Monday, June 9, 2014

Chilling at Chiling Waterfall

This is actually not my first time to this waterfall in the wilderness of Kuala Kubu Baru, but it certainly has been a while since I have been here. It's the first time I am writing about my visit here though, partly to fulfill a special request, partly to record down yet another visit to another waterfall in this Valley I live in, Klang Valley that is. :)

This place is well established, popular and rather well kept. It is officially a fish sanctuary and run by the government of the state of Selangor. The waterfall itself has two significant 'steps', a third one barely seen from below. There is a deep pool immediately at the bottom most step where it is possible to dive from the top of the rocks close to the first step. It is not open everyday, but it is conveniently opened during the weekends, so that is a relief! ;)

Make sure you come when the park is open to avoid disappointment... ;)

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kubu Baru, which is the nearest 'big' town to the Sungai Chilling Waterfall Park would probably take about a little more than an hour, with a significant part of the journey taking you off our network of highways and into the small rural single carriage roads. For this trip, I had used the 'standard' way of going in, exiting the North South Highway at Bukit Beruntung, heading towards Rasa and into Kuala Kubu Baru before taking the road to Fraser's Hill to reach the Sungai Chilling Waterfall entrance.

The organisation of this trip actually revolves around the visit of my friend from Sarawak, aptly named, Ah Hu (Tiger), whom I had known from a recent project to build gravity feedwater systems for the natives there.

Our 'eccentric' looking Mr. Ah Hu from Sarawak. ;)

Together with other Peninsular bound friends from the project as well as a fair representation from my recently joined choir, we formed a new posse for them (at least) to explore this waterfall. None of them has been here before so its kinda refreshing. For me, it has been a while since I've been here, probably between 3 to 4 years, so coming back to this place was quite interesting as well. Like 'old friends' it is nice to visit one of those waterfalls again to sort of 'catch up' once in a while.

My journey starts with a drop-by at USJ to pick up Ah Hu from his sister's. From there, we head off to the group meeting point at the famous Sungai Buloh R&R on the North South Highway. There we linked up with our fellow 'Warrior-teers', Sun, Ong and Chai with the accompaniment of our sweet 'Altos', Yen Peng and Serene from YKLS (Young Kuala Lumpur Singers). ;) After exchanging our good mornings, it is off along the North South highway towards Kuala Kubu Baru. With the advent of Garmin and Waze, it is quite hard to get 'lost' (save if your handphone or device suddenly runs out of battery @_@'') by getting 'lost', rather it is now about getting 'lost' by taking you in directions that sometimes kinda defies good 'sense'. But in any case, I kinda lost Sun who was travelling in his trusty Toyota Avanza along the way, his Garmin system telling him to exit at Rawang instead of Bukit Beruntung where my Waze was directing me to go. Yen Peng, who was driving a very hardy Proton Iswara (from the age of the dinosaurs) managed to stick to my trail (or more rightly my dust trail, hehehe), us meeting up again at the Bukit Beruntung toll exit to get our bearings.

After confirming Sun was safely heading towards Kuala Kubu Baru, Yen Peng and I set off along our path, passing by the dilapidated shop lots that are kind of a landmark for this part of Selangor (in any case, for any movie directors reading this, if you are looking for dilapidated post apocalyptic scenes of ruined and abandoned shop lots, overgrown with vines and lalang, this is the place to be... no need to pay for movie lot rentals, I guess it's free :p ;)), stark remnants of that once bright dream of having our current International Airport located in this part of Northern Selangor to service Tanjung Malim.

It took about another 40 minutes before we reached Kuala Kubu Baru, passing by the small industrial town of Rasa. Considering that the nearest highway exit from Rasa is about 20-30 minutes away, it still surprises me to look at the number of small industries in the area. For one, I used to frequent this place in my visits to one of my contractors providing Air Cooled Heat Exchangers back when I worked as a Project Engineer for that Dubai based O&G company.

Breakfast was found at Restoran Fazlina Maju, a notable landmark in this sleepy town of Kuala Kubu Baru, famed for its nasi kandar, which was a little bit too heavy for me in the morning. I had ordered instead, a roti telur and teh tarik set, finding out in the process of it being served, that it is called 'Prata Telur' in Singapore, when it was called out by Ong and confirmed by Serene (a bona fide Singaporean) ;).
All good hikes must always start with a good session of breakfast. Not only does it fills the body with energy reserves, it also acts as a great ice breaker... hehehe... 

After having fueled up, it was back on the road, specifically the Fraser's Hill - Kuala Kubu Baru road. This road takes you pass the Sungai Selangor dam and it's man made lake. While the view of the lake is spectacular, the view of how high the water in the lake was relative to the measuring tower holds more significance for us Klang Valley folks recently relieved from a bout of water rationing a couple of months before this blog was written. Distressingly, it still looks like there is a good way to go before it reaches the 'high mark', the daily rainfalls in our area apparently not really helping to replenish the supply of fresh water in the lake. @_@' There is also an Information Center close to the dam. For those interested to get more 'educated' on this engineering feature, the are usually open on the weekends, feel free to drop by.

Oh no! You mean we have to go through another round of water rationing again?!

The entrance to the Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary itself is marked by a large number of cars parked haphazardly along the side of the narrow road. Tread carefully when in the area because you wouldn't know that there might be small children darting out from behind cars or people suddenly swinging their doors open in your path. Fortunately, the park's operating hours prevents this phenomenon (haphazard parking) from happening in the darkened hours of night. Large tour buses do ply this road and it would be extremely dangerous for these behemoths to navigate through the narrowed roads when occasionally oncoming traffic has to squeeze to the side to allow it to move through.

I parked a little bit further down the road from the entrance, knowing the definite high cost in repairing 'Excella's paint job. ;) Finally alighting from our cars, all of us went over to the park entrance to gather for a customary pre-trip group photo. ;)

Customary Group Photo before every hike... I don't expect much to change for this trip. 

From the entrance, it takes a fair amount of walking before we actually reach the park per-se so do not be deterred if you think you are walking on a path to 'no-where'. The path will lead you to the park. Have faith. ;) hehehe...

You'll have to register when you arrive, a token fee of RM1 is charged per person, essentially for the park's 'upkeep'. Immediately outside the park office is a rough diagram of the route to the waterfall.

The diagram showing the route to the falls, not to scale of course, but it does tell you how many times you're gonna get your feet wet!

Oh, did I tell you that there are 6 river crossings to do to get to the falls? ;) Yes, do not expect this trip to be dry, so get ready to have your shoes wet and your socks soaked, otherwise you could probably wear a very good pair of sandals. (I never recommend wearing slippers on hikes, not enough grip and it never protects from sharp rocks and leeches... ;))

The surrounding area around the park office is also a good place to set up camp if you are keen. There are toilets nearby although there aren't really an 'actual' shower. For guys, there is just a pipe and a shower head at the back of the toilets. Yes, it's OUTDOORS. For ladies, there is ONE in the toilets, I'm told. For those not keen on hiking or camping, there is an option to 'picnic' by the Chiling river that flows nearby. There were many families with kids frolicking along the river banks and in the river as we arrive.

The hike officially commences when we cross the nicely built cable bridge that spans the small Chiling river.

Sun, marching confidently across the bridge to our destination! Orsum! :D

From here on, it's a good 40-45 minute hike to reach the falls on average speed. It takes about 15-20 minutes of walking before you reach the first crossing. Again another test of faith, don't be dismayed if your feet aren't wet after the first 15 minute walk. For this first part of the hike, you'd find yourself crossing through a trail flanked by a thick growth of jungle ferns and climb over a large tree trunk. 

Wading through a forest of jungle ferns. Watch your eyes, lest they get poked. 

The 1st crossing was a simple wade across the river, water reaching at max up to mid shin height.

Easy Peasy says Eddie... ;)

Watch out for the signs saying 'Lintas 1,2,3' and so on to know when to cross the stream. Also look out for those big signboards on the opposite bank. For some crossings, the signboards might not be so easily located, for this trip I noticed yellow plastic bags hung on nearby trees on the opposite bank the more prominent feature for these places.

The 2nd crossing comes immediately after the first, the path taking up over a high ledge before descending immediately after to the river bank.

2nd crossing... 

There was a short walk before we reached the third crossing, which was another wade through shallow waters like the first.

The fourth crossing was a little confusing, courtesy of a displaced sign that pointed straight along the path instead of pointing across the stream where I noticed a small yellow plastic bag hung among the trees. Following the wrong signage, we continued up the path that leads us further up the stream and ending at a pile of boulders on the bank. We crossed here nevertheless, my eyes catching footprints on the opposite sandy bank. It was deeper and for people of 'shorter' stature like Chai, it proved a small challenge to cross without getting the underside of her bag wet. ;)

We crossed the last two crossings without incident. At that time, there were many people leaving the waterfalls, so it was not difficult to follow the path where they came from.

At the 6th crossing, we finally caught a glimpse of our destination!

Chiling Waterfall in sight!

And yes, there is quite a large number of people with this place being popular and all. But aside from the people, there appears to be this rather recent phenomenon of BEEs flying around as well. Not one or two, but swarms of them! It was the same at Lepok waterfall as well in my recent visit there. Previously, I have not known of this 'problem' but I guess for the more popular waterfalls, the presence of these pests is essentially of our own doing via the rubbish that some unscrupulous and selfish campers leave near the falls. And to prove my point, there was indeed a huge pile of rubbish here as well.

The lady at the park office did warn us about the bees, attributing it to now being the 'season' for its population explosion. I am more inclined towards my previous assumption, no rubbish, no bees setting up nests near convenient sources of sugary foods! Oh and mind you, they DO STING! So be careful when you swat them away. Best remedy is to get into the water as soon as possible to wash off the sweat which these insects are attracted to. If possible, wash your sweat drenched shirts in the process to prevent it being a magnet for the swarm.

Some people have resorted to lighting small bonfires to create smoke that chases away the bees. Its becoming something like a 'survival' technique nowadays. It works to some extent, except if you decide to hide inside, it stings your eyes as well. :p ;) And forget about 'insect' repellents. The ones I bought from some well known pharmacies don't apparently work.

As mentioned at the start of the page, Chiling waterfall is essentially two tier, with a third high up seemingly inaccessible from the bottom. There might be a way up along the rocky and heavily jungled sides to reach the upper tiers but for this writer, he is pretty much comfortable to stay below. ;)

A 'social' gathering at the falls. Well, I did say it is 'popular'. 

The waterfall's 2nd tier.

There is a large shallow wading area further out from the fall. Here, I can see small children swimming. Closer to the fall, the water gets much deeper, deep enough to submerge a fully grown adult. Fortunately, the currents moving out from the fall is quite strong, preventing adventurous small children from reaching the deeper parts. However it is still good practice to watch over small children anywhere near water, no matter how shallow it is.
Sun (pronounced as 'Soon'), immersing himself in the cool waters to escape from the blazing heat from his apparent namesake... ;)

For adults, especially the younger ones, the deeper section of the pool provides an added avenue for amusement. It is a good place for you to imagine yourself as a 'circus' nay... Olympic diver ;). A small slippery ledge on the same level as the first tier offers a good platform for various kinds of somersaults, the surrounding people eager spectators. If your somersault is impressive enough, you might get an appreciative applause and for ladies, well... you need not do somersaults to get appreciative hoots from the guys watching. ;) ;)

Muscleman about to jump into the water... 

Ladies, no need fancy somersaults to get the attention of an appreciative audience... ;)

Other activities around the falls appears to be 'cooking' as well. For this visit, there appears to be a small setup of a soup pot over a small bonfire, the 'cook' dishing out strands of kangkung. Are they eating yong tau foo???
The gang enjoying a nice splash of water... 

Our group lingered around the falls for approximately 45 minutes. By now the afternoon sun was at its zenith and if you don't immerse yourself in the cooling waters, you're very much likely going to get a good sun burn.
Around 1230pm, we decided to pack our bags, don our water logged socks and shoes, shoo away the bees and head back to the park office. Despite the late hour, there still was a significant number of people heading towards the waterfall, blond haired Caucasian tourists included. We had to stop a couple of times to let people through or wait till a large, multi-generational family unit finished crossing a stream on the way back, such was the popularity and easy accessibility to this place.

Just your weekly afternoon 'stroll'? One of the catch word here is that it's popular... ;)

Reaching the park office, I took the opportunity to indulge myself with a nice burger accompanied by an ice chilled serving of sugar cane water from a nearby stall, manned surprisingly by the same lady who 'work'ed at the park office when I first signed in.

When you are hungry, everything tastes good. :)

This was while the others peruse themselves of the toiletry facilities. ;) For this instance, I decided not to take a shower, the lack of a proper shower booth and more importantly the sheer distance I had to walk to my car and back to bring out a spare change of clothes making it rather impractical. This decision was also somewhat influenced by the fact that I was told that there were a set of public toilets to 'take bath' in back in Kuala Kubu Baru town by the park office personnel as I signed the group off on the visitor's book. Little did I know at that time that they were usually closed during the weekends!

Now... what's a hiking trip without a round of good lunch? ;)

Lunch was back in Kuala Kubu Baru town, the item on the menu today was Hainanese style Chicken Chop! Recommended by FourSquare, Sun Sun Nam Cheong Kedai Hailam reputedly serves the best Hainanese Chicken Chop in town. 

Located on Jalan Mat Kilau in Kuala Kubu Baru

There is somewhat of a catch though. We sort of have to put up against the rather erm... 'rushy-rushy' attitude of the lady boss taking the order, so if you can tolerate that, then you should be 'ok'. 

Kuala Kubu Baru's best Hainanese Chicken Chop! Don't forget to order the freshly squeezed orange OR Hainanese Coffee... in fact, why not order both? ;)

The food itself was great, that is as far as the Hainanese Chicken Chop is concerned. It is relatively hard to find properly prepared chicken chop of this style nowadays with the ones prepared by the more commercial 'kopitiams' either too sweat or leaving the impression that something is 'missing'. This one, is complete! :D Mmmmmm....

Thumbs up for a GOOD meal! :D

Oh, there is a small bit of trivia to this shop. Apparently, it was graced by none other than our Prime Minister, Ah Jib Kor. The evidence is proudly displayed in a set of old kopitiam coffee mug and saucer engraved with the photo of him partaking in a round of chicken chop. :p ;)

So with lunch complete, now it's time to literally, 'say goodbye', especially to our towel headed friend, Ah Hu, who will be leaving in the next few months to further his studies in the good ol' United States of America. All the best and good luck in finding a job as a 'diplomat'... ;) ;) ;) 

Also to Ah Chai and 'Posy' Ong, a hopefully brief farewell as you return to Malacca and Johore respectively, looking forward to your next visit here and possibly my next visit 'there'. ;) 

'Sarawak Dream' project... ;) Sun, myself, future diplomat Ah Hu and 'Dr' Chai. 'Posy' Ong was holding the camera so cannot be seen here... heheheh

For my choir sirens, see you in our next weekly practice and to Sun, hehehe I am still waiting for that elusive session of 'Escape Room'. 

Me and my choir mates (Serene and Yen Peng). Well, not the full orchestra (I am a Bass 1 and they are both Altos) but at least can still carry makan if we sang 'Roundelay'... my part is just 'vei-vei-vei'... ;) But then again, no one would understand us here... 

Lastly, hope this 'return' to blogging is not going to be my last in a while. Looking foward to Rinjani next month. Till then, over and out! :D

Post hike photo... none the worse for wear. Overall, an easy hike! :D