An M3... isn't she pretty? ;)
Behind, was Vincent (shhh... he is Eric's boss), Fei (the boss's wife) and Pui Voon (the boss's wife 'hiong har' friend), Hahaha... Ahead, leading the way in the champaigne gold colored Vios is Wei Han at the driver's seat (co-organizer), Jady (organizer), Ching Li, Yee Wei and our brand new friend, Jiun Hoe (from the UK, ok?! ;) and it's NOT Ulu Klang). Our first stop in this 2D1N camping/fishing trip is a common and familiar stoppover for us 'experienced' hikers Wei Han, Yee Wei and myself; that is the small quaint mountainside village of Kampung Bukit Tinggi, located along the Karak Highway pass Genting Sempah.
Kampung Bukit Tinggi by the Karak highway
Our regular wan tan mee shop
What is it that attracts us you might ask... well, it's none other than it's FAMOUS BBQ pork of course! Sold by a man from a motorcycle parked outside one of the village's hardware shops (don't worry, the village is small enough to the point you won't need to go around in circles looking for him), the crunchy, succulent slices of roasted and BBQ pork is a must have if you were to pass by this section of the Karak highway early in the morning.
Digging into Bukit Tinggi's famous char siew and siew yoke... in the PAST! ;)
By early, I meant EARLY. Because by the time we reached there at 930am, the man had already absconded himself (with his tasty slices of meat) for almost an hour already! :p Thereafter, resigned to the fact that we're not going to have a chance to savor this mountainside village's signature morning dish, we ended up instead having 'wan tan mee' served with some 'yong tau foo' at the side in the one same shop us hikers have always been going to in our waterfall adventures close to this particular portion of the Titiwangsa range.
No siew yoke this time around :p. It's gonna be wan tan mee alone...
There was a 'slight' delay in our departure from the village, as our 'weekend warrior', Eric, had to entertain a potential (couple of) million ringgit call from a buyer/seller of prime real estate. Not that Vincent is complaining though. ;)
Where's our driver? Why, he is busy trying to close a multi million ringgit deal!
The very fact that today was the Yang di Pertuan Agong's birthday wasn't going to deter millionaires and millionairesses from calling their friendly, neighbourhood real estate agent. 20 minutes later, we were back on the road leaving the East Coast Highway at the Temerloh exit pass noon. From here, we followed the signboards towards Bera Lake, passing Temerloh town itself and over the mighty Pahang river. Being the so called 'Patin/Tilapia' capital of Malaysia, there were no shortages of roadside stalls with signboards saying 'Patin/Tilapia untuk dijual (for sale)'.
You know you are in the Patin/Tilapia capital of Malaysia when you see signs like this dotting the roadside
Although curiosity (and a little bit of apprenhension) made us halt at one of these stalls eventually, we paused first in Temerloh town proper at an aquarium shop to stock up on bait.
Wei Han decided to change his reel line, while the other anglers went about their business as the ladies stopped to admire the fishes. *I* paid a courtesy call with Mother Nature, my 'iron' bowels strangely unable to hold its contents this trip. With me for company was a nest of GIANT daddy long legs, deceptively still as I 'desludged'. :p I left Temerloh feeling slightly 'lighter', the group of us stopping by the roadside at one of those many 'fish for sale' shops. With money to spend on buying some 'stand-in' fishies, there wasn't anybody to receive them! We lingered around the shop, looking at the swimming Patins in the pool and fending off the urge to commit a sin as we waited for someone to show up.
Nice little fishies swimming around in the basin unattended...
... while we fight the urge to commit a 'sin' ;)
We left empty handed after a good 15 minutes. Unfortunately, that was the very last shop on the road before the 'kampung' scenary gave way to oil palm plantations that dominated the landscape the rest of the journey on. From here, it took us another hour before we reached the Tasik Bera resort.
Our destination: The lake!
Here is worth noting that despite looking as if the lake is a short distance from the highway, in reality, it is almost 70km from Temerloh town, located perhaps close to Muadzam Shah by the Pahang/Johor border! We registered the drivers at the guardhouse on arrival prior to entering the lakeside itself.
Tasik Bera at last!
The small parking lot near the resort's restaurant was almost filled with cars when we arrived. Despite it's seclusion, it seems Tasik Bera still manages to attract it's share of visitors. Quite a number of the people that come here have fishing rods in one hand (and ominously nothing in the other :p) while the rest seems to be either school/university kids on holiday or families out for a camping/picnic stint by the lake. A concrete jetty was being built at the center of the resort, the all too familiar 'weighing scale' symbol adorning a wooden board showing details of the construction nearby (and advertising which political coalition is responsible for the 'development' perhaps?).
At the 'resort' with the rising jetty on the left...
A few chalets dot the resort, all of them booked if we are to hear what the counter staff is telling us rightly.
The chalets look relatively new although few in number...
As Wei Han paid our camping site fees, we unloaded our tents, foodstuff and bags, bringing our luggage to the cement platform that was to serve as our campsite first before venturing into the ONLY restaurant for our lunch. It was about 2:30pm in the hot afternoon. Lunch was served slowly, as the overwhelmed resort staff seemed to struggle to cook for 10 hungry people. Jady informed us after making some enquiries to the staff that there appears to be some logistics problems in the supply of cooked rice, the restaurant having to cook more of it to cater for us. After waiting for more than 30 minutes, we dig in hungrily into our stir fried ginger chicken, asam curry patin, mixed vegetables, tom yam soup and generous amounts of fried eggs.
Asam Fish! Yum... yum!
Bellies filled, we went back to the campsite to set up our night's abode before making a beeline to the boats that will take us to a small floating house nearby where we will finally fulfill our trip's primary objective and cast our lines for RM4/person.
Our campsite graced by our 4 leng luis... ;)
Beginning our fishing trip! Spirits are high... ;)
Our 'pre-booked' 'kelong' however appeared occupied as we got onboard, a group of Chinese guys were already there fishing.
The 'kelong' by the lake...
The boatman (and resort worker) apologized (?) to them and said that the place had been pre-booked, resulting in the removal of 2 of them into a small boat but leaving one other determined 'squatter' with us. Not that we minded of course, because like visitors to Rome, we observed what the 'Romans' did. Fishing for 'Toman', they were using lures made out of slabs of red meat while at the same time, sprinkling the surrounding waters with chopped slices of the same. Snatches of overheard conversation between Eric, Vincent and the dude chopping more of the red meat revealed that it was not of the 'halal' variety. :p The fact that they are fishing 'Toman' also revealed that there were probably no other variety of fish nearby, since this particular species of fish is known for it's aggresive and carnivourous tendencies. :p Eric was already outlining the 'doom' of our efforts as he revealed to us a recipe to prepare bait for Patin, consisting of a combination of chicken feed, flour and water.
Bait for Patin: Chicken feed, flour and water... too bad there aren't any to eat them :p
We nevertheless cast our lines anyway, using balls of the crushed mixture aforementioned with predictable results. We initially tried the recommended method of weighing the bait down so that we may catch the bottom feeding Patin, before some of us opting to switch strategies by either using crickets as bait instead or fishing closer to the surface using the bait balls in combination with a float. Of course, 'sifu' Eric had more than one trick up his sleeve when he pulled out his 'fly' (in fly I meant the plastic looking fish bait and not his imitation of being Michael Jackson :p). Telling us that he was out to catch 'Toman' like the other dudes, he casted it a few times into the waters close to growing marsh brushes beside our kelong. When I saw him suddenly changing his bait from the fancy RM14 'fly' to the much lower costing bait balls, he told me that 'a Toman bit his fly and ran off with it into the undergrowth'! (Yeah right! ;)) Yee Wei pointed me towards a cut line suscipiously snagged among the floating growth instead. Hahaha!
Mr Eric smirking as he thought he had 'fooled' me about his lost 'fly'... ;)
While the guys fished, the ladies occupied themselves chatting and taking photographs, with the exception of Jady and Jiun Hoe.
Beautiful ladies by the lake... :D
Commandeering a kayak for RM30, they paddled off towards the farthest reaches (they could manage) of the lake joining us at the kelong about 30-45 minutes later after we started fishing. Jady switched places with Pui Voon for an approximately shorter stint before the kayak returned for another lady to jump aboard.
'Macho' man Jiun Hoe showing Pui Voon his chivalrious nature...
Ching Li and Fei wasn't in the mood and Jady took Pui Voon's place again for a 2nd time. The 4th time the kayak returned, the sky was darkening ominously as lances of rain fell in the far distance. That prompted a call to return to land which was entertained by the waiting boatman by the shore. Jiun Hoe and his kayak returned with Jady, while the ladies hopped into the arriving boat. 'Sifu' Eric took the opportunity to jump together with them, leaving Yee Wei, Wei Han, Vincent and myself on the kelong to wait for the boat to return. The boat did not return because it's motor went bust! :p The 4 of us remaining could only watch in dismay as the boatman dismantled the motor to supposedly haul it off to the workshop for repairs, promising to return to get us. Minutes passed, then tens of minutes before we realized the guy wasn't coming back! :p In desperation, Vincent called Eric to search for the missing boatman or anybody onshore to get us off the kelong. From our vantage point, we saw Eric made a few rounds, sometimes holding his phone in an apparent attempt to get some help (right? ;)). The others also returned to the lakeside a number of times to observe as well. Eventually, knowing that the boat is not going to return anytime soon, I decided instead to reassemble my rod and cast again for those elusive patin.
Marooned in the middle of the lake, we have nothing else to do but cast our fishing lines into the water again...
The rest followed soon after with nothing much else to do. While we waited futilely for the fish to bite, we took photos of the gathering sunset with the SLR cameras which Wei Han has with him and Jady conveniently left behind. We were not really roused by the sound of the motor from the boat that was finally going to ferry us to our camp probably because we have already by then gotten numb by the frequent thru and fro goings of other boats whizzing away close to the center of the lake. But roused we eventually did and soon each one of us were boarding the small craft that will take us back. A 'slight' mishap occurred during that boarding rite which resulted in a wet SLR and a wet handphone among others, but I have been told not to elaborate beyond that. :p
Saved! (at least for most of us) ;)
Suffice to say, Jady's asset left behind with us was handed safely to her from my hands. ;) Our BBQ pit fire was already burning when the 4 of us reached camp, Jiun Hoe and the ladies diligently flipping and tossing the pieces of chicken wings and cocktails over the heated charcoals.
Iron chef Jiun Hoe showing his British culinary skills now...
Vincent, Yee Wei and myself took over from them to cook up the lamb and beef steaks while Wei Han went to shower off Tasik Bera. The washrooms, connected to one of the chalet units were amazingly CLEAN, having both bathrooms and toilets! We finished an entire bottle of Jack Daniel's Swing whiskey, greatly appreciating Mr. Eric's contribution while I pulled out my supply of Vodka to support.
Enjoying the fruits of our labor (minus the fish!)
... while Wei Han 'mourns' his lost... ;)
As the fires of our BBQ pit cooled and our stomachs filled (not to mention our bodies WASHED of course), we moved on to our favourite game of psychology which to me at least, meant nothing else but werewolves! ;)
Aw, come on! Werewolves isn't boring! :D :)
Our new 'addition' Jiun Hoe and Jady brought new 'spice' to our game, Jiun Hoe earning 'Sunday' as a nickname for being particularly prone to lycanthropy while Jady confounding the Gamemaster as she insisted on whacking an already very dead wolf with her trusty broomstick, TWICE. The role of rabble rouser and stake stoker that was usually filled by a certain long haired person was occupied instead by Eric. ;)
'Sifu' Eric in his element... ;)
Yee Wei, myself as well as some of the girls couldn't help notice the similarities. Conspicuously missing was Vincent, who was already having a date with the sandman. As usual, time flew by as we sent peasants and wolves to burn and soon it was time to go to join Vincent in dreamland. Well, at least most of us did. One particular person (whom I heard haven't camped in more than 10 years) had to sleep in his car instead, away from all the harmonious music (in which I was told I was a cellist) emanating around the campsite. :D
Sunset by the lake... BEAUTIFUL!
Our anglers, leng luis and renaissance man from Britain! ;) From left: Jady, Pui Voon, Yee Wei, Wei Han, Ching Li, Jiun Hoe, Vincent, the author and Eric.