From the town of Kluang in Johor, the contours of Gunung Lambak are easily visible. Actually Lambak (which means Flea Mountain) has twin peaks, the higher of which reaches 510 metres (1,673ft) and has a TV broadcasting mast on the summit.
Some say it’s an “easy climb” but it’s actually a far more vigorous workout than expected. The trail starts at the Gunung Lambak Eco Resort on the outskirts of Kluang town.
You can park in the hotel’s car park and find your way to the trail via a suspension bridge which crosses a small stream. If the bridge is closed off for any reason, you can still go underneath and hop across the stream.
Alternatively, you can park on the street just past the Eco Resort and start the trail from there.
The trail is nice and easy at the beginning with a concrete path which makes its way alongside the stream and up through the rainforest.
You will see many Kluang residents taking some regular exercise on this part of the trail.
When the concrete path stops and turns into a jungle trail the hike becomes more difficult with plenty of steps to climb.
After a while the path forks. You can go either way. If you take the left trail, the track becomes very steep, with tree roots being used as rough steps. Ropes have been left in place to assist in climbing the tricky, near vertical parts.
The trail seemed to go on for ages, ever upwards, very much like Gunung Angsi, another energy-sapping mountain hike.
If it isn’t a cloudy day, you can enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding countryside once you reach the top. But if it is cloudy, then there was nothing to see.
You go down the same way you hiked up, but it is possible to continue onwards to the second of the twin peaks (slightly lower) and return by another route to where the trail forked as mentioned earlier.
Two or three hours should be sufficient for most people to go up and down this mountain. There are no admission charges and no permits are required.
Where to stay near Gunung Lambak
The Eco Resort has chalet accommodation and camping facilities. They also have a kiddies’ playground and swimming pool with slides which they call a water park.
Kluang at the Rail Hotel is a boutique budget hotel in a nondescript modern building but with some retro railway-style touches such as a wooden panelled reception with three clocks showing the times in New York, London and Kluang.
The room is clean, comfortable and modern with a wall-mounted flat screen TV and free Wi-Fi. The only complaint is that the walls are a bit thin and poorly soundproofed.
Charges are RM125 net including a good breakfast at the Kluang Rail Coffee shop downstairs.
Where to eat
The Kluang Rail Coffee shop at the Rail Hotel is a part of a larger chain. The original Kluang Rail Coffee establishment is also in Kluang, at the railway station where it has been serving staples like toast and coffee since 1938.
It is open from 7am-12 noon and from 2:30pm-6pm. Oddly for a restaurant it is closed for lunch and dinner. It is also closed on Thursdays which is a bit inconvenient if you happen to be travelling by train from Kluang on that day.
The other place in Kluang is the Green Home Healthy Vegetarian Café, at No 14, Jalan Tasik, a couple of doors along from the Rail Hotel.
This cosy place is run by a Buddhist nun and looks like a cross between a temple, a private home and a restaurant. You have to leave your shoes outside.
They specialise in natural and organic produce, and a simple, delicious and nutritious meal of rice, vegetables and fresh juice will cost RM16.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com