A Walk-umentary: Day 1
A Walk-umentary: Day 1
We have been informed by Julie (in a very detail email) on the do and don’ts, what to bring and other useful tips as early as February. So, we get plenty of time to plan and pack.
I stuffed those essential things (cameras, phone, umbrella, raincoat, wallet, chargers) in my back pack and the rest (clothing, extra pair of shoes, slipper, and toiletries) into a duffle bag. Everything was wrapped in plastics. I was all prepared for all conditions. Julie told us to get prepared for blazing hot weather and heavy downpour on the same day.
The walk seemed like a well kept secret in the Indian community. It has been around since 32years ago! There is hardly any information on the walk in the Internet. I do not have much info on how it started and who were in the first walk. It would be interesting to find out…Maybe I will dig more info next year. LOL!
We gathered at Batu Caves around 11:00pm on Saturday night (4 April). Julie had registered and collected T-shirts There was launch and prayer ceremony earlier in the afternoon.
We had supper at around 1am - Fried beehoon, bread, vade (yummy!) with teh tarik.
The night was hot and humid. No wind. Jue, Wai Mun and Amelia were sharing spooky ghost stories while waiting for the walk to start. Yikes! Not at this time at the night! Heheh!
I do not have an official participants figure for this walk, but I guess it was around 300 walkers. There were a few children as well. Generally children were prohibited unless they were accompanied by and adult next of kin.
A simple prayer ceremony or pooja was conducted after the briefing to the participants. Then, we were all set off to the walk of our lives! The mother of all walks in Malaysia! (Insert squeal of excitement here!)
This is the Midnight Express. A van that played Murugan devotional songs (in high decible) and kept the spirit high with its bright siren lights. It was basically a disco on wheels! Hahah! You could hear and see it from miles away! Love it!
I walked slowly within the group while recording some video clips. The ladies had already walked far ahead. Anyway, this was not a race!
The road led us to the KL-Karak Highway. It was pitch dark with the occasional lights from the passing vehicles. So, torchlight is a must item to bring.
Anyone care for lemang? LOL!
I was walking alone before I strike up a conversation with Sathiya. He was a regular in this walk. I remember his advice not to wear underwear for the walk. Let it all hang loose to avoid chafing! Hmmmm....
So I asked him if Dhoti (long Indian loincloth) a better choice of wear? He said it depends on how you tie it. It might just drop off if you didn't tie it correctly! OK, I'll stick to my sportwear then. LOL!
I also met Ayya who kept us entertained with his classical Indian songs.
Time passed fast. Soon it was daybreak.
I hated the stretch before the Genting Sempah Tunnel. The highway was built over ravines and snaked over the Banjaran Titiwangsa. I usually enjoy the scene here when I travel this route via bus, on my way back to my hometown on the East Coast. But on foot, it was a nerve-wrecking experience.
The fear of getting knockdown by the speeding cars had intensified with every step I took. The trailer-car crash scenes from Final Destination movie was playing repeatedly on my mind like a bad Astro commercial.
It didn’t help when the whole highway ramp vibrated and shook each time a heavy vehicle passed by. Luckily I didn’t pee in my pants! LOL! I kept going. My consolation - if I die there, my insurance compensation was going to be double since it was a public area.
I am not happy with litter-bug problem among the walkers. From my observations, most of them tend to throw rubbish conveniently into the drain, into the bushes and on the road itself. The organizer also didn’t provide proper rubbish disposal.
I walked miles with an empty mineral bottle because I refuse to litter around. When I arrived to the next refreshment stop, I passed the bottle to one of the volunteers for disposal. My jaw almost dropped to the floor when I saw she casually took the empty bottle from my hand and flung it into the monsoon drain.
So, from then on, I carried all my rubbish with me until I see a garbage bin in the town area. Come on people! Love the Earth. Keep Malaysia clean!
Warning sign on the digital display board. "Beware of KL/ Maran Walkers".
I grabbed some Milo and cream crackers at the rest area before the Genting Sempah Tunnel before continuing my journey.
After the Genting Sempah Tunnel, the highway was wider and not as many ramps as before. But the route was still undulating. Ups and downs! Check out how tiny the people were along the highway.
The heat of the sun began to bother me. So I quickly reapply my sun block. My backpack became heavier and heavier. My shoulders and legs hurt.
Medical problems were attended to promptly by the St. John Ambulance plying the route. (Insert thumbs up here!)
There were not many shady areas along the highway. It was all concrete and tar. Some managed to find a tiny shady spot to catch a nap. :)
We spotted an accident along the highway. Freak accident - a trailer carrying iron bars went into a ditch along the highway.
Thank God no walkers were harmed. I think the accident must have happened before any of us reached that place. Otherwise...many double insurance payouts would have to be done! Hmmm....where does all these mordid thoughts come from? (Insert Final Destination crash scene playback here! LOL!)
I reached Hutan Lipur Lentang at around 12:30pm. Hutan Lipur Lentang is a recreational area popular among the locals for picnic and its cascading waterfalls.
The ladies were already at the rest stop.
Lunch was served - vegetarian curry rice. I wolfed down the rice using my fingers - the Indian way of eating! So hungry!
I was tempted to soak my feet into the waterfall but I was too lazy to take off my shoes. LOL! After a short rest, I continued the journey with Julie, Amelia and Wai Mun.
The heat from the sun was unforgiving, coupled with the heat that rose from the tar road. It was hot hot hot. The last time I experience this was in the Ocean to Ocean Run a couple of years ago. But that time, we only spent like 1 hour under the sun since it was a relay of 8 persons.
I used a face towel; draped it over my head before I put a cap on. At least it shielded my cheeks from the sun. Step by step I plodded on...
These must be Ayya's shoes. I saw these on the grass next to the highway. He tried taping his "opened-up" shoes with duct tapes. I guess it didn't work. :(
I was trailing Uncle Shumugan right up to the Karak Toll. It was easy to identify him because he sported a ponytail. :)
Not too long after we passed the toll, raindrop started to fall. The sky was still sunny, mind you.
Smaller drop became huge one as if we were machined gunned by the clouds. In no time, I took out my umbrella and wrapped my camera in plastic bags. Must protect my baby first. Then I looked for shelter…which was obviously none since we just passed the highway and not reached the town area yet! So, I wore my back pack in front of me and walked in the rain.
Pungent acidic smell began to rise as rain water came in contact with the hot tarmac surface of the road. It was simply awful.
Later, I found shelter at an overhead bridge. Soon came the rescue truck! Yay! I decided to hop into the truck with a bunch of others walkers.
The truck took us straight to our next stop – the Sri Balasubramaniar Temple in Karak.
Julie was already at the temple when I arrived. Amelia and Wai Mun was walking. They insisted to walk in the rain! Mighty persistent women, eh?
Uncle Shunmugan pointed a place for me to sleep in the temple. It was behind some kind of platform, behind a stage made of plywood. I placed my mat and sleeping bag there. I have a little bit more privacy compared to the rest where they have to sleep in the open on the temple floor. Suddenly I missed home. LOL!
A place to sleep had been found, it was time to clean myself. I was stinky, sweaty and sticky from the all day walk. The temple bathrooms could hardly cater for all 300 of us! So how?
Take bath in the public! LOL! It was a culture shock for me. I admit that was the first time I bath in public like that.
I took off my t-shirt and joined the rest of the guys at the water tank. The tank was located next to the temple and was barely shielded from the public eyes with a piece of cloth hung on a wire.
We took turn scooping water from the tank while others were soaping themselves. It was quick but refreshing!
According to the regular walkers, Day 1 was the toughest. The course was mainly on highway – lack of shades and place to rest. The course was also hilly.
Amelia and Wai Mun finally arrived at the temple. Congrats! They walked 100% of the journey on the first day!
Medical check-ups were provided free of charge by the local health authority. I asked for some painkillers from the doctor. They gave me paracetamol.
Dinner was served around 8:00pm after pooja. Simple but delicious vegetarian food. Rice, curry and papadom on banana leaf! Hmmmmm..I could hear my tummy growling now as I type. LOL!
After dinner some of the walkers sang praises to Lord Murugan in the temple. The songs were very catchy. My..My..They still have lots of energy after a long day of walking, eh?
Me?...I just wanna curl up in a fetal position and sleep! LOL!
Lights off at 9:30pm.
Here's a video summary of Day 1. Enjoy!
Day 2 post coming soon! The day of blistering heat and blisters.