Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kenong Rimba Day 1 - Wilderness Untouched

Kenong Rimba (http://www.about-malaysia.com/pahang/nature-kenong-rimba-park.htm), I've always wanted to visit this place for the longest of times. Finding it on the internet a year ago when all those common 'go to' places for hiking has been covered, it is one of those places that few people knew, much less visit, although it is barely an hour's drive away from Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
Sungai Jelai at Kuala Kenong Jetty
Planning for this trip was difficult to say the least. The local forestry office wasn't very helpful. The few calls I made for recommendations to get a guide was always redirected to this hotel operator in Kuala Lipis instead, which apparently wasn't shy in making it compulsory for all visitors to the place to stay at their hotel, one thing which I had not wanted to do! As for the handful of tour operators I can find on the net that mentions this place, almost 70% of them don't go to that place anymore for whatever reasons, others didn't even bother to reply to my quiries. To this end I narrowed down my choice to two operators: http://www.journeymalaysia.com/ or http://www.my-greenpark.com/. Both I asked for an itinerary and quotation with the emphasis on lower cost, more camping time and a visit to their 'famed' seven step waterfall, Lata Tujuh.
The Cooling Waters of Lata Tujuh

Of the two, the package offered by my-greenpark was the cheaper, costing us RM290/person for a 3D/2N trip. It's a 100% camping package with food provided and a very flexible timetable to accommadate activities ranging from the waterfall visit to exploring the caves around the park. The other offer from journeymalaysia was almost similar in content except for the part where we would have to stay in the chalet. It costs more at RM368/person with only a measly RM10/person discount if we could find 15 people to join the trip. This is perhaps a little beyond the budget of most people and I was actually thankful to get the final 10 brave adventurers that can afford the RM290/person package. A large number of Trail Trackers (TT) opted to skip this trip because of the high(?) price, rendering this trip a 40% TT venture (Henry, Timmy, Yee Wei and myself from TT). The rest of the group consisted of my friends almost exclusively! (Wei Han, Vincent, Yap, Cheah, Patrick, William) :p There were no girls in this trip (probably because they were lining up to gawk at Wang Lee Hom?) which drew more a few rants from a certain member in the group (you know who you are!) about their apparent absence. :p Our adventure started off on the morning of May 1st (Labor Day) with our usual gathering at the TT HQ in TTDI. There was a slight twist. There were two groups of TTs meeting there today but going in different directions! Apparently, Aurelius had organized another trip to Strata Falls that very same day (http://dennis830.blogspot.com/2009/01/conquering-strata-falls-part-1.html) for the benefit of those members that couldn't go for the Kenong trip (which incidently had GIRLS!). ;)
Gathering at TTDI

After gathering up the members that ARE going and bidding farewell to those that are not, our convoy of 3 cars headed toward Janda Baik for breakfast where we had wan tan mee and 'siew yoke' at our now regular store there.
Our usual 'non-halal' breakfast at Janda Baik. Siew Yoke anyone?

By 8:30am, we were off again, our destination, Kuala Lipis, where we are to rendevous with our guide, Encik Azam Abdul Rahman (019-9657388) at 10:00am. On reaching Kuala Lipis, however, we were told by Encik Azam that he was still doing some last minute shopping, therefore we took the opportunity to explore the small town in the interim. Timmy was our 'guide' for this segment, the place being his mother's hometown.
Medan Tangga food court in Kuala Lipis

He took us to this place called Medan Tangga where they sold their famous Hakka Noodles before having us pack another famous Kuala Lipis speciality, rendang kerbau/ayam.
Kuala Lipis's Hakka Noodle

Timmy certainly isn't complaining...

At 12:30pm we were at the jetty, waiting for the boatman to take us to the starting point of our trail, a 2 hour hike to the base camp in Kenong Rimba beckoning ahead. Unfortunately, there was a slight miscommunication between Encik Azam and his appointed boatman because we were still waiting for our transport across the Jelai river at 2:00pm!
Lazing the time away at the Kuala Kenong Jetty

Our first 'casualty', Wei Han scratched his knee climbing up the jetty stairs

In between this, we had our packed lunch consisting of simple malay rice with fish, supplementing it with our packed Kuala Lipis rendang, which I found to be exceedingly 'rich' though still mouth wateringly tasty ("You can't get this in Kuala Lumpur!" so says Timmy :))
Getting to board the boat

Bon Voyage!

A nightmare to some... a boatful of 'pendatang' Ah Sing(?)

At last when the villagers across the river begin to file back onto their boats after Friday prayers to get back home, Encik Azam managed to arrange for us all to hitch a ride, our Kenong adventure starting at close to 3:00pm in the afternoon when we reached the jetty on the other side. By now the sun was high overhead, radiating its intense heat onto us as we started off from the jetty, initially travelling on a small tar road with hardly a shade in sight.
Reaching the jetty at Kampung Kenong

Marching out in the midday sun... HOT!

Passing scattered kampung houses, fields and avoiding one too many mounds of turd, we turned into a small side road near a cow pen, finally reaching the edge of the jungle.
A minefield of turd

We proceeded in, leeches immediately making their presence felt in the barely trodden leaf covered paths.
Our good friend is back! :p

We stopped by two caves on the way, one whose unique double tiered feature resembled something out of Flinstones, the other a yawning opening with a high ceiling which we went through to get to our camp.
At the cave

Cave dweller? What is he doing?

We approached the base camp as the clock struck 5:30pm. From a distance, the place looked very civilized, with nicely built chalets, roofed sheds and sturdily built sheltered meeting areas. Close up, we discovered that most of the place is under construction and tapped water supply was almost non existent.
Arriving at Kenong Rimba Base Camp

The fabled Kesong 'cafe', much mentioned in various packages is nowhere in sight. A small hut with a rudimentary kitchen, two long sitting benches complimented by a wooden table and a small black water tank was available in it's place but don't expect to get any lattes or milk shakes from this place soon. ;) The evening call of the cicadas signaled the coming of dusk. We set up our tents beneath the ledge of a limestone hill which the people here still labelled it as 'Gua' Kesong.
Setting up camp in 'Gua' Kesong

Once that is done, it was time to cleanse ourselves of the jungle filth by dipping ourselves in the Kesong river, a small running stream located within the perimeter of the camp. The whirring buzz of diesel generators echoing into the night meant that the gathering darkness was conveniently dispelled by the glow of fluorescent lamps, at least around the buildings that is. At the cave however, we had to eat by lamp light, dinner consisting of fried eggs, sardine fish curry and rice, cooked up by our guides.
Yap absorbing some jungle lore from Encik Azam

Getting ready to eat!

Henry, who was probably exhausted by the hike slept early, starting his own 'generator' that emanated vibrations that literally 'shook' half the camp. ;) The rest settled down into a game of werewolves, officiated by yours truly at one of the meeting sheds. ;) One of our guides, K, joined in and from the looks of it instantly got hooked. Wei Han attempted to introduce us to 'Mafia' but from the verdict of the other players, it looks like it wouldn't catch on as regular TT night event anytime soon. ;) In between, there was a short break as a group of the players split off to do some Night Trekking. Having done a few before this, I had realized that these activities were nothing more dramatic than a stroll around the campsite looking for insects and stuff, so I skipped it with 5 others. The ones that went reported seeing 'cicak', bugs and all that... *YAWWWWNNNN* :p
Cicak in the dark! :)

When they got back, the sandman had attempted to put me to sleep more than a couple of times already. A couple rounds of Mafia and I was yawning away like an insomniac. Not surprising also because it was already close to 1:00am by then. Therefore it was time to file to our billeted tents, my night sleep punctuated by an orchestra of snores by my tent mates (with the exception of Yee Wei) as I gathered my energy for the coming hike to Lata Tujuh in the morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment