By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, April 17: Sometimes when life gets overwhelming and you’re looking for an escape, hiking is the way to go — so I left my head in the clouds at Bukit Batu Selabat.
This place is literally breathtaking because at the summit, there is a carpet of clouds waiting for me.
The cool crisp air that gently touches my skin and as I close my eyes and free my mind; it all seems like a perfect meditation spot.
The best time to catch this would be sunrise, or around 8am when the air is fresh and clean.
Alternatively, go at 4.30pm to catch a breathtaking view of the sunset.
However, climbing this 1.5km trail may be a bit of challenge as it will take about one hour or slightly more to reach its peak, depending on individual stamina. It perhaps takes the same duration of time to climb down.
This is a particularly important point to take note of for those who want to catch the sunset due to the fact that you will only descend at dusk, so take care to thread carefully in the dark.
Located at Kampung Selabat in Muara Tebas, it is only half an hour drive from Kuching city.
In my recent sunset hunting adventure at Bukit Batu Selabat, it took my friends and I 35 minutes to reach the summit.
We began our hike from the foothill of our guide’s house at around 5pm.
Although we are regular hikers, this trail was quite taxing because 80 per cent of it consisted of a 45 degree climb without much flat areas.
Half way through the climb, almost out of breath, I realised perhaps I needed to switch my breathing technique by breathing in from my mouth and out from my nose to ease the tiredness.
It worked, until I saw a collection of massive boulders stacked at the top, which turned some of our knees to jelly.
While navigating our way through these giant rocks, we had to be extra careful and slow. My advise would be to never look down, but to focus instead on the rocks ahead.
The only part that gave me some relief was the availability of many ropes to assist with pulling ourselves up which were set there before by other hikers, giving us something to hold on to and of course, seeing our Sarawak flag flying strongly in the wind at the peak.
The peak offers a magnificent 360-degree view of Muara Tebas and Bako, completing the quiet evening as I sat there with my friends to take everything in.
The mild vertigo I was experiencing was dwarfed by how clear everything was.
After spending slightly over an hour at the peak, watching the sun set across the valley and taking hundreds of photos, we began our descent at 7pm.
Rubber shoes or ‘Kampung Adidas’ — the ubiquitous locally made rubber shoes — and headgear-mounted lights are indispensable here.
I would personally encourage hikers to such lights instead of torchlights because you need to free your hands to hold on to the ropes as you climb down in the dark, while carefully navigating your way through the massive rocks.
If possible, bring along friends who are experienced in day and night hikes, for you will be grateful to have their sensible but hilarious instructions to keep yourself sane and going.
Another point to take note of is to check the weather forecast, because it will be dangerous to climb if it rains.
Hiring a local guide is compulsory lest you trespass on private property, and their experience and familiarity will ensure a safe climb.
Bring enough drinking water, don’t litter or vandalise anything such as writing your name on the rocks — leave only your footprints behind.
The entrance fee is RM10 per person, and the guide fee is RM50 per group.
Hikers must also register in advance and take note to check-in via the MySejahtera app and have their temperature taken before the climb.
Those interested to hike Bukit Batu Selabat can contact Fairuz @ Nua at 017-8967961.
Although climbing this beauty isn’t a walk in the park, I will definitely do it all over again because the experience is absolutely worth it. — DayakDaily