Durians! and more

When my friend Pola Singh asked me last week if I would like to join him for a durian trip to Bentong, I accepted immediately. I love the King of Fruits, but here in KL they are often very expensive. The trip was organised by his schoolmates from Malacca High School

Meeting point was the Bentong market, where we started with breakfast in the popular Yuen Kee Kopitiam.

We had Yong Tau Foo and of course Wan Tan Mee, the specialty of the shop.

Leo, the organiser of the trip, had started his working life as a teacher in Bentong and still knew his way. He showed us a few of the tourist attractions of the town. Apparently the Bentong Walk is similar to the Jonker Walk in Melaka, a Saturday night market.

These days there is a proliferation of mural art in Malaysia. It started in Penang, followed by KL, Ipoh, Taiping, Gopeng, KKB and now also in Bentong. There are probably more, but these are the ones I have visited.

Actually I am a bit unhappy with this mushrooming. As more and more suitable walls in Malaysia will be covered with mural art, its impact will get less.

Having said that, I must admit that the murals in Bentong are well done. It is nice that you can interact with many of them.

And that is of course what we did ūüėČ .

A few more examples.

After our walk we walked back to our cars and went on our way to the durian farm. On our way we passed the attractive Pasar Besar and the Mosque.

The durian farm can be reached from the road leading to the Chamang waterfall. Parking our cars beside the road, we walked the last part to the farm , where we were welcomed by the owner, Law Kam Kuan, a former student of Leo. She explained that no pesticides are used, accepting that squirrels or monkeys will sometimes damage the fruits.

The next hour I had no time to take pictures, because I was busy tasting the different brands of durians ūüôā . We started with Kampung Durian,, followed by D24 and finally Musang King. Here are some pictures I took after I had eaten enough.

Our next stop was at the Chamang waterfall. It is one of the popular waterfalls in Malaysia, access is very easy, there are toilets, changing rooms etc. I have visited the fall many times, but the last time was already 7 years ago.

The fall is powerful, but also dangerous. Almost yearly people drown here!

I took a short video of the waterfall.

The program for the rest of the day included lunch, ice cream, tea, but we didn’t feel hungry anymore, so we decided to drive back to KL after the waterfall.

A nice , well organised trip. Click here for a video report by Pola.

Two caves and a waterfall

A few weeks ago my friend Henry Chan whatsapped me about a”new” waterfall in the Sg Siput region, Lata Penyel, and a cave south of Ipoh, Gua Air. He had visited both places. and when I showed my interest, he said that he was willing to guide me there.

We share an interest in nature, especially waterfalls, and we have made several trips together. Here are the reports : Trip to Kedah and Penang, Tasik Kenyir and Trip up North .

Henry and his wife Soon Lay live in Lunas, but they also have a house in Taiping, my 2nd hometown ūüôā . During my recent visit to Taiping, they also came to Taiping, and from there we made a day trip to Ipoh. A long trip, because we had decided to include a second cave, Gua Naga Mas, located not far from Gua Air.

They picked me up from my hotel at 7 am and first we drove to Bercham for breakfast at Restoran New Paradise. Food is another shared interest, the restaurant is famous for its Char Siew Pao. We bought a few for lunch, I had Yong Tau Foo for breakfast. A good start of the day!

Our first destination was the Gua Naga Mas (Golden Dragon Cave). We had never been there, but Bernard, another friend of mine, had visited this cave and given us coordinates and directions.

The cave has been in the news recently because of a fossil animal skeleton inside the cave. In this newspaper article: Rare tiger fossil in cave at Gopeng, Perak, must be preserved more information can be found. My caving friend Liz Price has reported several times about the cave and the fossil, advocating that it should be better preserved.

October last year the Kinta Valley has been declared a National Geopark, hopefully the vulnerable limestone hills and caves will be better protected now against the ongoing quarrying onslaught!

With Bernard’s directions we found the location easily. The limestone cave is part of a Buddhist temple, many of these cave temples can be found around Ipoh, see for example my blog Gunung Rapat Cave Temples . Compared with those temples, this one looks rather neglected. Steps lead to the upper cave with the fossil.

Information boards tell about the history of the fossil. They look new.

Here is the fossil. It could be a tiger, or a leopard, or even a bear. It could be more than 300.000 year old, according to a recent study.

It is not that easy to spot, you must know where to look ;-). We were the only visitors. Using some rickety scaffolding you can come a bit closer to the fossil. Apparently there is work going on and probably in the future the cave and also the temple will look better.

A few more pictures

View of the surroundings from the cave entrance. A lot of industrial development. The hills are part of Gunung Lanno, our next destination.

For the second cave, Gua Air (Water Cave) , we drove a few km north, to Gunung Lanno. Extensive quarrying takes place here, as can be seen in this GE screenshot. To visit the cave, you have to enter the quarry site, permission was easily given.

Before we entered the cave, we first drove a bit farther, where the cave exits in a beautiful lake with crystal clear water.

Nice surroundings.

Back to the cave entrance. Henry had brought helmets and headlights.

Entering the cave was a bit tricky, using a ramshackle ladder. Some steps were already missing, and going down another one broke loose.

The cave itself was disappointing, only a short stretch, and probably not natural, but blasted. However, at the end you reach the small lake, really beautiful.

I was a bit worried if we would be able to climb up the ladder, which was now missing one more step, but we managed ūüôā . Outside the cave we followed a trail to the lake. That was more interesting than the cave itself.

Visiting the two caves had taken only taken about two hours, less time than we had expected. Henry decided that on our way to the waterfall, we could have lunch in the Old Friend Restaurant in Kuala Kuang (Chemor), famous for its Roast Duck. Delicious!

Our last destination was the Lata Penyel waterfall. In 2015 I visited waterfalls in the Sg Siput region: Sg Siput Waterfall Recce. I ended this blog with:

From Bawong 4WD roads lead to remote Pos Piah and Kg Kuala Mu. There must be dozens  if not hundreds of waterfalls along these roads, waiting for intrepid explorers!

A few years later the road to Kg Kuala Mu has been tarred and is now accessible for normal cars. But it still a 2.5 hour drive from Ipoh to Kuala Mu!

The Tengkoh Penyel waterfall is near the small Pos Yum kampung. and can be reached on an easy trail of about 600 m. The kampung folk (Temiar O.A.) maintain the trail and are doing a good job.

The tall waterfall is a real beauty, very scenic. There is only a wading pool, so it is safe for non-swimmers.

The tall waterfall is a real beauty, very scenic. There is only a wading pool, so it is safe for non-swimmers.

The Orang Asli have done a marvelous job, they have built a few shelters and huts near the waterfall. You can rent them and even stay overnight

Some more pictures

Before driving back to Taiping, we still had time to have a look at Kampung Kuala Mu. A very winding road, climbing to an altitude of 600 m. Surprisingly there were many people there, bikers mainly, staying overnight in one of the huts. Well organised.

It was still a long way back to Taiping, where we arrived around 7 pm. Here is a Google Earth screenshot, with the location of the two caves, and the road from Chemor to the waterfall and Kuala Mu.

We finished this rewarding outing with a dinner at Thomas’ Western Food in Barrack Road. Henry had brought a few bottles of toddy!

Looking forward to a next adventure with them!

Versatile Perak

In my opinion Perak is the most interesting state of Malaysia, regarding nature, culture and history. A rich history, many historical towns , numerous waterfalls. Nice food too..:-)

Recently I visited Perak with my friends Paul and Fahmi. We stayed two nights in the Cititel hotel in Ipoh.

On our way to Ipoh we first visited a waterfall near Sungkai, the Enggang waterfall. At the end of the road leading to the well-known Sungkai Hot springs, a clear trail starts, leading in about one hour to the waterfall.

The waterfall is not visible from the trail, but of course you can hear it.  We first arrived halfway the fall  (left picture). After some scrambling down the slope we managed to reach the bottom. (right picture)

We had visited this waterfall a couple of years ago. Not many people come here, the fall is still pristine! And the flow of water was very impressive this time.

After lunch in Sungkai, we continued to Ipoh, checked in into our hotel, took some rest and went out for dinner. Many times I have eaten in one of the famous chicken taugeh kwai teow places, but this time we were looking for halal food and an Ipoh friend had suggested a few suitable restaurants. The Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice turned out to be a good choice.

On our way back to our hotel, we passed a few interesting buildings. Left the Chua Cheng Bok building (1930s) in Art Deco style, recently painted in bright blue colors. Would you guess that the beautiful building in the right picture originally has been a Fire Station? It was built here in 1913 and upgraded in 1936. Served as Fire and Rescue Department until 1992.

For our breakfast next morning we went to the Halal Dimsum Cafe in Greentown another suggestion from my Ipoh friend. Very good dimsum!

On our program for the morning was another waterfall, the Lata Ulu Chepor, on the outskirts of Ipoh. It was a bit of  failure, I had forgotten to mark the locations of the two (minor) falls in my GPS, and we passed them without noticing them. The trail continued, might lead to a taller waterfall upstream, but we returned, found a nice place to have a bath. Crystal clear water.

I

I had in mind to visit another waterfall in the same region, but this hike had taken quite a lot of time, so we decided to skip it and go for lunch. Nasi Ganja! Using Google we had found the address. When we arrived there, we noticed a big crowd queuing, but no sign of Nasi Ganja. It turned out that this was the shop, all Ipoh people know it as nasi ganja, but the shop can not advertise with the name as ganja is an illegal drug. . Nice nasi kandar, apparently addictive…:-)

In the afternoon Paul and I explored Ipoh Old Town. Paul had published an album about Ipoh Heritage, so he could show me around. We started from our strategically located hotel.

Around the corner St Michael’s Institution, one of the famous¬† Ipoh schools, founded by the La Salle Brothers in 1912. The impressive building is from 1922.

Next to it the India Muslim Mosque. Construction started in 1909

Below left the entrance of the Royal Ipoh Club, records go back to 1895, but it may be even older. Right the High Court buildings, designed by Arthur Benison Hubback and built 1926-28.

Two other impressive buildings in Ipoh have also been designed by Hubback. Construction of the Town Hall started in 1914 and was completed two years later. Is is really a monumental building.

Opposite the Town Hall, the Railway Station, nicknamed the Taj Mahal of Ipoh by locals. Officially opened in 1917. The first floor used to be a hotel, the Majestic Station Hotel, and many years ago I have been staying there several times. It was already rundown at that time, dirty sheets, cockroaches. Now it is closed, although there still exists a website , promoting its¬† “superbly-comfortable accommodation”¬† !

Coming from the Railway Station, the Birch memorial is located behind the Town Hall. J.W.W. Birch was the first British resident of Perak, assassinated in 1875 at Pasir Salak by Malay noblemen, Dato Maharaja Lela and Dato Sagor.

The monument, also a clock tower, was erected in 1909 by his son, E.W. Birch, at that time the (much more popular) resident of Perak. Nice detail: the roads left and right of the monument were originally named Station Road and Post Office Road. After independence they have been renamed. The new names? Jalan Dato Maharajalela and Jalan Dato Sagor !

Another interesting detail.¬†On¬† four civilisation panels around the tower, 44 famous figures in the world history are portrayed, for example Buddha, Newton, Confucius, Galilei etc. One of the figures¬† has been painted over. Guess who…:-)

Two bank buildings. Left the impressive building of the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank (1931), right the Chartered Bank (1924)

There are more historical bank buildings in the same district, for example the Mercantile Bank (1931) , designed in Art Deco style by Iversen.Now it is housing the Elken company, note the ugly banner on the facade. The OCBC bank is now occupying the building of the Straits Trading Company (1907).

The Perak Hydro building (1930s) belonged to the Perak River Hydro-Electric Company who built the Chenderoh dam in the Perak river, the oldest reservoir in Malaysia

Chung Thye Phin was born in Taiping and became a wealthy tin miner and (the last) Kapitan Cina. The building below carried his name and was built in 1907. In its early days it used to be a medical hall. Beautiful facade.

Walking around in Ipoh Old Town, I was surprised about the numerous interesting heritage buildings. Generally well preserved.

At first I thought that this could be the exception: overgrown decaying shoplots. But I was mistaken…:-)

Actually it is part of Kong Heng square. Not overgrown, but modern vertical gardens..:-), The first floor houses  Sekeping Kong Heng , will try to stay there during my next visit

Three more buildings. Left the Han Chin Pet Soo building, now housing the Hakka tin mining museum.¬†Originally the home of the Hakka Tin Miners Club, founded in 1893 and rebuilt in 1929. In the middle a nameless house, under renovation. And right the building of the FMS Bar and Restaurant, an icon from Ipoh’s glorious past. A couple of years ago it was hoped that the glory would come back after a ambitious restoration. But during my visit it was closed without a sign of life. A failed project?

And here are two more buildings from a different era. Left the Labrooy House, modernist design, completed between 1960 and 1961. Right from the same period, the first parking garage of Malaysia!

Finally here are two street views of Leech Street (now Jalan Bandar Timah). Beautiful. Followers of my blog know that I love Taiping as my 2nd hometown. Pity you can not find similar street views in Taiping ūüôĀ

To be honest, I was very impressed by the heritage of Ipoh Old Town. Taiping’s history starts earlier, it boasts on its many “Firsts” and is promoted as Bandar Warisan (Heritage Town), but when you compare the two towns, Ipoh deserves this title more.

Of course I had to walk through Concubine Lane. After reading negative reports about how tourism had destroyed the character of this street,¬† I was prepared for the worst. Actually it was not too bad, not worse than Petaling Street in KL…:-)

Two year ago I visited Ipoh to see the Zacharevic murals, see my blog Ipoh Murals. Mural Art has been mushrooming all over Malaysia the last few years and also in Ipoh there has been copycatting. Not  really a positive development.

We had dinner our last night in another Chinese Muslim restaurant, this time Fahmi’s discovery. Roast duck, Mongolian chicken, bitter gourd with salted egg. A nice, filling meal!

The next morning, before checking out,  a view from my room in Cititel.

We had breakfast in the Medan Selera near the BIrch memorial with soft-boiled eggs on toast, an Ipoh specialty. Yummie!

Our plan was to visit the Hakka Tin mining museum in the Han Chin Pet Soo building, but they have only guided tours and the timing was not suitable for us. So we started our trip back to KL.

Our first stop was at the Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge. I have visited this gargantuan relic from the tin mining era several times in the past, was able to explore the dredge freely, climbing up to the upper level, sometimes  bit scary, but fascinating. Since a few years the situation has changed, there were plans to make it a No 1 tourist attraction and it was closed, you could only see it from the outside.

Friends had told me that it was now open to the public, and I wanted to have a look. I was a bit shocked by the ticket price, RM 10 for Mykad holders, RM 20 (!) for foreigners. Senior citizens get a 50 % discount, but still too expensive, as at the moment only the (less interesting) lower level is accessible. Although the guided tour was informative, better wait until the whole dredge can be visited.

Left the ambitious development plan for the Tanjung Tualang dredge. Rather unrealistic and completely over the top, in my opinion. Right a simpler version. I got the impression from our guide that the project has been put on hold after the recent change in government. Good, the dredge itself can become a tourist attraction, like Kellie’s castle, no need¬† to surround it with all kind of nonsense.

During my earlier visits the dredge pontoon was tilting because of leakage, that has been stabilised now. Right a small canteen, closed when we visited the dredge, but probably more busy during weekends. There is also  small museum.

Our next target was the Salu waterfall, 6 km north of Kampar. Easy access, two waterfalls. Suitable for senior citizens..:-)

From the carpark a cemented path leads in a few minutes to the lower Salu fall. 

The upper fall can be reached in about 15 minutes via a clear trail. There are more waterfalls upstream, but these require jungle  trekking.

Our last destination was the Tin Mining museum in Kampar. Until a few weeks ago I had never heard about this museum, but apparently it exists already for seven years! It was a pleasant surprise.

As the signboard says, it is mainly dedicated to open tin mining, using gravel pumps.Here is an interesting pdf file about Gravel Pump Tin Mining. Impressive machinery, I understand there are guided tours, which would really have been useful here.

Besides the machinery, there is a big hall with lots of information. A few scale models of tin mines give  a good impression of the process.

Both inside and outside the halls dioramas have been created of the various activities related to tin mining. Also here a guide would be useful, or leaflets with information.

After our museum visit we had lunch in the mamak next to it, and then it was time to go home.

Versatile Perak!

Waterfall Nostalgia

In January 2003 Aric and I went camping at the Gombak river and during our hike I noticed a sign to the Pisang waterfall. Back home I searched the Internet and found a webpage about this Pisang waterfall, maintained by a guy named Khong. I decided to write to him and immediately got an enthusiastic reply. We met and soon became friends. He had published many waterfall pages, but recently had become more interested in birdwatching. We decided that I would manage and develop further  a website Waterfalls of Malaysia (WoM)

That was the start of what became my waterfall addiction…:-). I have collected in this blog many of the waterfalls I have visited from March 2003 until March 2006, more than a decade ago. The pictures of fauna and flora have been taken during these trips. Clicking on a link will bring you to the corresponding waterfall page of WoM.


Lata Berembun, Pahang, 6-3-2003

Lata Kijang, Negeri Sembilan, 23-3-2003

Serendah Fall, Selangor, 8-4-2003

Tanglir Fall, Pahang, 8-4-2003

Chiling Fall, Selangor, 20-7-2003

Takah Tinggi, Johor, 31-8-2003

Kanching Falls, Selangor, 12-12-2003

Gabai Fall, Selangor, 11-6-2004

Tekala Falls, Selangor, 11-6-2004

Lepoh Fall, Selangor, 12-6-2004

Lata Iskandar, Perak, 11-7-2004

Jeriau Fall, Pahang, 15-7-2004

Jerangkang Falls, Pahang, 18-7-2004

Lower Cemerong Fall, Terengganu, 14-8-2004

Pandan Fall, Pahang, 9-8-2004

Berkelah Falls, Pahang, 14-8-2004

Chamang Fall, Pahang, 15-8-2004

Titi Kerawang Fall, Penang, 28-8-2004

Siong Fall, Selangor, 5-9-2004

Upper Ampang Fall, Selangor, 21-12-2004

Trong Fall, Perak, 27-12-2004

Tebing Tinggi, Perak, 28-12-2004

Templer Fall, Selangor, 6-1-2005

Sekayu Falls, Terengganu, 29-3-2005

Lata Tembakah, Terengganu, 30-3-2005

Lata Rek, Kelantan, 31-3-2005

Gapoi Fall, Pahang, 6-4-2005

Lata Khong, Pahang, 9-4-2005

Sendat Fall, Selangor, 13-4-2005

Damak Fall, Perak, 23-7-2005

Batu Hampar Fall, Kedah, 3-8-2005

Mengkuang Fall, Kedah, 4-8-2005

Bukit Hijau Falls, Kedah, 4-8-2004

Lata Bayou, Kedah, 4-8-2005

Tanjung Kala Fall, Perak, 5-8-2005

Pisang Fall, Selangor, 22-8-2005

Lata Kinjang, Perak, 25-8-2005

Chelik Fall, Perak, 26-8-2005

Jeram Toi, Negeri Sembilan, 7-9-2005

Pulai Fall, Johore, 15-12-2005

Sg Yong Fall, Johore, 16-12-2005

Lentang Fall, Pahang, 22-12-2005

Strata Fall, Perak, 27-2-2006

Two Senior Gentlemen in the Jungle

Here is a nostalgic report about two waterfall trips, made  with my friend George Tan, in 2009 and 2011. During a recent visit to Taiping I talked with Jenny, a mutual friend, about these trips, she thought it had been irresponsible for two senior citizens to venture so deep into the jungle on their own. And although everything went well, in retrospect I think she was right.

The first trip took place in 2009 when I was 65 year old and George 63. My waterfall friends had told me about a waterfall, north of Taiping in the Batu Kurau region. From Kampung Jelai a small road  leads to a water catchment area, where we parked the car and started walking. Here is the Google Earth map (click to enlarge)

We followed a clear trail high above the river, but to reach the waterfall we had to scramble down a steep slope. A parang came in handy and George knew how to use it.

Not surprisingly this was leech country. There are several cascades and smaller waterfalls, we did quite a bit of esploration

Here we are, two senior citizens in the jungle.

And this is the impressive Air Hitam waterfall

The hike took us about three hours, during which we did not meet a single soul, although we saw signs of life along the trail, a shelter here, a motorbike there. But ok, when something would have happened during our scrambling down, we would have had a problem.

The situation has changed, after I published the Air Hitam waterfall on my website. I have revisited the fall several times and there is now a clear trail leading down directly to the main fall. Fortunately the fall is still relatively unknown and pristine.

__________________________________________________________________

Two year later we went to the Nyior waterfall in the Bubu mountain range. A much more serious adventure.

Ladang Allagar is a plantation between Terong and Beruas. Crossing the plantation you enter a Forest Reserve. The road ends at a water catchment, where the trail starts.

At first there is still a trail but soon you reach the river and from there you have to river trek

River trekking is fun, but not always easy. You have to be careful with slippery rocks

And you will get wet…:-)

Finally we reached the main Nyior waterfall. Far from civilisation, worth the effort

We stayed at the fall about one hour, enjoying ourselves. Pity there was no pool.

Walking back the same way, we had a look at a few smaller falls

Altogether the hike took us almost 5 hours, it was not a difficult one, again we met nobody but this time there were also no signs of human activity. If one of us would have had an accident, we would have been in serious trouble.

That was six years ago. For George this trip was a reason to say, enough is enough, no more remote waterfall hikes. And¬†I decided only to go to remote waterfalls in the company of 2, preferably 3, strong, (young) men… ūüôā

So, yes, it was a bit irresponsible what we did¬† ūüôĀ¬† ūüôĀ

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 hiking 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… ūüôā 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 ūüôĀ

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.