Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10.00pm depart Kuala Lumpur the touring Dag Tiwok Kayak all loaded up on the ever faithful workhorse GREEN. Fuel and food and cold drinks in the fridge. I wonder how far I will paddle this weekend 200k would be a dream more like 140-160k? The goal is to paddle 220k or as far as I can towards the South China Sea in Pekan Pahang Malaysia from Kuala Krau 1k up past my endpoint (roughly kilometer 171) from the first part of the trip. This weekend im supported by another expat Robert who is an avid traveller of Malaysia.

The GPS is set and guides us towards GPSPoint TMNG111 whch is under a bridge on the river which Robert (my landsupport for this trip) does not believe exists on Sungai Pahang (Pahang River).

1.30am we cruise past Kuala Krau out the other side and a right turn and there is the bridge WOW so big eventually we squeeze past a locked gate in GREEN and pitch out camp under the bridge no need for a TARP and a hot drink and a Sustagen energy drink and its time for bed at 2.00am.

6.00am Damn whats that horrible noise? oh RATS is the iPhone ALARM screaming get up get up.

Breakfast is cooked big tin cold baked beans, sustagen school energy drink hot team, final check of the kayak, put on the kit, sunscreen and load up 9 liters of water and we carry the kayak to the water and a quick RV of the maps and a lunchpoint is agreed on 40k south "Temerloh" in about 5 hours time. 7.25am I head for those first 4-5 wobbly strokes off 25 minutes later than I wanted.

Packing the kayak

That first wobbly paddle

Im off on that mighty big river

Its nice cruising along I average 7.5k for the first hour then I have a toilet break at a little jetty however the current tips me over after I have lifted the skirt off im over and in standup its too deep real deep over my head deep under I go again. Spluttering I reach the bank 1 meter away and sink past my knees in SOFT MUD. It takes me over 15 minutes to empty the kayak and clean myself up and yeah go to the bathroom. My average speed plumets to 7k.

I decide no more stops and plan B is used. Recovering I stop to wash my glasses and spot a troop of monkeys and a troop of otters (family) under them however my noise makes them dissappear before I can take a picture. Wow otters cool really cool.

Salvage Crew?

It takes me the rest of the morning to get the average back up to 7.5k. I stick tot he left bank its shaded and the current is usually good, the middle is a mess of eddies whjch errupt and pull you around in circles and slow your progress.

Pleasant weather not hot and not cold. Then the best boat house I have ever seen 3 huge logs with a house built on top.

Soon I pass under the ECE bridge at Lanchang wow not so big from down below.

ECE Bridge

Then I pass a fish cage being transported on top of two 15hp boats

Fish Cage

I get a call from Robert have to reach the bridge yet - yes about 400 meters ago - oh rats im stuck at roadworks and cannot get to there for ages. He has had a sweet teh terrik (Tea and Mil with sugar) boiled in wood fired stove at a run down shack haha.

I continue on my downstream journey - Im starving what's for lunch as I have almost paddled 40k talk about read my mind the phone goes "just before the Termerloh jetti lunch is right there" - cool and damn/rats its on the other side of the river 200 meters away and about a kilometer downstream.

Me from 800mm away via the camera lens at Temerloh

The pesky noisy ferry

Me arriving at Termeloh for Lunch!

This little guys was having lunch also mmmmmmmm insects.

And his buddy also

1.30pm and lunchstop is finally made - Wah step into knee deep mud and take my now dirty clothes into the restaurant bathroom to wash them. What luxury a 40foot log canoe is in the restaurant its upper class huge trees outside making this a pleasant place to stay for an afternoon. However, i'm on a quest and the South China Sea beckons. Lunch is the usual fare of sampling Nasi Goreng Ayam (Fried Rice and this time Shrimp) with an egg on top - my my delicious. I spend too long here and 1 hour 15 minutes later (1.45pm) im on my way with Camp to be somewhere near point 245k and 250k some 35k down the river to be confirmed by Robert when he reccies the area.

You think I can reach K260 hahaaha

Departing Temerloh.

Wahoo 11 minutes before sunset I slip down the side channel and there is camp.


Sunset is 18:59 and no moon so I cannot be late. No sooner I start paddling than the current stops flowing as the river widens - RATS! I cruise on making good time in the slow current and paddle down the right this time which is also the road side and the river bank/cliff is adorned with scruffy buildings and rubbish :( .

Message at 5.00pm RV at 250K or 245K a quick calculation 245k im not going to make 250k before sunset.

A thunderstorm starts in the distance I wonder if im going to get wet or beat it. My back hurts there is something wrong with the seat and im tired and hungry 4 hours sleep is not enough with only 10k left to paddle. Phone goes again take far right hand channel at two islands as I pass fisherman after fisherman. TIme passes slowly as I race the thunderstorm and there is Robert snapping away happily the bright orange shirt a little beacon to aim at. I exit the water 6.47pm and at the K248 mark and struggle to get out of the kayak yet again the mud is horrendous i fall in and struggle to get out yet again im just tired I guesss. Not bad I have knocked off 36k in 4 hours wow and my average has increased to 7.6k per hour for the day.

Camp site is a disused ferry crossing point it has shelter but the toilets etc are destroyed. We pack the kayak onto the car for the dinner trip which is down in a little kampung where Robert got destroyed playing checkers with the locals this afternoon. Then we see why my back hurts the seat back has flipped over.

Nasi Goreng Udang again (Fried Rice and Shrimp) and Milo on Ice. Im exhausted but we have to pull out the maps for the locals to view.

Soon its bed time I really gotta get some sleep. The kayak is unloaded again and prepared for tomorrow and I crawl into the sleeping bag and no alarm is set we both need sleep. 9.30pm and im asleep before I zip up the sleeping bag.

7.00am wakeup and prepare breakfast yes baked beans cold and lots of brown bread and hot tea washed down with the usual sustagen school energy drink. Fix up Roberts stupid Nuvi GPS which will not show any points kast K200 even after deleting points K005-200. We elect to use the maps for the land support. im finally on the way at 8.45pm. Lunch RV is to be K290 and the end goal today is K310 or close.

Wow scenic paddling little houses adorn the banks and people are fishing from every possible spot. Most people say hellow and surprisingly most speak english doesn't matter I know enough Bahasa to communicate.

I whack in 8k for the first hour then the river flow slows. Cruising on the biggest bend of the whole trip (300+ meters wide) I realise too late and have paddled the long way round.

Phone goes as I paddle out of the bend - no food after K275 lunch will be early.

Me approaching Chenor from over a kilometer away.

Paddling back upstream as I drift too far down

Lunch restaurant.

Chenor from the kayak

The kayak after lunch

12.45pm I have padddled 28k in 3 hours Robert meets me at the jetty "Chenor". Wow nice old town right on the river reminds me of that Gerik rundown look. Lunch is Rice and Kurry Chicken no Fried Rice available here and Robert has the Patin (local fish) and rice. The locals were nice they thanked us for visiting their town.

They got a shock when Robert spoke bahasa to them

Im back in the water 1.45pm RV at K315 or K320 and off cruising slowly little do I know whats going to happen next. 2.45pm I send the hourly update K280 passed "damn no signal" . I cruise on there is almost no sign of life houses are indispersed every time I try to send an hourly update I get no signal - oops. I pass an otter barely 10 meters away he flips under a overhanging tree and I try and take clip of him then 2 more otters and a huge water monitor lizard which just watches as I slip by barely 5 meters from it. The litle monitors however crash into the water from whereever they are 2-3 meters up a tree crash they drop straight into the water. Troops of monkeys everywhere and the river is now very wide.

Try and cross to the other side to change current is fraught with fun the middle is even more dangerous than before huge whirlpools erupt under you or in front of the kayak pulling it round even if you keep paddling.

Me leaving Chenor

Domestic rubbish wow aren't we clean people

The bank is the safest place. K300 passes and hunger sets in and I polish of a whole packet of oreo biscuits for a 10 minute break. Still no reception. Under a large pair of trees a troop of monkeys sound the alarm and drop down the branches directly above me and scurry of I get a great view that I forget to get the camera out.

My arms ache a sign I have not eaten enough or just getting old.

Gunshots punctuate the afternoon until one stretch where the continuious blasts of a shotgun sounds like a shootout.

My average is slowing 7.5/7.4k/h K310 comes up and this would be a good place to stop and its 6.30pm but I cannot get hold of Robert I get a in message anmd then loose the signal :(.

My view just after sunset.

Paddle on to K315 and its almost dark as the sun sets at 6:58pm. K315 I get reception im at K316 on the right however I cvan see nothing its pitch black I head over to the right and at K317.5 and still no reception again. Then the phone rings im now at K318 on the left at a Jetty - rats $@$@$#$@. I tell him to put the car lights out over the water so I can see them and start paddling the 300 meters across the river to the left and round a bend and there is a Jetty and a torch shines in my diretion and the beam hits me from 200 meters out.

Sanctuary at 8.05pm struggle out of the KAyak (the GPS telling me im at marker K320) in the swift current round the jetty and a batch and change of clothes load up the Kayak and press the "HOME" button on the Nuvi and the voice directs us out of Kampung Chini Jetty towards KL. A quick check of the GPS shows 148K for the weekend and 76 yesterday and 72 today the last 5k taking me over an hour to accomplish. So 83K left to the South China Sea target date for the 1 day sprint to the Sea is 30th October. I don't care I just want food and sleep. We find sustanence at Marang R&R old town and test the you guessed it Nasi Goreng Ayam.

12.00am Cruise into the driveway home having slept most of the way home. Unload the Kayak and leave the rest of the kit in the truck. I just fall asleep on the lounge and wake up 8.00am and cruise to work - its a different world.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gunung Ais An Elephant Adventure 20100910

Thursday nite 5.00pm Race home change the sneakers on DEATHSTAR removing the 33" MTs and put them on GREEN and leave that for the future wife to drive. DEATHSTAR meantime gets its 35" jungle sneakers slipped on. 6.30pm all sneakers done and KK helps me with the last 2. Soon its the rattle of DAFFY and Paul and the mekanik Jason show up with a 1/2 (child) in tow).

Where we going - Gunung Ais (Mountain Water or Water Mountain) to get to the end of the track - according to the Mekanik Jason only one difficult gully to cross.

Nite drive to the first x-logging kongsi (loggers longhouse camp) and camp then continue on on Friday, Relax saturday and home Sunday. By 10.30pm we have had dinner and talked crap and ready to rock. 80k and hour we head out into the pouring rain for 120k East along the East west highway from Kuala Lumput to past Temerloh then it almost due north I curse and swear at the iPhone as we cannot catch a lightening flash in the video as DEATHSTAR purrs along the IPOD playing John Williamson and any other Australian music I have. By this time its way after midnite and the storm still rages outside. Most people would have stayed at home but this is Malaysia so what were going jungle. 2.00am we reach the jungle turnoff pop in the hubs and head off. By 4.30am we are stuffed and finally the camp is in sight and we are exhausted the storm still rages so we sleep in the trucks no one wants to get wet.

On this trip we have
the mighty DEATHSTAR (Yellow and Black Toyota BJ75) with Kantha Driving and me as bangla for the trip in
DAFFY being driven by Jason (the Rawang mekanik) with Paul playing BANGLA and video man) and the "1/2" jasons nephew.

The nite drive

Dawn - yeah way after dawn and we going that way.

Our camp site - yes we slept in the jaloppies at 4.30am to 9.30am. Basically we were just not in the mood to get out and get soaked in the pouring rain haha hardened jungle men my @rse hahaha.

Breakfast in the kitchen.

9.30am awake refreshed - first FOOD out we roll the new rollout kitchen for the DEATHSTAR and cook up a storm. Omelletes (capsicum, tomatoes and onions), sausages, toast, hot drinks.

Then pack the DEATHSTAR and fix the broken winch - yes the mighty little Warn M8274 has the brake incorrectly fitted and has to be working as we will definately need it today. Almost 2 hours pass and we play pickup 52 ballbearings of the ground several times getting it right we have everything required, grease, vice grips etc to get it fixed. 2.25pm we are on the road.

The jungle repair to the M8274.

First river crossing

Life is incident free until here at the first obstacle the uphill bridge when DAFFY's temp gauge goes through the roof and straight into the RED - we add fluid and it pours out. Wow easy find the axle bar has been twisted off the front axle/chassis and gone through the radiator hose. Simple cut the hose - remove the bracket and fill up the radiator with water and continue.

No more incidents please then the next obstacle the first gully crossing lucky the track has dried out here.

This is the 2nd river crossing and our lunch stop - yum yum beef randang and chicken rangdang and lemang rice recooked in the wok so sweet.

The new chef and driver of the DEATHSTAR - nope just a helper hahaha.

Chefs victim

Then we amble on then there is almost a disaster. DEATHSTAR breaks the small bridge and Kantha puts the boot in smartly saving the day. Ps we break the same bridge on the way out.

Hence our slowness sometimes we are almost 50k into the jungle with NO ONE on the track the whole weekend except us so recovery of DEATHSTAR by DAFFY is impossible due to the almost 800kg weight difference we took more care than normal.

Cruising on next is the LONG rut lucky once again it was now a dry sandy track. First its the light DAFFY.

Followed by the DEATHSTAR

More creek crossings

Then it was another gully this time shorter and possibly more nastier but we cruised down - imagine this one in monsoon season (no I don't want to)

Then the second gully which was a little tougher than number 1.

then the grandaddy 3rd gully winching point is only a 4" tree root on the ground which some idiot had attacked with a Parang :(. There was nothing else for over 50 meters away. Daffy had all sort of issues here - the XD9000 would just not pull even after a rebuild and a clean. Double line pulling it barely made it. Next was DEATHSTAR and the 8274 did a good job until the snatch block jammed - hence me yelling STOP. A quick rebuild of the snatch block and 5 minutes later I had it so Kantha could winch again.

Our view from inside the DEATHSTAR

Getting the winch out

Repairing the jammed snatch block

And finally out

Cruising on and no idea where camp is going to be we come to what we reaslise is a HILL of shale rock.

Just after I turn the video on Kantha drops DEATHSTAR into what turns out to be a wheel swallowing hole. all 48 meters of 8274 cable is rolled out and a PLASMA rope and the PLASMA snaps to. Then a 20 meter strap is rolled out and the video just catches the final retrieve right on DUSK (7.15pm).

The hole

Daffy playing in the ruts

Minutes after this the sunset and it was just hell for 200 meters driving 2-3 meters at a time by torches in shale which collapsed as you walked on it. No TREES to winch off so it took ages to get through

Kantha picks up a passenger in the DEATHSTAR and drags it along the track for 100 meters - oops.

Camp was 9.00pm when we came to a busted bridge and decided this was it as we were all tired and hungry and the hungry vote won.

Camped there cooked up jasmine fragrent rice, honey chicken and vegetables and for ontree cooked up potatoe chips while we washed it all down with really cold beer.

We turned around the next morning after voting to find a nice river to relax at.


Left Camp after a leisurely breakfast consisting of omelettes and peppers and onions and sausages and tomatoes and pita bread cooked in olive oil and filled with margarine and hot tea/chocolate/coffee. Then a wash in the mucky river and a change of clothes and an inspection of the busted bridge reveals good idea to turn around and relax somewhere else.

We chase DAFFY back up the shale ascent with me driving today and KK relegated to the winch wench seat.
and we chase DAFFY up the slope ignoring all ruts but the descent side brings the dramas. At the top I slip on a slide slope and DEATHSTAR charges sideways to the rut I gas it and bring it round and eventually drive out of the rut without tipping DEATHSTAR over (close ha-ha) then its the scene of the night climb last night. Caution on the way down as DEATHSTAR as crumpled a lot of the track on the way up. DAFFY is lifting wheels and dancing its way down. DEATHSTAR with its ponderous weight just crushes the shale and soon we are at the 3rd GULLY.

The Shale gully drop. DAFFy on it.

3rd Gully emerges.
Will we have to winch? No DAFFY cruises quietly down and flies up. Monkey see monkey do so I follow suit so no time for a decent video of the climb out. Looks like we will not have to winch on the way out after all.

2nd Gully comes up and DAFFY flies down and up we just get their as they descending.

1st Gully comes up and DAFFY flies down and up

Showing off we decide to ascent slowly and see if the lockers will pull us through :( - no we need a little bit more. Reverse down and nail it - easy.
So Jason calls us "dickhead" hahaha and we go down again for a rerun.

Then the long gully - oops this one is trickier and we slide up the long climb and run off the track recovering ourselves we continue to the broken bridge.

We repair it and cross - DAMN if it doesn't break again I just gas it as I hear the crack and lurch out to safety. We repair it for DAFFY to cross.

Then is the two log bridge with crumbling dirt on top, damn tricky stuff one slip and it’s a really bad day. I stop to help DAFFY get across and wwwwwwwoooooooooooo on the dirt is something you don't wanna see - TIGER tracks (I sniff the air no cat smell) and worse a baby beside it that means she will be dangerous if around - that wakes me up.

This is all too easy we cruise on only interrupted by the long LOG gully which proves to be trickier on the way out

and then the downhill log bridge which flexes as DEATHSTAR tries to be weightless over it.

Then we find the turnoff (we are still more than 20k into the jungle) to Sg Tekai (Tekai River) and sure enough there it is. Nice and shallow and clean and warm. We cross the river and I bend up the rear of DEATHSTAR on the river bank - oops. We elect to continue further in and explore as we can always come back to camp here. Then the track becomes steep up and down for miles heading basically due north. After 30+ minutes or more than 20k we come to the river again my my Sg Tekai again and a giant log bridge (rumoured to be the highest log bridge in Malaysia at over 20 meters high its imposing). We decide to CAMP here as its 3.15pm and we can relax and have happy hour etc. Exactly 4.00pm the camp is set at 400 meters up - the beds out - the tarp up - the chairs out - the rollout kitchen setup - even if there is 4 giant elephant tracks in the camp which means the big grey fella is prevalent here - time for HAPPY hour and really cold beers.

Our camp beside whats rumoured to be the biggest log bridge in Malaysia

Our neighbours have big feet yup thats the big grey fella or mr long nose or the asian elephant weighing in at a mere 4 tonnes hahaha.

Time for food - a snack - I cook up potatoes then fry them up with onions mmmmmmmmmm chips and onions and tomatoes’ sauce luxury.
That’s the entree demolished.

A swim in the river is refreshing - so what’s for dinner - wow I find a curry chicken sauce - so it’s chicken and vegetables and yummiest jasmine rice washed down with cold beer so by 8.00 we are all happy and satisfied except for one thing - no sign of the big grey fellas.

Sleep takes me just after 10.00pm and I’m asleep in my bed. The others stay up until it’s only Jason he is wary of Elephants so he does not sleep well. A very big tapiar is spotted across the river at 1.30am and it scurries of when the torch beam lights it up. It doesn't matter Jason falls asleep and two elephants sneak past the camp the footprints over our tyre tracks show they only 10 meters from camp.

I’m up at 7.00am and the kettle is fired up and breakfast is prepared once all the other lazy bones drag themselves out of the sack. Late breakfast ah this is the life the last of the sausages and eggs and toast (toast of course friend in olive oil in the wok). A long swim/bath in the shallow refreshing water and its time to pack up camp then we notice the elephant tracks hahaha.

Yup they came calling in the nite and walked over the tracks of DEASTHTAR

The dish washing crew.

12.15pm we are ready to roll back to Kuala Lumpur the spare jerry can emptied into the fuel tanks. I’m driving damn of the brakes in DEATHSTAR take 3 pumps to make them work - how does it happen? We climb and climb until we spy Gunung Ais (Mountain Water or Water Mountain in English) and stop for a picture the area is full of elephant dung. 1 hour later we are at the junction and its still 20+k to the trail end. We cross the 2 rivers without incident (wheel wash and underbelly wash ha-ha). Jason decides at 3.15pm its time for lunch and out come the two minute noodles and we put him to work bleeding the DEATHSTARS brakes - it improves them to two pumps to make them work - man its going to be fun on the highway. We realise no one has been in the jungle all weekend one set of tire tracks come in and turn around they had filled with mud and become useless.

Gunung Ais

The mekanik working on DEASTHSTARS brakes before we feed him lunch.

By 4.15pm we are back on the blacktop and 30k later its time to refuel and put air in the sneakers for the long haul home then it pours down all the way home - no problem it washes all the mud of DEATHSTAR and we all just want to turn around and go back to the jungle and camp in that wonderful spot again.

Another trip is being planned we have the end of two tracks to get to still :). Then its the long list of items broken in the DEATHSTAR to attend to urgently starting with the leaking front hub and the bent rear bumper.