Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

The Broga Hill Experience

I can’t believe how long have I not been updating this blog. I’d partly blame Tumblr (yea, I blog more often over there now) and partly because I’m currently interning with a local design firm. Plus, I’m juggling a design gig with Claudia, and then I have to fulfill my responsibilities as the publication officer of my university’s photography club. Basically, it’s too many things and too little time.

Most of the photos taken during this trip are done in the RAW format, and therefore most of them have been converted to pseudo-HDRs. There are only a handful of shots that remained unconverted. Sorry, once I have Photomatix I couldn’t stop myself!

My aunt, her boyfriend Josh, and I hiked Broga Hill in the early Friday morning a few weeks back. It was Vesak Day, a public holiday in Malaysia and we rose at 4.30 in the morning so that we could catch the sunrise shortly after we reach the peaks. I wouldn’t say that I’m an avid hiker, but I do love scaling hills a lot. Whenever I return to Malaysia, my aunt would bring me along to hike Gasing Hill, a popular hill among the suburban residents in my area. But then when her boyfriend came along she rarely asked me out already *laughs* I guess she has finally found someone to go with her.

We were taken aback by the sheer size of the crowd. Imagine hundreds of cars and people swarming around the oil palm plantation located at the foot of the hill at 5.30am in a remote town located far away from the city center. The sky was still dark and our surroundings were still pitch black. However, the chatters of the people and the beams of light from their torches slices through the darkness and silence of the morning.

This is so crazy, I said to myself. I looked at my aunt and Josh. Both of them were silent, mouth agape. I’m not too sure if they were amused, amazed or astonished by the amount of people.

Along the way up the hill, people constantly flowed around us. There were families who rested along the way to let their young and old to catch a breather; there were teenage couples who couldn’t stop hugging while making their way up; and then there were groups of noisy, rambunctious adolescents who just couldn’t stop talking all the way up, at the top of their voice.

Suddenly, the entire hiking trip felt like a massive early morning pilgrimage.

There were many samaritans along the way up. There were several sharp turns and steep inclines that were hard to navigate in the dark, even when we were armed with LED torchlights. These people stood close to these danger areas and shone their torches at us and at the walkway, guiding us through. Midway up the hill, a landslide greeted us. It ran parallel to the track but there were many instances when the cliff came too close to our footpath for comfort. Nylon strings were tied between trees for us to hold on to our dear lives.

The hike gave me hope. You could see people pulling each other up steep slopes. Mommies were spotted pushing their little sons and daughters up. The elderlies were offered walking sticks spontaneously fashion out of fallen branches. People offering words of encouragement to each other as they laboriously navigated through crazy turns.

After around an hour’s worth of hiking, we emerged through the secondary tropical forest and onto landing full of weeds. Further ahead you could see yet another steep climb up a hill. The interesting thing is that the hill is no longer covered by trees or any tall foliage. It’s covered with weed. A windy and steep path led hikers to the first peak of Broga Hill, and we could see torchlights flashing. I thought they were fireflies.

The climb from the clearing up to the first peak was the craziest ever. I reckon the inclination to be around 45 degrees, and at some points they could be as steep as 50. However, human traffic has carved steps out of the footpath, making hiking a lot easier than the way less traveled.

Finally, we reached the first peak at 6.30am. Although dawn is yet to break, I could see campers and a whole lot of people through the darkness. There was almost no standing space. My aunt, Josh and I found a secluded spot and decided not to move on to the other peaks because there were simply too many people. Like a swarm of angered bees, they went ferociously for the remaining peaks.

Light trails on Broga Hill

Light trails on Broga Hill

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

It took us awhile to find a less crowded spot on the barren peak. A few huge boulders were scattered around so we picked one that pricked our butts the least :) From left: my aunt and Josh. And then we started snapping away!

People. And more People

People. And more People

From the photo above you could see how crazeh the size of the crowd is. There was almost no standing space left, and if I was any shorter I would have drowned in a sea of sweaty backs and armpits. Everybody waited patiently for the sun to rise above the hills ahead, while new hikers kept walking past us to the remaining peaks.

Windy Path Ahead

Windy Path Ahead

A snaking path brings hikers to the next 3 peaks. The boulder we sat on offered a panoramic view of the path leading to the remaining peaks, and I just snapped away, in awe of the sheer size of the crowd.

Broga Hill, in infrared

Broga Hill, in infrared

The one and only infrared photo of the trip. I took a handful of infrared photos but I suspect it’s because of the low light conditions that made most of the photos unusable. This is the “Goldilocks photo” – it was not too dark, and yet the sun was yet to be seen (so there was barely any lens flare in the photo, which infrared photos are notoriously known to have).

Through the Grasses

Through the Grasses

As the sky continued to brighten, the crowd gets stronger by the minute. More and more people starting surging from the jungle and oil palm plantation below and heading straight at us. All we could do is to hold our fort and hopefully there won’t be any rude intrusion onto our little boulder.

Glowing

Glowing

The weeds lay under the weak morning sky glow. The glow from the sky above seemed to bounce right off them :) pretty lovely. Taken with the trusty old KM f/1.7 lens.

Awww! I smell romance in the air.

Awww! I smell romance in the air.

My aunt and her boyfriend Josh. Love is in the air. And I adore his tattoos, although I’m yet to ask him what they meant to him.

Girl and Polaroid Camera

Girl and Polaroid Camera

Shortly after I took this photo, the girl called me over and asked for me help to take a group photo with her friends using that very camera. Pretty cool! An alternative crop of this photo is available here ;)

In her own little world

In her own little world

A girl reads her book as her father (left) snaps away. I’m surprised how she managed to remain attentive throughout my entire stay on the peak because the crowd is extremely noisy – well, I couldn’t blame them for being disruptive because of the excitation from conquering Broga Hill and the prospect of seeing the sun rising before their eyes. An alternative crop of this photo is available here.

The Crowded First Peak

The Crowded First Peak

The first peak remained crowded throughout our stay. Everyone is looking at the direction where the sun is rising.

The Sun is Out! #1

The Sun is Out! #1

The Sun is Out! #2

The Sun is Out! #2

The sun is finally out, and everybody snapped away furiously. My aunt was shown in various awkward poses because her boyfriend was playing the role of the artistic director in his photos, heh.

Looking Over

Looking Over

I was looking over my aunt and her boyfriend, as I struggle to maintain my balance on yet another boulder. When this photo was taken I wished I had a fisheye lens with me because the horizon will definitely look damn good with it :)

Heaven & Earth

Heaven & Earth

Another shot of the windy path leading to the other peaks. The wispy cloud caught my attention. My aunt joked that most of my photos will turn out to be photos filled with human heads. Well, she was definitely half right about that!

On our way down #1

On our way down #1

On our way down #2

On our way down #2

We savoured enough of the magnificent views and decided that we should make our way back to the foot of the hill before the crowd makes it impossible to pass. Afterall, it’s a narrow path that bridges the peaks and the street below – and what really separates us between the peak, the queue, and our car parked way below is a good tumble down the hills :P People were already queueing up to get down. Can you imagine the number of people up there?

Family of Four

Family of Four

A family of four admires the great view, oblivious to the crowd around them.

Wispy Clouds

Wispy Clouds

Definitely one of my favourite photos in this pack. It looks like the man’s head is steaming :P Oh and it’s the same people as the previous photo. Just that I photographed them from a lower angle.

On our way down #3

On our way down #3

We stopped at the steps along the path, carved out by human traffic, as we waited patiently for our turn to descend. Impatient queue-cutters were taking the easy but dangerous way down, which includes sliding down with their asses on a slippery, muddy slope.

Common sense, or the lack thereof?

Common sense, or the lack thereof?

People please, stop wearing slippers to climb a hill. That’s not good, and you’re placing everyone in front of you in danger. Dumbasses that are the shining example of the imbecility.

On our way down #4

On our way down #4

Finally, the queue is moving. Goodbye, Broga Hill!

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