Updated: Jun 18
As we approach the final quarter of 2021, what might have been a write-off year, finally crawls back, with or without a decrease in Covid-19 infections. Although still in State Border Restriction control, we attempt to make the best of our newly given freedom to move freely within the district of your dwelling address. And this would be Selangor for most city dwellers in Central Malaysia.
Bukit Changkat Asa, located right before the natural river border between Selangor and Perak, Sungai Bernam, would be the closest we can ever get to Perak at this moment without being in violation of the law. The barb wires seem like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie!
Every road, bridge, getaway to the the next district is in tight control and police guards the borders manacingly, as if in war!
To be out here, seeing the rambutan trees in bloom, kampung wooden houses on pillars is gratification on steroids when you have been stuck at home for almost a whole long year!
Bukit Changkat Asa, a little hill not more than 250m in elevation has a little red forest to offer! The views leading up to the peak is idyllic and gorgeous along the Bernam River and it's just the kind of stimulation one needs to lift the spirits! What a great choice of destination Nature Hunters!
Hike Duration: 3-3.5 hours
End Hike: It is a backtrack
Hike Difficulty: EASY
Scenery Rewards: Gorgeous view of Gunung Liang, Gunung Semangkuk among them
Permit: Current no permit required for this hill
What to bring
1. Optional walking stick
2. At least 1-1.5l of water
3. Change of clothes
4. Good pair of hiking shoes is absolutely necessary
5. Optional gloves
6. Check the weather forecast
7. Normally no leeches but due to the lockdown, the trail is raw and full of hungry leeches and mosquitos! Come prepared with mosquito, Listerine spray to keep the suckers at bay!
Park along the main road of Ulu Bernam, right before the bridge to Tanjung Malim. Due to border restrictions, it was not possible to cross over to Tanjung Malim.
From here it is less than a 5-minute walk up to the trailhead.
Fast forward post covid, we can start our hike along the river without farse
Part 1 - Walk along the Bernam River
From Jalan Besar in normal circumstances, you should be able to, take left and walk along the river to the trailhead. But due to the barbwires erected by the main bridge, it is impossible to pass. Instead, take Lorong Muhamad Kapitan and head in the direction towards the Bernam river. #bukitchangkatasa #sungaibernam
The journey along the river is about 1 km. You will be rewarded with a feast of fruit trees depending on which time of the year you arrive. The rambutan trees were fully laden with intense, fully ripen red fruits. Starfruit, mangosteen, durian, chempedak, langsat trees all line along the river, though not in season!
Cattles from a nearby barn grazed in the open fields without a care as we walked past. It was a moment to behold!
Part 2 Foothill to the forest
After about 1 km, there will be a point with one bridge to the left and right. Take the left bridge, pass the stream and head towards the foothill.
You will pass a fenced up plantation, notably filled with durian trees. Head in, and walk through the abandoned rubber plantation.
Pass a boggy area and make a sharp left towards the hill at 3.68619, 101. 51107. Due to the lockdown, the path is cover with overgrows and can be easily missed.
The incline gradually increases after the left turn. You will approach a small cliff, that requires some scrambling up with the help of ropes tied to the tree.
From this cliff, the ascent continues through thick thickets of ferns. The terrain is laterite soil, uneven and loose gravel at many points. There are many leeches, perching on the thickets, so be cautious and try not to stop until you reach a clearing!
......layers of mountain view towards the main mountain range
While balancing over the uneven trail, don't forget to look back at the gorgeous scenery unfolding behind. We reached an open clearing, took a short break and did a casualty count on 'leech' damages! Did some frantic jumping and yelling and picking and smashing with the hope that these suckers don't latch on us on our return route!
From this point, it is a short climb to the first Pokok Gelam Merah.
PART 3, POKOK GELAM MERAH FOREST
As we approach the forest, you will see more and more pokok gelam merah. These trees, flank along the ridge of the hill. The dark red hues and flaky bark from the Pokok Gelam Merah is enthralling, like one from a fairytale book! The Eugenia Cerina hend, the scientific name grows mostly in the ASEAN forest. You can find similar tree clusters in Bukit Batu Sawa in Jelebu and Bukit Buloh at Felda Padang Piot in Jerantut.
As you head up, there is a lookout point with rewarding views of Tanjung Malim below and part of the main mountains range of Titiwangsa. This flat lookout area is perfect for a picnic and fewer mosquitos than the peak! From the lookout point, it is a short climb to the peak. The terrain is rather steep and filled with thick leaf litter. It can get slippery and the walking stick helps especially on the way down.
The peak is surrounded by more pokok gelam merah with not much of a view. Remnants of a trig station that has long collapsed and the trig stone are the only interesting relics you will find. The red forest at the peak is denser and more photogenic with contrasting tones! Should you decide to make camp at the peak, please bring along mosquito coil!
Flora and Fauna
All along the trail, especially by the river, there were many fruit trees, grown by the locals.
What's worth mentioning is, apart from monkeys that you will encounter, wild boars was also spotted on the hill.
This hike is packed with so much content and beauty, yet only a stone's throw from hustle and bustle of the city. It was so rewarding to be in tune with the symphony of rural life. The morning chorus of the birds, the taste of the sweet rambutan off the tree, the murmuring river, the morning sun rays, the soft breeze that carries flowers scents, they all stimulate feelings that can only be experienced and not imagined! Big shout out to Nature Hunter for this brilliant idea, brilliant Bukit Changkat Asa.
Can't wait to expand my horizons beyond Selangor!