Gunung Berembun : Into the Jungle

Trail Map

Hollie overlooks the sleepy town of Tanah Rata, backdropped by mountains

My first impression of the Malaysian town of Tanah Rata was one of confusion. Were we in Austria, Switzerland or the jungle? The European architecture and tropical backdrop made for a bizarre atmosphere on the walk. Entering the trail, there is no middle ground between civilisation and the wild; step from concrete and you're plunged instantly into the rainforest. Big-leafed palms poke through the dense, interweaving foliage. Ferns are like a carpet up Gunung Berembun. Vines hang everywhere. Giant, funky coloured woodlouse, hundreds of butterflies and a troupe of tree-swinging monkeys were just a snapshot of the inhabiting wildlife. Bird call and bug noise punctuated the air. It was often hard to tell which were which. There were bugs that whirred like the blades of a helicopter warming up, bugs that screeched like buzz saws and bugs that wailed like banshees. The rainforest was singing.

A lone rainforest branch illuminated by the morning rays

We stopped for a break at a rain shelter. Even in the early morning, the heat and humidity sapped our strength. One step felt like three. We found a spot where the sun was piercing through the rainforest's canopy. Shadows from vines and twisting branches accentuated the patches of lit haze so that rays splayed out in every direction.

At Gunung Berembun's summit, there is a small viewpoint looking out on staggered, jungly hills. Onwards, a series of steep ups and downs lead to Sam Poh Temple, which looks down on the multicoloured town of Brinchang. The temple itself has dragons nesting on its roof and immense golden statues for innards. Outside, Hollie was chased aggresively by a hornet the size of a child's fist whilst strawberry picking. Then, at Parit Waterfall, we sheltered from the ritual afternoon thunderstorm and watched a spider the size of an adult's fist spinning a web along the wooden ceiling.

The sun pierces thick vegetation throwing spires of light across the canopy

Parit Waterfall. It was now exploding with water and had quadrupled in size. Unfortunately, the river seemed to carry more rubbish than fish downstream. It's banks carried us too, back to the perplexingly British handrails and German clock tower of Tanah Rata. A world away from the rainforests of Gunung Berembun.

        Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // summer 2016