Friday, 10 December 2010

More Walking - Bukit Shahbandar

Whilst Tasek Lama is a perfect hour-long jungle walk, Bukit Shahbandar is rather more hard-core...  Bukit is Malay for 'Hill' and Shahbandar translates as 'of death'.  It doesn't actually.  But it should.

There are many trails through Bukit Shahbandar, as you can see from the map.  But the map is deceiving in many ways...  firstly it's more than slightly inaccurate, and secondly it gives no indication of gradient, making it look deceptively easy.  The 'proper' route around Bukit involves taking the outer paths on the map, visiting all of the nine pondoks along the way.

Walking away from the landscaped play-parks at the park entrance you are faced with your first challenge - a long pull up lots of concrete steps.  It's a great workout and certainly raises your heartrate.

Once you reach the top there's a really nice section along a ridge, through the jungle on paths that are relatively flat.  At this point I'm generally feeling pretty good about my fitness levels

The views into the interior of Brunei are amazing, and I always gawp with wonder at just how much of this country is covered with rainforest.

From hereon in the paths tend to deteriorate somewhat...  the heavy rainfall here means that any deforested patch of ground is fast eroded.  It makes climbing up the hills very hard work!

Rob clambers up to another pondok. Somehow, no matter how early we set off, we always reach this bare section when the sun is high enough to beat down on you, and there's nowhere to seek shade!

Luckily you soon head back into the shade of the jungle.

There are some lovely pools and streams for a refreshing splash of cool water.

They sometimes include some exciting local wildlife as well!

The wildlife spotting is my favourite way of distracting myself from my aching legs.  I never fail to be delighted by the sight of these pitcher plants hidden in the undergrowth.

The final killer slog is up one last set of steps (always much longer than you remember them being last time) up one final hill to a pondok that consists of yet more steps..!  The first time we did the walk we staggered on up to the viewing platform, but a bad case of wobbly-legs-syndrome mean we haven't bothered since.

Views out to the Empire Hotel, and the South China Sea beyond.

Arriving back at the carpark it would be hard to find a more welcoming sight than this...

Well, OK, a chilled lager might be slightly higher up my list of possible welcoming sights but hey, this is a dry country so we'll make do with a chilled coconut.

Jogging around Bukit is popular with the fitness fanatics among us - I've heard of several people who can complete the circuit in a little over half an hour.  However, we prefer to walk - that's exercise enough - and tend to take about 2 hours over the whole thing (not including the coconut drinking!)


snowy said...

Wow,this takes walking to a new dimension! It's stunning scenery and I love the pitcher plants. You and Rob well-deserve your coconut drink!

Anonymous said...

This makes me SO nostalgic! Bukit was the perfect way to lose the baby belly I was left with after Claudia. I only ever went to the top of the 'mega pondok' once (once was enough!) but boy those coconuts tasted amazing.

I do miss Brunei some days...