Five times Lepok

Recently I visited the Lepok waterfall in the Ulu Langat region with a group of friends. Checking my archive I found that this was my fifth visit!

The first time was in June 2004, 13 years ago. One year earlier I had met Khong, the webmaster of a website about Malaysian waterfalls. He had become more interested in bird watching and we agreed that I would take over his waterfall site. Of course I had to revisit many waterfalls and update the description and pictures. One of them was Lepok. Have a look at Khong’s original Lepok Waterfall page.

Here are some of the pictures I took during my first visit. It was durian season, the orang asli told us we could eat what we found…:-) The waterfall was pristine, but not a lot of water. When you look at  the updated Lepok Fall page you will see that there are many comments, a sign that the fall has become popular.

The second time was in September 2008. This time there was a lot more water. We discovered that there is a lower Lepok fall, a few hundred meter before the main fall. In a narrow gorge, not easy to access, but we have seen people abseiling there.

My next visit was in January 2013. One of my waterfall friends had told me that there was another waterfall, about one hour upstream from the main Lepok fall. He was willing to guide us there. We crossed the river and climbed up on the left side of the fall. It was an interesting hike, partly river trekking. And the upper fall was worth the hike.

One year later, the same friend told me that he had discovered a nice waterfall in a tributary of the Lepok river. Of course I was interested to see this fall, so I joined him and his friends in November 2014. Quite a lot of water in the main fall. Access was not that easy, we needed hands and feet ..:-). The tributary waterfall was quite tall but probably  only worth visiting when it has been raining a lot.

For my fifth visit I joined a  Hash Walk to Lepok. A Hash Walk is similar to a Hash Run, there is a paper trail, but it is not competitive and everybody can join. Actually I prefer to hike with only a few people, but since I have developed an allergy for bee stings, I feel it is safer to join a larger group, just in case of emergency.

It was quite a big group this time, but because of the paper trail there is no need to hike as a group, everybody can walk at one’s own pace.

I walked with Suat, my Bukit Kiara friend. The trail is clear and well-defined, in the first part there are a few forks, but after you have reached the water pipe, you can not go wrong.

I showed Suat the lower Lepok fall and I also took a short video

The Lepok waterfall is still nice, but there were swarms of bees, so I felt uncomfortable and went back after a quick bath.

After the hike we went to the Langat Seafood and Beer Garden for lunch. Nice food and pleasant company.

The Upper Ampang Fall

My first visit of the Sg Ampang waterfalls was in December 2004 when my friend Khong took me to the Kemensah fall. According to Khong there were more waterfalls upstream, the Lower Quartz Ridge Fall and the Upper Quartz Ridge Fall (the links refer to his original webpages, have a look!). So the same month I came back with my Dutch friend Paul, we took a trail parallel to the river and found another waterfall. Here is the report: Kemensah Revisited.  Comparison with Khong’s webpages showed that this was the Upper Quartz Ridge fall.

Where was the Lower Fall? In January 2005 I went again with Paul. This time we decided to river trek upstream from the Kemensah Fall and found the Lower Fall, actually quite close to the Upper one. This is the report: Kemensah Finale.

In the meantime I had studied the topo map and discovered that these three waterfalls have nothing to do with the Sg Kemensah, as I first thought, but are waterfalls in the Sg Ampang. I published the falls on my Waterfalls of Malaysia website under the name Sg Ampang falls .

I had never been back to these falls, so when my friend Peter told me that he and some friends were planning to go to the Upper Fall, I decided to join. Much development had taken place during the past decade and destroyed the remote atmosphere. We had parked far away from the trail head, and started our walk along the tar road, passing several places where people where enjoying their weekend

So-called development is still going on..:-(

We passed an ATV park, very popular and one reason we parked so far away, because my friends told me that the ATV “gang” can be unfriendly and even aggressive to people who park there without using their services. Notice the encroaching civilisation of Sierra Ukay in the right picture

There was also a paintball place. With a special offer for ATV customers!

When we arrived at the trail, I discovered that the once overgrown single-track trail had changed into an ATV-highway. Where of course we had to give way to these noisy monsters.


They are all going to the Lower Ampang fall (Kemensah), which is officially named Sofia Jane Fall. We took the trail to the upper falls which fortunately is still unspoiled.

To reach the Upper Fall, you must know where to leave the trail and scramble down a steep slope, only guided by the sound of falling water. On our way down, we missed the (vague) trail, but of course, with Peter chopping his way, we managed to reach the fall…:-)

The upper fall is interesting because the river splits in two falls.

This video shows more clearly how this fall is split. The official name is Lata Neelofa

Pity there is no pool. Actually the Middle Ampang  Fall (official name Lata Pinang) is more impressive, but we decided to go back, as it might start raining. As often happens, on our way back we found the correct route up…:-). Suat shows here where to go down…:-)  The trail continues probably to Congkat (Ulu Langat region), it would be interesting to explore it.

We were just back in time before the rain. Here a few of us are enjoying an after-hike drink and dinner.

It was a nice outing, but I was a bit shocked about the “development”. Might be better on a weekday. Here is a GE screenshot of our hike. White is the tar road, as we wanted to avoid a potential conflict with the ATV gang. Red is the ATV track, green the unspoiled trail.

 

A new waterfall

Recently some of my friends joined a “hashwalk” to Bukit Lentang in the Karak region. On their way they passed a nice waterfall. Knowing about my interest in (Malaysian) waterfalls, they gave me the GPS-data and suggested that I should visit the fall myself. Of course that was a challenge I could not resist. They warned me that heavy “development” was taking place in the area, with a lot of forest clearing in preparation for plantations.

I checked the historical imagery of Google Earth. Here is the situation in January 2013. A minor road (white line) starts from the main road and leads to a Taoist sanctuary, where the trail starts.  Notice the palm oil plantations in the upper right part of the image. The rest is still forest.

Here is the situation in June 2016. Quite a shocking difference. It’s called progress :-(.

My friends Paul, Rahim and Fahmi joined me on this waterfall hike. It was no problem to reach the “Chinese temple”, where we parked  our car. Quite a large building, not really a temple, nobody around. We walked back about 100 meter, and passed a gate into a banana plantation.

Here is a detailed GE map. The red track is the track of my hashwalk friends. Our way in is in yellow, our way out in green. Click the map to enlarge. I have numbered the locations where I have taken pictures.

It looks like this part of the hike was still in the forest. But no, more recent than in the GE-map, additional clearing has taken place, everywhere we saw  scarred, burnt trees…:-( We took several wrong turns, until Rahim, with his orang asli sense of direction, guided us down the slope to the right trail. Notice that on our way back we found an easier trail (green).

A bit further along the trail (4), we had an unexpected encounter, a dead wild boar was lying where we had to cross the stream. Probably shot by a hunter, but managed to escape. A bullet hole is visible below the eye.

Soon after this encounter we reached the barren land. Here and there huts and sheds, bulldozers, cement, drain pipes, this is a huge project.

Fortunately there were clouds, otherwise it would have been very hot. An “advantage” of the deforestation is that you have nice views of the surrounding landscape. You can see far away the highway to Kuantan and the prominent limestone rock of Bukit Batu Kapur Cinta Manis. But still we were glad when we reached the jungle

It is only a few hundred meters to the waterfall. The hashwalk guys had followed a jungle trail, we decided to river trek. We found a thorny plant with a lot of jelly-like stuff dripping from the end. Not sure what it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were happy and excited when we reached the waterfall. Quite tall, pristine. The local orang asli probably have named the waterfall, we passed a family on our way in, but when we went back and wanted to ask, they had left their hut. Provisionally we name it Lata Guan, in honour of Guan, a hashwalker who had “discovered” the fall several years ago.

Here a few pictures of the fall. The cairn in the right picture was built by Rahim

I had brought a stove, we made coffee, had some food and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere. There were no leeches, no bees, no other people, only the four of us….:-)

When Dutchmen see a stream, they always want to build a dam in the water. In this case it was Rahim who decided to make his private pool…:-)

Here he is enjoying the result of his hard work.

On our way back we followed again the stream

As is often the case with jungle hiking, it is easier to find the correct trail on your way back. In the left picture I am pointing at the location in the banana plantation where you should leave the road and follow the trail. In the right picture this location is indicated by a green marker.  I have also sketched the probable location of a new road (blue line) leading to the waterfall. IF that road is a public one, it would be possible to drive until very close to the waterfall.  But probably this road may be private at the moment.

A nice adventure

An unsuccessful waterfall trip

It has become a tradition that a few of my waterfall friends and I make a trip to a new/unknown waterfall on day 3 of the CNY. We have visited Lata Naga Air (2012), Ulu Lecin (2013), Upper Damak (2014) and Lata Enggang (2015).

Last year we were not successful. Our target was a waterfall in the Beruas region, discovered by Siang Hui. But when we arrived at the trail head, we were stopped by a soldier. A military exercise was going on and access was prohibited.  Pity.

We could have tried the same fall again this year, but the soldier was vague about how long the exercise would last, possible a long time. We didn’t want to take the risk. Instead Siang Hui suggested Lata Jala in the Bidor region, a waterfall he had discovered on Google Earth but never yet visited himself.

Lata Jala, I said, I have never heard about that fall. But you have visited this fall already, he replied, and even reported about it!

And he was right, in March 2010 I visited this remote fall with Harry and Rani, here is the report Ulu Gepai . However, when I had a look at my own(!) report, I noticed the last paragraph:

At 6 pm, after 9.5 hours hiking, and covering a distance of about 20 km, we came back to our car”

A hike of 20 km, taking 9.5 hour? Forget about it, I could not do that anymore, was my reaction. But there is a shorter access route, Siang Hui said. And not only was he  right again,  I had actually used that route during a second trip, August 2010, this time with Rani and Richard.

Here is a GE screenshot of our first hike, starting at the Gepai waterfall. Click to enlarge for details. A long hike as you can see… 🙂 But notice the red line. On our way back we took a wrong trail, which probably  would have lead us to Kg Senta. Could that be a shorter approach?

Here is our second hike in August (yellow line). It was possible, using a 4WD to follow a  farm road until the end and park near a farm. We lost more than one hour by taking a wrong trail, but taking that into account, a hike to Lata Jala would take about 4-5 hours.

That seemed doable at my age..:-). So we decided to go.

But as it was rainy season, we should better start early. Also I was expected the same evening in Parit Baru, for the CNY party of Aric and his family. Siang Hui and Nick were already in Teluk Intan, celebrating CNY. Teoh was coming back from Penang, Rani and I started from the Klang Valley. The three of us decided to stay overnight in a Bidor hotel, meet Siang Hui and Nick for breakfast at 7:30 am, after that start the hike.

Discussing preparations for the hike, Rani asked me, do you remember any river trekking? In that case I will use my kampung Adidas. I don’t think there was any river trekking, I replied him. And he agreed.

On the 2nd day of CNY Rani and I met in Bidor for lunch and we checked in, the hotel was booked by Teoh who would arrive later. How  to spend the afternoon? Siang Hui suggested the Seri Kampar Fall, not far from Bidor and an easy five-minute walk from the main road. He can sometimes be a bit optimistic in his time estimate, but this time he was right…:-) First a country road, then a clear trail, a bit of scrambling at the end.

The fall, more a cascade, did not have a lot of water, but interesting to find it so near to the main road. We could not stay long, because it started to rain.

Back in the hotel, we met Teoh and had dinner. A few Chinese restaurants were open already. The hotel was located near the exit of the highway and probably catering for travelers. The room for three was quite small, but good enough for an overnight stay, and none of us snored. There was even some fitness equipment..:-)

The next morning we had breakfast  in restaurant Pun Chun, famous for its duck noodles. It was crowded, we were lucky to find a free table when we arrived.

From  Bidor it is only 10 km to the trail head. The last part is a farm road,  Teoh’s 4WD came in handy. We started at 9:15 am. Nick had forgotten to pack his old kampung Adidas, but had managed to buy a brand new pair.  Gentlemen shoes..:-) Also note the diiference in size.

The first part of the trail is clear and in use by the Orang Asli. We crossed a small stream and passed an abandoned Orang Asli house. Progress was fast and in about one hour we reached the junction with the trail coming from Gepai.

In good spirits we continued, the trail became smaller but was still clear, here and there we needed a parang. Here is the GE map of our trek, in red. As you see, the red trek doesn’t reach the Jala fall!

We encountered a minor problem when we reached the river crossing. I had forgotten to mark this crossing on my GPS and neither Rani nor I could remember whether we had to cross the (Gepai) river or not. So we tried first to find a trail at this side of the river, wasted some time and finally discovered that we had to cross the river, where we found the continuation of the trail. A few hundred meter further the trail reached the tributary Sungai Latajala with the waterfall not more than 500 meter away.

And there the reasonably clear trail suddenly stopped.

In retrospect of course we should have concluded that from there we had to river trek. But (see above) Rani and I did not remember any river trekking. So, while we waited, Siang Hui and Rani tried to find a way along the slopes of the river, trying both sides, chopping a lot,  scrambling up and down. It took more than one hour to come to the conclusion that the only reasonable approach would be river trekking.

Here is a more detailed GE map of the last part. For those not familiar with the workings of a GPS, when you stay at the same spot for some time, the GPS readings will scatter around your location. And when you are in a valley with steep slopes, the readings can be erratic, as can be clearly seen in the last sections of the green and yellow treks.

In the meantime it was already 1 pm, we had been hiking for more then 3.5 hours. Basically time enough and the weather was good, but I had promised to be in Parit Baru end of the afternoon. So, reluctantly we decided to go back.

This is the impressive fall we narrowly missed (picture taken in 2010)

On our way back we stopped for a rest, a bath and our packed lunch at the river crossing. As you can see, we have already accepted our defeat and look happy and relaxed…:-)

At 3 pm we were back at the car. After collecting my stuff in the hotel and a quick shower, I drove to Parit Baru  where I arrived in time, around 6 pm. Of course I was eager to check my 2010 report, but no need, while still on may way, Siang Hui already sent this whatsapp.

Yes, I blamed myself primarily. Why had I not read my my own report, in preparation for this hike?  Seven years ago I wrote in that report:

The last part was tough, river trekking, slippery boulders.

Even now I do not understand why I completely forgot about that.

Here are the next few whatsapp exchanges.

In my report I also wrote that there were many leeches. That is correct, I think there were even more this time…:-)

The lesson I have learned from this “misadventure” is that I better not trust my fading memory 🙁

We are seriously considering to go again, and maybe camp one night, so we have more time to explore.

Taiping Waterfalls

During a recent stay in Taiping I have revisited two waterfalls, the Maxwell Hill Fall and the Kamunting Fall. Here is a GE map of the region with my GPS data.

When the English explorer Isabella Bird visited Taiping in 1879, she stayed in the Residency and wrote:

The house on my side has a magnificent view of the beautiful Hijan hills, down which a waterfall tumbles in a broad sheet of foam only half a mile off

It was the Maxwell Fall she saw and admired, although she was wrong in her estimate of the distance, which is about 1,5 mile. You can still see the fall from the Lake Gardens. The Kamunting fall is visible from Taman Bukit Emas.

The trail head for both falls is the same. It starts from the water treatment plant. Until a few years ago you could follow the tar road until the gate, where the trail started. Nowadays the last part of that road is out of bounds, an alternative trail starts just after the bridge near the Indian temple. Here are my buddies Aric, Paul and  Fahmi at the trail head. It is quite a step climb, ropes come in handy.

Steep but not far. Soon you reach a wider trail, where you can turn right to the Maxwell fall, only a short distance away. We decided to visit the Kamunting fall first and turned left. You have to skirt the fencing of the water treatment plant,  and be careful with the barbed wire.

But after this part you reach a beautiful, romantic trail, next to a pipeline that transports water from a dam in the Ranting river to the plant. Pure bliss.

About one hundred meter before reaching the reservoir, you can see a rope leading up a steep slope to your right. Here ends the easy part of the hike…:-). You have to scramble up the slope, fortunately it had not rained. Many ropes and also clear markers. Too busy scrambling to take pictures.

After the steep slope, the trail levels a bit, you will hear the sound of falling water and soon your each the waterfall. It is a tall cascade, the rocky face is visible on Google Earth. Not a lot of water this time, but still quite impressive.

Not a real pool, but a good place to take a shower. There must be more waterfalls downstream and it may be possible, though not easy, to climb to the top. We were content with this fall and found a nice place to relax and have coffee. I had brought a stove and was the barista..:-)

Here is a short video of the Kamunting fall. Actually I don’t know if this is the real name of the fall. The river is the Sg Ranting, so the name could also be Lata Ranting.

Aric installed his tripod and with his remote he was able to take a picture of the four of us. One for the album, in my opinion.

Then it was time to go back. Now that we had reached our target, I felt more at ease and took some pictures.

After we had scrambled down the slope, we had a look at the dam, where the pipe line started. The trail also stops here, we did not explore further, but walked back.

Don’t visit this fall if you are afraid of leeches. There were many..:-). To stop the bleeding, a small piece of tissue paper is very effective.

When we reached the trail going down to the road, the Maxwell Fall was so near that we decided to have  a look. Here it is.

Also here I took a short video.

We ended this successful waterfall hike with delicious assam laksa and cendol at a stall in the Old Railway Station, one of the many heritage sites of Taiping.

 

Jeram Janggut

Because I am the owner and webmaster of the Waterfalls of Malaysia website, my friends call me sometimes the Godfather of the Waterfalls, so it makes sense that I also have Waterfall Godsons..:-). Three of them at the moment, Siang Hui, Teoh and Nick. Siang Hui knows a lot of virtually unknown waterfalls and when Teoh a few weeks ago proposed to make a waterfall trip, SH suggested Jeram Janggut in Negeri Sembilan. An easy hike, he promised.

As it was rainy season, we decided to start early. At 7 am Teoh picked Aric and me up from our home and we drove to Sg Long where we met Siang Hui and Nick. After breakfast we continued in Teoh’s Hilux.

Start from Sg Long

It was quite a long drive to the trail head, first to Seremban, from there to Kuala Pilah. About 7 km before Kuala Pilah a minor road leads far (~20 km) into the mountains. If you have a hard-core 4WD you can almost drive to the fall. We started hiking at 10 am, walking the last few km. Here is my gang, from left to right Siang Hui, Nick, Teoh and Aric.

My gang

The route took us through a plantation, easy going, although often muddy and sometimes confusing because of several splits and junctions.

We wanted to keep close to the river, so we took this small trail, which ended at an abandoned Orang Asli house near the stream. Maybe we could have river trekked to the fall from there, but we decided to go back and follow the main road

Wrong path

O.A. hut

That meant that we had to cross a ridge, first going up steeply, nice views of the surroundings, then going down again. A signboard, “Not allowed to use poison or explosives for fishing”, meant that we had reached our goal.

The Jeram Janggut waterfall is not spectacular, but nice, with a large pool.

Jeram Janggut

We frolicked around, had coffee and of course took pictures.

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Many pictures….:-)

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Here is a short video of the fall.

We didn’t stay too long, as clouds were coming in, but before we left Aric used his iPhone on a tripod to take an “official” picture of our gang. I am very pleased with the result, we all look good and happy.

The gang

There is a lower tier of Jeram Janggut, quite nearby, but you have to scramble down a steep slope. We just had a look from above.

Lower Tier

Here is a video of this lower tier.

Going back to the trail head took us about one hour. Watching the butterflies having their lunch, we also got hungry…:-)

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We where just in time, when we reached our car, it started raining! Just where we reached the main road, we found a Malay stall, serving Assam Laksa, nothing special according to Aric (our assam laksa expert!) but delicious Kelapa Cendol.

It was a nice rewarding trip. The fall can be reached by (hard core) 4WD, we were lucky to be alone there. Here is a GE screenshot of the region. There are several relatively unknown waterfalls in this section of the Titiwangsa range. Jeram Tengkek is on the WoM website, the others not (yet), for various reasons.

Note the red marker. In 1945, just before the Japanese surrender in World War II, an allied Liberator plane crashed here and was only found by locals in 1961. The remains of the plane are still there and it is possible to hike to the crash site. Something for another trip

map

Let me finish this waterfall post with a screenshot of my Waterfalls of Malaysia site, that shows where the visitors of my website come from. I started checking 5 years ago. In those 5 years almost 1.5 million visitors from 190 countries have been visiting the site. Not a bad result…:-)

visitors WoM

Strata revisited

It was in 2005 that I read a post in one of the Malsingmaps forums about an unknown waterfall near Tanjung Malim. GPS-tracks and the coordinates of this Strata waterfall were given.

Here is the track (in red) and the waterfall, superimposed on a topo map of the region. Click on the map to enlarge it.

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Notice that the track is broken, it is not very accurate. Starting point is the Diamond Creek resort, which did not yet exist when the topo map was printed. I have indicated (in white) the location of the roads in this (rundown) resort. I have also marked (in blue) two rivers, to guide the eye. The Strata fall is located in the Sg Sekiah, the Gerehang river has also a waterfall, which I hope to revisit soon

Of course I was interested to visit this fall, so in the following months I went several times to Diamond Creek, and finally found the waterfall. I have written two reports about these trips. The first report, The Strata Fall, Prologue & First Acts , describes the first attempts where we followed a trail high up the left bank of the river and found the Upper Strata Fall. In the second report, Strata Fall, the Grand Finale, we decided to river trek and finally found the main Strata fall.

The map shows the two routes, the yellow one leading to the upper fall, the brown one following the river to the main fall. The reason that the original (red) track is so scanty, especially in the last part, is that the river flows in a deep ravine where GPS reception is not easy. Even with my Garmin GPSMap 64s, there was a lot of scatter, which I have smoothed out.

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That was more than ten year ago! Recently one of my friends wanted to visit this fall and I gave them my GPS-data. They did a recce, but did not reach the main fall.

My friend Edwin had told me that he had visited Strata beginning of this year, crossing the river to the right bank and following a rather clear trail to the fall without river trekking. That sounded interesting! He was willing to go again and be our guide. Here is our group.  From left to right  Paul, Fahmi, Edwin, Jan, Chin and Tan. Picture taken by Aric

Our group

We started walking from the Diamond Creek resort, with a 4WD we could have gone much further in. Sometimes it was a bit confusing which road to choose..:-)

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Passing through the plantation and entering the forest, we came closer to the stream and the point where we had to cross the river. The sign Hutan Simpan Kekal says that this is a Permanent Forest Reserve. So we were shocked when we saw that less than 100 meter further, a new logging bridge had been constructed over de river.

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This was all still unspoiled forest when Edwin came here earlier this year. Shameful. And a problem for us. Of course the building of the logging roads had also destroyed the existing trails. So how to proceed? With some scrambling we managed to climb up to the logging road (marked with a red X).

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We decided to cross the stream on this logging bridge and then try to find the trail on the other side. We chose what looked like a kind of trail

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But it was not a real trail and soon it petered out in a chaos of tree trunks and branches. Pictures taken by Chin, our selfie-man. Edwin suggested to do a recce, because he was confident that it should not be far to the old trail.

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We waited for him (picture by Aric)

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When he came back after about ten minutes, he said that he had seen the trail down the slope, to reach it might not be easy, but should be possible. So we continued and indeed, after scrambling not more than 100 meter, we reached the trail. Kudos for Edwin!

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The trail was remarkably clear, not overgrown, apparently also used by other hikers.It was only about 500 meter to the fall, which took us less than half an hour. And a beautiful waterfall it is!

Strata fall

We arrived at the fall at 11am and stayed one hour, because we were expecting rain in the afternoon. Enough time to enjoy the view, and take a bath. And pictures of course, or selfies…:-)

Of course I also wanted to refresh myself. Because I sweat easily, which attracts wasps and bees, I often take a plunge with all my clothes on and often also my shoes. As you can see in the left gallery picture, the pool is not deep. Except to the right of the fall and that was where I aiming at. When I touched the rocks, I could feel already that there was a strong current to the left. I tried to swim back but did not make much progress. Edwin noticed that and rescued me!  I was not (yet) panicking, but appreciated his help.

On our way back, we found, as we actually expected, that there was a better way to cross the river than using the logging bridge. We found even a marker, proof that more people come here.

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Here is the map of our hike. Click to enlarge. Part of the logging road is indicated in brown. The scrambling part is the dashed-green line. The river crossing and the location of the marker are given.

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Here is a short video of the Strata Fall

It was an interesting and rewarding trip. I have described the hike in detail, it might help others to find the way. Sad that they have started clearing the forest. Here is one more picture of the damage already done

Logging

 

Replacing a Geocache

For those of you, who do not know what a Geocache is, have a look at the Wikipedia entry about Geocaching . I became interested in this activity in 2002, and have hidden more than a dozen geocaches in Malaysia. Often in such remote locations that they never have been found..:-). At the moment I have only two “active” geocaches, a real “oldie” in the Kanching recreational forest, The Kanching Falls , and a more recent one in Bukit Kiara. I hid the Kanching geocache in 2003 at the 7th waterfall and it has been found 35 times.

One month ago a geocacher reported that the geocache had disappeared. So I had to go back to Kanching and replace the geocache. It was at the 7th tier that Aric and I had our backpacks stolen, a few months ago. See my post Robbed at Kanching. Therefore I  did not want to go alone. Several of my friends had never visited Kanching and were eager to accompany me! Here is the Fellowship of the Geocache…:-)  From left to right PK Chan, me, Peter Thang, Clinton, Damian, Emily, Chee Wai and Pola Singh. Suat took the picture.

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There are seven waterfalls in Kanching. The first four tiers are easily accessible via a cemented path. Two of them have pools, suitable to take a bath. When we started around 10 am, there were not yet so many visitors, but on our way back, there was really a crowd.

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Before you reach the first waterfall, you have to pass a crowd of monkeys (long-tailed macaques).

They are watching you if you have any food they can grab.

This alpha-male did not mind to have his picture taken, but modestly he protected his family jewels

 

 

Here are the first four tiers. The fourth tier is the most popular one.

After the fourth fall, cemented steps continu for a while and lead to a bridge. After that the trail is clear and well-marked, but steep. The fifth tier is my personal favourite. The sixth tier is a very tall cascade. Finally you reach the top tier. A nice pool invites for a bath.

Here we had coffee and delicious cake from Suat. I checked the geocache location and found that the geocache was indeed missing.

I had prepared already a replacement cache. It is a glass container with the usual content, a logbook, pencil and some goodies. Chee Wai and his daughter were interested to see what was inside.

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Problem was that there were a few more people. In Geocaching lingo they are called Muggles.  I decided to talk with them and explain the geocaching concept. They were interested, so I did not need to be secretive hiding the cache. I asked them to take a picture of the group, before I hid the cache. Here it is.

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Going down a steep slope is more difficult than climbing up. Here are two videos. The first one is taken when we left the 7th tier. Another group of people was going up

This one is taken during the descent beside the tall cascade. The exposed tree roots are very useful

Here we are back at the bridge, after which the cemented steps start. The other picture shows the crowd at tier 4. Just after taking this picture I managed to loose my balance, falling and sliding down. I needed helping hands to stand up again…:-) Luckily no sharp rocks, only some scratches on my arm and leg. Could have been much worse.

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We were back at our cars around 1:30 pm. Perfect time for lunch. Clinton knew a nice shop near Jalan Ipoh. Delicious food.

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A very successful trip

Taiping & more

By now my interest in the history of Taiping, my 2nd hometown,  must be clear to followers of this blog..:-). I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society , which has about 600 members. It is a closed group, but you are welcome to join, if you are interested in the history of Taiping.

Surfing the Internet, I recently came across the FB page of Encik Anuar Isa, the curator of the (now closed) First Galleria . I was intrigued by this entry, published in 2014:

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Intrigued but also puzzled. The Hj Abdullah mentioned by Anuar Isa is Abdullah Muhammad Shah II , the 26th sultan of Perak. In 1875, he was accused of being involved in the murder of British Resident JWW Birch and exiled to the Seychelles in 1876. Could this be his house?

I published the picture on the THS whatsapp, asking if anybody had more info about this house. A few weeks later another THS member, Amril, also interested in the history of Taiping, replied that he had found the house and more information about it. The house was built in 1926 by a famous bomoh. Interesting but not related to Hj Abdullah and Isabella Bird never visited it.

A good reason for me to visit Taiping again and visit this house..:-)  I decided for a 3D2N trip and, as Aric was busy, asked my friends Paul and Fahmi to accompany me. Here is the report, actually about a lot more than Taiping..:-)

We left KL Friday morning and only had to be in Taiping in the afternoon, as we were invited by Amril to attend the Open House of his father, the OBJ of Larut, Matang and Selama. We decided to visit Kellie’s castle, as Fahmi had never been there.

For a history of the castle, click here. It has been renovated and embellished in recent years, making it a popular tourist attraction, although it has made the atmosphere less romantic. But still worth a visit.

Kellie's Castle

Our next destination was the Ulu Lecin waterfalls near Beruas, but when we arrived there, it started raining, so we decided to skip this and continue to Taiping where I had booked rooms in hotel Furama. Close to the Lake Gardens and within walking distance of the town center.

After a short rest and a change of clothes, we drove to the residence of the OBJ. The open house was held between 3 and 6 pm, I was expecting Malaysian timing, i.e. that it would start later. Mistake, when we arrived around 4:30, most of the food was finished already and many guests were leaving…:-)  No problem, there was still enough food and friendly company…:-) Amril was there to introduce me to his parents and I met  Abdur-Razzaq Lubis and his wife Salma, authors of many books about the history of Perak.

The Residence of the OBJ  was built in 1893 for the wife of Ngah Ibrahim. Before that time she had been living many years in what is now Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang. Of course both the Kota and this house have been enlarged and renovated many times. Interesting to note that the present OBJ is actually a descendant of Ngah Ibrahim.

The exterior of the residence and the main hall on the first floor.

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After the open house we went back to our hotel and walked to the Lake gardens. It often rains in the afternoon in Taiping, but this day it was very beautiful weather. Shall we make a boat-ride on the lake?  , I suggested. I have visited the Lake gardens numerous times, but never rented a paddle boat! It was fun, but more tiring than expected…:-)

A visit of Taiping is not complete without enjoying the food. Often it is Chinese food I have there, but this time it was it was mostly Indian/Malay/Mamak fare.

The next day I had arranged with Amril to meet him in the afternoon to visit the bomoh house. Our plan for the rest of the day was to visit the region around Batu Kurau, north of Taiping. Main target: the Air Hitam waterfall

We parked our car at the gate of the water catchment area.  When we were preparing for the hike, a friendly local passed us with the durians he had just harvested. He offered us one for free, and we could pick more, if we saw them on the ground.

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It is an easy walk along a clear trail until you can see the waterfall. A small trail brings you down to the river. It was a Saturday, but there were no other visitors and the waterfall was pristine, no rubbish!Air Hitam fall

It is a nice, powerful waterfall. We spent quite some time there, taking many pictures, making coffee and of course enjoying the durians. A very enjoyable morning.

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On our way back to Taiping, we had a look at “my” barbershop, near Anak Kurau. I call it “my” barbershop, because I have been there three times for a haircut and the barber knows me…:-) The shop is built against the limestone cliffs and the last time I payed RM 5 only. During my recent Taiping trip it was closed because of Ramadan. This time it was closed too, the neighbour explained that the barber had gone our for lunch. Next time, better luck..:-)

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Near to the shop, there is a cafe and a small cave. A good location to take pictures.

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A trail starting from the cafe, follows the river for a while. Beautiful limestone formations, where Fahmi could not resist to show his climbing power…:-)

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Then it was time to go back to Taiping, where we had a simple lunch in the Saiful restaurant at Changkat Jering, while waiting for Amril. He took us first to his friend, Encik Zamberi, living nearby. Zamberi could be called the local Taiping historian, he has written many books and knows a lot about the local history.

He showed us his beautiful library, apologised that it was a bit messy, because one week later there would be a wedding dinner. Then he took us to the bomoh house. The present owner, a descendant of the bomoh, is a friend of him. The friend had gone for the Hajj, the house was closed, but a caretaker opened it for us. Beautiful interior.

After this visit, Zamberi suggested to visit another old Malay house, with interesting interior details. Although coming unannounced, we were warmly welcomed by the couple living there, Malay hospitality at its best…:-)

As it was getting late, we skipped a visit to Long Jaafar’s tomb, where Amril’s ancestors are buried. It was a nice afternoon, a real pleasure to meet Encik Zamberi and Amril, I hope and expect it will not be the last time.

We went for dinner to a Yong Tau Foo foodcourt. Many shops, all serving yong tau foo. Malay style, quite different from the (Ampang) yong tau foo I am used to.

The next day, before driving back to KL, I had to show Paul the “Shame of Taiping”. Some historical buildings in Taiping (presenting itself as a Heritage Town!), are just left to themselves, decaying slowly. And not in a remote part of the town, no, just opposite the prestigious King Edwards school. Pictures without comment

The Town Rest House (1894) is another example. It has been fenced off, the fence is decorated with posters, promoting the many “Firsts” of Taiping, but one of the posters was torn. Again! In my 2nd hometown report I also wrote about a torn poster and that it was replaced after I had complained about it. Let’s wait and see if this happens again …:-)

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We had breakfast at the January cafe in the Old Railway Station. During my last visit I met Mei Chong who, with her sister Mei Chee, is running this cafe. I admire their energy and want to support them…:-)  So, when you visit Taiping ( or live there), have a coffee or some waffles in the January Cafe!  There is also a gallery next to the cafe with historical pictures of Taiping, and outside the building they have collected some old bicycles. Which we had to try of course…:-)

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After our breakfast we drove back to KL. I still had many ideas about places we could visit on our way (Pasir Salak, Batu Gajah, Papan, the Tualang tin dredge). But we had done already a lot and were getting a bit tired.

Then I got an idea. I had heard a lot about the “mysterious” Tasik Cermin, in Ipoh. Also seen pictures of this “Mirror Lake”. I knew that it was somewhere around Gunung Rapat, and could be accessed only via an active quarry and a tunnel. .According to some reports. the quarry owner did no longer allow access to the lake. Why not try to find it

How to go there? Surprisingly, by just following the Waze app on my smartphone…:-) The wonders of the Internet. When we arrived at the entrance of the quarry, there was indeed a No Entry sign. But no security guards, and we noticed a few more people walking in. So we did the same..:-)  A big quarry, we had to ask a friendly worker where the entrance of the tunnel was.

And here it is, Tasik Cermin. A mirror lake indeed. Beautiful and serene.

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The tunnel ends at a jetty with a platform where you can sit down and admire the lake. There is no path around the lake. A few pictures

Back home, I tried to find more information about this lake. One reference mentioned the coffee-table book about the history of the Kinta Valley.  I have a copy of that book, here is the relevant passage:

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The writers of this book?  Lubis and Salma, whom I just had met a few days earlier..:-) As I have said many times, Malaysia is a small world…:-)

It was a trip full of variety, as usual.

Ayer Hitam, finally!

Numerous times I had heard and/or read about the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve in Puchong. With a waterfall, maybe even more than one….

But I had also heard that this forest reserve was a research project of the UPM university and officially out of bounds. As I am a good citizen, I was reluctant to trespass…:)

Last week I joined a so-called hashwalk, for the first time in my life. I will blog about it later. After the walk there was an open-air beer party where I met Master Ho, 76 year old and still going strong.  When he was 15(!) years old, he started a hiking group Pathfinders55, which still exists today. We came to talk about Ayer Hitam and I accepted his invitation to join him for a hike there.

Here is the location of the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve. Surrounded by urban development, it is surprisingly large. Our hike is marked in green.

Large map

Here is part of the Reserve in more detail (click to enlarge). Our hike was about 10 km and took more than four hours. The grey line comes from Google Earth and probably marks an”allowed” trail. On our hike we did not meet any enforcement officials, maybe because it was weekend

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Master Ho had sent me a whatsapp where to meet:

Date: Sunday 22/5/2016
Meet time at the the purple(or pink you may call it) colour single storey
corner shop opposite the coconut stall
Start time: 9.30am

I was surprised that there was quite a big crowd that Sunday morning. The pink/purple house was easy to find and Master Ho was waiting for us. We took a group photo and started our hike. Clear trail, climbing up, then down, crossing a stream, then up again.

After about one hour we reached the waterfall. Many people there, enjoying a bath and relaxing. No rubbish! I understood that the local community is taking care about the place.

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Here is a video of the waterfall

What next? We could take the same way back, but we also could have a look at the Blue Lagoon. Easy decision of course…:-)  So we continued our hike, passing another nice waterfall (no people, access difficult) and an orang asli settlement. Nobody living there now, probably only when fruits (durians?) are harvested. Romantic setting.

Here is a video of another river crossing. Master Ho and I decided to get our feet wet. Of course I was hoping that at least one of my friends would fall…

Here is Peter, taking a bath in the BLue Lagoon

The second Blue Lagoon is even more attractive, with a small waterfall at its end.

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A pity that these lagoons are out of bounds, but understandable. Fortunately they are located deep inside the Reserve. It took us about two more hours to hike back to the pink house. Here are a few pictures to show the beauty of nature.

All the time we were in the jungle, but just before the end, we came out in the open and noticed this rock face with bright flags on top. Maybe because the day before it was Wesak?

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A very rewarding hike!