By a sheer stroke of luck, unforeseeable incidents that occurred, and reasonable decisions made in the morning, a possible arduous trek up a mountain was turned into an almost free and easy outing at Sungai Chiling. Trekking up a mountain this weekend–be it Gunung Bujang Melaka or Bukit Kutu–was just not meant to be.
Sungai Chiling Waterfall. © Nee On.
Sungai Chiling has now joined the ranks as one of my favourite destinations. This was my third time in twelve months. My first was in September 2005 when I camped overnight (with Jing Zi, Enid, Noelle, Samuel, Ben, Daniel, Tseng Yang, Mark and my two faithfuls Nee On & Adrian). Then, I only knew of one of the three waterfalls. The second visit took place in February 2006 (with Nee On, Adrian, Amos, Candice & Noelle) when I decided to make a return trip to capture images of the three falls.
This time there were 17 others with me: Don Mah, Nee On (I believe this is his fourth trip to Sungai Chiling in 12 months!), Leon, Marianne, Ker Soon, Nee “Nissan” Sern, “Pinocchio” Amir, Judith, “Sunshine” Kourosh, Gabriena, Kamini, Faris, Carolina, Joe, Wai Chien, Farah “Nanii” Hanani, and Kelly “Mitshibushi”. Wait, there is one more; there were 18 people with me. There’s Nisita, too (it’s funny how I keep missing her out in my count).
Quite a bit happened in the 12 hours of this trip. Rather than write a chronological account of everything that happened, here are seven selected highlights of the trip:
1. SOME TRADITIONS LAST A LIFETIME
Everyone who went was gathered at Sunway University College by 7:15 a.m. It was then that I got the worse type of 11th hour disaster news: I lost a car as transport. Into panic mode
we I went, but I still kept my cool (I’m sure of that). Thankfully, there was Judith who came to the rescue. All she had to do was to get home so she could drive her car and provide us with a transport. It was that simple; it was done. So when we left the campus for the road trip, we were fashionably late by more than an hour. After all these years, one of the hallmarks of the CIMP Trekking Club tradition remains: If we’re providing our own transport, we’ll always be late.
Photo by Nee On.
2. BLAME THE DELAY ON THE ROTI SARDIN!
It was not intentional that all the girls would cluster together and leave the guys at other tables. After putting in our order, it seems the cooks at this restaurant have a gender bias. After a speedy delivery of Kelly’s mee goreng, the rest of the girls got their roti telur and roti canai. Then everyone else had to wait and wait. Thet meant that the guys had to wait and wait. And it didn’t help that I ordered a roti sardin that seemed to have taken almost forever to cooked. We spent some 40 minutes at the restaurant (should have taken a photo of the place!) before we got on our way. The cooks in Kuala Kubu Bahru seemed not to have ever anticipated such a flood of human bodies, and so were slow. And so it was that this long wait for food brought about a delay that eventually swayed the decision to switch destinations.
The Girls Eat. © Kourosh.
The Guys Wait and Wait and Wait. Photo by Kourosh.
One more thing: After the waterfall, we returned to this same restaurant for a quick bite and drink. Most of us dared not order any rotis. At one point, Nee On was looking for the toilet. He looked around, and saw the word TOSAI written on a piece of paper pasted above a mirror and sink. From now on, few of us–and especially Nee On–will never think of
toilet TOSAI the same way ever again.
3. SWIMMING SLIPPERS
POT1 13: Some Things Are Just Meant To Be Left Alone To Drift
Carolina slipped at the second river crossing and her pair of slippers got swept by the current. I saw that her had another pair of shoes in her hands and was prepared to just let those slippers drift. But, no. Don “the horse” Mah wasn’t going to let those slippers go. He saw the first slipper drift and immediately ran after it. What was I supposed to do? I followed after him. I just couldn’t let the old horse get all the glory, right? Then I saw Carolina had let loose the second slipper, too, and it was moving quickly downstream near the other bank of the river. So Don chased after one slipper while I kept an eye on the other one. We chased after the slippers for some some 250 meters in the river. Don caught both slippers. Bravo for him!
Some twenty minutes later, the entire group was gathered at the fourth river crossing. Kelly had sprained her ankle and was resting when she said, “Ask Nee On what happened.” Nee On said that they had slowed down because he was chasing after one of Kelly’s slipper in the river. My reply, “Yeah, right. You were not the only one doing that.” On this one trek, three trekking veterans were chasing after a slipper each for about the same distance at about the same time at different places.
Next time, I’m just going to let things drift away.
4 THE CLIMBS, SLIPS, JUMPS AND DIVES
The water at the deepest point is only about 6 feet deep at the waterfall. Not really deep enough for
one me to dive in. But having jumped into that pool of water at Gunung Bujang Melaka, I didn’t think this pool would pose much of a problem. I just had to lift my legs a little higher.
Nee On and his brother started the jumps. I went next. To get to the jumping platform, one had to climb up a near-40-¦ slope of wet slippery surface of hard rock. Nee On had no problems going up. Neither did Ker Soon and I because we were used to climbing outdoors. Almost instinctively, we knew where to plant our fingers and toes in the little cracks in the rock. Knowing how to climb does come in handy in such
tricky slippery situations. But the others had difficulty. And it was a laugh seeing a number of them slipping off the rock and sliding into the water below them.
Once on the platform, the only way down is to jump. Or in some cases, get pushed by someone from behind. Grrr! Nee On pushed me once and I will have my revenge next time! In total, I went into the water about six, maybe seven times.
On the way to the Jumping Platform, “Sunshine” slipped and slided down the slippery wet slope right after this picture was taken. Photo © Nee On.
As much fun as it seems I was having, I really hate jumping into the water. I am scared of getting in the water–probably because I nearly drowned when I was a really little kid, but that’s a story for another time. I still do it anyway. Maybe I’m trying to get over the fear. Maybe that is why I give a loud yelp when I jumped (see a 1 second video of me jumping captured by Kelly) Maybe I jumped again and again just so everyone else would try it, too.
Jumping into the water can be quite quite infectious, and many followed suit. For some–like Kourosh, Amir, Nisita, and Farah–they jumped into a natural pool of water for the first time in their lives. But try as I might, I couldn’t convince Don and Leon to jump. Instead they took it upon themselves to fight the current to get to the waterfall’s drop point. They waved their arms and kicked so hard they could have won any 100m swim competition; but against the current they did not move. It was a stunt that was not worth doing. So there I was, aged 3_ jumping into the water with the 17-18 year olds. Pretty soon, some of there were doing sommersaults and landing on their backs. Ouch! I’m not sure if it made me feel like a kid, or it made them all feel like some aged-old adult. It was fun though.
“Pinocchio” Goes “Geromino!” © Nee On.
5. TMC’s PASTA SHOPPE REOPENS FOR BUSINESS!
As with most overnight trips, it has become somewhat of a ritual that I concoct some pasta sauce. Because I had bought ingredients for the now-postponed Gunung Bujang Melaka overnighter meal , I thought I’d just cook anyway. I finished cooking at 1 a.m the night (or early morning) before, but waited until 2 a.m before I packed 3 servings into the freezer for the trip.
Nee On had the honour of boiling the pasta. He wanted to cook in some secluded shady corner, but when I saw that I pulled him and everything — ingredient and utensils — and placed them onto a rock. Long ago, I subscribed to the thought that humans lived to eat, not eat to live. And so it is that if we were to demonstrate the art of eating camping food, we had better eat in style! Once set upon the rock, all we had to do was cook and eat for the world to see.
Little did I realise that it was pretty windy on the rock. Nee On tried to tell me that that was why he hid where he hid. I chose not to listen because it would have been too embarrassing to return to the secluded corner.
Ker Soon Savouring Every Bite. © Nee On..
I quickly got Nee On and Kelly to help form a human shield so we could get a fire going on the stove. However before we started a fire, Nee On put the pasta into the water. Oh well, at least it’s not as bad as boiling water without putting water into the mesh tin. We’re out camping, so we will eat whatever. Plus we were on a rock. We had to keep our cool in front of everyone; and we did.
But I was not prepared for the next thing. The fire was going great. The pasta was going limp in the water. And we had no fork to stir the pasta. I had a knife we could use. But after it’s cooked, how were we to eat? I shouted to ask if anyone had a fork. No one. A spoon? No one. Chopsticks? No one. Aargh! What kinda trekkers do I have with me? Gabriena had a butter knife (she lugged a bottle of peanut butter for her sandwiches). Wow! Do we need such display of enthusiasm now? But I have my Victorinox; I don’t need a butter knife! I need a fork! Finally, Amir held up a little spoon (slightly larger than a teaspoon). Aaah. There is hope yet for this group.
The Pasta Shoppe & It’s Iranian Competitor. © Nee On.
I brought in enough pasta for three but there were more than enough for many more. The two Iranians–Kourosh and Amir–brought in unleavened pita bread and some processed Iranian food. I have no idea what they are called, or what went into making those food. I saw some beans, and wow, that’s all I recognise. Anyway, they tasted OK so we all shared our food and ate.
6. 45 KILOGRAMS BEHIND MY BACK
The first person I ever carried in the jungle was Jing Zi at Bukit Kutu. I didn’t think I’d have do such a stunt again. But when Kelly hurt her ankle, I gave her a piggyback ride across the fourth river as we headed for the falls earlier in the day. Against all advise given, Kelly insisted of hiking up a sleep slope with her sprained ankle to be with everyone at the third (highest accessible) waterfall. She was fine when she got up, but she must have hurt her ankle while coming down.
Kelly’s Ankle in a Compression Wrap. © Kourosh.
By the time she limped to the first river on the way out, she could hardly walk already. There were five of us “accompanying” her at the tail end of the group — Kourosh, Amir, Nee San, Ker Soon and I. Everyone had a backpack except me. So I was the obvious choice to give her a piggyback. I crossed the river with this extra weight behind my back. I asked her how heavy she was. She said, “45 kilograms.” That’s not too heavy. Then I thought, the exit ain’t that far from here and it’ll be so much faster if I just carried her. I didn’t let her down after I crossed the river. She got a 15-minute ride on my back all the way from the first river to the car.
That night, I took Kelly to the Sunway Medical Centre to get a check on her swelling sprained ankle. It was her first time at the hospital, and so she had to fill up a registration form. She was still at an age that require a guardian. It was already 10 p.m. and she wasn’t from around KL. I was there with her, so the nurse conveniently took down my name and phone number. Then she wrote “guardian” or something like that next to my name on the form. I tried to protest but the nurse basically ignored me. Great. Just great. I’ve adopted an annoying 45kg little girl into my family.
7. BALANCING ROCK ART
The Art of Balancing Rocks by the Waterfall. © Nee On.
Rock Sculpture I. © Kourosh.
Rock Sculpture II. © Kourosh.
Don at the Rock Museum. © Nee On.
There were many incidents on this trip, but I chose to only feature 7 selected highlights. I guess some incidents will be etched only in memories. Perhaps some others will write about other things that happened. Perhaps some day, someone will make a documentary recording of events of the day.
Speaking of which, I got the Leon Varga’s version of the Klang Gates story on tape now. Whoo-Hoo! I had wanted to record this story for the last two weeks, and I finally got it. However, time and the retelling of the story in front of camera seem to have diminished the impact of the story somewhat. It’s still great listening to it; I always get a good laugh.
1 POT=Philosophy of Trekking
Nisita’s Version: “Chillin’ @ Sungai Chilling on Saturday”.
Farah Hanani’s Version: “Old Stuff, New Perspective”.
Ker Soon’s Version: “Something I Love To Do All The Time…”.