Mount Berembun (Cameron Highlands)
Bright and early the next morning, we began walking to the Sam Poh Temple from the Sungai Pauh campsite. The trail head for trail 2 lies at the end of a long flight of steps that is located just at the side of this temple.
We realised soon after reaching the trail head that the trail that lay just beyond was to be quite capricious, as it began with a steep ascent and was followed by a quick descent. The jungle closed in and the trail narrowed as it undulated up and down the slopes, sometimes gently, sometimes quite steeply, at least for the first 300 metres or so. Right after that, the trail descended down to a stream (350 metres in), before ascending once again.
The trail began climbing once again before swinging off the the left as it reached the top of a hill, before switch-backing almost immediately after, swinging us around almost 180-degrees to head west instead. The trail descended down once again to another river and immediately began to ascend up the slopes again, once again heading southwards. Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) jumped from tree to tree directly above our heads, almost as if to show off their speed and masterful dexterity way up in the dizzying heights of the upper canopy.
All those grand, fast movements up above was a stark contrast to the tiny, slow, and very alien-like world that lay beneath our feet. This could not have been encapsulated more than by what we saw shortly after—the highly unusual trilobite beetle (Platerodrilus paradoxus). These heavily-armoured beetles look very wide when seen from above but are only a sliver when seen from the side. They seem even stranger once one notices their tiny, out-of-proportion heads at the end of their body. This head also turns out to be fully retractable which gives them the ability to tuck it away under their 'prothorax' whenever they are alarmed!
Trilobite beetles, along with all other net-winged beetles (Family: Lycidae), also display a very large and remarkably pronounced physical difference (be it colour, shape, or size) between the males and the females—a phenomenon known as 'sexual dimorphism'. The females can grow up to 80mm long, whereas the males are almost 10 times smaller!
The next climb brought us up to the first junction, where trail 3 branched off and continued on to the right and back to the golf course. We took the left branch instead (which was technically still part of trail 3) and began our descent down to the river (1.4km mark) before plunging back into the jungle, still heading south. The second junction was reached at the 1.64km mark, where the right branch would have taken us to the shelter junction and from there trail 5 (heading west). Taking the left branch, on the other hand, would keep us going south-easterly, and directly towards the summit of Mount Berembun.
Shortly after, we reached the point where trail 3 & 6 merged, which was the junction just east of the shelter junction on the main map. The junction would be very hard to spot coming from the other direction, as the trail we were on just ended at a large tree that had a huge web of intricate roots splayed about. On the other side of the tree however, just slightly below, lay the other two branches of the trail: the right branch heading west to the shelter junction, and the left branch heading south-east to the summit.
The trail continued on, growing steeper the closer it got to the summit. Eventually we arrived at the two clearings and the summit right after. After a short rest, we continued down trail 7 once again, first heading south and then swerving west after 100 metres or so. One thing I seemed to notice this time around was an almost sudden change around the 3.5km mark when the forest vegetation seemed to transform into shrubs. The trees seemed less grand and everything seemed to become less green and less saturated. Before we knew it, we had reached MARDI Agro-Technology Park.