Hiking Gunung Belumut, our first 1000m summit

Love the morning Sun rays! It was also how my heart was fluttering at the thought of another hike. We attempted to hike Gunung Belumut last Saturday, our first 1000m mountain 🙂

Before this, our highest peak is Gunung Panti.

The numbers for Belumut.
4hours up, 3hours down.
15km to and fro, with the peak at 1100m.
To make it more challenging, rain fell 3 times!

We left home at 0445 and reach our breakfast venue at Kluang Rail coffee (GPS 2.033543, 103.317584). It is a real train station famous for coffee and toast (Opens at 0700).
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Nasi lemak (and Mee siam) only cost RM0.90 sen each! And there is only chili and white rice but the chili is solid! We suspect train passengers will buy these fantastic food for their meals.
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A half an hour drive away, we reach the base of Gunung Belumut (GPS 02.06715 103.52507).

From a distance, we can see Kluang is surrounded by mountains. Mist constantly floats down to cover the road, heightening our anticipation.
Gunung Belumut GPS

Make shift carpark among the palm oil plantation.

Hiking can be a good analogy for Parenting, or rather what I wish my kids to learn through Life.

Hiking can be dangerous, a single trip, slip or twist could mean fractures, sprains or even death. Like any sports, we need to exercise caution, take care of each other, anticipate dangers and be alert.

We need courage to step out of our comfort zone, and that’s when we learn more about ourselves.

I always tell them. Death comes to everyone and there is nothing to fear (or feel morbid). If our time is up, even crossing the road can be dangerous.

Life is really short (how many 20 years do we have), and our human body is so fragile. I only hope we will have minimum regrets at the very end 🙂
Gunung Belumut hike

The “Before” photo, all eager to hike Gunung Belumut.
Starting bridge and pond, make us wish to dip inside the cooling water.
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From the beginning, a lot of fallen trucks lay in our path and we need to go under or over. Taller guys will need to constantly bend down under the trunks, I lost count of how many times my backpack stuck the ‘tree trunk belly’.
Gunung Belumut checkpoints

The map call Gunung Belumut a “recreational” forest, but we were sweating buckets and we had to climb on all fours at times.
It is always refreshing to reach the next “flat” ground.

Catch up with our breathe and water parade in preparation for the next slope.

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Besides the hike, we need to enjoy the surroundings too. Termites trail, and a huge leaf (to wrap Nasi Lemak haha)
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Pear-shape tree, ferns and mushrooms. The root on the right looks like a hammock.
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Checkpoint 1 (around 3.3km mark). It was uphill up 60 degree gradient for the next 600m!
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Kids helping each other over the obstacles, or finding an easier path to climb. Sometimes, I purposely keep quiet and let them figure out the next step or ‘rope’.

Kids are always tougher than we give them credit for 🙂
Gunung Belumut review

Sense of achievement? Perhaps, but they do treasure the companionship and jokes along the way.
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Checkpoint 2 (around 4.6km), some weird rock formation here. Looks like a walled fortress or a stage 🙂
(Checkpoint 1 to 2 is only 1.3km, but steep terrain means we need 50 minutes to reach CP2)

Face towel was useful to stop the perspiration and block some rain too.

Our guide say this was the 80 degrees wall, we had to climb up by navigating in a zigzag manner, left to right to left again. Make use of the roots.
Gunung Belumut with children

It lead us to a rock face, and we need to skirt behind and up.
Gunung Belumut experience

The rain started falling after checkpoint 2, and we were caught in 3 downpours! Besides the slippery and muddy slope, our pants and underwear were all soaked.

Checkpoint 3 is around 5.6km mark, I did not see the sign or landmark.

Hike higher, and you will see moss-covered branches and rocks. I was looking forward to some moss carpet, common in higher altitude.
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A fake summit (around 8km mark), the real summit is 20 minutes more to the left 🙂
Gunung Belumut fake summit

Finally the summit. But Gunung Belumut summit view is actually not spectacular and it was crowded.
Gunung Belumut height

We completed the hike in 4 hours plus. I was so excited that I forgot to sing Boon Kang a Birthday song haha. I had plan this hike as an advance Birthday gift for him 🙂 (We did sing a short rendition on the way down, see video below)
Gunung Belumut with family

We u-turn to have our mini lunch at the barren “fake” summit.
Our hiking brunch and lunch include :
– x4 1.5l water
– x3 100plus
– x6 banana
– x4 bread, baked beans and tuna (do not bring pork up hills and mountain in case we offend some spirits)
– x6 butter biscuits
– x4 sandwich

It was a heavy load to bear for up to 5 hours! We start our descend at around 2pm.

There are a lot of “drains” to wade across. They become mini waterfalls when the rain fell. As we climb lower, it became darker and we were glad to exit at around 1730.

Although we were slightly behind time, it was crucial that we be extra vigilant and watch our steps. Kept reminding the kids that we might get careless when we are tired, and a slip would only make the situation worse.

Hiking is a good way to bond and see the kids’ characters. We must help each other, motivate and encourage the weaker ones.
I would rotate the “leaders” so that everyone has a chance to lead and identify the markers ahead.

Kids would volunteer to share the load around so that no one is overly stretched. Hiking is a team effort and we need to reach the summit together.

Most importantly, always remember to have Fun!
We hope Mommy and princess can join us soon 🙂

Video (link) : Photos cannot capture the kids’ persistence to conquer Hiking Gunung Belumut

Proceeded to checkin at our hotel for the night at Rail Hotel (GPS 2.023473, 103.311938 ). I was worried that legs will be too numbed to drive back to Singapore :p
Rail hotel Kluang

King sized bed for RM150, including breakfast voucher of RM24. Recharge before driving home the next day. I knock off at 10pm while the kids were still playing games.

From the map below, Gunung Belumut is between UK Farm and Koref.
Kluang surroundings

Do your staircase training before attempting Gunung Belumut, my calves are still straining after two days.
If you are first time hiking, go for the 500m (or below) Johor mountains first (Panti, Arong, Pulai, Lambak). All are within 2 to 2.5 hours rive from Singapore, and a good start for children. In Singapore, Bukit Timah Hill (163m) and MacRitchie Tree Top walk would be a nice warm up. (Panti is 3 times harder than Bukit Timah, and I felt Belumut is easily 2 to 3 times harder than Panti)

Our hike was made possible with Facebook group “Freewill Hikers“. Guides and permit are needed for hiking Gunung Belumut (For our group of 45, we need to pay RM 40 per head).
We first hike up Gunung Panti (500m) with Free Hikers too, do join their group for future events.

More hiking photos uploaded on our Fanpage album.
Read all our hiking stories here.

ps.. Follow our Instagram tag #SengkangBabiesJohor for more JB adventures

Koref farm Johor

Over the Labour Day weekend, I brought Boon Kang over to Johor’s Koref Farm. Koref (Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm) is a family friendly organic farm in Kluang, Johor.

Boon Kang cannot wait to feed the fish or go rafting everyday!

Koref Farm is located in Kahang, Kluang (居銮), and it is about 2 hour drive from Tuas Customs.
Kluang photo

Head East after Ayer Hitam and drive towards Mersing direction. Take note road contains a lot of bends. (From Mersing, coastal road 3.5 hours to Kuantan, or 5 hours to Terengganu).
Koref farm map
(Koref Farm map captured from Google Map)

Great nature, endless rows of palm trees, with mountain ranges in the background.
Koref Kacang Eco Farm1

Yes, we have reached our destination (GPS 2.249098,103.59515).

This lake greeted us as we drove into Koref Farm compound. Your accommodation might be one of the chalets built over the water.

40% of your activities will be related to water. If kids love swimming, make it 60% 🙂

Chalet D house 45 guests and Chalet C (house 35 guests). Chalet C offers only basic configuration.
Urban folks in farm

Fan, toilet, bed and mattress Checked. We need nothing else for the night. Each chalet D room can house 6 to 8 guests. (“Hotel” rates at this link)
Kahang chalet

Dormitory and A-Frame accommodations.
Farm stay no hot water

If you need something more challenging, try camping. This is normally preferred by students 🙂
camping Koref farm
(Image credit Koref)

When it rains, everyone is cooped indoors but we chose to go paddling and running rounds around the obstacle course.

Water depth at the lake is only 60cm, so almost everyone can enjoy water activities. Life jackets are available.

Day break.

I tried jogging on the first morning. At 6am, it was totally dark (cannot-see-fingers-dark). End up I could only pace up and down a 200m dirt track, as I was afraid of falling into drains or bumping into wild dogs or worse spooky banana-trees encounters :p

This is the view from one of the rooms in Chalet D.
Johor Farms

It can be warm during the days but you will need a blanket at night. Be prepared to handle houseflies in the day and “flying-ants” insects (in the thousands!) will swarm light sources in the evenings. Both are harmless.
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Cute idioms at every corner, telling guests to relax and enjoy nature.
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There were so many activities to keep us entertained.
Who needs TV and IPAD when our daily itinerary shouts FUN!

Obstacle course (Free) and flying fox (RM 10). Rafting is free!
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How does feeding the fish (RM 1 per pack) and cycling sounds (RM 7 and above)? You can pedal and get up close to the fish and prawn ponds, or paddy fields. (All the farm activities are listed here)
Family actiivities Koref

Vast paddy fields, clear blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

Swings which allow you to “slip” and leap into the lake! (Free)
Farmstay Johor

Common toilets.
Koref farm review

If you cannot live without aircon or must have 5 star buffet breakfast spreads, or you can only swim in turquoise clear water, Koref farm is not for you. But if you and family love the great outdoors and getting back to basics, Koref farm offers you an idyllic kampung lifestyle and loads of opportunities to bond with family.

No TV, no Facebook, no Instagram. Only the farm, animals and fun activities! Smiley faces.
Koref Kacang Eco Farm13

We believe Ah Ben agrees with us 🙂
We had work with him before (Ch8 人气满屋2) and was looking forward to catchup with this friendly host again.
Koref Kacang Eco Farm12

A pond filled with fish and arowanas. Be careful of the territorial male goose, he can be very loud.
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In Singapore, AVA is strict and does not allow feeding of poultry, and you cannot even touch the goats in Kranji farms. We must have caught at least half a dozen chicken and chicks in Johor! The arowanas are so used to human-feeding that they sometimes allow you to stroke them (just like a pet!)

Ducks, Goose, Chickens and we even spotted a brood of chicks! What a delight for urban folks to see live chickens running, instead of chilled poultry.
Koref E

Rabbits are fat, no thanks to constant feeding from children. Rabbits stewed or barbequed is not on the menu at Koref :p
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Photos of kids, and perhaps colleagues enjoying farming activities.
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Simple three meals, seafood prawns and fish are not available for our package. But we felt contented as it was a golden opportunity to teach Boon Kang to treasure every grain of rice. We had earlier witness how farmers toil under the hot sun.
Koref Eco farm meal
Koref Kacang Eco Farm4

Organic produce, we heard Koref is Malaysia’s first organic farm.
Organic farms Malaysia

In our opinion, Koref might score 2 or 3 Stars for meals, but it garners 5 Stars for farming lifestyle!
Truly an unforgettable experience.
boon Kang farmer

Additional tips :
– we cannot share more activities yet, as we want you to wait for Ch 8’s 小农夫 (Fresh farmers) in July. Consisting of 13 episodes, each week a parent-child pair will bring you to one farm (Think 爸爸去哪儿 亲子 variety). 小农夫 (Fresh farmers) hopes children will appreciate the hard work behind farming.

– We first heard of Koref Farm from Cheekiemonkies (their review link), and we were eagerly waiting to enjoy our own Kampung lifestyle.

– These chalets are not for honeymoons, unless you like neighbours to hear your sweet nothings and smooching! Accoustic isolation is non-existent keke 🙂

– GPS for Koref Farm is 2.249098,103.59515

– Visitors can pay RM10 to enter the farm to enjoy the activities without staying overnight

– There is no safe inside the chalets, just lock the door. We felt very safe during our 3D2N stay.

– The other kids are jealous that only Book Kang gets to enjoy the rustic Kampung lifestyle. You can gather more fun facts about Koref Farm on their Website and Fanpage.

Check out some other bonding activities with my kids.
– Boon Kang 3D2N (Farm at Koref), our hiking explorations
Taman Negara with Boon Wee, 2D2N Broga Hill and Sky Mirror with Boon Yee

Kahang Farm photos
* disclaimer Our 3D2N stay is sponsored by the Producer
** Updated 2017Jun – Toggle Ch8 video link, we are Season 1 Episode 10

ps.. Follow our Instagram tag #SengkangBabiesJohor for more JB adventures