Archive for the ‘Sustainable development’ Category

9 Tips on hiking safely at Cherok Tokun Hill, Bukit Mertajam

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Hiking at Cherok Tokun Hill, Bukit Mertajam (Tokun Hill)  has become my regular weekend outing in the last few years. I used to go for leisure walk at Tokun Hill many years back but only seriously went for hiking after I decided to go for Mt Kinabalu Climbing in June 2013. Prior to the adventurous trip to Sabah, I began to train at Tokun Hill for several months and after the successful climb to the peak of Mt Kinabalu, I have developed an indulgence for hiking as a healthy form of exercise and to get fit.

Tokun Hill Recreational Forest or Hutan Lipur Cherok Tokun, with a highest peak of 547 metres above sea level, is accessible  from Bukit Mertajam Town via Jalan Kulim and thereafter via Jalan Kolam for a distance of 5 km. The nearest exit from North-South Highway is via the Juru Interchange.  The distance from the recreational area at the base up to the Hill Top via the tarred road is about 4.0 km. Hiking via the jungle trails from the base up to the hill top is shorter, about 3.0 km-3.5 km.

There were several incidences of hikers get lost their way while hiking at Tokun Hill involving students, youth, women and retired men. One reported case of two missing women at Tokun Hill in December 2014. See Two women feared missing at Bukit Ceruk Tokkun and the most recent one involved two retired men who lost their way whilst hiking at Tokun Hill and got stranded for 5 hours.

To avoid the risk of getting lost as well as injury while hiking, I like to share my hiking experiences and below are some safety tips that may be helpful for those who wants to go for hiking at Tokun Hill.

Basically, I would classify the visitors of Tokun Hills into 3 categories :-

a) Leisure walkers / amateur hikers

b) Weekend hikers

c) Regular hikers

a) Leisure walkers / amateur hikers

These are mostly families and first time visitors, some of them would walk leisurely along the tarred road with their family members and friends or stroll aimlessly along the stream and jungle trail for a short distance.

These group is the majority of the visitors on weekends, especially morning and afternoon 5pm to 7 pm. Both the parking areas near the main entrance and another one near the base are always full with cars.

b) Weekend Hikers

These group are mostly working people and come to Tokun hill to exercise on weekends or public holiday only.

They are either in a group or alone, with backpack beg and wear proper gear and walking stick.

They are moderately fit and have specific route to trek.Some of them are able to hike up to the peak whilst some may trek up half way, stop and rest at the main rest shed.

Their average time to hike up to the hill top and back is 2 hours – 2.30 hours.

c) Regular Hikers

Mostly are retired men and women. Some of them are elderly persons in the 60s-70s,

They come to hike regularly almost on daily or alternate day basis. They are physically fit, with good endurance and very adaptable to the terrain of the Hill and familiar with the jungle trails. One regular hiker told me , rain or shine, he will come to hike on daily basis and he would feel uneasy and restless if he didn’t come for hiking.

They can hike fast at ease and can reach the hill top and then back to the base for less than one and a half hours.

9 Tips on hiking safely at Tokun Hill

1) Weather – it is best to check the weather condition of the day before you leave home heading towards Tokun Hill. Avoid thunderstorm /raining period as the condition of the jungle trail may be wet and slippery, thus not conducive for hiking. If you still want to go, opt for the tarred road instead of the jungle trail.

2) Ideal time to Hike – most of these incidence of get lost their way whilst hiking is that they went for hiking impulsively with little preparation and started their hike rather late in the afternoon. Best time to go for hiking is in the morning.  If you wish to go for hiking in the afternoon, then start your trip early , 2.30 to 3 pm. To start your hiking trip after 5 pm via the jungle trail is considered too late or risky as the weather condition in the rain forest turn dark very quickly after 6 pm.

The regular hikers normally start their trip rather early and some of them could have already come down and left the place by 5 pm.

Another advantage of starting your trip early is that you have better chances of seeking help in case of emergency when get stranded midway from those hikers who are on the way down.

3) Hike in a group – It is always safer to trek up in a group along the jungle trail as the trail is rather quiet and hardly any hikers during week days. There are more hikers using the jungle trail during weekends.

4) Know your hiking trail – in addition to the existing tarred road, there are numerous trails and earth tracks which are rather confusing to hikers. Go for the trails that are widely used by the hikers and avoid trekking into unfamiliar path.

5) Wear proper hiking shoe, knee support and ankle guard if required to safeguard your knee and ankle from injury. As the jungle trail is of uneven steps make up of stones, path full of rocks and boulder and earth track on sloping terrain, a good pair of hiking gear is necessary for a comfortable, safer and enjoyable hiking trip. Hikers can trek up via the jungle trail and come down via the tarred road if the trail is still wet/slippery after rain a night ago.

6) Hiker’s Conduct - Be an environment friendly hiker, keep your foot print to minimal whilst in the forest do not litter.Bring along a refuse beg to keep empty drinking bottle, snack wrapping and food waste.

7)Take proper meal one hour before hiking and bring along one bottle of drinking water and chocolate energy bar if you wish to bring along. Keep your fruits and snacks inside the beg and away from the eyes of the monkeys to avoid being snatched by the monkeys.

8) Apart from the usual nuisance of mosquitoes, the blood sucker and while trekking and resting , be vigilant on tropical rain forest insects ie leech, centipede, scorpion, ants, bees, snakes etc which can be harmful to hikers. Also watch out for any dead tree branches hanging on the trees.

9) For hikers who wants to go for more challenging hike and training in preparation for mountain climbing, he/she can opt for a shorter but steeper trail to the hill top and carry along a backpack beg with 2kg to 5 kg weight.

If you wish to enquire more about hiking adventure at Tokun Hill, email to tclbm at yahoo dot com . And for ladies who want to know more about hiking through the jungle trail of Tokun Hill, please email to Ms Hor gshor1965 at gmail dot com

Some views of the jungle trails

View of the main rest shed

View of Mengkuang Dam from the hill top rest shed

flora and fauna of Tokun Hill

corpse flower

giant ant


Wild fruits

Penang and Local Agenda 21

Monday, January 21st, 2008

The local council for mainland Penang, MPSP has recently launched its website on Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) as part of the council’s efforts to further promote awareness on various LA21 initiated activities and encourage more participations and inputs from local communities to implement various plans and programmes for sustainability at the local level. The event was officially launched by the council President, Encik Farizan Darus. Various community-based programmes on environmental, cultural, safety etc were being organized and implemented by various working groups of MPSP LA21. blogged for more insights on the activities and programmes of LA21.

The MPSP Council President, Encik Farizan Darus officiating the launching of MPSP LA21 website…

What is LA21 ?
In a nutshell, Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) is a program that provides a framework for implementing sustainable development at the local level. LA21 aims to build upon existing local government strategies and resources (such as corporate plans, vegetation management plans, and transport strategies) to better integrate environmental, economic and social goals.

LA21 was first described in Agenda 21 - the global blueprint for sustainability that was agreed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 (the Rio Earth Summit). Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 identifies local authorities as the sphere of governance closest to the people, and calls upon all local authorities to consult with their communities and develop and implement a local plan for sustainability - a ‘Local Agenda 21′.

The national LA21 is under the leadership of Ministry of Housing and Local Government, with the assistance of the UNDP in Malaysia. According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Housing and Local Government website, Local Agenda 21 (LA21) is a programme to forge partnerships between local authorities (such as District Councils, Municipal Councils, City Councils and City Halls) and the communities they serve to work together to plan and care for their surroundings towards sustainable development. LA21 adopts a “bottom up” approach. That is to say the local community themselves are involved from the very initial planning stage.

As an individual or Malaysians, you could benefit from LA21 by:

Your views being taken into account in the planning and implementation of LA21 programs to improve the quality of life in your area ;

Your local authority will be more sensitive and effective to your needs;

A more conducive environment and a higher quality of life ;

Having more pride and ownership over your surroundings ;

More related information about LA 21 as well as its benefits.

Although there has not been any national implementation of LA21 activities to date, there are several local councils in Malaysia which have already undertaken activities relating to LA21, namely Penang local councils of MPSP and MPPP, and Selangor’s MBPJ. Selangor is the first state in Malaysia which have commenced E-agenda 21 since 2006.

If you wish to know more about upcoming MPSP LA21 activities, email to its secretariat or contact +6012 4779330 (Mr Chew).

MPSP LA21 has recently organized a seminar on “E-Waste” in Dewan MPSP on 19.1.2008. Datuk Dr Ong Hean Tee, former Penang State Executive Council Member and Chairman of PEWOG(Penang Environment Working Group) was invited to present his paper on “E-Waste” and its impacts on Penang environment. According to Dr Ong, uncontrol recycles from electronic and electronic (E-Waste) can cause environmental hazard and contamination to river /sea water and affecting food chain system and human health whilst issues threatening the environment include over population, over-development, deforestation, biodiversity loss, air pollution, chemical pollution, ozone layer thinning, global warming and climate change. PEWOG hopes to assist Penang State Government and Malaysia Federal Government to achieve a clean and safe living environment for the people of Penang and Malaysia though forging a partnership with the local and state authorities under LA21.

Datuk Dr Ong Hean Tee presenting his paper on “E-Waste” and its impact on Penang environment at the recent LA21 initiated programme held at Dewan MPSP, Bukit Mertajam..

YB Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan, Penang State Executive Council Member in charge of Local Government, Traffic Management, Information and Community Relations Committee officiating another LA 21 initiated program at Dewan MPSP in Bukit Mertajam on 20.1.2008.

Green homes and sustainable living in Malaysia

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Green homes, a relatively new home living concept to the local Malaysians, is beginning to make foray into the local housing scene. In recent months, Malaysia’s conglomerate and leading housing developer, YTL Land has taken a lead in preserving environment via its Bird Island project [Video] and has also announced its first green architectural competition in a move to encourage more home designs that promote sustainable living.

In Kuala Lumpur, another housing developer, Putra Perdana Development Sdn Bhd is carving a niche in designing and constructing energy-efficient buildings and has recently launched its D’Heron at the Lakes, a niche bungalow development located at Putrajaya offering green home features which received good response. More at Good response seen for green homes .

In Penang, team went for a quick search recently on the availability of such new green homes during the recent MAPEX 2007 organized by REHDA Penang but found that there isn’t any housing schemes in Penang with green home features in their housing designs yet. In a related significant event, the Nationwide Environment Awareness Campaign 2007 was launched by the Prime Minister of Malaysia at Queensbay Mall, Penang two weeks ago urging Malaysians to save the environment. The Prime Minister has also urged housing developers and builders to pay heed to conscious planning to preserve the environment. Unlike Singapore which has already introduced the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Building Master plan as well as providing incentives to encourage developers to embrace green housing technology for sustainable development- related link at Buildings going green with style and savings, Malaysia has yet to introduce such green master plan to encourage more local developers to follow suit. Like other industrialized countries in the world, Malaysia is facing similar environmental problems such as haze (Video), water pollution, unmanaged waste, global warming etc. Major cities of Malaysia ie Putrajaya- Kuala Lumpur, Penang have already recorded raising temperate caused by developments.

On the local front, the local council of MPSP Penang has recently conducted a Green Productivity workshop under the LA 21 initiative for the factories in Perai Industrial Area in a move to encourage more factories to adopt green productivity practices. More info on Green Productivity. The Malaysia government has also recently launched a program called Suria for Developers offering financial reward to the property developers that can come up with the best sustainable, eco-friendly housing development which incorporates solar panels or building integrated photovaltic (BIPV). The BIPV is an initiative by the Malaysia government under the 9th Malaysia Plan and implemented by Pusat Tenaga Malaysia under the stewardship of the Energy, Water and Communication Ministry.

As house buyers are increasingly discerning and environmentally conscious, they become selective and are demanding for better quality houses with eco-friendly features like the D’Heron at the lakes at Puterajaya by Putra Perdana apart from the primary factors such as location, pricing, architectural design and facilities when buying new homes. For aspiring home owners and house buyers, the next time you register for a new home with any housing developers for their upcoming projects, voice out that you wish to own a house that incorporates green home features and eco-friendly too !!

Read more for Green tips here and here! or participate in the upcoming seminar on 7th August 2007 a) The building industry’s solution to sustainable development or b) Regional conference on 5-7th November 2007Conference on Sustainable Building South East Asia – Theme : Strategies for Implementation.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the Nationwide Environment Awareness 2007 at Queensbay Mall, Penang on 8th July 2007.

Queensbay Mall, Penang

Recommended update link : Go green for a brighter future.