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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



A very successful trip

Bukit Apek waterfalls

Almost ten years ago, in 2006, a friend took me to Bukit Apek. It is the blue track in the image below (click to enlarge). At that time I was not aware that there were waterfalls…:-). When I was told there were waterfalls, I went two more times, one time to the lower fall (red track), a second time to the upper fall (green track). It resulted in a page on my waterfall website: Bukit Apeh falls (I understand now that Apek is the correct spelling).


On this page I wrote:

It will be interesting to see if it is possible to follow the 
stream down into the Ulu Langat Valley. The distance to the 
nearest road is about 1 km, as the crow flies. 
Altitude difference about 200 m

When I talked about it with my Kiara friend Peter Leong, he got interested and recently he and a friend did a recce. It is the red track to the right. At the end of the road, passing a water treatment plant, a clear trail led to a water catchment. Here the trail split, they explored the right fork, it might lead to the Lookout Point. The left fork should lead to the falls.

To check if that was true, we went back with a few friends. From left to right Steven, Chee Seng, Suat, Chee Kwan and Peter. An afternoon trip, we started at 2:15 pm

To reach the trail, we had to pass the water treatment plant, which was heavily fenced with barbed wire. Warning us to be careful, Peter himself got hurt and needed a bandage.


The trail follows an old pipeline to a small reservoir. One of the most scenic trails I have walked! Shaded, mossy, Lord of the Rings atmosphere.

Here a few pictures of the pipeline

The small reservoir, where the trail forks

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From the catchment we followed the left trail, well marked, must be used regularly by hashers, many hash papers. This part is less interesting, a bit monotonous. After a few hundred meters  it joins the trail leading to the two waterfalls. I wanted to see the lower fall and that meant we had to descend a steep slope.

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Here is the lower fall.


I had brought a stove to make coffee, here Chee Seng is boiling the water. Of course Suat had brought her delicious homemade cake…:-)

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Time to take pictures

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I don’t remember what I said here to the two alpha-males…:-)


At the waterfall we met another friend, Michael, who had started the hike from the other (Saga) side. He joined us on our way down, after we had taken a group photo. After about one hour we were back at our car, where cold beer was waiting for us..:-)

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Here is a GE screenshot of our hike.




Our nearest neighbour?

As you may know from my  blog, I think we may be alone in the Universe. But of course I would be more than happy if (intelligent) life would be found outside our own planet. My PC is taking part in the SETI project, see my blog  Anybody out there? Last week there was excitement about a strong signal from a sunlike star, but: No alien signal, says SETI astronomer.

Numerous extrasolar planets have been found by now, as of 1 September 2016 the count was 3518. A few dozen of them might be able to support life (rocky, similar size to Earth, orbiting in the habitable zone of their star).

So, why did this Letter to Nature (one of the leading science magazines) :  A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri cause so much commotion that it became front page news in the media?

The answer is simple: Proxima Centauri is not just one of the hundreds of billion stars in our galaxy. It is the star closest to our Sun, at a distance of 4.22 lightyear “only“,

Let’s have a closer look at this nearest neighbour of the Sun.  Where can we find it in the night sky? And can we see it  with unaided eyes or binoculars?

Here is the night sky (in Malaysia) in March, south-eastern direction. You will notice three constellations, dominated by Centaurus. The name comes from Greek mythology, where a Centaur is a half-horse half-man creatureSky-march


Here is how the Greek saw a Centaur in the stars.

You may find it difficult to see a centaur, but the two bright stars in his left leg are conspicuous. Rigel Kent, better known as α Centauri, is the third-brightest star in the sky, after Sirius and  Canopus. 

Hadar (β Centauri) is also a bright star.

α Centauri is actually a star system, consisting of three stars. Two of them, α Centauri A and B are so close that they can not be separated by the unaided eye. Here is an image taken by the Hubble telescope.

Best image of Alpha Centauri A and B


α Centauri A (to the left) is slightly larger than the Sun, while B is a bit smaller. They orbit around each other with a period of 80 years.



The third component, α Centauri C is a red dwarf, much smaller and cooler (more reddish)  than the Sun. Very far away  (about 0.21 ly) from the other two. If it is bound by gravitation to A and B (not 100% sure), the estimated orbiting period is ~ 500.000 year. Here are A and B (seen as one star here) and C (in the center of the red circle). The other stars are Milky Way stars, much farther away.

The α Centauri system is closer to the Sun than any other star, about 4.35 ly away, and of the three components, α Centauri C is a bit closer (4.22 ly) and therefore it has been named Proxima Centauri.

Because of the close distance, the system has been studied intensively. A planet might be orbiting α Centauri B, but even if found to be true, it will not be habitable.


Now a planet has been found, orbiting the red dwarf in the α Centauri system. It has been called Proxima b. Very close to the star, orbiting it in about 11 days only. Compare this with Mercury’s period of 88 days. But because the star is less bright than the Sun, the planet is still in the habitable zone. Here is an artist impression how the planet could look like. α Centauri A and B are also shown, as bright stars.


Our closest neighbour! But a distance of 4.22 light-year means that Proxima b is still 40 trillion km away from Earth. At this moment spacecraft New Horizon, after taking spectacular pictures of dwarf planet Pluto, is leaving our solar system with a respectable speed of ~ 60.000 km/h. That is fast, but it would take ~ 80.000 year to reach Proxima b.

Here is what the Mail Online reported on 24/8. “The second Earth that we could visit in our lifetime”  and  “just four light years away

Actually there is an audacious plan to send a probe to Proxima b. Not a spaceship but a space-chip! Not one probe, but a swarm of them. Interested?  The project is called .Breakthrough Starshot and it deserves a separate blog post.

Here only a few comments on the idea of a “second Earth”.

  • As the planet orbits very closely to its Sun, it will probably be tidally locked, like Mercury. In that case the sun side will be scorching hot, the other side dark and freezing cold. Only the twilight zone might be able to support life
  • Proxima Centauri is a flare star, with occasional eruptions of radiation, comparable but much stronger than the solar flares. Not very suitable for the development of life.
  • Will there be water on Proxima b?  Earth got its water during the Late Heavy Bombardment. when numerous comets and asteroids, disturbed in their orbit by the giant planets, collided wit Earth.

In this very readable Scientific American blog more skeptical arguments are given.

Here are a few other habitable planets. Proxima b is not yet in this list, it belongs to the bottom row, Proxima Centauri is a so-called M star

Kepler-452b (top row) is sometimes nicknamed Earth’s Cousin..:-) But the distance to Earth is a whopping 1400 light-year!  It would take New Horizon about 25 million year to go there.

More about the Breakthrough Starshot project in a later blog post