Thursday, March 26, 2009

Endau Rompin Day 2 - Journey to Buaya Sangkut

Endau Rompin, Day 2.
I awoke to the sounds of clashing crockery, chattering conversations and quacking ducks. :) I reached out to my handphone to look at the time (my watch had since passed away during the Batu Maloi trip), it was close to 6:30am in the morning. 'Early' to some people but a 'luxury' for one who wakes up at 5:30am every other day of the week. :p

The night wasn't as cold as I thought despite opening up the tent flaps to let the jungle air in. Previous stays at sites in Taman Negara (Jerantut), Rumah Rehat Adeline (Gopeng), Mulu and Ledang provided much cooler experiences than this time. I have to admit, I was rather dissappointed at not having to cringe in my sleeping bag for warmth.

Crawling pass my still slumbering (and snoring) tent mate, I stepped out into the open to see the makeshift canteen filled with people. Some, were preparing their breakfast, others were just sitting around chatting with one laying lazily in his hammock blowing his duck whistle as he swayed left and right.

Dennis preparing breakfast ala 'K-9' :)
I really wasn't very hungry but realizing that with our 4 hour hike to Buaya Sangkut ahead of us, I'd better grab something to eat as well. First though, it is time to freshen up.
Reaching into my tent, I got out my bag filled with the 'essentials of civilization' (my shaving cream, shaver, toothpaste, toothbrush, facial cleanser, shampoo and body soap). I went over to the wash basin conveniently supplied with pumped river water and lighted with surprise, surprise, my propane latern. ;)
Once I have 'cleansed' myself, I head back into the tent to get out my breakfast: White Bread, Baked Beans and a serving of coffee.
With breakfast taken, I then prepared for the hike, filling my small sling bag with a bottle of 100 plus, and some bread. My tent mate, Maxx brought what's left of the baked beans, some snacks and a small bottle of water. He had chosen not to eat for fearing that it might cause discomfort during the upcoming hike.
Making the translation from Civilization to Jungle
At about 8:30am in the morning, we moved out, forming into teams which Aurelius had organized before the trip. I was slotted into Team 2, with Linus, Valerie, Aaron and Maxx. Henry, supposedly our team member, chose to stay behind citing that he had contracted a fever from the previous day's rain. We crossed over a suspension bridge, leaving behind our pale resemblance of civilization to venture into the dark, damp jungle on the other side.

Bridge on the River Kwai?
On the Suspension Bridge

It took us 45 minutes before we reached our first stop, another campsite where water thundered over large river rapids not so far away. Our initial journey had taken us along the sides of small hills and gulleys, ending with a march along the river side before we reached the campsite. Here, our group stopped to do the needy, washing away mud gathered along the way and plucking stray leeches that had hitch hiked for the ride.

River Rapids

A short rest and we were off, a steep hard climb immediately after our stop heralding the condition of the coming trek. A few members of our group were beginning to feel the strain taking it's toll on their legs, slowing down ever so frequently to rest and catch a few breaths. Gradually, our steady march became a slow slog as the team tried to move at the pace of our slowest members.

Signs to the next trek
A steep climb ahead!

At Takah Kunyit we stopped again, another hour in our 4 hour trek still beckoning before we reach Buaya Sangkut. Little more than a passing stream with a sprinkling of large boulders, Takah Kunyit isn't really suitable for prolonged frolicking other than just serving as another 'leech' stop.

Crossing Upeh Guling, poor Timmy :)

About 15 minutes and a couple of group photos later we moved again. This time however, our group cohesion begin to unravel as the faster moving members became more anxious to get to the falls. It wasn't long before the echoes of 'Hoo-Ha' and weird 'Quack-Quack' duck calls echoed through the jungle as members in the front and back try to find their relative locations. Throughout the journey, Aaron, Valerie and myself remained in the group while Linus being the 'Director of Photography' moved up and down the line taking photo shots when opportunity presents itself. Maxx though, being the maverick that he is was far ahead with the 'fast ones'.
Single file in the jungle

Exotic mushrooms on the jungle floor

Sometime later, the droning of cascading waters replaced the recurring hoarse howls, shrill whistles and incessant 'quack-quacks'. It was at once inspirational to those that were anxious to finish the trek as well as comforting to those members that were by now almost struggling against the physical protests from their aching legs. But the 'prize' demands one more last surge of effort however, there remained a very steep climb down to the base of the waterfall before the trail ends.
Buaya Sangkut Waterfalls

Finally I reached the famed Buaya Sangkut which appeared now to be a very large fall some distance away from where we found stepped out of the jungle path. As I approached the gathering team, those who arrived first were already doing the now familiar routine of checking and picking off leeches from their weary feet. To my dismay, I found even this close to the waterfall, leeches abound, taking note of one particularly HUGE one attempting to loop itself towards my Baygon poisoned shoes. There was no doubt perhaps that these critters might have been carelessly disposed off by our members to the surroundings instead of throwing them directly into the rushing waters nearby. I therefore quickly chose this nearby boulder protruding out of the flowing waters to be where I shall laid down my bag and dry my wet socks. It's a sure bet than anything else that no rogue leech is going to find it's way across the water and slip into my shoes/socks/bag here.
With my stuff laid out to take advantage of the afternoon sun beaming down onto us, I proceeded to take a dip in the cool waters.

Ave 'Imperator (Marcus)' Aurelius!

At length, there were frantic exchanges between Aurelius, Linus, Dennis and a few others on the lost of team cohesion as we neared the waterfall earlier on. I gave my two cents worth before quickly retreating into the shelter provided by the cascading waters when I sense a little tension building up among the participants. ;) Well, I figure I have had enough 'training' in diplomacy and conflict management while in office already to eschew additional 'on-site' training.

Jungle Hair Saloon...

Eating Apples in the water

Linus making sure something is not wiggling inside his pants...

This is better than going to the spa!

Cam Whoring in the extreme
As temperatures (and tempers) go down, our members begin to frolick in the waters despite being pretty much confined to the banks. The center of the torrent had a pretty strong current so none of us dared to venture close to risk being battered by rocks and boulders downstream (which reminded me of my river rafting escapade in Gopeng that bestowed upon me this gigantic bruise).

Me bruise (from River Boarding trip in Gopeng)

Returning to Mother Nature... Fertilizing the plants

Yee Wei and our Orang Asli guides
Overall we spent a little bit more than an hour at Buaya Sangkut, taking photos, bathing, washing, getting a good massage pressing our bodies against the rushing waters, having lunch or simply just lying down among the boulders basking in the sun. Eventually, the call to muster finally came and we were soon up the steep climb from the base of the waterfall.

Returning from Buaya Sangkut

At the top of the climb we decided to make a short detour, trekking to a vantage point where the waters begins it's cascade down and taking a few photos for posterity.

Top of Buaya Sangkut Falls

Having done so, we begin our trek back in earnest.

Like clockwork, the skies opened up to dump rain onto us in the late afternoon, right at the moment we neared Takah Kunyit. Again, some of us choose to don their rain jackets and again, I choose not to do the same so that I may keep myself nimble. I had to seriously reconsider my decision when the constant trickle became a constant torrential downpour, the force of it strong enough to penetrate even the thick jungle foliage.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day! (Too late)

Taking a page from the Orang Asli survival guide, I cut down a leaf from a jungle fan and fashioned myself an umbrella. It was a crude construction and a far cry from the one crafted by our orang asli guide for one of our female members, but it serves it's function. :)

The rain abated shortly before we reached the campsite by the river rapids. Relieved members headed towards the rushing waters, plunging into it but staying close to the edge to cool themselves down after the 3 hour hike. It was a completely unplanned stop but I guess Aurelius himself needed the break and therefore spared ourselves from further tongue lashing! :)

Return to River Rapids

We returned to our campsite shortly before nightfall, everyone of us eager to find out whether our 'sole survivor' left at the site had the sense to zip up our tents to shelter the interior from the earlier downpour. He was conferred the title 'King' (King Henry I, get it? ;)) when they discovered he did not.

King Henry VIII (see the resemblance?)

Fortunately, Maxx and I were spared the brunt of the deluge that inundated the other tents, thanks to the 'verandah' he had constructed the day before. Some water did come in but his much lamented flood didn't look as bad as it sounds. Others weren't so lucky. A few tents had to be completely up ended to remove the rain water trapped within... ;)

Not long after drying our tents came the call to venture to another place within the park to supposedly take a nice, relaxing shower. Selling it off with facilities including chalets, showers, swimming pools and fully lighted toilets, Aurelius enticed a small detachment of us to visit Tasik Air Biru as dusk begins to set in.

Distances from Kuala Marong

Admitedly, I was VERY sceptical (I'd rather put my money on aliens coming down from flying saucers than a cleverly hidden 'resort' 500m from our campsite), but I went anyway if not to get myself properly cleaned, at least to check out this new place in the park.

Braving leeches with my now sandaled feet we arrived at this completely deserted natural pool about 15 minutes later. As expected, instead of a well furnished resort, all there were was this wooden hut by the side of the pool to greet us as we arrived.

Jungle 'friend' ever waiting to give me a blood soaked 'kiss'

Those that didn't mind jumped into the pool to bathe while the ones really expecting to see a resort and equipping themselves to actually go into one, ending up dissappointed, turning around to head back to the camp.

Tasik Air Biru and protecting their 'modesty'

We spent about 30 minutes there, bathing in the aquamarine waters before the threatening dark forced us to head back.

On arrival at the campsite it is finally time for dinner.

Tonight's menu was dry Indo Mee Goreng, pickled chinese vegetables and spam, once more a Spartan's meal compared to those cooked up by Audrey and Charlene. Charlene conjured up more rice with various canned sauces and meats for accompaniment while Audrey and gang manifested another banquet comprising spaghetti carbonara and ABC soup!

Chef Charlene in action, "Rice anyone?"

Dinner dispensed with, it's time for a shower.

Despite already sort of having 'bathed' at the 'blue' pool, I just couldn't shake off that 'sticky' feeling that requires me to clean myself with a proper shampoo and soap. So, with eyes peeled wide open and bated breath, I braved another round in the wooden shower stalls.

Nightfall brought new things to do for idle minds. With the power of delayed screen capture technology and vast experiences with optical tricks, Linus and Dennis created some magic.

Harry Potter?

The day's activities ended with another bout of 'werewolves', this time with a much larger participation than the night before, requiring the introduction of a new character, 'The little girl'. Valerie, our previous night's game master and originator of the game was too tired to play so the task of managing the game fell onto Aaron's shoulders. The 'little girl' character was HIS idea! :)With the addition of Linus, Aurelius and Vit Ping, the game became even more hilarious. Cheers and jeers punctuating the silence of the jungle night as villagers burn and wolves running scot free.

La Nina (The Little Girl)

Shortly pass midnight, we all called it a day, reluctantly relinquishing our biological pestering to rest and recuperate our aching and tired limbs, although at least not after round after round of "last games". ;)

1 comment:

  1. This is def a joy to read! With ur eye for detail and such vivid descriptions, this certainly echoed the fun and laughter we had throughout our enriching adventure.

    PS Taking this together w the post on Day 1, it does look like u r rather ‘attached’ to leeches ;)