A Memorable Trip

Some friends call me jokingly the godfather of the Malaysian waterfalls. And being a godfather, of course  I have godsons…:-)  Actually four of them: Siang Hui nr 1, Teoh nr 2, Harry Nian nr 3 and Nic nr 4.

Last year August, Harry Nian went to Terengganu on a solo expedition, looking for new waterfalls. On August 17, coming back from the remote Berdebu waterfall, he was stung by a swarm of bees and died. His body was found in the Kelemin river only a week later.

Last weekend I have been back to Terengganu with Aric, Siang Hui, Teoh and Nic. We wanted to visit the waterfall where Harry had his fatal accident. A detailed report about this trip can be found here: Terengganu trip, June 2013

The Berdebu fall is located in the Kelemin river. To reach this river you have to follow a (good) logging road for more than 20(!) km to a big logging camp. Around here Harry’s car was found by the Search and Rescue team. It was Hari Raya, probably the camp was deserted at that time, nobody noticed that something was wrong.

We camped a few hundred meters past the logging camp, a perfect spot near the Kelemin river.

Kelemin camp

The next morning we started our hike around 9 am. First an old logging road, later a trail. We crossed the river twice, current was strong, so we had to be careful. After about two hours we reached a point where we could see the impressive Berdebu waterfall. From here we had to follow the river and the going got tough. Huge, often slippery boulders, difficult river crossings. After I had slipped from a boulder and bruised my thigh, I decided that I would go no further and leave it to the others to continue to the fall. There were quite a few sweat bees around, so Aric stayed with me to keep an eye on me, as I am allergic for bee stings. And of course I knew that Harry had probably died by (a lot of) bee stings. We had to wait almost two hours before the other three returned, which gave me time to create my usual marker. Actually I had already decided before we started the trip, that this marker would be for Harry.

Berdebu and marker

We were quite relieved when  we saw Siang Hui, Teoh and Nic return. They had managed to reach the bottom of the fall, it had been tough, they had to circumvent a huge boulder by climbing up a steep slope, reaching a mossy ridge, then finally scrambling down to the fall

Berdebu fall

Jeram Berdebu (picture by Siang Hui)

Before we went back, we took  a group picture, with the waterfall and the marker.

Berddebu & team

It took us another three hours to get back to our camp. End of story? Almost.

Back home I saw for the first time the two pictures taken by Harry during his hike and retrieved from his mobile phone after his death.

Here is the picture taken by Harry, 17-8-2012 at 2:29 pm

Harry Berdebu

Picture by Harry Nian

Take some time to compare the two pictures carefully. Notice the fallen tree, the big rock with some green plants, the smaller, lighter coloured rock left from it, and try to locate them in our group photo. Then guess where Harry must have been standing when he took his picture.

Harry took that picture on the spot where I, unknowingly, erected a marker for him!

When I pointed this out to friends, several got goosebumps. Of course the rational explanation is that the rock where I built my marker, is the obvious spot to take a picture of the waterfall. But I am really happy with the coincidence.

Harry also continued to the fall, same as my three “godsons”. Here is his last picture, taken on 3:18pm that fatal 17th of August 2012. An impressive picture!

Berdebu Harry

Picture by Harry

Apparently Harry stayed on the left side of the Kelemin river, and he did not go down to the pool. Siang Hui took a picture when he was on the mossy ridge (to the right of the river) and indicated a possible location of Harry when he took his last picture

Location of Harry?

Picture by Siang Hui

What exactly happened after he took this last picture, we will never know for sure. He must have disturbed a bee nest, so it was probably not during the river trekking, but after he entered the jungle again. His body was found in the Kelemin river, not too far from his car.

A memorable trip.

2 thoughts on “A Memorable Trip

  1. lessons learned from this very sad Tale..? – carry anithistimine (it can help to offset the effects of bee stings and other shocks to the system. 2) NEVER , EVER trek alone…you may think you’re strong, and invincible but the “buddy” system ALWAYS ALWAYS applies in ventures into an alien environment like Malaysia’s jungles…

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