Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Belum (Or Sudah?): Day 2: Walking along the banks of Perak River

Day 2 of Belum begins slowly, the coolness of the night lingering into mid-morning. Some of us had already woken by the time I stepped out of the tent, preparing their morning breakfast which was NOT included in our package. :p I've brought my simple meal of Indo Mee and some satchets of milo. Linus, Carol and Sum did not. ;) Of course seeing our fellow adventurers 'without food', some of us with excess generously donated ours to them ;). Wei Han and Jiun Hoe had another round of 'oriental' meal, while Kam Keong and Cheah also had their share of instant noodles.
Breakfast at Sungai Papan campsite

At close to 9:30am, we moved out of camp, prepared and ready for our next 'adventure'. That 'adventure' was a conveniently short boat ride ACROSS the river. We landed by a large rock, a small trail leading out along the riverside. Apparently, this appears also to be a frequent camping site for the Malaysian Army, courtesy of the many discarded satchets of sugar, creamer and sorts strewn about the rocky outcrop, all marked with 'Kementerian Pertahanan Malaysia'. We continued along the track, single file, hugging the side of the river pass tall grasses filled with those thorny seed pollens that sticks to your socks.
Riverside flora...

Again there was little use of my 'parang', although I did take a few swings just for show. ;) I wondered where were we heading, hoping that we would make a turn soon into the cool comfort of the jungle canopy, away from the heat of the rising sun. More discarded satchets led the way to another camping site, this time a shaded clearing with evidence of wooden makeshift shelters and camp fire pits. We paused here for a while, dipping our feet in the cool waters of a nearby stream that crossed our trail.

We moved on, following a pause of 15 minutes, still hugging the side of the river. After an hour of walking the guide motioned for us to stop and unceremoniously declared that 'this is the furthest' we can go! I looked around taking in our 'destination' and was disappointed. :p Aside from a shallow riverbed sprinkled with water logged tree trunks here and there, there was nothing else!
The end of the road?! @_@

I guess, if it was to just swim in the river waters, we could have just as well done the same at the campsite. The 1 hour plus walk was really for nothing except to burn our exposed flesh in the hot sun! :p Unconvinced, some of us asked the guide whether this is truly the end of the trail and whether this is 'all' that there is offered for the trail.

The guide's answer was unsurprising, we couldn't venture anywhere from the trail because the whole area is in an army zone and we cannot wander anywhere else :p. GREAT! Therefore, we put down our small packs and made the best out of what we have, taking a dip in the river waters and frolick among the fallen tree branches.

Making the best out of what we have... 'mandi lor'... :p

We spent about 30 minutes there before we turned around. We paused at the stream close to the army camp site for another dip, seeing that there is really nothing else to do except to 'wash' ourselves.
A nice shallow stream with fast running water for a welcomed dip!

The stream here was a better 'wash' point compared to the end of the trail, with a small cascade located not far from where it connected to the river. Lured by the cool, clean, running waters as well as the cool tree shaded surroundings, we spent about an hour here to soak ourselves.
Cool jungle shade, running water... what else does Tarzan and Jane need? ;)

We took a number of photos while some (Sum (pun intended) and Jiun Hoe) delved in more 'imaginative' activities...
Jiun Hoe bravely (or more likely unknowingly) putting the 'acorns' over his eyes after Sum placed it somewhere over his 'nether' regions... :p Hahahahah!

It was a little pass noon when we got to our boat, the guide ready to take us back to the our camp site across the river. I guess we had still plenty of time to kill because we were back in the waters again floating down the gentle river current. Linus had the wonderful idea of giving Sum a chance to get on an Orang Asli river raft to take photos to which we asked our guide to enquire the community down river whether we can borrow it for the shoot.

Not surprisingly (again :p), such 'facilities' weren't free. As we were still floating in the water, the guide returned to tell us that the use of their simple bamboo raft would make us poorer by RM100.00. Wow! Even a ride in Sunway Lagoon won't cost us that much! :p Most of us were immediately cool to the thought but Linus asked for the guide to negotiate. They went off and returned, this time the price dropped to RM75.00. ;)

At this point, some of us had made up their minds that the price for Sum's photo op isn't really worth it and the answer we gave back to the guide was a firm 'NO'. We were still floating in the water when the guide came back one more time, with an offer of RM28.00 for the raft! A 400% discount (from the initial RM100.00)! Gosh, I guess even in the depths of the jungle, there are still people trying to pull the wool out of our eyes! :p Thank goodness no one took up the offer.
An Orang Asli. Despite living in the jungle, they can be pretty entrepeneurial!

After floating about for perhaps an hour, we moved onto that boulder sticking out close to the middle of the river, for a moment to sit around as the river water dripped off our bodies. We made some idle chatter before attempting to explore the depth of the sand bed around the boulder. Yeah, we were THAT BORED. ;)

Finally, I decided that I've had enough of soaking and swam back to the river bank. Some followed while some others lingered on. We prepared our lunch soon after. For the rest of the evening, we loitered around the camp site, the overcast sky threatening another bout of drenching rain.
Loitering the afternoon away...

A few boats packed with soldiers passed by and we waved at them. Most probably they were headed to the trail we hiked earlier, to conduct their patrols. Soupy Ginseng Noodles was on the menu tonight, which was another of Wei Han's discoveries from his Tahan trip. Yummy... ;)(Ok, I am being sarcastic :p Sorry ;)). Thank goodness we had some freshly fried eggs to supplement!

As night fell, we took refuge beneath our 'pavillion', Linus challenging me to a game of Chinese Chess while Kam Keong, Wei Han, Cheah and Jiun Hoe tried to outsmart one another with 'Chor Tai Tee'. Looks can be deceiving though as our very 'banana' Mr. Linus is a secret 'expert' in the Art of War. ;) After being defeated the first round by yours truly, he won the 2nd round (although not after he was checkmated, the game brought back a step or two before continuing again to its unexpected conclusion) and the third which he decisively won over me. :p Admittedly I do not declare myself an expert strategist when it comes to Chinese Chess, but I had thought I would have easily beaten the long haired fellow. I was wrong. :p ;) I retired for the night shortly after, giving in to the demands of my tired and sun burnt body over more challenges from Linus in his unexpected role of Sun Tzu(?). ;)

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