Thursday, June 8, 2017

Scenic Pangsun

This is one of the two hydro electric stations in hulu Pangsun

TO hikers and climbers who have scaled Gunung Nuang in Hulu Langat, Selangor, this building must have brought back fond memories of their trip. It is the lower station of the Ulu Langat Mini-Hydro Electric Power Plant set up in 1927.
  Located at Ulu Pangsun, at the foothills of Gunung Nuang, the mini hydro plant is the second oldest in the peninsula and the oldest in Selangor until it ceased operations in 2001.
  I painted the lower station building from under the shelter of a bus stop, which happened to be the last terminus of the RapidKL, from the city.
  Ulu Pangsun, located about 38km south of Kuala Lumpur city, is a favourite getaway for city folk as well as those just across the border in Negri Sembilan.
  Very near to several recreational forests such as the Sungai Gabai, the Sungai Congkak and the Tekala, Ulu Pangsun is accessible by car and RapidKL bus although the road towards the upper reaches are just enough for two vehicles to squeeze through.
  My attention was drawn to this building because of the contrast of its shape against the verdant hills in the background.
One of the old houses left abandoned here
  There is a row of dilapidated whitewashed buildings believed to be the quarters of the staff of the power plant. Not far from this building is a small tarred road leading up to the base of Gunung Nuang and the Sungai Langat dam.
  According to a teenager who was waiting for a bus to go to school in town, the place is usually crowded during weekends and public holidays. It is from this point that hikers could mount their assault on the 1,439-metre high Gunung Nuang.
  For the less adventurous weekenders, however, they can find plenty of picnic spots just beside the main road into Ulu Pangsun.
  The meandering Sungai Pangsun provides many shady spots for a picnic or a quick dip in the crystal clear waters.
  Some of these had been developed by the more enterprising land owners by providing sheltered huts that can be rented from as low as RM10 for a day.
  There is also no shortage of resorts for those who want to enjoy the quiet of nature or do some jungle-trekking activities.
  Many of these, including Kem Lubok Manggis, Impian Rimba Resort and Nur Lembah Eco Resort, are well known venues for corporate team-building events because of the proximity of their location to the city.
  There are several other places worth checking out if you are visiting Ulu Pangsun.
  Among them are the Sungai Chongkak Recreational Forest, the Lubok Manggis picnic grounds, the waterfalls of Perdik and Sungai Lepok, as well as the Tekala and Gabai recreational forests some distance away. There is also an Orang Asli village in Ulu Pangsun.
  As I was driving out of Ulu Pangsun, I stopped by a patch of sweet potato plants by the main road. An Orang Asli chap was plucking them.
  When I asked if he planted them, he laughed and said that the plants grew wild.
  “Anyone who wanted to eat them are welcomed to pluck some,” he said with a grin. I refrained from asking him how much these would have cost, stir-fried, in a restaurant in the city.
  If you have daylight on your hands when visiting Ulu Pangsun, take a drive along Jalan Sungai Lui towards Semenyih.
  The journey of over 10km will take you along the perimeter of the beautiful Semenyih Dam and enjoy the sights of its verdant hills.
  Ulu Langat mini hydroelectric plant is believed to have come about in the early 1920s when the tin mines sprouted up in Kuala Lumpur.
  According to early records, the beginnings of the Ulu Langat plant could be traced back to Cornishman George Simms, a prospector who ran the Sungei Besi Mines Ltd. Simms was said to have scoured the hills of Ulu Langat on horseback to look for streams to power a hydroelectric station after hearing about the successes of other mines using hydroelectric power.
  After overcoming strict government regulations, the Sungai Besi Mines was granted a 42-year licence to operate the power plant, with the condition that the government had the first option to purchase the excess electricity.
  Upon the plant’s completion, electricity was supplied through 29km of transmission lines running through the jungles. In 1933, the government bought over the plant for 200,000 pounds (RM1.1 million).
  When the Japanese Army invaded Malaya in 1941, all power stations were ordered to be destroyed under the retreating British Army’s “scorched earth” policy.
  The Ulu Langat stations were also incapacitated during the war, only to be rehabilitated when the British returned.

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