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of Tanjung Tuan

by Mr.Toh Hon Leong / December 05, 2020

Group Photo before the hike

Administratively, Tanjung Tuan is in Malacca, but physically and geographically, it's in Port Dickson. This gem of a hiking paradise not only attracts people in the vicinity, but also enthusiasts from further afield. Tanjung is really popular during weekends, but Covid-19 has greatly reduced participants.

As PD residents, Tanjung Tuan is right in our backyard. We are fortunate to be in close proximity to a great trekking terrain. Most of our weekends are spent hiking, trekking and climbing among trees, cliffs, boulders, hills, sea, flora and fauna of Tanjung Tuan. Surprisingly, the romp and frolic can be quite addictive, and we are reluctant to give it a miss.

Occasionally, when the tide is low, we take the rare opportunity to circumnavigate the whole cape, sticking to the extremities and areas that are not passable at high tide. It takes us to different hidden nooks and corners of rare and exquisite beauty.

James Lee, Chuk, I and a few others, are a small group of local veteran hikers. Among us, many have climbed Mount Kinabalu, Mount Rinjani and EBC. Normally, our hike around the cape starts at the Ilham Beach. Some time back, a group of young medical students joined us on such an arduous but unforgettable trip.

It was a cool beautiful morning, and all participants were punctual and raring to go. It surprised me to a great extent, because I expected "Malaysian time" to prevail. Of course, we threaten to leave them behind if they were late. Maybe, the wannabe doctors have already inculcated punctuality as part of their medical training. It is a virtue worth to be incorporated in all kinds of professional training.

Newcomers were warned of thorny plants such as rattan, mengkuang and nibong, which seems to grow in abundance in the slightly saline soil near the shores of the cape. I have a few unpleasant experiences of being pricked in the fingers by the nasty thorns, while cutting the rattan branches to widen the narrow jungle paths. It was quite a task to remove the thorns, using a needle and with only one hand. Sometimes, I seek the doctor's help.

We started off through a gap in the fence. The path through this initial section of the jungle was narrow. We could hear the sound of waves and the laughter of the youngsters right behind us. It was fun. The air was super fresh, though a bit humid. We imagined the trees to have started their photosynthesis of absorbing CO2 and releasing the refreshening O2 for our benefits. O2 is such an important human need, but mankind has forgotten to be kind to trees. It's a real shame.

When we reached the sea, we noticed it was low tide, and the mangrove trees and their tangle of roots seemed to block our access. However, the path veered left up the hill. As we clambered up the steep incline, it was obvious some were already puffing and panting. Maybe, their fitness level was wanting, or they hadn't warm up.

Mangrove Swamp

As we were catching our breath and waiting for the others at a vintage point, the view of the sea and Batu Putih was simply panoramic. Another challenging slope was right before us, but it went downhill, and we could sense that it appeared intimidating for some. As veterans, we believe these are little fears we ought to conquer. The baby steps help us to build courage towards achieving greater conquests in the future. Holding onto ropes and walking sideways, we gingerly descended downwards.

At the foot of this daunting yet exciting slope was a very secluded sandy beach, fringed by a cliff and huge boulders. It was breath taking and stunning for the newcomers. Snapping photos was simply irresistible. "It's really beautiful," someone remarked. A small break for photos and rest, while waiting for the less experienced to catch up seemed warranted.

Up the slope after the swamp

Down the slope to the sea...

A rocky beach lay beyond the sandy beach. Newcomers were made aware that the wet and slimy rocks could be slippery. Sands sticking onto the soles of shoes had to be kicked off to reduce accidents. One had to be extremely cautious while climbing a huge rock for a photo shoot. There were many rock pools, with small fishes, little crabs, snails, cockles and bivalves as we struggled along this stretch of the beach.

As we hoped ungainly from rock to rock like "drunken kungfu masters," we arrived at Monkey Bay. This is a long sandy beach of about 500 meters. It's also accessible via the tarmac road from the entrance to the lighthouse. There is a slanting tree with many branches right across the beautiful beach. The first timers were up on the branches taking photos. It was nice to see them enjoying life. Life's little pleasures should not be postponed until retirement. Enjoying different stages of our lives in different ways is the key.

Lovely secluded beach

Rocky patch

At the end of a leisurely stroll on Monkey Bay, we reached a rocky area. This is the location we encountered sea otters on an earlier trip. The surprised otters disappeared instantly, like someone being caught naked. There is a narrow path of rocks just before the base of Batu Putih. Obviously, some good samaritans have laid the rocks, like a bridge, for hikers to cross at high tides. It reminded us of "Rama's Bridge," created by Hanuman and his gang of monkeys, for Rama to cross from India to Sri Lanka. In the Indian epic of Ramayana, Rama crossed the bridge to save his wife, Sita, who was captured by Ravana, the demon king.

Monkey bay

Surprise encounter with some sea otters

Crossing "Rama's Bridge"

Standing at the base of Batu Putih, the 200m slope appeared steep and forbidding to the uninitiated. Appearances are often deceiving, for there is an invisible zig-zag path that the veterans know. As one veteran scrambled effortlessly up the incline, the message was clear to the first timers, that it was not that dauting. There are cracks and gaps on the rock surface where we could place our feet securely. Taking "baby steps' helped to make a tough climb more manageable. Safety was impressed upon everyone.

Climbing Batu Putih

It was obvious some climbers were relatively less fit. They panted and stopped more frequently to catch their breath, but fortunately nobody seized up in fright. Finally, all made it to the summit of Batu Putih. It was an accomplishment for the first timers. The breath-taking views atop the summit of Batu Putih resulted in many photos taken.

"So many hormones are charging through my body........ adrenaline, endorphin, dopamine, serotonin and maybe even oxytocin," remarked a wannabe doctor. Some of us knew that adrenaline is associated with excitement, dopamine with success, serotonin with helping others while oxytocin is a social bonding hormone. These are "feel good" hormones and it's no wonder James Lee is able to persuade many up the dangerous looking slope of Batu Putih. The hormone rush seems rewarding.

After Batu Putih, a semi-hidden path led us down to a rocky beach. Part of the jungle here caught fire a few months ago, and the bare branches of the trees gave an atmosphere of autumn in this locality. "Smoking causes fire and lung diseases," passed through our minds. Hiking with caution across a barrier of rocks, we arrived at a small but pristine sandy beach. There were no hikers from other groups here.

Autumn atmosphere

Climbing over slimy rocks and up a rocky cliff, we were presented with a picturesque Headland. Huge eroded rocks, crashing waves and over hanging trees combined to form a natural three-dimensional painting. The erosion caused by the battering waves, rain and sun has sculptured the rocks into stunning awesome beauties. The protection and barrier offered by the huge rocks against the might of the waves made this headland possible.

The Headland

Scrambling over more rocks, we reached an area which my friends called the "ledge." This is a narrow path on the side of a cliff. It was quite a task to cross over this challenging obstacle of sharp edges, by clinging onto the cliff and worrying of falling into the sea and rocks below. It was with great trepidation and adrenaline charging through our bodies that we eventually crossed. One young lady fell while stepping on a slimy rock, but luckily, she did not injure herself.

Heading to the Ledge

Crossing the stony Ledge

Access to the other side of a cliff was via a tunnel or a very narrow gap. While some went through the tunnel, most squeezed through the gap. A freshwater spring was right in front. It was surrounded by rocks, indicating human intervention. Some sceptics tasted the water to confirm it was fresh water indeed. We could see water sprouting out from the bottom. At high tide, we were told the spring would be covered with seawater.

The surrounding landscape was amazingly rugged and weather beaten. The extremely sharp edges on the rock surfaces suggested erosion due to the wind, sand and shine. The ruggedness and the bonsai looking trees created a scene of extremely rare beauty for us to savour. None of us could resist snapping some photos and posing on the rocks. Some photographers had the presence of mind to take inside-out photos from inside the tunnel.

Freshwater Spring

Crossing the Gap

Crossing a sandy beach strewn with rocks and stones, we arrived at Pulau Intan. This is a very small island that is joined to the main land mass at low tide, but a small water channel turns it into an island at high tide. This island of thick impenetrable forest is surrounded by eroded rocks, which give it the impression it is built on stilts. There are two beautiful sandy beaches on either side of Pulau Intan. The lonely secluded beaches reminded us of "Robin Crusoe" being marooned. It seems there are graves in the island, but we did not check.

Nature's Art

Towards Pulau Intan

Arrive at Pulau Intan

We arrived at some huge rocks in the sea, after hugging the coastline of rocks and meandering a narrow path across undulating terrain. My friends call these rocks Mermaid's Rocks, as we often urge our lady friends to sit and be photographed as if they were mermaids. Hiking is more fun when we relax and let our imagination run wild. Mermaid's Rock is where we frequently allow ourselves a break and perhaps to fantasize. This is also an excellent spot for photos. The clear blue sky, shimmering water and the overhanging trees simply "squeeze" the smile out of us. It allows to fantasize we are celebrities and the photos are certainly more charming.

Mermaid's Rock

Our front veteran hiker led us through an infrequently used path, closed to the edge of the sea. In an open area, we saw the renown ancient well and a huge rock. This ancient well is "Perigi Rubiah," but we are more inclined to believe it was built by the Portuguese as their source of water supply. According to mythology, a dent of the top surface of the huge rock is Hang Tuah's footprint. There are rumours authorities are trying to obliterate the stories of Hang Tuah and his brother warriors as there are connotations that they were Chinese warriors sent to protect Puteri Hang Li Poh, who married Sultan Mansur Shah, the 6th sultan of Malacca.

The Ancient Well, Perigi Rubiah

Hang Tuah's Foodprint?

Some hikers were getting tired and inquiring as when we would be out of the woods. The forest is a paradise at the start, but could appear like a prison when we are out of breath and tired. "We are about a mile from the entrance," was a reassuring message. Walking on the flat sandy Keramat beach restored our energy, but the late morning sun had the girls covering up their heads, as if wearing tudungs. It's an irony half the world wants to be a shade fairer and the half wants to be a shade darker.

Keramat Beach

Pulau Masjid, viewed from Keramat Beach

The second half of the beach is less explored and less frequented by hikers. We didn't see footprints or broken branches to indicate human intrusion. The remoteness, mangrove trees growing on stilt roots and the steep rocky cliff could easily make hikers feel as if they have gone astray. An islet, known as Pulau Masjid beaconed us to cross, but we were tired and the tide was not low enough. The sound of laughter from the young men and ladies cheered us on.

Two left turns at a mangrove swamp brought us into the forest. There were some huge trees in the area but few creepers or cobweb stood in our way. However, the pesky mosquitoes were a real nuisance. Passing two path junctions, we arrived at a waterlogged area. Everyone was awkwardly swaying and twisting in a comical dance, to avoid getting wet by stepping on roots, logs and stones. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a video.

Forbidding Terrain

It was with great relief and joy for us to be finally back to the hustle and bustle of life at the entrance.

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