Sunday, 17 March 2019

Gunung Arong, Mersing, Johor

If you ask me about my favourite hike in Johor, it'd definitely be Gunung Arong!

(Well but actually, I've only been to Gunung Ledang, Gunung Pulai and Gunung Arong in Johor, so the candidate pool isn't big. I am not including Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai in this pool here because it was pretty short hike)

Standing at 240m, Gunung Arong is the third lowest peak in the state of Johor. The hike is not too long nor tough, and you get a stunning view at the peak.

I planned a day trip from Johor Bahru to Mersing last year to hike Gunung Arong and Pulau Mawar. However, we spent half a day at Pulau Mawar, and a looooong time trying to locate the entrance to Gunung Arong (if you try to search it on Google Map, it will lead you to a road that is heading towards Rompin, Pahang) so by the time we reached the entrance, it was already 4pm and the locals advised us against hiking up Gunung Arong at that time.

The rebellious side of Jia was rather unsatisfied at that time, but after hiking it the other day with my friends, I am grateful that the rebellious side of Jia got overpowered by the rational side of Jia, which I will explain why in this blog post, and also why this blog post exist because I can't find much detailed info regarding the entrances of Gunung Arong.

Things You Need To Know Before Hiking Gunung Arong.

1. Permit

Please do get yourself a permit before hiking Gunung Arong. We were warned by the locals to get a permit before we hike, as the forest rangers might give us a hefty fine if we were caught without one.

He told us that we could get a permit at Endau Forest office, which is 30 minutes drive away. This blog provides detailed instruction on how to obtain a permit. So please, do apply for a permit prior to your hike.

2. What to wear

Dri-fit clothes, especially if you are taking the beach entrance (Read below for reasons why!). You will get wet.

2. Entrance

There are two entrances for Gunung Arong, one is the beach entrance, and the other entrance, well, let's call it the "actual entrance". You may choose to go up using one entrance and exit from the other, or make a U-turn after reaching the peak, hence using the same entrance and exit. The approximate GPS location of the entrances are as below:

"Actual Entrance" approximate GPS location:
2.573806, 103.803861

Beach entrance approximate GPS location:
2.563920, 103.817835

This blog provides a detailed guide to get to the "actual entrance". So please have a read if you plan to use this entrance!

I entered via the "actual entrance" and exited via the beach entrance, near to Teluk Gorek campsite. If you do the same, after you finally reached Teluk Gorek campsite, you have to walk another 1.6km to reach your parking spot at the "actual entrance".

The long 1.6km walk from Teluk Gorek campsite to our car at the "actual" entrance

The trail from the beach side entrance is slightly longer, because you have to travel some distance from the car park before reaching the trail head. For first timer, the beach entrance will be really tricky. You'd have to cross a few bays, climb giant rocks, cross a mangrove etc. to get to the entrance. I doubted myself so many times so here's a rough guide so you won't feel as lost as I did :P

To get to the beach entrance, park your car at Teluk Gorek camp site. Then you'd have to cross about 2km of beach/mangrove/rocks terrain to the trail head
I wouldn't recommend swimming all the way to get to the trail head. I have no idea how deep the water are and how strong the currents are.

The walk along the beach felt rather long, because there wasn't much shelter against the sun, and we had to climb up rocks at some parts. The best way to cross the bays is to stick close to the sea, so you won't get lost!

We get to go up close with submerged mangrove trees. We reached a river mouth where it seems like the only way across is to waddle through the water.

The water seems shallow at first, then it gets deeper progressively. However, fret not, as the deepest the water got was just slightly below our waist. I've read at this blog that during high tide the water might reach up to one's shoulder.

See the double red stripes? That's the entrance!
view from the trail. We were so excited when we finally reached the exit!

Most hikers would camp overnight at the beach and hike up before the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise. It'd be hard to cross the beaches when it is dark, hence I was glad I did not proceed with the hike during my first visit.

4. The hike

The hike was relatively straightforward and well-marked! Follow the red/yellow marker on the tree, and avoid the path labelled with the red & white tape.

Most part of the hike is covered too!

5. The Peak

There is a viewing tower at the peak of Gunung Arong where you can get a better view of the bay. Take note that a maximum of 3 people are allowed at the viewing tower.

The usual photospot at Gunung Arong is about 10 minutes hike away from the viewpoint. If you hiked up from the beach, you'd reach this spot before the viewing tower.

Would I go again? Definitely :D I'd want to catch the sunrise there, one day.

Gunung Arong
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Duration of Hike: 1.5~3 hours, depending on speed and frequency of stopping

Other places to visit near Mersing:
1. Pulau Mawar
2. One Day Island Hopping

Other places to visit in Johor:
1. Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai
2. Rainforest Treehouse, Pulai
3. Aw Pottery, Ayer Hitam

Photo credits to my beautiful friends, Fatimah & Emily!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai, Johor

*Edited in May 2019 with more photos after my second trip

I WANT YOU TO IMAGINE - a few hundred truckloads of Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic Mouth Wash, in a huge crater, surrounded by layers of cliffs.

Now, let me make this imagination a little more of a "6D experience". Lets throw in some peaceful bird chirping sound effect, and the hollow sound of the wind blowing. Feel the breeze as it caresses your face, messing up your hair.

This is how it feels like being at the Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai.

I didn't expect the blue lagoon to be so mesmerizing to be honest. When I googled about this place, I thought that most photos online were edited with masks of filters (or heavily contrasted), but when I saw the blue lagoon with my own eyes, yep, Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic Mouth Wash. (In other words, yes, it is worth a visit and you have to see it with your own eyes!)

But anyway, the blue hue of the lake is formed by the Copper (Cu2+) ions which seeped into the water through...somewhere.

The Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai is located about 45 minutes drive from Johor Bahru. The hike is relatively short and easy, just a brisk 10 minutes hike (less than 500m in distance) to the first view point, and you can proceed to hike further around the lagoon for a different view!

This hike can be done by kids, as it is not too challenging. Trail was straightforward and well-marked. However, do be very careful if you wish to take a photo closer to the edge of the lake. The soil around the cliffs can be loose!

You can find the location on Google Map in this link.

If you follow the link above, Google will lead you through some windy plantation roads and eventually to a rocky, untarred roads. You'll see speed signs warning you about the 20kmph speed limit. Though it seems doubtful, you're on the right track, don't worry. Just drive slowly until you see cars parked at the road side, and you know you've reached the trail head.

If you use Waze, Waze will lead you through some residential area, and you'll see some cars parked at the roadside and a "Do Not Trespass" Sign. Walk through the dirt trail, and after about 200m you'll reach the same start point as above.

If in doubt, just ask anyone around!

You'll see a stall with a blue canopy selling drinks, walk towards the direction of the stall...

And see that little pathway next to the boom gate? That's the trail head! (No, you don't need to climb the boom gate as demonstrated by the kid in the picture...)
The first 200m features a flat terrain. It was a breezy, easy walk, with flowers and bushes on both side of the trail.
After that, the real "hike" starts. The trails starts to become steep, maybe an incline of 30 degrees. There are ropes to help you too. However, the incline part is really short and not too tough. I saw many children during my hike!
Just keep going up up up and...
...on your right, you'll catch the first glimpse of the blue lagoon!

You may go closer to the cliff, but do be really careful while doing so! Don't put your life on the edge for a photo!

Most people would just hang around the first view point and make a U-Turn back to their cars. I proceeded further (about 1/3 of the circumference of the lagoon) till I reach a fenced area and I made a U-Turn back to where I came from.

I'd recommend going around the lake as it offers a view from different angle of the lagoon! There's a viewpoint where the wind is really breezy. I could just sit there for ages!

It was a hazy and cloudy day when I visited this place. This place is best visited on a sunny day, as the sun acts as a natural "enhancer" for photos haha :P

In a nutshell, please just visit this place. It is worth it, I assure you. Easy hike with a rewarding view.

Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai
Difficulty: Easy
Duration of Hike: 10 minutes (to first view point) and beyond (well it depends on how far you want to go)

Other places to visit in Johor:
1. Pulau Mawar
2. Gunung Arong
3. One Day Island Hopping @ Mersing
4. Rainforest Treehouse, Pulai
5. Aw's Pottery, Ayer Hitam
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