Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Can you spot the difference (apart from the fact that the two images were taken from different spots, and other camera technicalities)?
Can you spot the difference (apart from the fact that the two images were taken from different spots, and other camera technicalities)?
The original plan was to head to Simpang Pulai and look for Chelik Falls. When that didn’t work out, the plan was to do a walk at Klang Gates. I wanted a waterfall. So as I was driving, and everone else was fast asleep, I headed towards Pangsun for Lepok Falls.
It has been nearly two years since I last visited Lepok Falls.
I still remember it being a relatively non-strenuous walk, and wouldn’t take too long either. But there were two deceptive looking forks on the trail now. The first one was quite easy to figure out. But the second played on me. I had allowed others to go ahead of me; as I walked I remarked, “This doesn’t look familiar to me.” But still we went on until we hit the river. We were at the wrong spot. So everyone waited and waded their feet in the water while I took off in different directions to find a way upstream on land. I spent quite a bit of time searching for a way. I got around the dead end and up the river, but the waterfall wasn’t in sight. I wish I had my parang with me. I had left it in the car and for the second time in a day I felt hopeless in the forest.
The first time was when I met an Orang Asli and he had asked me if I carried any weapons to the waterfall. I said, “Saya pernah ke air terjun. Kan jalan ini selamat?” (trans: “I’ve been to the waterfall before. Isn’t this path safe?”)
He said, “Yalah, tapi kena bawa senjata. Mana tahu jumpa apa kat dalam?” (trans: “Yes, but you’ve got to bring a weapon. Who knows what you might meet in there [the jungle]?”)
Then he added, “Apa lagi awak seorang bawa lima bini.”
I shrugged. I had nothing to say to respond to that. Luckily I didn’t have to say anything as a companion of his came by and they took off together.
When the conversation took place, we were already some half hour into our journey, and didn’t think of turning back to get my parang. At the river, I was irritated by not knowing where we were. And that sort of clouded my senses for a while. The good thing was without the parang the most sensible thing to do was turn back to the most noticeable fork and try the other route.
And so it was that as time moved forward on, we were retracing steps. And as I walked, I drew lines in the air; retracing the trail I took from two years again my head. From memory, I didn’t think we branched off too far away. When we hit an open ground, I told everyone to stop. I didn’t think we needed to head all the way back to the first fork. So while everyone fed the hungry mosquitoes, I conjured up a headache by digging through the archive of trails I’ve walked before. Though the jungles and trails may look the same and confusing to some, I seem to have drawn some landmarks for each tril I’ve been to before.
Luckily my memory served me well. The memory was faint, and bits and pieces were missing, but there were enough for me to “find” another trail from where we stood. Oh, Why didn’t I see that fork earlier!” Once I hit the trail, everything looked familiar again.
That was until one steep section.
This section had gone missing in my memory! I just couldn’t place the short steep slope. I had remembered the left and right turns, abandoned “home”, and moss-covered water pipe to some extent, but I couldn’t remember the steep slope. I didn’t know how long it was, so I sat down and waited—and everyone became victims of mosquitoes and lurking leeches again. I dug deeper into my memory for a glimpse of steep slope to Lepok. Blank. Then I remembered Nee On. I called him on the phone, but he doesn’t remember much. Yet he mentioned that there was a steep section midway. Oh well, I’m already here. Might as well as push on pass the steep slope. If it leads to no where, I can scream at Nee On. So the journey resumed and true enough, I got to the familiar trail that seemed like a low-trench with rich green shrubs growing on both banks.
Not long after, we reached the waterfall.
Two years. Two years had been too long to revisit a place sometimes.
The waterfall looks as beautiful as ever, perhaps more than when I was here before. And perhaps it has been two years and like when old friends meet there is a greater sense of appreciation, perhaps I’ve been to Chiling too many times and that has dulled my senses to something familiar, perhaps the water this time was stronger than from two years ago (it rained the day before this time) and that display of bravura swept me away, perhaps it’s the company of people who came along this time–5 girls–and it was better than four guys splashing in the water in 2006. Perhaps. All possibilities. But really, it’s simply that Lepok Falls is a beautiful waterfall.
• Suyin’s blog entry, “Up Sg.Lepok Waterfall,” of the same outing.
• “Lepok Falls” is Jessin’s version
• “20060823 • When Four Guys Went Splashing Water Together” is the historical first time when I went to Lepok with Nee On, Adrian and Kourosh.
View from the top
• We started the journey at Kampung Pertak. After 24 minutes, we reached the open ground where we camped for the night.
• We played UNO for hours. I brought my UNO H2O and we were standing in the river to play. Good thing the cards sink when they drop in the water. Alex gave me a scare when he dropped some cards while shuffling them. The kids used very different rules and the game lasted for hours. We played only one game as it was getting late. But it was still too early to sleep, and I spent hours on a rock in the river.
• The fun thing to happen was watching Tet Leon and Alex catching live prawns, fish and a crab. And that was when we found out that Suyin was terrified of live prawns. The look on her face is a classic that’ll be remembered for years. It was absolutely mean of me to torment her, but I couldn’t help it. Days later, I would name it penaeidaphobia—the fear of prawns—and place it in an article written by someone.
• Oh, and I helped the crab escape. When I held a prawn to Suyin, the crab clenched it’s claw on the prawn and somehow jumped out into the river and freedom.
• Later in the night, I was so hungry I went back to camp to cook pasta. But someone ate them all, and so I decided I to go to sleep to stop my tummy from grumbling. But because I hadn’t planned to sleep, I had no sleeping bag, no blanket, no long pants, and no tent for myself. I was cold I had to lie beside other human bodies, and snuck my hands and feet under other peoples’ sleeping bags.
• What do you expect? I couldn’t sleep well.
• Next morning, we all woke up at about 7am.
• At 8.24am, Amos, Nee On and Gin May showed up. Suyin had asked if they would be coming when they didn’t show up at the scheduled time. I told her that if I know them correctly, they’d reach the campsite at 8.30am. Six minutes was cutting it really close.
• The going up was pretty uneventful.
• At the gigantic rocks, Amos and I got to the top of the rockface for the first time. We left others to sit and rest and took off for a short detour.
• When we got down, everyone else had left. But I caught up with the rest when they took a longer route; they must have missed the trail and went on an extra 10 minute walk.
• The highlight of Bukit Kutu is to be on the rock at the summit. I’ve been there numerous times, and I didn’t go all the way up to the highest point this time. I was on the rock, looking at the distant hill and looking for the “other” bungalow Taiping Goh mentioned when we were at Pos Atap.
• I couldn’t distinguish anything through the canopy of trees. So I went down and hit the trail, searching for the bungalow all by myself. I couldn’t find it.
• I got back to the rocks and had a roti canai and a slice of bread.
• When it was time to get down the mountain, I took off and ran. I like running down mountains—to feel the rushing wind rush over me, and the need to have quick reflexes to avoid slippages, harmless rocks, stumps, roots and other objects of Nature that become dangerous obstacles and unfriendly weapons that hurt. I run. But no longer as fast as the wind. I am not fast as I used to be. Perhaps age has caught up with me. Sometimes I slow down to take an extra long breather. Perhaps I have mellowed and no longer take risks. Perhaps I’ve grown closer to Nature. These days, I slow down to pick up distracting pieces of garbage. Yet still I run—tired muscles I can handle; but to walk down is to slowly inject more pain into the knee.
• When I got down the mountain, Marshall, Tet Leon and Andrew were already down. One of them taunted me for being slower than them. I was too tired to pick a fight. The extra 20 minutes I spent on a detour drained me. When we started the journey down from the peak, I chose to run down without carrying water to drink; this bad habit could be the death of me in the future. Andrew was with me for the early part of the run. When we reached the gigantic rockface to wait for others to regroup, the two of had overtaken everyone else.
• When we continued the journey, Marshall and Tet Leon took off first. Andrew was with me for a while, but when I slowed down he follow the other two. I normally wouldn’t have let anyone go their own ways if I didn’t believe they could take care of themselves.
• Alone in the jungle, I decided I’d look for the shortcut I had used before (and which I couldn’t find last year), and didn’t want anyone with me. As I ran down hill, I found where the trail started (or ended depending on how you look at it). I went down the trail, and walked some 10 minutes through a faint path walled by thick undergrowth. I reached a stream, and I was still on the right path. Then it took a strange turn and started moving uphill to a place I didn’t recognise. Then I was standing in front of a jungle with no clear or faith path. I tried one path but came to a dead-end. I decided not try any other path in case I really got lost. I turned back; rejoined the main trail, and continued running down.
• And so it was that when I got out I was drained and overly thirsty. That was at about 2.55 pm.I was surprised that even with my detour, no one was ahead of me. I kept wondering: Were the others that slow?
Suyin Imitating a Live Prawn
• May, Suyin and Jenn showed up next. Then Amos, Gin May and Nee On showed up. Then I was surprised to see Marc-Andre come out because I thought he was sweeping. That was when we realized that someone could have been missing.
• At about 4.30pm I was running up the mountain with Marc-Andre behind me. Amos was on another trail up, too. Someone was missing and we were looking for him. Except for Brian on this same mountain years ago, no one else had gotten lost in my charge. I was worried for the kid, but at the same time, Amos and I knew that if the kid kept walking downhill or followed the river, he would get out. He wasn’t the first one to go missing on Bukit Kutu. Years ago, Bernadette had taken a different trail and followed a river out. Brian had pushed through a different trail (and nearly got out) before he turned back to the main trail.
• As we walked up the hill, we were shouting our lungs out. After a while tiredness kicked in and I slowed down. All I had for lunch was one roti canai and a slice of bread. Even in tiredness, Marc-Andre and I pushed on till we were quite close to the peak. We didn’t find who we were looking for and turned back at 6pm, hoping that Amos found him. On the way down, we heard Amos calling for us, and the missing one had gotten out by himself.
• I was angry, but also relieved.
• He came out with cuts on his arms and legs. Some thought it looked bad. I looked at the cuts and said they were only minor cuts and there wasn’t anything to worry about. I had seen worse.
• We got home late because of the search and the kid who went missing for a few hours. We left Kampung Pertak only at about 6.40pm when I estimated we could be leaving at about 4.30pm. A few of us missed important Mother’s Day dinner plans.
• We were dropped off at Sunway University College by a driver who was rushing for time to be at a wedding. I was so hungry, but still had to cycle home after that.
• At 10.30pm, in the company of a good friend, I ordered a huge plate of rice, with mutton curry, and vegetables enough to feed three people. I was so tired I couldn’t speak much. When I got home at about 12.30am I think I fainted.
• So much for Bukit Kutu. It’s 7-4-3-2 now. That’s for 7 attempts, 4 successful summits, 3 times I got lost, and 2 times someone got lost with me around.
Mummy Should Think With The Tummy Like Us
Kids at Tanglir River
It all started with Nee On inviting me to a waterfall a week ago. I was somewhat reluctant initially. I wanted to go up solo on a mountain, but then I also got a phone call about a possible photo shoot in Penang. So I kinda ding-donged Nee On quite a few times throughout the week–one day it’d be I’d go, then I won’t go, the next time I’d say I’ll go, followed quickly by a I can’t go and the whole lot of other phrases that only an indecisive person can concoct. I didn’t decide on what to do for the weekend until Friday night; the night before the trip.
My start time of 7am got postponed to 9am. The perfect excuse for the delay was that I had decided to pack my whole family in the car to join in the fun of playing at a waterfall. With kids coming along, there would be delay (quite naturally actually). Anyway, once we were on the journey, all was smooth sailing. I got to the Selesa Resort–the place where we parked out cars–about an hour later.
Together with Nee On, Amos, Amelia and Sherrie, my family and I started walking towards the waterfall. The journey would take us at least one hour, and I kept wondering how my kids would fare. We walked. And we walked. And we walked. Every so often, I’d try to distract their attention from focusing on the walk. “Look, there’s a snake. It’s dead on the road,” or a “Look! Pomelo’s on trees. Did you know they grow on trees?” (Nee On didn’t know. He thought they grew on the ground). I also went, “Did you see the busy bee?” or a “Wow! This is a vegetable farm. Do you think your friends have been on a farm?” But I soon heard, “Can you please carry me?”
Before I knew it, I was carrying weights as I walked up the slopes. Because I had two sets of weights, I had to rotate them every ten steps. These were not true ten steps, by the way; I was counting one step for every three to five steps I made. So I was like doing fifty steps with one load of weight, then put it down only to pick up the other weight instantly. I’d walk another fifty steps, and would change weights again. The whole process went on in many cycles. phew. It was a tiring workout indeed. This went on for quite a bit, and I was slowed down even further when I continued with the can you spot the river, leaves, water dropping like rain, beans and other things around you game. Soon, I lost sight of the four young people who seemed to just march on and on.
I wouldn’t have fallen very far behind if I didn’t have to stop to spur the other one on so often. We were still walking on slowly when a woman, probably in the mid-twenties, came into view. She was on a motorcycle coming in the opposite direction. She must have seen how tired the kids were, and took pity on them. She offered us a ride to the top of the farm, very close to where the waterfall was. I was ready to battle the slope, but my wife was excited about the ride. The offer accepted, my kids and my wife hopped on the motorcycle and got the ride up.
So I was left alone by myself; I wasn’t in the jungle, but I was alone on the trail. I had been released from my chains, and I sort of liked it. I looked at the lush greenery around me, and I let the sounds of the jungle–of rhythms of the cicadas, rustling leaves, distant roaring waters–ring in my ears. I took a few forced breaths, filling my lungs with the fresh air, and started walking again, picking up speed as I went on. In less than five minutes, I caught up with the four. Seems like Sherrie was a tired and had slowed a little down. I greeted them and kept on walking; I wanted to get to my kids and wife.
As I passed Amos, he made a remark to the effect that it was the wrong thing to teach my daughters. He was, of course, referring to the motorcycle ride. I wasn’t in the mood to argue; my kids were kids after all! And they’ve walked their fair share of the journey. Let them have some fun and the experience of riding a motorcycle. I haven’t said anything when Amelia came to my defence: “You don’t see Mr Tan on the bike. He’s still walking.” God bless her soul! I didn’t stop to say thank you, pretending not to have heard her. I just picked up speed–my walk turned into a slight jog–and I left them behind.
We weren’t very far from our destination, and pretty soon we were all playing in the water. The river wasn’t as calm as when I first visited the place. It looked like it had swelled somewhat after a rain, and the rapids were much faster. When we got in the water, we were dipping ourselves in really cold waters. I was expecting to head down to the main waterfall later in the day, so I didn’t bother to dunk my head in the river. Unfortunately for me, time sped on unknowingly and when we decided to descend to the waterfall, it was already getting a little late. Dark clouds were forming in the sky, and my family and I had to go home for a meeting. But Amos wanted to bring Nee On to see the waterfall. Amelia and Sherrie followed them. As for me and my family, we took the trail back to the car.
Once that decision was made, I was at it again: carrying weights in cycles. I tried to make my kids walk by distracting them from the trail. But the only thing that caught their imagination was when we walked pass the vegetable fields, and they got to see a flock of swallow take off and circled the sky a few times in unison. That was something new for them; and even though I have seen such sights before, I still marveled at the birds acrobatic-like act. After that entertaining act, I had to carry the kids again. Then light raindrops came a falling. We tried to speed up in our little walk, but the kids slowed us down. After walking quite a distance, a middle aged man in a jeep/4WD came from behind us. My wife stopped him and we all got a ride out. My kids sat at the back with baskets of freshly plucked four angle beans and French beans. My wife and I stood outside the jeep on a bumper bar, and held onto the railings like we were holding onto dear life. My kids thought we were having all the fun. Maybe we were, but the ride was a pretty short one as we’ve walked quite a considerable distance.
Once we were in the car, I attacked a packet of nasi lemak. I hadn’t eaten anything when we were at the waterfall. While my family were eating oranges and sausages (or more like feeding the fish in the river because the kids kept dropping them into the river!), I was taking photographs.
Just as I stuffed the last spoonful of nasi lemak into my mouth, I noticed one of the farm’s jeep/4WD coming to a halt in my rear window. In not more than seven minutes–even before I had adequately warmed the car seat–Amos, Nee On, Amelia and Sherrie were clumsily getting off the vehicle. Hah! Here was my chance to get back at Amos–for making his comment about the motorcycle ride earlier in the day, and for having the nerves to even ask someone to ferry him out now! I opened the car window, popped my head out and shouted at the top of my lungs, “Lemahlah, you all!”
Amos shouted back, “You walked out?”
“Yeah,” I said, not revealing that I didn’t walk out all the way. I thought I’d let the thought linger in his head for a while. At the same time, I had reversed the car onto the road and was ready to head home. I simply waved goodbye and I drove off.
I’ve been wanting to revisit Tanglir Falls since I first “discovered” this place in July 2007. Unlike Amos who has returned to the waterfall numerous times, I only got to it for the second time today. Then again, I didn’t get to it. Dark clouds hovering in the afternoon sky and a meeting with kindergarten teachers I had to attend in KL meant I had to leave before I got to the spectacular waterfall. I only spent time at the calmer cascades of the river above the waterfall today. It’s like I have yet to satiate my desires; and I’ll be wanting to go back to Tanglir Falls again.
The same night, I sent messages to Nee On and Amos–about me being a really sensitive guy because I had a mild sunburn, and a confession that I walked about 80% of the trail, and got a ride for the last 20%. I can’t tell a lie. I’m not wired that way. After a while, Amos came back with messages about him eaten alive by
mosqkwerties mosquitoes and leeches and “we walked 20% ride 80%…”
So much for toughing it out; all of us cheated a little today. Maybe some more than others, but the measure is inconsequential. The bottom line is we didn’t go all the way. The next time we head to Tanglir together, perhaps I’ll get Amos to race me up the slopes. I’m sure this wasn’t our last time.
Note: You can click on the first three images for a larger (and better looking) look. Trust me, the do look better.
Related Link: Tanglir Falls • 3 July 2007.
The spectacular Tanglir Falls
Amos and Bang Qin were dying of boredom as they waited for their semester break from Monash University Malaysia to run its course. To get excitement into their lives, and to save them from an untimely death, they thought up a plan: A Waterfall Hunt.
But the thought of two guys splashing water in the river didn’t sound too appealing to them. So they tried to get Nee On and I to join them. I was the easy one to get; they knew quite well I wouldn’t resist such a hunt. But Nee On succumbed to the pressures at work and decided to stay faithful to the company where he works.
So three guys—Amos, Bang Qin and I—were on the road looking for Tanglir Falls. Our search brought us to Kg. Bukit Tinggi, and we were walking under the mid-day sun on a clear day. It was a scorchingly hot day, and the idea of soaking under the rapids of a rushing waterfall was really appealing.
A plantation with French beans
Amos brought his new GPS toy, named Simon, for this trip. It was a good thing that he did because we had an idea of where we had to go. Throughout the journey, Amos monitored our progress, making sure we were heading in the right direction, whether it was North, South, East or West. We walked on tarred roads for about 2.5km; most of the time we were heading uphill. We passed by a pomelo farm, vegetable plantations of mainly French beans and banana trees planted sporadically, as we tried to get to our destination.
Simon Says… Photo by Bang Qin
The tarred roads eventually led us to some sort of a dead end—there were plantations all around on a hill and there were no more roads to walk on. There was no waterfall in sight, either. According to Amos’ GPS toy, we were only about 600m away. , through a valley and over a hill. Simply put, we had taken a wrong turn along the way, and had to backtrack nearly a kilometer before hitting the right road.
On the way out, we noticed the arrow on the road. If we had known better, and followed the arrow, we would have avoided walking uphill for over an hour!
The toy, showing exactly where we had to go, gave us some hope of finding the waterfall. Couple that with the fact that Nee On could be laughing his head off if we walked so far so long and not find a waterfall, we were determined to find the waterfall.
The serene river scene
Simon was spared from destruction (I was prepared to smash it in two with my parang), and we saved our inflated ego when we found the waterfall! We first went upstream and had a dip in the river. The river was clean and pristine, and the many cascades gave a very serene and scenic view. The water was really cool. And there was this gentle sloping section of hard rock, about 15 feet long, and carved smooth by the rushing waters over time, that gave us a little slide.
Bang Qin and Amos at one of the cascades
We didn’t stay very long there as we were to hunt down the waterfall. Pretty soon we were back on the road, looking for diverging paths that would lead us to the waterfall. We knew it was somewhere near; we heard the thunderous roar as water gushed down, and we had a glimpse of it on the way upstream. But we couldn’t find a direct route to the waterfall. I wanted to use my parang, which I had spent an hour sharpening at 1 after midnight two days earlier, and bushwhack my way down a steep slope, about 60 meters, to the waterfall.
Amos and Bang Qin talked some sense into me. We looked for alternate routes. On one of them, we came to a small waterfall with a nice big pool. We stood at the top edge of the waterfall and looked down. It wasn’t the waterfall we saw, so we just admired the fall, the pool below, and dared one another to make the first jump. No one jumped, and we were soon back on the road.
The buried man’s boots!
To get to the big waterfall, we walked between rows of French bean plants in a plantation, saw a buried man with legs in boots jutting out from the ground, hopped from rock to rock and waded in the river. When I set sight of the waterfall, I was in awe. Set against the sun in the background, I looked up at the water that came crashing down beautifully. It was truly a strong and spectacular fall.
Geromino! Photo by Amos Ho
Again, there were three guys splashing water in the river. We tested the depth of several spots in the pool beneath the falls. And I made the customary jump to add to my list of places where I’ve jumped into natural pools of water.
Seeing the waterfall, and making the jump really made my day. Too bad Nee On wasn’t around; he missed all the fun. For Amos and Bang Qin, they have lived for another day (whether they survive the rest of their semester break is none of my business. Hah!).
Tanglir Falls Overview
GPS Coordinates: N03° 22.53′ E101° 47.66′
The Chiling Waterfall is by far one of the more beautiful waterfalls I’ve been to; so much so that it’s the standard in which I use to consider the beauty of other waterfalls. While I do not claim the place as being “my backyard” as some others do, it is not a surprise that I’m drawn back to this place quite often.
One For The Album!
On March 17, 2007, I was back at the Chiling Waterfall again. This time I was in a group of 39 people. They were a great bunch of people. Regardless of nationality–there were Malaysians, Mongolians, Iranians, Chinese, Canadians, Indonesians and others–they were all singing, running and helping one another during the short trek to the waterfall. Once there, most of them were happily splashing in the water.
But in such a crowd, I found myself rather isolated and lonely. At first I thought it was the people.
This is, after all, the first time in ages that I’ve trekked without some of my usual trekking buddies. I hate to admit it, but I miss them. No matter how much I’ve try to mix about and rope in new people, I am not as accepting as I’d hope to be. So here I was, with 28 other people, and I didn’t seem to blend in. Yes, Leon was there. Kourosh was there. So I should have been able to enjoy the outing.
But somehow it just felt different. And I got to thinking.
Maybe it was the bus ride. Perhaps I’ve gotten so used to traveling at about 110km/h (plus plus) that the bus ride seemed like a slow journey to death (and it didn’t help that I was reading Falukner’s As I Lay Dying, while the bus driver popped in a lousy copy–a pirated DVD no doubt–of Ghost Rider for all to see). Being in the bus, I didn’t get the usual adrenaline rush for the fear of the car getting crushed in a high-speed accident, the stares from fellow passengers whenever a wrong turn is made, the stomach-shake-up I get from Amos’ driving on windy roads, or having the need to bear with the shrieks that comes when Nee On drives too close to another car or motorcyclist. The bus was slow, but I could live with that.
So if it’s not the people. It’s not the vehicle or the drivers. Then what?
It’s the place. For the first time, I have fears that Chiling Waterfall, and the surrounding area will be spoilt. As we were entering the trail, we saw 3 persons painting a newly built concrete archway that will serve to welcome visitors to the area. Then, as we approached the first river crossing, I saw the horror. More structures!
The sight of the newly built structures as seen from the trail.
A bridge to cross the river
With all these in place, it would seem the floodgate has been opened. More people will surely visit the place. And I fear that this place might turn into another Sg. Tekala or Sg. Chamang. I’ve always loved the Chiling Waterfall for it’s access into Nature. But the sight of these structures only remind me of a civilisation I long to forget. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. Now that it is here, I can only pray that Chiling Waterfall will not turn into a dump, or a an area choking for fresh air.
More Colour Photos