Friday, September 02, 2005

August's Monthly Hiking Trip

I was up at half past six on Sunday. As usual, it was for none other than my monthly hiking trip.

This time, it was to climb Gunung Angsi, located in Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul. We exited from the North-South highway at the Senawang toll. The journey from Kuala Lumpir took us a little more than an hour.

It rained in the morning, when I got up. It always seemed to be raining or cloudy on the day of our hiking trips. As the hike would be out of town, there was a high probability that it would not be raining over there at Angsi.

There were twenty of us who joined, with two from Seremban. As such, it made logical sense that both of them meet us there, instead of Bukit Jalil LRT station where the rest of gathered.

Initially, twenty six people signed up. I suppose the promo email (three and a half hours climb) might have scared some people away.

One of the more interesting people with us was Oyong Wen Feng, a Malaysian, now based in New York. He is the author of the book Gays Love God, which was launched recently. More about him later.

There were a few new faces too - Calvin, Danny, Philip and the two guys from Seremban, Felix and er ... his friend (oops, forgot the name).

When we reached our destination, luck was on our side, as the weather was good with the sun shining brightly and warm on our skins.

After a short group warm-up led by Eric, off we went. It was expected to be a three hour hike up.

The trail was right beside the river, so we had the sound of gurgling and rushing water to accompany us. But midway, we had to cross the river.

The interesting part of the hike started after crossing the river. We had to ascend a cliff with the help of a rope. What made it challenging was that there were boulders on both sides and the space in-between was just nice to fit one adult person of reasonable size.

Affectionately called "the Crack"

If someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger was there, I don't think he could have done it.

Being just the right size, I managed to go into the space. However, it would have been easier if I have a better grip, but alas, I have smooth hands. *ahem*

Oh, did I mention that we would have to come down the same way later?

After that, came the "Staircase to Hell", nicknamed as such by KC who was here two months ago.

For the remaining one third of the journey up to the peak, it was climbing at a slope of about 60 degrees.

To me, it was like Kinabalu all over again, except that it was only like five percent of it.

It didn't post much of a problem for me. Heh.

Nevertheless, a most unfortunate thing happened. The tiny screw of my glasses decided to come loose and my lens popped out and fell to the ground.

There was no way I could wear the spectacles with only one lens, so I had to ditch the glasses into my backpack.

Now, I am not completely without clear sight without glasses, but with 400-500 of astigmatism and more than 300 for short-sightedness, the world became a blur to me at the time.

Light is important to me, because even though shapes are blurred, I can still make out what an object is. I can still make out that a spider is a spider and not a furry stone.

Anyway, with my sight hampered, I still managed to reach the top. We had lunch and rested for about 45 minutes.

View from the top

It is always more difficult to go down as it is easier to slip. What more with my impaired vision. I had to have someone in front of me so that I know where to step on. It was as if I was tracking someone; I was like his 3-D shadow.

Even though I was being extra careful not to slip or trip over tree roots, I still got a sprained ankle. I twisted my left ankle as I stepped on an uneven object, which I couldn’t make out what it was.

Luckily, I could still walk without much trouble. All thanks to my new outdoor shoes which kept my feet rigid at the ankle, thus I was able to trod down the path without much discomfort.

Not forgetting the people who helped me - Mak, for carrying my backpack; Danny, Calvin and Kevin for being there to show support and concern. Thanks, guys.

Of course, I also appreciate the hilarious jokes and teasing that they made about each other, and about me too. They really made me laugh till I forgot about the pain in my ankle.

Mak, who was quiet when he first joined us last month, was undoubtedly the center of attention and provider of humour. With his infectiously loud laugh and voice, we could hear him a mile away.

We had to cross the river again on the way down.

It is a popular picnic spot for families. As such, we chose to stop and relax further upstream, away from the masses.

Coz we were afraid we might offend those ciks (young ladies) and makciks (old ladies) when we stripped down to swimtrunks.

This was when I took the opportunity to talk to Oyong. I have heard that he changed from being anti-gay to gay-friendly, but I did not know the details like how and why.

Apparently, this change took place when he went to U.S. to do his degree in sociology. He minored in religious studies and that was when he was exposed to all the viewpoints, not just the mainstream conservative Christian ones which was the case when he was in Malaysia.

This was back in 1998, if I am not wrong.

Oh, I forgot to mention that he is a Christian. He supposedly wants to be a priest in the future.

People change opinions and beliefs all the time. Yet, I think it is pretty uncommon when one change from being conservative to a more liberal view.

His first book was "God Loves Gays" and the second is "Gays Loves God". Both are in Chinese. I asked why he doesn’t write in English and he replied that it’s easier for him in Chinese. Besides, there are many other books in English on Christianity and homosexuality.

By the way, he also writes a fortnightly article for Sin Chew Jit Poh (a Chinese daily) on politics and current issues.

He also told me that he was interviewed by the Sun just the day before. As such, I believe we might be able to read the interview in one of the weekend edition of the Sun.

That will be something I look forward to.

After frolicking in the river for half an hour, we continued on our descend.

Going down, because of fatigue, the trail felt longer than it actually is. We were thinking to ourselves, "We are reaching the end soon. It can’t be too far."

But the thought stayed as a thought for a good half an hour, before it was realised.

We left at 5.30 p.m. and reach back at Bukit Jalil at seven, due to the heavy traffic on the North-South highway. After that, I went with five other people to Subang Jaya for dinner.

We had bak kut teh (pork in herbal soup). I know that Klang is the place for bak kut teh, but it is the distance that was the issue - we were tired and hungry and couldn't possibly make the drive there and not be grumpy.

OK, perhaps the last part there applies to me only. Besides, Calvin said there is a cute waiter who works at the bak kut teh restaurant.

Yup, the things we do for cute guys. ;P

Sad to say, he wasn't working on that day. Hmmph.

I reached home close to ten and went to dreamland right after a hot shower.

Another tiring day, but it was a good workout for the butt muscles. And of course, the heart and lungs too.


keatix said...

wow...this gives me some pump to rediscover my long abandoned interest. must really do something abt least to gear myself for my next trip...

u guys must be a fit lot.

Nishiki said...

Ouyang Wen Feng is back? I thought he is still in the States.

Spot said...

hmmm...must remember to bring extra pair of spectacles for future hikes.

you horrible, penuh bersemangat fit young people. hrmph.

Derek said...

keatix: Hiking is your long abandoned interest? Well, you can join us for our next trip.

And don't worry, we don't bite ;P

nishiki: Hi there. Hmm ... you know him personally?

Anyway, he was back in Malaysia for a short holiday. I think he has gone back to the States by now.

spot: Thanks for the advice, spotty. Have to keep that in mind. ;P

Don't lar jealous. You have the young part covered, so you just have to work on the fitness part. ;P

Anonymous said...


No, I don't.

Had been reading his articles in Sinchew for years, the most memorable parts were his debates with the ultra conservative pastors on homosexuality issues.

I'd met him once when I was in UPM last year. He was there to give a talk about indepent thinking, but ocassionally he would mention gay issues.

Legolas said...

I have that book "God loves Gays" by Ouyang Wen Feng. It is pretty good, especially the last part where he defended some ridiculous "myths" about homosexual relationships.

He has another book called "Gays love God"? I didn't notice that, had not been to the bookshop for a while....

I knew about his debate with the local pastors on homosexuality. He was quite disappointing because the pastors just kept insisting that homosexual is indoubtly a sin but couldn't really prove that's what the bible said. He tried to use reasoning with the pastors, the same as written in his book, but the barrier of ignorance is just too solid for him to break.

James said...

"After FROLICKING in the river for half an hour"
Hmmm, the makciks will never know what they missed...

Potentially odd question: were there leeches?

Nishiki said...

Some essays of Ouyang Wen Feng's God Loves Gays came from the articles he wrote for Sinchew. Others, if you are familiar with liberal Christian stands on gay issues, then most of the essays in this book won't be something new for you. However, they are something new to many Malaysian Chinese Christians, I suppose.

wingedman said...

I know that bak kit teh stall. It's facing the main road, same row as the Mobil.

Man, the waiter's feymes!! And yes, he's a worthy addition to my Isle of MenMEnmEn.

Derek said...

nishiki: I see, so you have been reading his works.

Yeah, when I asked someone what does he write about, he said that Ouyang promotes critical and different ways of thinking.

legolas: Welcome, welcome to my humble blog. Looking forward to yours when it is up and ready. ;P

The way I see it, he's brave enough to openly express something he believes in, especially a topic as sensitive as this.

And even have a debate with the other pastors. Not many people would do that for the gay community.

"Gays Love God" was just launched last month. You can get it from bookstores or PT.

james: Yup, the makciks missed the sight of shirtless hunky men. ;P

Yup, there were leeches. But apparently, not as bad as it would be if it were wet season.

nishiki: I am quite familar with the Cristian more liberal views. I was thinking that Ouyang might be able to offer something new.

Still, I think that his interview with the Sun should be quite interesting too.

wingedman: Why am I not surprised that you would know who he is? *rolls eyes*

Though I am awfully impressed that you are busy identifying candidates for your island of MenMEnmEn. ;P

AJ said...

is it only me or doesn't anyone think gunung angsi is such a mean name for a mountain? no wonder you had such a hard time....

savante said...

Kena panjat bukit?! God, unless I have a hot guy waiting at the summit... :) I am a true-blue urbanite unfortunately and jungle trekking was something I was forced in to doing during my scouting days - not to mention Outward Bound :)

Gunung Angsi? Or Angsty?


Espion said...

I think the book that needs to be written is "God's Reason for Gays".

I have earlier commented on this blog that one reason for gays is judgement. And this is how it works.

When AIDS first came on the scene it was proclaimed loudly that it was a curse, a judgement, a punishment from God for the sin of homosexuality.

But when the world was devasted by SARS, and everyone panicking, not knowing how to contain it, no one whimper a word about it being judgement and punishment for those sinners who succumbed, not a few of which are Christians, even pastors, whose entire church congregation were out in fervent prayer-force "claiming' God's victory, 'rejecting' and 'binding' the devil, etc etc. (Poor devil always got blamed for people's sins)

But as history have shown, Chrisitans or non-Christians, they died too.

And since then we have bird flu, tsunami, and now Katrina, and more will come shortly.

And Jesus said,

For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.

[Matthew 7:2]