Experience The Thrill of Trekking in Brunei

Grace Lai (Tour Guide)

When did you start trekking?
I started trekking when I was about six years old. I belonged to the Girls’ Brigade and back then we went on many camping trips to Tungku and Meragang beach.

What do you love about it?
When I’m trekking I forget about everything. I love nature and really enjoy looking at the variety of flowers in the jungle, especially the pitcher plants – they are amazing!

Where have you trekked?
I used to trek in Bukit Shabandar every day with my eldest brother and sister in law when I was training to climb Mt. Kinabalu. But one of my favourite treks in Brunei is Belalong in Temburong. I still remember taking my seven month old daughter trekking with me in Bukit Apoi, Temburong (smile!). I have also climbed Mt. Murud or Prayer Mountain with my mother. By the way, my mother started trekking in her 40’s, she is now 77 years old and still goes to the HASH with her friends. This just goes to show that you can start at any age or ability. My brothers are all climbers and five of them climbed Mt.Mera Summit in 2012. In 2015, they climbed Stok Kangri and reached the advance base camp. In 2014 I did The Pinnacles Trail with my brother, niece and nephew. This was an extremely challenging climb because it is steep and there are many sharp protrusions. But I did it and would really like to climb it again!

Why would you encourage other people to try trekking?
When you’re trekking you get a chance to forget all your family or work related stresses and worries. You are able to feel completely at peace with nature. I would also encourage people to try trekking because you get the opportunity to test your physical and mental strength and endurance. It’s a great way to get prepared for whatever challenges life may throw at you! I also firmly believe that the mountain teaches you – it teaches patience, resourcefulness, endurance – you learn how to survive.

Dk. Kemariah Pg Hj Duraman (Owner of Kunyit 7 Lodge/ Tour Co-ordinator)

When did you start trekking?
Both of my parents were active, outdoor people. My Mum was a state runner and my Dad was in the military. When I was young I spent many of my days outside playing in the trees and by the time I was eight years old, I started trekking. In those days, we went camping at Muara beach. My parents would drop my cousins and I off at Bukit Siah and we would have to walk with all of our tents, cooking equipment and bags (no backpacks) until we found an area to set up our camp. Later on, I joined the Brunei Nature Society and have since trekked to many places including Tasek Merimbun; Wasai Menteri and Wang Kadir.

What do you love about it?
Of course I enjoy looking at the flora and fauna but when I go trekking in different countries I also enjoy seeing different ways of life. For example in Nepal I saw how difficult life was for the local people; and at Mt. Kinabalu I saw the old people carrying heavy items on their backs as they’ve done for centuries. More importantly, I believe that trekking helps to support the local economy of any country by providing guides with jobs; and by helping to keep lodges and small restaurants in business.

Where have you trekked?
I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to do a lot of trekking in many different countries. I’ve trekked in Bario, the Kelabit Highlands; I’ve climbed Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Toubkal in Morocco, Mt. Murren in Switzerland and Mt. Madeleine in France. I have also trekked in Nepal, Bandung and Jogya. My favourite places for trekking in Brunei is Bukit Sarang Helang (Eagle’s Nest). The first time I attempted this trek it took me three and a half hours, today it takes me approximately one hour and 15 minutes. I also like Bukit Tempayan Pisang because there’s a variety of things to see like caves and different types of terrain; and Bukit Batu Pahang in Kg Berambang. There are so many scenic places in Brunei for trekking that suit people of all abilities – so there’s no excuse!

Why would you encourage other people to try trekking?
Besides being very good exercise with many health benefits, walking or trekking is very therapeutic. I have trekked with many people including cancer survivors – and they’ve all really enjoyed the simple experience of just walking and chatting in a beautiful natural setting. I believe that trekking also takes you out of your comfort zone – you get to challenge yourself while observing nature. I would certainly advise anyone who’s never trekked before to start with short treks and gradually increase the distance. Once you’re started trekking you will be hooked!

Research the area thoroughly.
Take along:
• Water
• Fruits, raisins, snack bars
• Energy tablets
• Insect repellent, hat, sun block, towel.
• Walking sticks (2).
• When the going gets tough, it’s helpful to have a trekking buddy or friend to keep you motivated.

If you are interested in finding out more about trekking in Brunei (or regionally) please contact:
Grace Lai (grace9448@gmail.com, +673 878 8926)
or Dk. Kemariah Pg.Hj Duraman (kemariah@gmail.com, +673 8713 714)

This article was published in the December 2015 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!