Words & Photos: Ekaputra Jabar
It was meant to be a relaxing weekend for our party of five, with a tiny bit of adventure in the great outdoors thrown in, in the spirit of Marin bikes. The cycling gods were kind to us that morning, with rain throughout the night ensuring that our day started in pleasant conditions. With a starting point in Ttdi, we met up early and set off with barely a sprinkling of rain in overcast conditions.
Making our way to Sg Penchala, we left behind the familiar residential area and were soon riding through pockets of kampung territory, hidden within the confines of the urban jungle. After crossing paths with several behemoth construction site lorries and navigating a brief gravel shortcut, we emerged at Desa Park City and rode on towards Kepong.
Our plan was to take the KTM Komuter train due north/northeast with the bikes, though refurbishing/upgrading works meant we could not board the train from KL Sentral itself. Knowing the way to the Kepong KTM was only slightly over 10km away from Ttdi and went partially through our weekly night ride route, we knew this was a feasible alternative.
At the Kepong station we purchased preloaded KTM cards for the journey, since we could not use our trusty Touch N Go cards. The logic behind introducing a separate card when an existing system already exists eludes me, but I had long ago accepted that there will be many mysteries in life that I will never understand. How Malaysian authorities make their decisions is obviously one of them.
After paying a minor RM2 fee per bike and preloading our KTM cards, we had a scant ten minutes left to the next train. We hauled the bikes over to the opposite platform - thankfully there are now lifts for the handicapped in major stations, including Kepong, though the smaller stops will still only have a makeshift crossing over the tracks themselves.
We opted to disembark at Serendah, knowing full well that we could extend our ride up further to Fraser’s Hill if we needed more mileage. From Serendah to Kuala Kubu Bharu the road conditions were sufficient for our group to ride through, with only patches of rough areas, but one does need to be wary of the heavy traffic.
Many lorries ply the route, and the road shoulder is too narrow to give any measure of security for us vulnerable cyclists. Still, it was manageable. For sure, the path to Kuala Kubu Bharu plays cruel tricks on your mind, with the undulating terrain featuring some descents that make you swear on your life that you are still climbing.
20 kilometers in we had reached the town of Rasa, and breathed a collective sigh of relief after peeling off to the more quiet stretch of trunk road that heads to KKB town. Arriving in the town centre after another 10 kilometers, we made a beeline for the first cendol and ABC stall we could find, a parked truck with plastic stools for those dining on site.
Not quite refreshed, we moved over to the mamak stall across the road for more drinks and a small bite before setting off to our glamping destination for the night.
Beyond the safe confines of KKB the journey forces you into a mental test of endurance, with a relentless climb along a road that twists and turns through dense jungle. There, the morning rain’s mixed blessing was felt in full force, with an oppressive humidity bearing down on us.
Once out of the jungle we faced even more climbing, with the highlight coming in the form of a pit stop at the lookout point to enjoy the majestic views of the Selangor dam. Eager to reach our accommodations, we pressed on after taking some mandatory photos until the telltale yellow metal bridge that told us The Sticks was a mere 700m away.
A small parking lot was our next landmark, with a wooden hut serving as a small gateway to what lay beyond. A tricky river crossing over Sungai Sangloi welcomed us to the place, with a choice of either stairs or a steep dirt path littered with fallen leaves, rocks and loose earth leading to a concrete path, before crossing a hanging bridge. Another option was wading through the river itself, which was approximately knee-deep.
On the other side, you’ll see that The Sticks is a perfect choice for those who want to immerse themselves in nature without sacrificing too much of their creature comforts.
We had a mixture of accommodation there, namely two Tendok canvas huts held up by a wooden frame near the river, and a half canvas half wooden hut called the Ara further inside. Seeing the welcome sight of our huts, a mutual verdict was reached to abandon any plans to cycle up to Fraser’s Hill.
Opt for full board (lunch and tea thrown in) if you are arriving early or have no motorised transport, because it is situated somewhat far from town and surrounded by miles of the tangled vegetation typical of the tropics. The teatime pisang goreng is also a bit of a local legend not to be missed. Being somewhat uncertain of our arrival time, we chose the half board option of a barbecue dinner and breakfast the next day.
After filling up our bellies with a sizable dinner meal we had hot drinks all around, and soon enough our eyes grew heavy. We trudged back to our huts and sank into bed thankfully, lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle; the chirping of a variety of insect residents and the gushing of the river swollen from the afternoon thundershower.
As The Sticks’ motto “Get Lost, Naturally” implies, there’s more than just the nearby river to explore.
The management offers guides for jungle trekking, catering to different levels of hikers, from the casual to the serious, with even guided excursions up to an old mine and Bukit Kutu for large groups seeking to venture out further. The Sungai Chilling picnic area is nearby for those who simply want to unwind on their own, while the Chilling Waterfalls is just a short hike away.
Before too long it was time for us to make our way back home and our respective daily grinds, so we packed up and made our farewells to the good folks at The Sticks.
It was a case of pay first and collect later on our way out, freewheeling most of the 13km back down to the KKB Komuter Station, with just some minor uphills to remind us of the challenge we faced on our way in. Just for the record, the way to The Sticks is almost half of the traditional climb up from KKB to Fraser’s Hill.
Before boarding the train we made another pitstop to quench our thirst, in the same vein as “one for the road”. With 2km left to the station, we succumbed to the lure of a roadside stall bearing an oversized sign screaming of “CENDOL”, though ABC and coconut shakes also made an appearance at our table.
We then boarded the KTM Komuter train for the one hour journey back to our starting point at the Kepong station, cycling another 9km back to Ttdi for celebratory drinks and a late lunch at a random mamak before heading home.