Mount Datuk Sunrise

Mount Datuk

Mount Datuk (also known as Mount Rembau or Mount Datuk Rembau) was apparently named after Dato' Perpatih Nan Sebatang who in 1372 was said to have organized a gathering of leaders in order to elect a clan chief (Dato' Lembaga). The town of Rembau itself lies about 25 km south of Seremban in the state of Negeri Sembilan which meant that we had to leave Kuala Lumpur extremely early in order to be able to reach the summit of Mount Datuk (elevation : 884 m) in time for sunrise.

Before we go on, please jot down the numbers that are listed below. If you do see any suspicious behaviour when out hiking, encounter things like traps and snares, or even see protected animals or their parts that are sold as either collectibles, pets, or for (so-called) medicine, then please do not hesitate to contact the wildlife crime hotline. Be sure to try and document it as best you can with photos or video without putting yourself in danger, and take note of the details: descriptions of those who are involved, as well as when and where it took place.

"The Wildlife Crime Hotline, managed by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), provides YOU an avenue to report offences involving endangered wildlife in Malaysia. We protect the identity of all informants, only key info of the reports are forwarded to the authorities."

Wildlife Crime Hotline019 356 4194

Emergency Numbers
Wildlife Crime Hotline 019-356 4194

Wildlife Department 1800 885 151

Negeri Sembilan (West) Forestry Department 06-6014 000

Tampin Police Station 06-4411 222

Tampin Bomba 06-4411 333

Tampin Hospital 06-4411 511

Difficulty Rating : 2.8 / 10.0 (Class 3 - Straightforward)

*Click here to learn more about the difficulty rating.

Getting There

Location of the start of the trail (2.543004, 102.169515)

The start of the trail was surrounded by several structures that looked to house different sorts of amenities such as a cafeteria and restrooms although I couldn't completely be sure as it was so early in the morning and there were not many people around. There was also supposed to be a hiking fee of RM5 per person but we did not come across a counter or booth so we figured that we would just pay the amount after we had completed the trek. We made our way with a short descent to a small waterfall with a pool and a stream that was spanned by a small bridge and found that the trail itself began right in front of the bridge and began to ascend immediately. There was another (incorrect) trail that branched off from the bridge to the left that lead further into the forest that we ignored. The time then was 05:15.

The Trail

The incline of the trail was pretty consistent (about 40-50 degrees) for the first 10 minutes or so with roots and large rocks interspersed along the trail that were large and strong enough to hold the weight of a person, and as such could be used as holds for those who might require some form of assistance. It wasn't quite pitch black as the moon was out, an 18-day old moon in a waning gibbous phase (illuminated fraction of about 0.8). The way the strong ambient light of the moon scattered made it seem like it was (a perpetual) dawn. Nevertheless, torches were still required to illuminate the way (and to locate the red and white trail markers), the cast light from which caused the lengthened shadows in front of us to shorten each and every time a step was taken. Along the way I recalled a warning that superstitious people gave every now and then telling people to not shine their torch into the trees as apparently there are vampires that 'hang out' in the trees (they call them 'pontianaks') that you might see. Seeing one would definitely have made the trek memorable so I shined the torch into the trees and the canopy overhead whenever I could but alas, no vampires were to be found!

After about half an hour, we came to the first campsite named 'CP1, CP Pondok' which was basically a small clearing with nothing of interest so we pressed on. In the dark, features that could be found on the trail went unnoticed and the only variation that was noticed was when the narrow beam of the torch came across a change of incline. Soon after though we came upon an extremely large boulder that caused the trail to veer sharply to the left that lead to a clearing for the second campsite, 'CP2, CP Camp', and a set of 5 ladders that had been propped up on the rocks and secured in place to ease the ascent. The ladders seemed secure enough but could pose a challenge for anyone with acrophobia. As monkeys awakened with whoops, hoots and howls in the distance, we reached the top after having trekked for 1 hour and 24 minutes, covering a distance of two kilometres. The time was 06:40 and the barometric altitude was registered to be 799 m on my Suunto Ambit.

Mount Datuk Peak

Since it was still dark when we arrived at the peak, we lay down on top of the large flat boulders amongst other groups who had camped overnight who were also waiting for the sunrise. We sat there appreciating the glittering lights that were sprinkled across the horizon and the occasional ominous flashes of lightning in the far distance. There was a breeze which dramatically decreased the temperature although not to the point of it being considered cold (although I think almost everyone else there would have disagreed) as I was shirtless and still comfortable.

The apparent magnitude of the very bright moon that lay in the south-west seemed to decrease as the sun rose and the sky began to lighten. The Bonsai-like trees became silhouettes as the sun rose behind them and cast its light on us and as the shadows slowly shortened, the mist that lingered in the folds and ripples in the Earth was illuminated and began to dissipate with the increase in temperature. We were also fortunate enough to see two large great hornbills (Buceros bicornis) take flight in the distance. The sheer size of the birds (with wingspans of up to 1.5m) made them seem to fly impossibly slow in the air, which left me realizing how easily our cognitive interpretation of visual (and other) stimuli can trick us, leaving us vulnerable to all sorts of pseudo-scientific beliefs.

360 Panorama

Next : Mount Datuk Sunrise (Part 2)

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