths) we see the radio masts. There is quite a crowd at Bukit Timah Hill summit.
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Take a photo with the GPS stone, “been there done that”. Rest and enjoy some fresh air. Kids also ask me why the dustbin is so hard to open 🙂
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Video (link) : Hike Up Bukit Timah Hill summit

Going down slope, some of the kids follow fellow hikers and walk backwards haha.
bukit timah hill with family

Learn about Bukit Timah Hill flora and fauna from the boards.
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We spotted the flying lemur on the tree too, it is only active in the night. Remains of the old railway along Green Corridor.
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Linked by Park Connector, the nature reserves around Bukit Timah are very popular with mountain bikes.
bukit timah hill opening hours

Map of Bukit Timah hill and Hindhede Park.
(1 & 2)- you can park at this two locations
3) Bukit Timah Hill Summit (estimated)
4) Hindhede Park Quarry view (estimated), entry is behind carpark (point 2)
Bukit Timah hill map

More tips :
– GPS for start of Bukit Timah Hill – 1.347945, 103.776609
– Carpark is small, park along Hindhede Walk
– Keep to the left on the path
– Wear comfortable shoe, prepare mosquito patch
– Hydration, it can be humid under the canopy

– Spend 90 minutes max on Summit Trail (up and down), the kids will prefer Hindhede trail and lookout point! (path starts behind carpark).

More photos of Bukit Timah Hill summit and Hindhede Park uploaded on our Fanpage album.
Bukit Timah Hill photos

We believe that active lifestyle helps families to bond and stay healthy.
Follow our Running and Cycling pursuits, Hiking is next 🙂

Macritchie Tree Top walk 01.01.2016

We started 2016 with a trail to Macritchie Tree Top Walk.
This is Boon Yee(9) and Boon Xin(7) first attempt (Read our 2011 experience)

The climb in numbers.
7am start.
3 hours, 7 km trail.
38 floors (FitBit) and 12000 steps.

Trip can be challenging but great company encouraged the kids to soldier on. Proud of them!

Directional signs and maps to guide visitors. Keep to the boardwalk and track and you should not get lost.

New paths are being mapped across the terrain, more exploration for kids. Stop to enjoy nature, the ants, spiders, and squirrels.
tree top walk for kids
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I remembered the path was more rugged, with exposed roots last time. I would prefer mud over boardwalks anytime, for a more authentic nature experience.
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Parents need to control kids from dashing down slope, as they might find it hard to “brake”.
Some surfaces are rocky, exposed rocks can be sharp.
tree top walk muddt

We reached the suspension bridge after 1 hour.
Macritchie tree top walk with family

A wefie with Tan family to shout “Happy 2016!

We are supposed to enjoy the moment, the serenity and the tree top expanse, but kids dashed across the bridge!
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Video : Tree Top walk highlight!

For first timers, there are two challenging points.
1) The steep incline after ranger station, with gradient of 40 degrees!
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2) … the endless steps after suspension bridge.
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Some fishes and pond skaters populate this pond and natural stream.
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* Take note of incremental weather notice.
– We had a close shave when a tree crashed 2 minutes after we walked past.
– After rain, kids might slip on wet boardwalk’s fallen leaves

Fitbit report, not shabby at all. We managed to finish the 7km Tree Top trail in under 3 hours.
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Additional tips for families :
– Target 3 hours with 3 to 4 breaks for trail. Slow and Easy.
– Hydrate, rest every 20 to 30 minutes for water break
– Tree Top walk can be accomplished by families, recommended for kids 5 or 6 and above.
– The numerous steps are manageable, but I might recommend more stairs/steps to condition your calves and hamstrings
– Trail is not stroller friendly
– No U-turn on suspension bridge
– Ranger station (after 50 minutes) can be your first pit stop. Refill, toilet break.
– Bring Mosquito repellent
– Bring rain coat or cap, there are few shelters from rain
– No feeding of monkies. They will snatch any exposed plastic bag, which they have associate with food.
– Suspension bridge only open at 9am, but ranger allow guests to enter at 8.30am 🙂
– Wear proper shoes, not sandals

Map of our trail.
1)Start from Venus carpark, 2)Reach Ranger (after 50 minutes), 3)Suspension bridge, 4) Heading back to Venus Carpark
Macritchie Tree Top walk map

More photos have been uploaded on our Fanpage album.
If Boon Xin can do it, your kids can do it too 🙂