Thursday, July 07, 2016

Mount Murud Exploration - Ba’kelalan to Lepo Bunga to SIB Church Shelter post 2 of 4

Entering Day 2 of my exploration trip to Mount Murud. Woke Up at 5.30am, had a very nice sleep last night. I lay on my bed again, very hesitate to wakeup, all of a sudden I listen “ho-ho-ho-ho-ho” wait a minute, that’s the sound of the horse. I peek at the windows, and look down. A few horses was just outside the Inn eating grass. How on earth they manage to get horses here, the road is very bad?!!!

Bakelalan Inn
I stayed in the same room with Sui Chin, the Inn here have more than 6 rooms, with each room 2 person. The temperature is about 23⁰C now, good thing they provide blanket. I felt panic all of a sudden, the place that we will stay tonight is about 2000m ASL, its going to be cooler than now. I didn’t bring any sleeping bag or warm jacket.  Sui Chin told me not to worry because he have a spare jacket, so he lend his spare jacket to me.

We head down for breakfast, the lady owner cooked fried beehun, fried rice, and soup. I ordered a hot milo, I told myself I need to eat more, as I will need all the energy to trek up the mountain later. After breakfast, we depart from Ba’kelalan to Lepo Bunga to start our hike and begin our ascent of Mount Murud.

All of the 4WD arrived, the driver said it another 3 hours of drive from Ba’kelalan here to Lepo Bunga (Where we star). When we know about the 3 hours, all of us starts to mumble… just can’t stand the terrible road condition. I miss nice tarmac road so much.

After finished our breakfast, we still have time. Willie the tour coordinator arranged the porter to carry food, water, and bags. The charges is RM450 for three days (RM150 per day), and maximum is 30kg per person, so we have 5 porters all together. Me, Loong, and Aldrin did not hire any porter, because we do not have much stuff, so can carry our own backpack to the church shelter later.
The Ba Kelalan Airport, operate by MASwings. Fly from Miri & Lawas every Monday & Saturday.
While waiting for the porter to finish their breakfast, Lookg, Ah Law, Ah Chin, Kuet Leong and Me starts to roam around the place. First the Ba’kelalan airport is just in front of where we stayed, the runway is fit for a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter plane. It was operate by MASwings,a regional airline operating the Rural Air Services in Sarawak, Borneo. It flies either from Miri or Lawas town, on Monday and Saturday only.

Ba Kelalan Polis Station
Then, as we walk along the runway, there is a police station called Buduk Nur Ba’kelalan, not so sure what its mean...It was guarded by a solder that time instead of a uniform officer. 

I saw there is another home stay called “Apple Lodge” the building are well structured than the one we stayed last night. A few 4WD parked inside the compound, they might be on another expedition. As I know there are 4WD clubs which likes the challenge of the muddy logging road here. 

After that, it was the paddy field with no paddy. The paddy will be fully grown on November to December. But water are still in the field, at that time, there is a swarm of ducks swim there.

There is a Church, a Sidang Injil Borneo Church. Some interesting facts about this…

In the Island of Sarawak, Borneo a charismatic revival broke out among the Kelabits, a small tribe in Sarawak, in 1973 at a traditional Easter convention when an Indonesian evangelist, Petrus Octavanius, preached. There where signs and wonders in his ministry. Many were truly converted, and a number received healing, while other found new zeal to share the revival with others.

Among those present where a group of secondary-school students from Bariio. Greatly impacted, they met regularly for prayer. In October of that year, at the close of their regular prayer meetings in Bario, the Holy Spirit fell upon the place.

They began to confess theirs sins and weep in repentance. Many stayed all night in prayer, and other joined them. The meeting lasted a few days until it spread to the whole village. There were miracles and manifestations of gifts, and many were converted and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The Bario revival soon spread to neihboring tribes. In December of that year, at the church in Ba Kelalan, the Holy Spirit came upon the church, and suddenly members started falling under the power of the Holy Spirit and a number spoke in tongues - revival had come to the Lun Bawang tribe.

As the Bario revival waned, the Ba Kelalan revival inicreased in power. In a spectacular series of signs and wonders throughout 1984-85, the Ba Kelalan received nationa coverage in the national press.

The New Strait Times reported the "Sarawak Sightings" for two days in December 1985. The central figure of the Ba Kelalan revival of 1984-85 was Pa Agung Bangau, a powerful prophet, whose ministry was filled with signs and wonders.

He exercised the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, workings of miracles, and prophecy. The Ba Kelalan revival impacted the "Sidang Injil Borneo" Church (SIB) whom Agung worked closely. The SIB church has a network of 45,000 members among the tribes of Sarawak, Borneo. Among whom many was touched by the ministry of Agung.

Agung passed away at 1992, and anointed prophet of God who brought revival to God's people in Ba Kelalan and in the SIB. This charismatic revival continued on within the SIB churches.

Source Article taken from the -- The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements by D.Tan

Homestay near the Ba Kelalan Airport
There are several homestay here, as I remembered when we passby one homestay, a lady greet us and asked where are we coming from in CHINESE!!! Some Ba’kelalan local are fair, and looks like Chinese, but I’m surprice that the local Ba’kelalan people knows how to speak Chinese. I answer back from “Kuching, Sarawak”
She replied “I’m from Kuala Lumpur, come here for a quiet retreat”
-.-” okay… no wonder. We bid farewell with her, and continue with our exploration.

The time was 9.25am. From far distance, we notice someone was yelling. When we look closer, it was Liang Yong. He was teasing us if we wanted to continue stayed here? Because they are about to depart to Lepo Bunga. We quickly run back to the Inn and start our next journey.

A group photo before we depart to Lepo Bunga
Oh ya.. For the famous Ba’kelalan apple....Due to lack of maintenance, now it’s just a place that cover with wild grass.

New road to Bario, total of 21km, it takes 1 year to complete...estimate
As we continue on the logging road, we passed a junction to Bario. The road is still under construction. It started at 02 May 2016, and estimate time completion will be on 30 April 2018. It was the 2nd phase road construction from Ba’kelalan to Bario with a total distance of 21km.  

Big tree bring cut down for the road construction
We had to stop in one point, because there is a bulldozer and an excavator, in the middle of road clearing the path. To build a road, it’s not an easy job. And this involved a lot of logging too, many trees will be cut down to make way for the road. So we need to preserve the trees, but in the same time, we require development as well, how do we find balance between this?

Lepo' Bunga, the research station and visitor centre
10.09am, we reached Lepo’ Bunga. Our drive cheated us say is 3 hours, end up 1 ½ hours, which is good. Lepo’ Bunga is the Pulong Tau National Park research station and visitor center. Which was build on the year 11th November 2011 by the Samling Timber company, and then pass it to the Forest Department of Sarawak under the ITTO Pulong Tau National Park Project.

A group photo before our hike
Our team had lunch before we all start hiking, but I’m not hungry to I skip lunch. After that a group photos, everyone are excited for this hike, and can’t wait to start going. In our group there are a total of 16 people, plus two of our tour coordinator which is Willie and Carol.

10.46am start our hike, the name of this trail is called the Turked Demaring Trail, it was a rather steep start with soft mud on most of the path up the ridge. The trees are tall which give us good shade, here is the mossy elfin forest, as most of the trees are covered with thick moss. So many orchids on the branches, the humid condition makes this the best place for the orchids and mushroom to grow.

Reached the end of the ridge, and came to this steel plank walk. The Joy Bridge which previously link here all the way to SIB Church, but the wood had rotten throughout the years, so it was replace by steel plank. The Church are prohibited from repairing the wooden plank, because this is a protected forest, they are not allow to cut down trees to repair it.
12.04pm, the steep ascent comes to a stop, we reached 2030m ASL. We was welcome by a long stretch of steel plank walk aka prophetic highway. There was this old wood plank with zinc roof called the Joy Bridge from here all the way to the SIB Church. But as time goes by, the wood roten, and the forestry does not allow the church to cut down tree to repair it, so they replace it with these steel plank.

It was a very easy walk on the steel plank, and me, Liang Yong and Ah Loong walked slowly at the back, to take picture of the pitcher plant, and orchids along the way. There are a few type of pitcher plant here at Mount Murud, one of the famous one is called Nepenthes murudensis which  is named after the mountain and is thought to be endemic to its summit area. Its long vase body, with a lightbulb looking bud at the bottom.
Nepenthes lowii, or Low's pitcher-plant, is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Borneo. It is named after Hugh Low, who discovered it on Mount Kinabalu.

Nepenthes muluensis, or the Mulu Pitcher-Plant, is a tropical pitcher plant endemic to Borneo. It grows in highland habitats at elevations of 1700 to 2400 m above sea level.

Nepenthes muluensis, with dark red color covering the vase body. Then there is my favorite Nepenthes lowii, with a huge bum, the cover, and inside the body is red in color. The last one was the Nepenthes hurrelliana, with red stripe pattern inside the body and some vertical stripe on the outer layer. The steel plank does not connect all the way to the SIB Church, as we also need to hike on muddy trek. The journey is through dipterous forest with its gigantic trees and about ¾ of the trail leading to the church shelter is along a plank walkway.

Left is the porter route, can reach the SIB Church faster on a falter ground. To right is the Batu Linanit Summit route, can reach a 2nd summit of the Mount Murud, and witness some nice scenery, and Batu Lawi from far away.
2.36pm. Now we have two option, one is to go up the Batu Linanit Summit at 2211 m ASL using the Surut Linanit Trail, or by pass this summit use the porter trail on flat ground to go to the SIB Church Shelter, Reked Meligan. Then we saw Willie came from the Batu Linanit summit, asking us to go to the summit, because we can see Batu Lawi.

The way to the Batu Linanit Summit
The holy ground of Batu Linanit summit
Batu Lawi from far away, taller 'male' peak is 2046m ASL, female summit 1850m ASL
The Kelabit Highlands mountain range
2.51pm, reached the Batu Linanit summit after 15 mins, it was a vast open place where the devotees will come here to pray, and to connect with gods. Magnificent view, and it’s true, we can see Batu Lawi the twin peaked mountain. The taller 'male' peak is 2046 m ASL, while the female summit is at 1850 m ASL.

3.01pm, The dark clouds starts to form intensively, so we start to descend and head to the SIB Church direction. Not sure how long do we still need to trek, but I just hope that we can reach the church shelter on time before it rains.

The last three to arrive at the SIB Church shelter
3.44pm. Me, Ah Loong, Liang Yong are the last three to finally reach the church shelter, along the way we enjoy the beauties of nature as we look out for pither plants, wild orchids, wild ginger plants and wildlife too. For the church here, It was nothing like I would have imagine, there are so many empty wooden houses.

The long building is the SIB Church, the rest are empty rest house settlement
A baptism pond at the right side, and the rest are empty rest house reserve for devotees when visit the SIB Church
The SIB Church is at the front facing the mountain range, the washroom at the far end near the ridge. A small lake was just near the washroom, this is where the devotees will have their baptism. Man I really have to salute these people, because the water is frezzing cold. The places that we stayed is a double story wooden shelter house. Three rooms on ground floor, and one kitchen next to the room, then 1st floor is a open space. Tonight we will overnight here, and continue with our ascent to the Murud summit tomorrow.

The temperature is about 22⁰C as we put down our backpacks, we was told that there are no water supply. The only clean water supply we have is the leftover rain water inside some of the old water tank. There are also no electricity, there is a genset, but its only for the church usage.

Christian has been gathered here this since 1990, thousands of pilgrims from the Borneo Evangelical Church (Sidang Injil Borneo) and other Borneo churches people either young and old, will trek like us to this Church Camp  at 2135m ASL for their retreat. From my research, once every two years, thousands devotees from all over the world join the ascent to Church Camp to seek the face of God. This is the International Revival Meeting.
The three of us are smelly, and need to clean ourself fast. Despite the freezing temperature, we still go bath. We manage to find a metal drum which still have some left over rain water, the three of us are just in our underwear, and as I feel the water. It was COLD, just like ice water. I saw Ah Loong hesitate for a while, and just pour the water on him, then followed by Liang Yong, for me I’m still hesitating, but I cannot sleep smelly and dirty later, so I also shove the water on me. On my first shove, I scream!!! Freezing.... i continue, and after 4 to 5 shove, slowly got use to it a bit, and quickly apply soap, clean, and shove water to wash away the soap. Whole process last for not more than 5 mins. When I breath, I can see vapour, it’s that cold.

The holy SIB Church
Inside the SIB Church
After change to clean clothes, the few of us start to roam around the places. All the houses here are empty, locked. We visit the SIB Church, build by wood also. It has a big Haleluyah word painted outside, and in front of the entrance.

Dinner prepare by our guide, arrange by Willie (tour coordinator). We had pork, veggie, and Ba Kelalan rice, all cooked with fire wood. 
Our guide cooked dinner for us, we had dinner at 6.46pm. First meal are port, and mix veggie (lettuce and carrot), what I enjoyed the most is the rice. Its very soft, and delicious. All our meal are cooked by firewood. After the dinner, we went to the 1st floor where we will sleep, and start to socialise. I felt very cold, and notice all of my 15 team members has a sleeping bag, and I’m the only one without one. Why is this so? Before I came here, I check on the weather forecast, and its average 18⁰C, so I told myself, I should be ok as long as I wear double.

Temperature drops from 22⁰C to 15⁰C, I'm very cold, luckily I didn't get hypothermia that night.
In reality, i’m wearing double, but still feel cold. The temperature drops from 22⁰C to 15⁰C now, i’m hiding my feet inside the jacket Sui Chin borrow me, but my hands are freezing, then i covered my hands with the jacket, end up my feet freezing. I did not sleep well that night, the breeze blows strongly, and the cold breeze came from the wood slab, blow directly on my bum, my back. While everyone was asleep, i’m the only one which is still awake, keep on adjusting the jacket between my arms, and legs.

And that’s how I spend my first night here at the SIB Church shelter, stay tune for my next post where my team and I will starts to ascent to the summit of the highest mountain in Sarawak. And the interesting encounter along the way. See you on my next post.  

To see more Photos of my Day 2 adventure, click on the link here

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