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.
(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”.
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.
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!)
HELLO Hiking, kids are in good spirits!
Huge tree trunks, some are so thick we need to skirt around.
Flora, some plants are interesting, moss or the star shaped flower.
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!)
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?
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).
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.
Oh, it helps if you do not look down! As long as we hug the wall, we are safe.
Although tired, we must always motivate each other 🙂
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.
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.
After enjoying the fresh air, time to go down. We move gingerly down the steep wall, going down is harder than going up 🙂
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.
Fast forward to the end point, we can use Monkey bridge or sandbags to cross the stream. Adventures all the way 🙂
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 🙂
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
– I brought some salt-water for the leeches too (not sure whether effective)
Hiking shoes are a must, those wearing running shoes kept slipping.
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
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 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)
ps.. Follow our Instagram tag #SengkangBabiesJohor for more JB adventures