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The mystical Twin Tualang Trees of Bukit Bal/Ebang

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Bukit Bal in Seremban is about 50km from Kuala Lumpur. The seemingly uninteresting residential park of Bukit Bal is frequented by the residents around S1 housing area and was more popular for the lookout towards the 'Emerald Lake'.

Until an adventurous hiker explored deeper into this secondary forest, gems were uncovered! Two larger than life tualang trees side-by-side each other with epic buttress seems more of a scene from a sci-fi movie lies in this unassuming molehill! The name tualang comes from the Malay words, tua-old and Helang-eagle.


The twin Tualang trees are believed to be more than 300 years old. The buttress of the trees are about 7 feet in hight and a they are sight to behold!

View from the top of hill by the reservoir


Starting point: Trailhead from roadside

Hike Duration: 3-4 hours depending on fitness

Total Distance: 10km to and fro

End Hike: Loop

Hike Difficulty: Easy, Suitable for Newbies and children!

Scenery Rewards: Enchanting twin Tualang trees and the tortoise rock

Leech: NONE

Parking: By the road opposite S1 housing estate or park at Petron station


What to bring

  1. headlamps if start early

  2. change of clothes, towel, jacket in the car

  3. raincoat

  4. hiking stick

  5. whistle

  6. 2.0 litres of water (it can get very hot in the unshaded areas)

  7. good pair of hiking shoes

  8. snack

  9. umbrella

  10. cap

Tips: umbrella and sufficient water



Part 1, carpark to the Green Lake lookout


There are a few ways leading to the Green Lake lookout. One way is through the tarmac road towards the reservoir and the other through the unshaded ascend towards the wooded area. Unless in overcast conditions, it is recommended not to take the tarmac road that meanders to the reservoir. One can get dehydrated and fatigued before the start of the hike!



It takes about 15 minutes from the carpark to the lookout point of the green lake.

After ascending from the road you will arrive at the open red earth area "Grand Canyon"! Enter the wooded area and hike up a series of terraces towards the top of the hill. After walking for about 800m you will reach the peak of Bukit Bal.


It overlooks a working quarry at the bottom of the hill with what used to be an emerald lake but is now reduced to a pool. The earth at the peak of Bukit Bal is eroding at the cliffside, it is best not to get too close to the edge. Constant blasting from the quarry has caused the soil and the ecosystem to be in peril! You can hear the roaring machinery as you pass this section!

There was an incident where a little boy fell from the peak of Bukit Bal.


The quarry below blast rocks for sand! It is utterly unsightly!

A note of reminder that we are traversing on Orang Asli/ Aboriginal Land

Part 2 to the Twin Tualang Trees


This 1km walk on the ridge of Bukit Bal is pleasant and flat, shaded by low trees and bamboo thickets with the occasional blast from the quarry.

The trail leads to an open clearing like a false peak of Bukit Bal, continue back into the wooded path

At the fork with the huge rock, make a left to head to the trees! From this junction the terrain is downhill.


follow the double sign marking on the tree


About 500m from the junction, you will see the twin tualang trees on the left. Tualang trees are slightly grey, off white and have unusually large bole! This one in Bukit Bal, has an interesting buttress more than 7 feet in height. #bukitbal



There is a sinister belief that Tualang trees are inhabited by spirits and are normally left alone in heavily logged areas, such as this.

Another reason is that Tualang trees are favourite for Asian Giant Honeybee (Apis dorsata) to build their nests on. The smooth surface of the tree makes it difficult for predators such as sunbears to climb them. The former is obvious in this case, as on close inspection, you will see that both trees have nails pounded into the trunk! The nails are improvised to aid in climbing the tree to harvest the honey! After this enlightening discovery, I respect, support and saviour the honey these aborigines sell by the roadside! They risk their lives climbing the 50-60m tree and hope not to be killed by bees!

Some parts of the trunk is being eaten up by termites! I wonder if they can last for another year!

Evidence of nails on both the trees hammered to assist in the climb.

The health of these Tualang trees is questionable as they do not look lush on top! However, they normally shed leaves during the months of February- April. In this traumatic climate, I am not surprised if they started shedding in January!

Below is a video of how the aborigines harvest honey for the combs normally 40-50m up on the tree!




Part 3 to the Tortoise Rock


From the Twin Tualang trees, the path descends down the gully. This path is slightly raw and the trail broken, with not much grip. The descent is steep with no trunks or roots to grab onto. Therefore a stick would really come in handy!

You will find the Tortoise Rock about 500m away from the twin trees.




Batu Kura-Kura Sakti! Whether or not a Magic Tortoise?

From the tortoise rock, the trail continues to descend. Certain parts are steep and there are ropes to aid scrambling through this area. There are sections of the trail that are untrodden and raw due to the long lock-down period. But continue downhill till you hit the stream. Cross the stream and enter the plantation area.


Cross the little steam and enter the plantation area

Part 4 through the durian plantation


The jungle trail quickly progresses through the oil plantation and soon, the durian orchard.

The durian orchard is picturesque over rolling hills, unfortunately, it wasn't durian season! The orang asli from Kampung Sebir are the landowners of the plantation. You will see make-shift huts on the hills for them to keep a watch out on durian thieves when in season!


Judging from the height of the durian trees, they should be more than 60 years old!

The trail from the durian plantation reenters the jungle and bends back to the main trail. At the fork, those who wish to explore the Bukit Bal rock can head straight, or make a right to reach back to the rock junction and head all the way back to the Green Lake lookout. If you are feeling fatigued, you can give this a miss!


Not much footing to head down for this photo shoot! Thx Kabir, you were courageous!

From the rock junction just backtrack and you will be out at the carpark in 20 minutes. If you have any energy left you can take the tarmac road that wraps around the hill to head down from the reservoir, or brave the broken soil down the slope.


Reflections


The maximum elevation for this tree hunt was 295m, it was a rather chillax and fun hike organized by the Trailblazer Hiking Club. If you are in search of superlatives of a challenging hike, this might not fit it. However, the trees are so enchanting that no one should miss this! It is part of our heritage, a way of livelihood for the tribes in our land!

With the rate of development around this green swath of land, these trees might face the same faith as those in Bukit Cerakah! Go and hug them before it is too late!


Big shout out to all the guides and sweepers of the hunt! Good job guys!



We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.

William Hazlitt “On Taste” (1859)





Date visited: 18th January 2022

Photo credits: Contributions from all the brilliant photographers of the hiking group!














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