For majority of residents in oil town Seria, Millimewah Department Store is their go-to place for everything — although mostly catering for the budget conscious, they’re the only complete department store in town. While it’s debatable whether Soon Lee or Millimewah had more inventory, Millimewah was the only outlet that had a floor dedicated to selling clothing for kids and adults, men and women. At least they were up until the moment the entire premise was burned to the ground in a matter of hours. Electrical overload is believed to have been the cause of the fire according to Fire and Rescue’s assessment. I happened to be in the vicinity when fire broke out though I wasn’t anywhere near enough to hear what passers-by described as an explosion.
I had a busy afternoon shuttling the kids to and from tuition classes so that explains the near and far photos I shared on Facebook during the drive to and from home several times. The intensity of the billowing smoke seen from the Shell refinery and the field opposite Anthony Abel College (I took those routes to get home) very quickly turned turbulent increasing in volume and density.
Hiking using smartphone GPS real-time navigation added. See post updates!
In the year and a half that I’ve been hiking the hills, both solo and group, there were three separate occasions involving 6 visitors that had lost their way in the Shahbandar forest. Since then, there have been more reports (along with cases that went unreported) of hikers getting lost within the 10 km trail. Together with my hiking buddy Rizan, founder of the Beach Bunch and Shahbandar Volunteer Group, we took on the task of mapping the established trails that connect the entire Bukit Shahbandar, for the purpose of providing all visitors access to accurate and reliable map. I highly recommend anyone planning a trip for the first time to download this map to their phones either as a JPEG image or a PDF document, or print a copy in colour in A4 size to ensure legibility. We understand that the Ministry looking after Bukit Shahbandar is in the process of updating their map so until the new one is available, this is probably the best one you have immediate access to. Created for hikers by hikers — it’s our way of giving back to the community :)
A second extended trail is indicated by the lighter red line —to the left of the map. This trail runs over 2 kms, connects the Menara (tower) to P8 and P6 huts, and is largely unmarked. Until the trail gets useful directional markings I do not recommend exploring this part of the forest, solo or otherwise.
Here’s an aerial map of the Shahbandar trails to give you a better idea of its vastness and proximity to neighbouring roads and landmarks such as The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Jerudong Beach, etc.
Hiking with GPS aided navigation Here’s something even better than a paper map if you had it printed, or a static map if you downloaded it as an image to your phone. I’ve been tracking my workouts using MapMyHike for Android for nearly two years but it was only yesterday when I discovered and tested the app’s GPS navigation capability — in the context of Bukit Shahbandar, I include two mapped trails below from a previous hike (regular and extended distance) of which anyone can choose to add to their app to enjoy a GPS guided hike without getting lost in unfamiliar territory.
Goes without saying that you need to download and install the MapMyHike app on your GPS capable smartphone before you can enjoy hiking with GPS navigation. Once the app is installed, you have two ways to register: create a new account or sign in using your Facebook credentials. Choose the trail map below (will be adding more) you want and click Send to Phone
If all goes well, you should receive the following email message. Click OPEN ROUTE and within seconds you should see your selected route appear in MapMyHike mobile app (as shown in image immediately above). Also see Facebook post.
Last but not least, SHOES. I have gone through a few pair of shoes to know which ones are most suited for the trail conditions at Shahbandar. I have hiked and I have run the trails on both dry and wet days, regardless of weather, you want to be wearing shoes with good traction.
My current pair is a New Balance MT610v3 — phenomenal traction, long wearing (208 kms in 3 months and counting of punishing terrain abuse, at time of this post) and most surprisingly of all extremely affordable. I think I’ve pretty much covered all bases for a great outdoor adventure. STAY SAFE AND HAPPY HIKING :)
If there is one thing more uncertain than predicting the weather before a hike, it is coming up with a blog title that differentiates one from the other. We hiked the 9 Pondok trail on the first day of the new year and three days later we’re back hiking the same trails. Another day, another adventure through the forest and rocky terrains except with fewer company than our last hike. Also, Jong (red tee) a Miri resident who trained exclusively on these hills for his successful 2014 Mount Kinabalu climb joined us for the first time this year. Our morning began with a drizzle as we left our house in Seria that quickly escalated to a heavy rainfall by the time we reached the Seria By-pass. There was turning back or changing of mind because of bad weather — we remained positive, optimistically hopeful that the weather would clear up by the time we’re near Jerudong — it did, to everyone’s delight :)
see MapMyHike for trail map and workout stats of this hike.