Routes: Route 68
Nearest Towns: Gombak / Bukit Tinggi / Bentong
Motoring enthusiasts in Malaysia are blessed and cursed at the same time. Cursed ’cause the relatively high import duty make what’s supposedly entry level performance cars to sport premium price tags, and bad traffic means most of them come with only two foot pedals. The upside is that our aftermarket scene is truly limitless and its relatively easy and cheap to create a GTR killer with the abundance of spares and local handyman skills. But the real merit for being a petrolhead in Malaysia is that we are blessed with some of the best driving roads, dare I say, in the world.
Frustrated after slogging daily in our hellishly frustrating rush hour traffic, a bunch of enthusiast longed for proper weekend getaways on proper driving roads to exercise our cars and us. Hence, the formation of Route Hunters. We don’t have any mandates, no missions, no visions. We just want to drive. Along the way, I feel that we should share this with other like minded enthusiast, a gift that keeps on giving.
The first drive we had was one of the three default choices KL-ites have in mind. The old Karak road between Gombak and Bentong is a forgotten gem that, thanks to the Karak Highway sees low number of traffic but really intense or even dangerous for the reckless. The route starts from the entrance of UIA Gombak, all the way to Bentong, via the back of Kampung Bukit Tinggi. This was the route that was connecting Pahang and Kuala Lumpur for a long while until the Karak Highway was opened in 1979.
What to expect?
This route was made for vehicles of a bygone era, so in your average car of today, the first thing you will notice is that it’s very narrow. And since there are no tunnnels on this route, you climb higher and on a way twisty route above the Titiwangsa mountain range. The plus side of this is that a road that looks more like a WRC tarmac stage than trunk road for public users. Glorious double apex blind turns, cliff edge drop-offs, you really don’t have to go too fast to have fun here.
The route itself is broken into 3 parts on the hill climb from UIA to the Genting Sempah R n R. The first part is fast and smooth flowing, the second part is a slight climb with continuously tightening section. The final part towards the top is where things get hectic, until you reach a bridge at the top.
The best time to use this route will be early morning. We did this run during a Saturday morning, and despite being slightly behind schedule, the traffic is nothing to worry about. Although be advised there aren’t many overtaking opportunities here.
The final bit of the course can have a very poor road surface due to construction work and poor maintenance. But that doesn’t deter me from wanting to go there repeatedly.
This is just a hypothetical suggestion as it all comes down to the driver. To me since the course is narrow and twisty, its best suited for something with short wheelbase and shorter gearing. An early powerband will also be ideal. A modern hot hatch will be fun up here, the simpler the better. Or something like a 4WD rally bred machine (the likes of Evo, Impreza) will truly be fun out here. Just make sure there’s a sick bag for the passenger.
Common sight during the weekend, most of them will be in clusters, so you can manage most of them in one overtake.
Hard to overtake, due to space constraints, but most of them do look out for smaller vehicles and will signal you guys when it’s safe to overtake. Also use caution and look far ahead for oncoming trucks and buses.
Check the map, its proper jungle. So watch out for suicidal monkeys, snakes, squirrels, and monitor lizards because you either run them over or risk losing your entire car trying to evade. That’s how the late ‘Possum’ Bourne, got his nickname.
Landslides tend to occur in these mountain roads, so be mindful of them especially after downpours.
Yes, you, who assume that just because the car you drive is described by motor magazines with the term ‘corners like it’s on rails’ you are impervious to the laws of physics. If you go up on these roads with your Golf GTi or your coilovered ricer and crash, me, my crew and thousands more like us wont be able to enjoy this last bit of motoring freedom.
Also bear in mind this is NOT A RACE TRACK! It is a public road and please slow down when you get near any houses or residential areas. Do not tailgate and harass other road users, no dad wants a winged up straight piped racer boy making his toddler in the back seat cry during a ‘balik kampung’ drive. Do not graduate to become a world class Asshole.
Well that in short covers our Episode 1 route. Stay tuned for more updates!