A church on the mountain..
Mount Singai is not that high. Honestly, I can’t find any official height published on the net at this time of writing but my suunto recorded the highest at 1660 ft a.m.s.l while some blogs express it at 1800 or more. About an hour walk and you’d reach the top, and another 40 minutes to get back to starting point. What’s unique about Mt Singai is there’s a church built 200 ft up the mountain.
A 30 minute drive from city area and you’d reach the Mt Singai, Bau signboard. Since GPS technology is getting so good now days, I just referred to google map. to navigate my way to the starting point.. 🙂
Mount Singgai history from UNIMAS,
One of the former Bisingai community leaders, Orang Kaya Pemanca Durin was even part of the Sarawak team that went to London in 1963 to negotiate the formation of Malaysia together with Malaya, North Borneo and Singapore. However, in the 1970s the community moved to the foothill where their farms were located and established 12 new villages. The only reminder of the early settlements on the hill are broken bottles, jars, kitchen utensils and some belian stumps and pillars, and where the houses once stood are now overgrown with secondary vegetation. Today, the hill is occupied by Catholic Memorial Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC) and the Association of Research and Development of Singai Sarawak (Redeems) Centre at Kampung Apar. CMPC over the last 20 years have been drawing pilgrims and visitors to the hill while Redeems is a popular venue for the Gawai Dayak carnival. According to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak's (Unimas) Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation Director Professor Andrew Alek Tuen, the Binsingai people there probably originated from Central Kalimantan several hundred years ago. Nevertheless Andrew, a local boy from Kampung Tanjong Bowang near here, said the hill remained close to the hearts of the locals who continue with planting, harvesting, collecting and hunting activities till today.
Up the stairs
Reaching the parking area there, nearby the sign board, park at the open spaces besides some houses of the villagers. There’s a private parking space, closer to the stair base with a fee, and an open parking space, a little bit far (50 metre) from the entrance but free. Start climbing the wooden stairs and after 20 minutes or so you’d soon reach the church area.
Entire area seems well maintained, clean, nice architectural buildings which resembles a country resort chalet. Enticing enough for a visit.
The flight of stairs end at the church area and to continue trekking to top of Mt Singai, you’d have to look for a trail located beside the retreat house, which is pretty inconspicuous if not for a small yellow notice board reminding visitors to behave and not violate the place with unwanted activities.
Suitable for beginners level trekking in my opinion, the trail’s pretty much clear, easily seen, not that difficult to follow. Constant rate of gradient climb, with some part having horizontal tracks, a not too thick forestation along the trail, we basically not need to cling to the roots or mountain surface to become spiderman so as to speak.
Excellent for training purposes and if that’s not enough, you could try a faster pace up the trail or purposely carry a heavier load.
At the peak, there is another trail down at an opposite direction from the way that we came, so we would be at the other side of the mountain from the starting point. According to other climbers, the trail is never used by visitors apart by locals there and might be more difficult to follow as you might get lost. Unknowing the trail and not that prepared for exploring, I decided not to take the risk. Descending the other trail, I would have emerged among the villagers house at the other side of the mountain and would have to walk another 6 KM circling the mountain base back to my car at the parking area.
That day was a weekend and there was actually a lot of people climbing the mountain, I came across someone almost every 5 minutes. They climbed in pairs, groups and few solo trekkers with bare footed even. Didn’t ask or bothered why the bare foot but, prob it’s just more comfortable to them anyway.
Gets kind of windy at the top, not very hot and after all that walk, sit for a few minutes just to enjoy the view. I could see the cars and people moving about the road way down.
It would have been nice if the view was a 360.
Walking down, was not much of an effort, you’d soon reach the church again and the stairs, I was back at the starting point in about 40 minutes.
At the parking area, near the entry point, there’s few, two actually, roofed structure of bamboo and wood selling fruits, papayas that time, and that refreshing young coconut. I just could not ignore those as I didn’t have a drink since beginning the trail.
Exercise, environment and religion.
Technically speaking in training terms, the trail gave me a moderate heart rate average 140 b.p.m, duration of 2 hours total trekking, 4.5 km walk, 1600 ft constant climb. (information via the suunto ambit) It was a nice walk, lots of people along the way probably due to it was Sunday morning, and some are doing their pilgrimage. So if you want to hike on a quieter day, I’d go weekdays. I could go without bringing water so I guess it’s not too presumptuous to say that the trail is easy for me (took in a lot of fluid before start), still perspiration is very very heavy due to the humidity, I was soaked wet.
The church area took me by surprise as it is quite interesting by itself, nicely erected building infrastructure and design, even got toilets and flowing water from the pipes. The environment is nicely kept and clean. Didn’t notice much garbage on the way up or down that time. Surrounding area with lots of large bamboo trees, It’s a common trail and what’s nice about it is that it’s free to the public.
all pictures taken with tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC DiII SP