Archive for the ‘waterfall’ Tag

Waterfall Survivors: Trong Waterfall

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Panaromic View of the Trong Waterfall

Panaromic View of the Trong Waterfall

Meeting Joe was like a page out of Seth Godin’s books on being remarkable. She was the founder of waterfall survivors group started from a facebook context. An avid waterfall hunter and explorer although having only 6 months of experience she boldly goes where even a seasoned explorer and camper would hesitantly follow.

Passion and the ability to follow through is the main ingredient for waterfall survivors. They are passionate about waterfalls no doubt about that. They would even go all the way as to give you a great experience. If you have no experience or little experience in exploring or camping, they will take care of you. Her motto is “Just bring yourself there”. They will take care of the food, the tents, the mat, the transport and the fun. You just have to show up. Obviously some personal affects needs to follow suit. And you are expected to go all the way or get lost along the way. Either way a group decision is to be adhered to. No slackers in this group.

Half Dome at Sunset

Half Dome at Sunset

Taking this trip was sort of a revival for me. I have not had a camping trip in probably the last 15 years and have not had a good hiking trip in the last 10. The last time I stayed in the jungle was in Tibabar, Sabah, East Malaysia. The longest was also the same place where I stayed for 3 mths. I was in Yosemite way back in 2000. I hiked for 8 hrs to get up to Half-Dome and back. We made it a day trip which is quite tiring for all of us. On top of that I went again the week after with another group of friends. That trip became legendary.

We all met at McDonalds at The Curve, Damansara at 7 in the morning. Well, a little over 7 am due to the famous Malaysian “Rubber Time”. There were 8 of us in total, 3 ladies and 5 guys. All are quite experienced, with experiences ranging from a few waterfalls to those who have climbed Gunung Tahan (Mount Tahan) or Gunung Kinabalu (Mount Kinabalu) and most of them have met each other before. Some of us including myself are trying to squeeze in one last trip before a major event. I hope I can come back and join them for another trip soon. We did our rounds of introductions before Joe arrived. We caught up with each other’s expectations and measured each other’s experience. Within a minute we were brothers-in-arms and we sounded like we have been on this tour for ages. I think the waterfalls, hills and destinations brings us together and we may have visited those places in different time and context but we sure had that in common and it does not take long for it to catch fire.

We all checked-in with Joe and the “newbies” have to sign a waiver and fill up emergency contact details in case of well… emergencies. Joe is well prepared and well planned for the trip. You can tell she has either done this for a long time or she is just well prepared. A trait that you need to have to be an outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) as I learnt during my scouting days. Where we got the motto “Be Prepared” drilled into us. Soon after, she assigned us all to our designated transport and complained about needing to drive that far. I volunteered to drive, half expecting that she would just drive herself as we just met 10 minutes ago. Trusting your car to a total stranger is not a common practice. Surprisingly she’s overjoyed and swiftly passed the car keys to me. Joe is that open and friendly. So i drove Joe and Michelle all the way. Joe with the GPS was the navigator. Michelle the librarian was the entertainment. There were 2 other cars in the convoy. Leo and Hwooi Leng were carrying the crabs and other food stuff. Ee, King and Sean were in the last car of the convoy. After a quick visit to the petrol kiosk, we started our journey to Trong, Perak.

We stopped for lunch in Kampar where we had the famous chicken baked in bread. We had dim sum as an appetiser and this was still traditionally made. Presentation was not their finer points but the food tasted really, really good. We were suppose to stop for breakfast but due to a mis-reading of the GPS we headed the wrong way. So we had brunch instead. It was good because that kept us going way after lunch. We were too full to have lunch.

Live Crabs

Live Crabs

We arrived Changkat Jering at approximately 12.30 in the afternoon. We have to make a detour to Taiping town to run some errands while the other 2 cars went ahead, we arrived at the Trong Waterfall at about 2.00 pm. Leo and Ee’s car had arrived there earlier and they have already done a round of surveying. None of us have been there before, so some of us went scouting for a camping ground while the rest (mainly girls) prepared for the feast for the night. Oh yes, this was another highlight of the camping trip. The feast is normally described by the group as the indulgence food that is not normally experienced in any camping trip. Coupled with beer, It was definitely a luxury for me, a first in my years of camping.

Stairs to and from the Waterfall

Stairs to and from the Waterfall

We parked close to the stairs leading down to the waterfall. It was a steep stairs ranging from an incline oh 60 degrees to 85 degrees near the foot of the stairs. There are 3 sections of the stairs. This is important to know when coming up the stairs. As you need to know when to break for a rest. I must have climbed that stairs at least 12 times while surveying and transporting equipment and food stuff to the waterfall. At the foot of the staircase, the spectacular waterfall reveals itself. You can feel its roar and the constant breeze carrying droplets of water in the air. Its powerful. Its almost the same as sitting down in one of lifestyle coffee places and have the artificial mists blown by a fan with the roaring cars passing by except the air is fresh and the water is crystal clear.

My Tent

My Tent

While the girls (as far as I know) prepared dinner, the guys on the other hand had to survey the area for a suitable campsite but did not find any in time before dinner. The one we found was further upstream and because it was nearing sundown the groups decided not to shift. In the jungle the place gets dark early. So we put up a temporary shelter just in-case it rains and for those who decided to sleep near the waterfall that night. Most of us decided to setup our tents near where we parked as it’s the only place that has enough space to fit and with sufficient security for the ladies that are with us.

Me cutting bamboo

Me cutting bamboo

Being the most experienced of the lot, I had to chop the bamboos, trim them and setup the shelter. Start an actual fire. Kept the fire going. King and Leo helped with the shelter and Ee and Sean helped with the fire. The fire came to good use during dinner where it helped boiled soup and kept us warm and the flies away.

Feasting to the Rhythm of the Night

Feasting to the Rhythm of the Night

We feasted and chatted about our experiences that night. We had deeper conversations about who we are. This is when Leo relayed a dramatic story while driving here. A crab actually escaped while we were still on the highway and it crawled right up to Leo’s leg. He had to stomp that one to death. Hooi Ling helped Leo to grab hold of the critter from the petrol pedal. It was “gnawing” away at Leo’s leg while he was negotiating a slight bend in the highway. He would stomp it if no one else in the car to help. It was pretty hilarious and dangerous at the same time. We took more photographs before cleaning up and resting for the night, for we have a long day tomorrow. After cleaning up we left Sean and Ee as they wanted to sleep at the waterfall while the rest of us hiked up the stairs to our campsite.

At my tent, i remembered why I liked the outdoors so much. Its so refreshing to be with nature. The fresh air , the sounds and the bright moonlight have a strange calming effect on me. I feel so relaxed. I am tired yes, physically tired but at the same time refreshed. I don’t mind this kind of tiredness. Its a kind of renewing tiredness. That left time for me to reflect with the company of the night and planned ahead for tomorrow. Took one last sniff and gaze at the moonlit night sky and climbed into my tent for the night. Refreshed. It was a cold night, a cool gentle breeze slowly lowers the temperature and I retreated into my sleeping bag and dozed off.

My Morning Milo

My Morning Milo

I woke up at 5 in the morning. Stretched a little and started hunting for firewood in the dark. I need to only gather enough to warm up the place and cook Milo and Maggie Mee. That was my pre-breakfast, breakfast. Just to start me off as we needed to break camp, wash up, eat breakfast and start our journey to the upper Trong Fall and hopefully find it early enough to get back to the car and drive home. After I had breakfast, I started to pack and break camp. The girls woke up and started their decent to the waterfall to cook breakfast for all of us. By the time I got cleaned up and went down to bathe in the waterfall, breakfast was already ready. Thanks to everyone who cooked. I quickly bathed, washed my mess tin and have my second round of breakfast – Hot Dogs. There were some left over food from last night where some of us cooked prawn noodles for their breakfast on top of the hot dogs. I was quite content with what I had.

Trong Waterfall

Trong Waterfall

After breakfast, we packed everything and headed up the stairs and left all the food stuff, utensils and our camping equipment in the cars. We traded our camping gear for our hiking gear and headed up to the upper fall. As this was the first time for everyone, we got lost, crossed the river and followed another path and found a different waterfall. A smaller one. One where we named it Jeram Joe (Joe Fall). One that actually joins up to form the Trong river. This trip we actually missed the upper Trong fall but just before headed back we found the actual trail to the upper falls. We also found some very good camping ground. We marked it on the GPS and hope to return to it someday. It was tiring but it was fun. All of us managed to get between to 20 – 40 leech bites with hordes more that latched on but was not fortunate enough to bite. I always welcomed these little slimy creatures as they are actually quite harmless and in some cases, used by medical practitioners to clean gangrene. It left my leg full of holes but then again it was the only other thing I took from the trip besides photographs.

I will not hesitate to come back when given another chance. I would love to see the upper Trong waterfall some day. Now waiting for the next adventure. Excitedly.

Trong Waterfall

Waterfall Survivors: Trong Waterfall

Some photos courtesy of Leo Khang Meng. Leo’s Photo Credits – Trong Panaromic View, Live Crabs, Cutting Bamboo and Feasting to the Rhythm of the Night.

More photos can be found here. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=81545&l=374c2&id=509289967