The path leading to a small roofed resting place next to the well. The place also serves as a surau a small praying hall. Actually the night before, I planned to sleep at this place. Right after I was dropped at the Gunung Jerai resort entrance (remember, I got to hitchike a car?), I immediately asked the guard working there the way to Sheikh Abdullah's well.
So there I was walking in the dark nearly a kilometre to the well. The first thing I did upon arrival was to take wudhuk (ritual purification) using water from the well and did my Maghrib (early night complusory prayers) and Isyak (later compulsory prayer) combined in one go as allowed for those on travel.
After prayers, I sat at the surau and was contemplating sleeping there. The dark and loneliness didn't bother me, nor did the cold and damp mountain air. Maybe because my body was still hot and sweating after all the exercise walking some 8km up Gunung Jerai.
After half an hour or so, then only I began to feel the cold. As it is, I was not so well after changing climate so much and all the tiring walk and travelling the last 2 weeks. And I didn't bring any camping equipment, not even a torch-light while my trusty jacket which I've brought nearly everywhere the last 5 years was lost somewhere between Yan and Alor Setar, I forgot when.
As time passed by and the chill began to get to the bone with not much to protect my body except the shirts and thin clothings I brought, I decided might as well have a comfortable sleep somewhere else to recharge my batteries. So that is how I ended up at the resort.
Anyway, back to the issue of Sheikh Abdullah's well. Why is it such a special place for many? Well suffice to say, he is said to be an ancient saint from Baghdad. And the saint was said to be the person responsible for converting Sultan Muzaffar Shah to Islam, the first Kedah ruler said to embrace the faith spread by the seal of the prophets, Muhammad Rasulullah SAW. For a brief story on the ruler, click Sultan Muzaffar Shah, the first king of Kedah?.
Some 15 minutes later, I came across this curious boulder formation... Ah, I remember this... I've read about this particular boulder up Gunung Jerai in some tabloids about mysteries... The boulder is said to be an ancient ship which turned to stone, some said after it was cursed by a giant creature known as the Sang Kelembai...
Whether the myth has any truth or not, let's just leave it aside. I decided to check the whole length of the boulder and true enough, it does have the shape of an overturnerd ship, albeit an odd looking one!
At one end, I saw a small stream coming out from the boulder making up small pools. I looked around for any sign of life... Sure enough, at least there's no human around except me... And so I indulged in one of my favourite pastime that is skinny dipping haha! The water was definitely chilly but I enjoyed the dip which managed to freshen up my tired bones...
I also took the opportunity to do a quick wash on a few soiled clothers. Then dry it out on the 'ship'...I also used the time waiting to do my Zuhur (afternoon prayers) combined with Asar (late afternoon prayers) before lying down for a quick nap.
Now, I forgot to take a close-up picture of certain features of the 'ship' boulder but I can surely vouch that the majority of the surface which could be seen (that is parts not covered by tree-roots and such) does show the charateristics of a ship's hull... You can see formations that look like planks and ropes that normally makes up a wooden ship... You have to see it yourself to believe it.
So how could a ship end up near the summit of a 4,000 feet plus mountain? Well, the legends did say, once upon a time, Gunung Jerai was actually an ancient island known as Pulau Serai... That is when most of the land you see now was submerged in water... Enough of that.
Sometime later, I came across this signboard. It points the way to a trail leading to Merbok, one of the points where I could climb up Gunung Jerai from. Have a look at The ancient valley of Bujang in Merbok for a connecting story...
There... The transmission tower next to the summit of Gunung Jerai. I went up to the gates but it was guarded by the military and turned out to be off-limits to civilians. Furthermore, I was already very tired and time was running out. The day was 26th January 2007 and I must be in Manjung, Perak, some 200km away the next day to attend a gathering of people known through an Internet forum.
I started the walk down and soon enough there was a person on bike passing my way, probably a military personnel in plain-clothes stationed on top of Gunung Jerai. He was kind enough to take me on the bike down until the main road. Suffice to say, I immediately left Kedah to head for Perak.
Actually while on the way down only did I remember that there is a certain path just before the gate guarded by the military through which I could go up the summit. I've been told about this path before by those whose been up all the way there. Up there lies other famous places often visited by those of religious and mystical leanings... Places known as Padang (field of) Tok Sheikh (as in Sheikh Abdullah) and Batu Sajadah (stone for praying), both attributed to the saint Sheikh Abdullah. It's just I thought the entry to the path was next to the gate guarded by the military. The military personel I met said he didn't know there is such a path when asked and I was just too tired then to verify his claim.
I guess, it is not time yet for me to step there. God willing, there will be another climb at another time. What is important now, I've completed my set of stories on the trip up north to be let out and now I can rest a bit. For information, this piece is my 99th posting in this blogspot. So there... Cheers! :]