Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flea Hill, Kuala Kubu Baru

Spent the whole Wesak on a whole day trek to Bukit Kutu in Kuala Kubu Baru.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT I swear this is the hardest trek i've ever done, and without training for it at that. It is 3-4 hours of pain to trek up to the peak, and about the same trekking down. Due to the rain yesterday and some light rainfall today, the trail was slippery as well.

It starts off deceptively easy, cross two suspended bridges over some rivers, walk abit through muddy 4WD trails, but the real fun starts at the foot of the hill. From there on in its a steady uphill path, with several areas that are very steep and slippery (expect to have your ass planted on the ground on your trek, especially when coming down).

You will be wishing to see the peak before very long, but it just goes on and on and on and onnnnnn. The summit is 'just' 1100m, but getting up there is a real test of your body and mind thanks to several extremely steep areas. At some parts I was literally going up a few steps at a time. I brought a 1.5 litre of 100 Plus as well as my own 1litre water bottle, and I finished the 100 Plus and 2/3 of my water by the time I reached the peak.

The markers for the trail are not very good, and unless you have someone who knows the way you will go on the wrong path often as there are several forks throughout. It is very easy to get lost so it is crucial to have a handphone with you in case you end up somewhere off the trail.

There's alot to see if you like nature, there are large jungle ants scurrying about the forest floor, and you'll often see smaller ants walking along trails of their own. Wild orchids can also be seen now and then. Roughly halfway up there is a huge rock overhang, which is home to bees, lots of bees. They're not aggressive though, just abit annoying.

At the summit is the remnants of the old British hill station, where stands a tall brick structure of indeterminate utility (some blogs say its a chimney?) and a well which you can use to replenish your bottle, if you don't mind drinking unboiled water.

Going down was naturally not as exhausting, but my feet were aching so bad at that point it felt like they were two whole blisters. And due to the rain and muddy ground, everyone slipped and planted their ass on the ground at least once. Reaching the river and jumping into the cold water felt like the best thing in the world after that experience.

Also, leeches. Did I mention leeches? These bastards are present on the Bukit Kutu trail, and the variety I encountered liked to drop from the leaves overhead, which is how I caught the first one that tried to make a meal out of me as it dropped on my white towel. Alas, two of its brethren managed to find their way to my shins (on both legs) at some point, one apparently got brushed off and left a bleeding circle that kept going hours after.

Still, if you ask me I would do this trek again sometime in the future (when i'm better prepared for it), the view from the peak is quite nice if its not foggy, it would be worth the trek lugging heavy camera equipment up to the large boulders at the top to take a panorama shot. I don't have pictures here as I did not bring my camera, maybe next time.

I went on this trek not knowing what I was in for, as the friend who invited me did not know the exact location nor the difficulty of the trek, and neither did his colleague. The Bukit Kutu trek is not to be taken lightly, nor without proper preparation.

If you're not a seasoned trekker, for your own health and sanity stay away from it. If you still want to try it, just be prepared to be tortured, both in your soul and your soles.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Look Towards The Heavens

The evening sky today looked so awesome.

The warm glow of the sun somehow blending harmoniously with the cool blue of the air, punctuated by billowy clouds that are cast into sharp contrast of light and shadow.

Sometimes I think that we spend so much time indoors, keeping our heads down or being distracted with other things that we forget to look up and see how beautiful it is.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pulau Redang aims to lure the rich with room rates no less than RM1,600

KUALA TERENGGANU: Pulau Redang — rated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands — is set to be turned into a getaway exclusively for the rich and famous.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said the state government would no longer approve the construction of chalet-type accommodation on the renowned island, which is much visited by the diving community.

“Only hotels rated five-star and above will be allowed to be built,” he said when met after the state assembly sitting here yesterday.

In future, only wealthy individuals would be able to afford holidays in Pulau Redang as hotel rooms will cost no less than US$500 (RM1,599) a night, Ahmad said.

He that said with the decision to turn the island into a high-end holiday destination, current chalets catering for backpackers would have to upgrade and raise their rates.

Asked if the move would draw criticism from non-governmental organisations, Ahmad said it was the only way to save the surrounding rich marine life and prevent environmental destruction due to pollution and indiscriminate littering.

“Some of the budget accommodation places on the island have no proper sewage system and waste is directed to the sea, and this destroys the corals,” he said.

Apart from that, Pulau Redang is a jewel for Terengganu and the 10th most beautiful island in the world, Ahmad said.

“Efforts must be made to save the island from deteriorating environmentally. Those on budget excursions can visit other islands like Pulau Kapas and Pulau Perhentian that are equally charming.”

Pulau Redang, a popular holiday destination for locals as well as foreigners, attracts about 100,000 visitors annually including many who flock there to visit the marine park.


This is typical of the stupidity we've come to expect from people in a certain political party.

Firstly, making it a "exclusive place for rich people" is not going to help tourism, its going to downright kill the business there. Even rich people and foreign tourists will go for the budget accommodations, and even the more expensive ones cost far less than RM1600 A NIGHT.

The corals are already dead due to pollution not just from sewage and litter, but also due to heavy traffic; boats discharge oily, dirty water into the sea generated by the diesel engines, and heavier ships like transport barges bearing construction materials (which sit low in the water due to their load) just plow through coral.

Hey, here's an idea. Why not save the money and further environmental damage that building and maintaining five-star hotels there and, I dunno, enforce anti-littering and sewage dumping activities?

And guess what the implications would be if they did go ahead and make Redang a 'five-star', exclusive locale? The volume of people visiting Redang would shift to Pulau Kapas and Perhentian, thus shifting the environmental impact to those places!

Perhentian is bad enough already, you can see dead coral reefs all around the island, and Perhentian didn't see the heavy commercialisation that Redang did, and doesn't have huge, ugly 5-star hotels sticking out like a sore thumb.

Keep your goddamn hotels on the mainland. Islands, especially ones with fragile marine life surrounding it like those off the coast of Terengganu should only have chalets, which have a much smaller environmental footprint than 5-star hotels both in construction and maintenance.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pew Pew!

Went to play paintball at Mudtrekker in Sg. Buloh, with a group I got to know from some forums.

Mudtrekkers has a decent but small obstacle skirmish section, with some structures along one side for a more 'urban' playstyle. The biggest play area is the forest adjacent to this area though, which is fun but even more tiring to move around in due to the lack of relatively comfortable cover.

There were alot of hardcore players replete with camo combat fatigues and boots, facemasks and tac helmets, customised markers and some even had walkie talkies.

Which brings me to the house-rental equipment. The house markers aren't very well maintained. At all. On the first round, after taking a couple of shots the gas tank started leaking and white gas whooshed out of my marker.
In 3 out of 5 times, the markers I got couldn't fire and I had to get a marshal to fiddle with it, while the game was going on and it wasn't just me either.
They also kept jamming during the jungle run, which thankfully was remedied by pulling the rear bolt, but still annoying when you're in the middle of gunning down an opponent.

On to other gear, I'm reminded yet again why I should get some basic gear for it. House-rented masks STINK. They don't really wash the masks with soap or anything to sterilise them, resulting in a gag-inducing odour (from the sponge around the goggles). It doesn't help when you start sweating and the mask's lens starts fogging up badly.

The solution to this is to wear a balaclava under the mask, which will cut out at least some of the smell and reduces the fogging up problem. Of course its always better to buy a mask instead of renting the house mask.

Also, wear long sleeve shirts unless you want to get some nice 'kari kai' on your arms. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Correlation or Causation?

You decide:
On October 31 2009 PPB Group under the flagship of Robert Kuok issued a statement to the Bursa Malaysia that it decided to dispose of its sugar units along with land used to cultivate sugar cane for RM 1.29 billion to Felda.The sales resulted in a one-off gain for the company.The sugar unit and sugar cane plantation were the second largest business segment upon its grain and feed which were topping the sales.

While under the "Sugar King of Asia", sugar prices were placed under the Supply Control Act 1961 and the Price Control Act 1946.

About 2 months later, after the shares and land are sold to Felda:
Prices of sugar jumps up.

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 31 — Sugar will cost 20 sen more per kg from tomorrow, with the new price being RM1.65 in the peninsula and RM1.75 in Sabah and Sarawak, it is announced today.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Zain Mohd Dom, who made the announcement, said the government would also withdraw its subsidy on white bread from tomorrow, and remove the commodity from the price control scheme.

Questions arise as to why Robert Kuok would even consider letting go of such a lucrative oligopoly business, for a relatively measly sum of 1.29bil? Also, why only after the acquisition of the assets by Felda, why is sugar 'removed from the price control scheme', resulting in the prices takeing a spike? A coincidence?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Steel Thy Resolve, Marine!

Yet another year has flown by in the blink of an eye, and yet another set of resolutions. This year's been rather tumultous, what with the economy tanking and various political issues and scandals flying about.

But lets recap and see how I fared with keeping to my resolutions:

Lynx's 2009 Resolutions: Results!

1. Be more responsible.
Yes, over the course of my working experience both full-time and freelancing, i've learned to be more sensitive to both the details in the work I do, as well as how my handling of that work affects other people.

2. Train myself to work faster
Definitely, a vast improvement since posting my resolution. What took me an hour to do now takes only a couple of minutes.

3. Improve 3D skills
Fell behind on this goal, I did become more familiar with normal mapping, but I haven't been arsed to learn rigging and animating.

4. Get a new gf.
Nada, though not for the lack of opportunities. Had many possibles this year, but somehow that vital something didn't spark and nothing really caught fire. Maybe this year something will happen, but ima not gonna worry myself over it.

5. Begin planning and pre-production work on my long term projects.
More or less, i've already set things into motion, though I still need to work more to get my study loan settled before I can finally move ahead. Interestingly though, opportunities have opened which would probably sidetrack my plans, so i'm frankly rather undecided what course of action to take.

6. Work out enough to get at least some abdominal definition.
Yeah, there's 'definition'. A one pack is still definition!

7. Save at least one quarter of my pay every month.
Done, thanks to my freelancing, and thank the God Emperor/Flying Spaghetti Monster/My dog for that, i'm not fond of asking for moolah from my dad.

8. Learn at least 2 new songs on the guitar.
Not sure if done, I learned them early in the year but i've forgotten how to play one of them in full. Facepalm. I'll just call this done.

9. Update blog at least twice a month.
Well, I average more than 2 posts a month, so I guess we can bend the rules abit and call it done. :P

10. Procrastination blah blah blah.
IMPROVED FINALLY YEAH! Still not perfect, but i've gotten shit done in a reasonably posthaste timeframe.

This year hasn't been kind on my resolutions, but I guess its a good thing that i've succeeded where it counts.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The best diet plan in the world.

It's called the "Alpo Diet." Invite a dozen friends over to your house. Tell them that by the end of the month you're going to lose ten pounds. Tell them that if you don’t, you'll eat the can of Alpo in front of them.

Well, as long as it has gravy…
For the next week, every time you feel the urge to take a piece of chocolate from the cubicle next to you, reread the contents of the Alpo can. If someone offers you something smothered in goo, open the Alpo can and take a good deep sniff.

You see, this is the crux of goal setting: Rarely do people improve because of the pleasure of the goal; rather it's pain that sets them on a goal,
- Dan John