Stuif's Adventures

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Trip up North
Two Malaysian states are missing in my Waterfalls of Malaysia website: Perlis and Melaka. For waterfalls you need mountains or at least hills and Melaka has none. Perlis has some (limestone) hills, with interesting caves, but limestone is not very suitable for waterfalls. Nevertheless an Internet search for waterfalls in Perlis gives one result, Hutan Lipur Bukit Ayer, north of Kangar, the state capital.

We decided to make a trip up North, visit this waterfall and combine it with a visit to our friends Henry and Soon Lay in Lunas, Kedah. They came with plenty of suggestions to make our trip full of variety. It's a long drive to Kangar, almost 500 km, they mentioned two interesting places we could visit on our way.

Our first stop was at the tsunami monument in Kuala Mudah. The disastrous earthquake and tsunami of 26-12-2004, killing 230.000 people in 14 countries, relatively spared Malaysia, but still in Kuala Mudah more then 10 people were killed and many houses destroyed. The simple, impressive monument consists of a number of fishing boats piled one over another. The ruins of some destroyed houses have been preserved.

The second stop was at Pulau Bunting. Never heard about it? Not surprising, because it is not much more then a tiny unpopulated island, two km from the Kedah coast. So why is it connected to the mainland bij a 2.4 km long bridge? Constructed from 2002-2005 at a cost of RM 120 million. A prime example of a white elephant project.

The explanation we heard was that oil tankers would unload their oil at a jetty on this island, from where it would be transported by a pipeline to the East Coast. The empty tankers would continue down the Straits of Melaka, around Singapore, then up the South China Sea to Kota Baharu, where they would upload their oil again.

Until a few months ago cars could drive along this road until the island, but the access has been blocked now, only motorbikes can still pass. Kedah is a conservative Muslim state, and apparently the authorities were worried about khalwat (immoral activities) taking place. We wanted to see the bridge, it was a long walk in the hot sun!

When we reached Kangar, it was already late in the afternoon, but fortunately a laksa stall was still open. And according to Aric it was one of the best he had ever experienced.

The Tsunami Monument

Simple, impressive

Preserved ruins of destroyed houses

GE view of Pulau Bunting

Access road is blocked

The bridge is still far

Very far

Monumental bridge

The island and the bridge

Assam Laksa in Kangar

The Hutan Lipur Bukit Ayer is located about 15 km north of Kangar. It is well maintained with shelters, bathing pools, toilets etc. And there is indeed a waterfall, only there was no water! This is clearly a very seasonal fall, and our timing was wrong...:-). There was just enough water left in the pools to let people take a bath.

Even without water, the falls are interesting, because of the deposits of travertine, almost giving the impression that the falls are man-made. We just have to come back during the rainy season.

Bukit Ayer

Well maintained

The waterfall

Waterfall without water

Travertine deposits

A frozen waterfall

We had booked a room in a hotel just outside Kangar town. A nice modern motel, very Malay style..:-). For dinner we went to the Hai Thien seafood restaurant in Kuala Perlis. A popular place with rave Trip Advisor reviews Steamed fish Siamese style, delicious.

Fyna motel in Kangar

Nice interior

Thai seafood in Kuala Perlis

A popular place

Fish in Siamese Style

The next morning, after breakfast in our motel, we traveled to Sik, where Henry was already waiting for us. First destination for the day was Lata Lembu, next to Lata Mengkuang, already mentioned in the Waterfalls of Malaysia (WoM) website. I thought this would be a "new" waterfall. But I was wrong...:-) .

When we arrived at the Lata Mengkuang site, Henry explained that Lata Mengkuang proper was not more than some cascades. The waterfall shown in WoM is actually Lata Lembu! I will update the description in WoM later. So no new waterfall here...:-).

Many warnings for leptospirosis, there have been several cases of this disease in Kedah.

Leptospirosis warning

Trying to keep his feet dry

Lata Lembu

Villagers use the water

Lembu main fall

The next two stops were also waterfalls I had visited before. First Lata Bayou Easy access, well maintained.

Lata Bayou




Top tier of Lata Bayou

Muslim girls enjoying a bath

The last waterfall of the day was Bukit Hijau. Same idea as Lata Bayou, but more impressive, many tiers. Both falls deserve more visitors, access roads are good, but location is rather remote.

Bukit Hijau




Top tier Bukit Hijau

Highlight of this day was our visit of Guar Petai. The official name of the place is Bukit Tok Alang, and the location is between Kulim and Butterworth. Here a brick factory has been excavating clay, resulting in a large number of lakes between the remaining hills. It has become a fascinating landscape, where you can not stop taking pictures..:-)

We arrived late afternoon, a good timing with the beautiful light of the setting sun. The place has become popular recently, we saw a wedding couple being photographed. Apparently also an accident has happened, where somebody drowned in one of the lakes. It is private property and the owner decided to block the entrance, worried to be held responsible. But we could visit wihout problems.

Guar Petai

Henry and Aric





One daredevil

Another one



For our dinner we went to a big food court in Bukit Mertajam. A specialty here was Ayam Belacan. Very tasty! We stayed overnight with Henry and Soon Lay. The next morning, after breakfast we went back to Guar Petai to take more pictures in the morning light.

Bukit Mertajam food court

Enjoying our dinner

Ayam Belacan

Breakfast with Thosai

Brick making still continues

Discarded bricks, can take home




Henry and Soon Lay

Our next destination was a waterfall in the Kerian river. A mini hydropower project was under construction here. Good and bad. Good for us because the road had been upgraded, no problem for Henry's Pajero. Bad because the beauty of the forest had been destroyed.

After quite a long drive in, we reached Lata Debu. A bridge had been built across the river. The tall main fall is very impressive, we could only view it from the road, Click here for a short video

Mini(?) Hydropower Project

Big project

Much forest destruction

Powerhouse (?)

Lata Debu

Main fall unaccessible

After Lata Debu, we went to another, much smaller fall, east of Selama. The village is called Kg Ulu Damak and near that village we found an attractive waterfall. Local boys were enjoying the fall, but some of them were shy to have their picture taken. As so often, there have been attempts to upgrade the place, but a shelter/toilet has fallen into disrepair.

After these two falls we had a late lunch in Selama. Delicious frog legs

Lata Ulu Damak

Some boys a bit shy

Not this one

Watching Aric taking pictures

Remains of a shelter

Frog legs in Selama

Finally we visited something completely different, the Giant Well of Selama. Probably not many people will know this place...:-) At the end of an irrigation(?) canal, the water overflows in a "well". As the water level was low, there was not much overflow, must be impressive in the rainy season.

Back in Lunas we celebrated this successful trip with toddy. Back to KL the next morning. We thank Henry and Soon Lay for their hospitality!

Giant well of Selama


Outlet of the well

Toddy party

GPS data of the trip

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