Friday, July 8, 2011

Charity trip to Kg Rekom and Volvo's first outing.

Volvo is loaded up - wait a minute a Volvo for a offroad trip - YUP my 31 year old Vovo C304 Military truck on it's first jungle trip. Great 3 days away from the rat race of Kuala Lumpur. Wait for Tappa my winchwench for the weekend and he arrives 5pm late due to the traffic then we Head to Karak 70k away to pickup 500 rubber saplings for my CSR project for the blind village 52k deep into the jungle of Kelantan.

God it's going to take us hours. Paul in DAFFY with Annuar is some 2-3 hours behind us playing catchup as the Volvo only cruises happily at 71k. Karak 70k away and 90 minutes later at the nursery and 475 rubber saplings are loaded in and we wheel around and head back to the Bentong exit and head North with the sun fading fast. We stop at Bentong for last minute supplies MILO and water and tea bags and dinner (for me its breakfast and lunch also) then back on the road this time Tappa is driving and we test out the newly adjusted 100watt headlights and new spotlights - PERFECT we can see. After 11 months of fixing the Volvo up to a reliable state I hope it will be ok.

loaded up and ready to rock where is TAPPA?

Tappa with cancer stick and loading the rubber plants.

We cruise on alone then the world lights up behind us - damn DAFFY has caught us man he musta been flying. Shortly after the noisy belt under the engine suddenly goes BANG and then the engine is quieter the noisy BELT has come off DAFFY informs us. I drift in and out of sleep as much as one can in a vehicle which makes 747 Jumbo Jet sound quiet then 40k from Gua Musang the there is a downshift a jerk then the Volvo slows - NO DRIVE ses Tappa - #@#@ I say. A check reveals yup no gears at all - clutch no the truck is stuck in neutral and we decide DAFFY once again has to tow a GeckoAdventure truck - this time DAFFY cannot pull the Volvo without being in LOW range - so its a 35k an hour tow into Gua Musang where they drop me at the workshop it's now 1.30am and I inform them they must continue on and take the rubber saplings and Tappa with them and I will catch them up later in the day. If I not there tomorrow nite then not coming. Satellite phone is our communication tool as we both have one. I sleep in the back of the Volvo awesome just rollout the US military matress out with a sleeping bag and SLEEP in seconds no putting a TARP up - love it. The workshop comes alive 9.00am and they muck around for hours finally they disconnect the HI/LO lever and the Volvo springs to life shifting manually at the gearbox. I cruise off for food and they fit two new Belts and its 1.00pm. A quick test drive with the mekanik grinning like a chesire cat its good to go refuel wow only 49 liters for 281k good stuff. I get a sat call from Paul they finished the charity work and heading down so they will wait for me at the big "Y" intersection.

I finish fueling and tell them 90 minutes I will be there. Later interrogation revealed the Kg Rekom Orang Asli crew made the track so good there was not one obstacle on the trip in and no one got out of their trucks no one got stuck - simply awesome job to clear 10k of track with only hand tools my hats of to them. I was also dissappointed not to get there so I will be taking more goodies up on my next trip.

The Volvo enters the jungle and I cruise in high range stopping at a logging point

The Volvo resting at log collection point.

and Gua Cha which I find now disgustingly dirty since the logging trucks started using it as a resting point. Malaysian's take your rubbish HOME.

Gua Cha

and then when everything in the back moves after a huge hole bounces the Volvo all over the road. Then it's the Sungai Perias log bridge and i'm encountering lorri hantu's the progress is slow in the Volvo most hills taken in 1st and slow but the Volvo is very easy to drive. 4.50pm I arrive at the "Y" and collect Paul and Tappa and Annuar. We cruise off with the other 8 vehicles in the convoy just in front somewhere.

The Broken Miss Bitchy convoy

We find them well 3 of them Miss Bitchy's one a STORM has tossed it's FAN then the radiator mounts break off. A repair is being effected with wire and we wait to escort them. They are stunned a Volvo wow and then it starts raining damn that's not in the plan that's going to ruin a few peoples day's. Then the Vovlo is leading a small convoy of 5 and we reach the watefall turnoff and chat to the village people first and greetings exchanged and some gifts.

At the village and turnoff and yes thats rain clouds in the background.

Into Low range and up the hill 400-500 meters to climb in 3k with 2-3 seriously steep ascents awaiting. The Volvo does it albiet slowly no issue with grip its ponderous 2,700kg ensuring all sneakers stay on terra firma.

It's steep and the track easy then we hear on the radio the convoy is stuck at a climb - I know which one too hahaha then gridlock on the track. Chaos 4 vehicles stuck on the slope. One winching up and almost at the top, the other winching of it and a Ferozza stuck against the bank. The last another Pajero unable to move as it slides backwards each time they move it. We guide this one out the way. I bully past the sticken Ferozza and park behind the Landcruiser II being winched up. 60 minutes later its out of the way and they have two at the top of the first climb. Then I push the Volvo up the slope from dead stop several times up and up 4,000revs or less first gear and lockers engaged front and rear slowly I make it. Daffy is next and it demolishes the hill the XT's providing awesome grip and the 1KZ the power.

The traffic jam

The second landcruiser ahread of me I pull up beside it and park unable to pass the winch cable.

Volvo victorius at the top of the slope 3 more to go.

Yup its a long way down that slippery slope.

Then the problem 1/2 of them want to stay and 1/2 want to leave they have our tarp so Paul goes back down to collect it and back up. Then the Volvo winches down the Landcriuiser 80 Series and then the second Landcruiser II and my PTO jams winding the cable back in #@#@#@##@ Damn. By this time its dark and its raining again upwards we climb in the dark 800 meters to CAMP and the track is a SLIPPERY mess the Volvo sits on 3,800-4,000 revs first gear low lockers engaged engine screaming and slowly crawling up catching DAFFY the track is destroyed someone has bulldozed it what a mess. Then we see lights (wah lights who from) and a camp and we are at the waterfall. The camp is a MUDDY mess and we see the reason an excavator. We pitch camp right in the sea of mud opposite the wonderful Lata (waterfall) Pendat.

Dinner is cooked for me as I relax with a cold beer. 3-4am I am woken by a huge rainstorm pounding our camp and water flows freely under our beds. Morning reveals all the damage to this little paradise is immense a complete bank destroyed and the track which leads to the crashed C47 Dakota all gone and the HUGE bambo plants all ripped out in the name of a temporary shelter. We are camped in 3-4 inches of mud. They are putting a building up for 150 school kids for a research camp for 5 days - unbelieveable damage for a 5 day camp.

The magnificient first 30 meters of Lata Pendat the rest climbs another 70+ meters up the hill.

Anyway we relax even if the Volvo is leaking oil from the front axles and the whole day is spent sitting at the waterfall or in the shade of camp talking crap and putting up ideas for the customisation of the rear of the Volvo and relaxing and eating.

Our mud camp at 665 Meters.

Soon it's Monday no one wants to go home but it's time to head back to the rat race we have breakfast and slowly pack up camp and try and fix the PTO - ooops we make it worse and now the PTO cable is jammed. We depart knowing this place will NEVER NEVER be the same again and is ruined for 10+ years we will have to find another secret location to camp at.

The apprentice cooks - basic cooking roti chennai and curry beef and baked beans and other simple meals hahaha.

That impressive Volvo

Down the big hills and it's all drying out so the track is easy. We reach the exit to the track and yup it starts raining so we stop and talk to to the villagers who are upset with what happened to their waterfall and their tribal land - I sense a legal battle looming as they have landrights over it.

Ok so it's pouring when we depart the village and driving the Volvo becomes hairy only twice do we really run out of control downhill one caught on video the other only the start of the sliding chaos still I managed to keep the Volvo straight even with no power steering. Soon the Volvo is completely covered in mud and the rain abates and we have a very narrow miss with a wildy out of control Lorri Hantu flashes past our front on a corner all 10 wheels locked up as it slides downhill and stopped with both front wheels on the edge of the bank. Stunned we carry on even more careful. Then an awesome sound the straining of a DIESEL engine and we see it a lorri hantu with two massive logs on it and one little balancing log. It takes us 5 minutes to pass it as it is just so wide. Once back down at Sungai Perias log bridge we relax only 20k of easy road to go. haha never say that we encounter a tree down but its actually 4 and it takes us 45+ minutes to clear it with two chainsaws going flat out and the winch to pull the logs off the road then we encounter a flooded road and we are out 3 hours later. Time for a comulsory car wash before entering Gua Musang and then a well earned meal its 7.30pm when we sit down for dinner. 281K to go home at 60-70k its 4-5 hours driving. Ps The Volvo consumed some 80 liters for fuel for the 180 round offroad trip basically 45liters per 100k hahaha totally worth it. 2.30am we roll into my driveway and unpack the Volvo completely then its sleep time. The next trip to the Village will be in October 2011.s

The Volvo went to the shop next morning the jammed PTO cable was cut out and the PTO got a cage to stop the 11mm steel cable flicking out ever again. The axles seals both sides replaced and its ready for the next trip and I'm taking a set of axle seals for the next trip just in case. The grand total 791Kilometers travelled by the Volvo almost incident free maybe next time - maybe.

Roll on the next trip.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011_05_13 Gunung Ais 4x4 Trip

Simple trip - Pickup the tourists from KLIA and take them back to the house give them GREEN (1KZ powered auto LJ77) take them to the jungle for 3 days and then back home.

How wrong could I be after all it was Friday 13/5/2011.

Friday (Black Friday 13/5/2011 - oops)

We decided to on the way home drop in and collect RED from the workshop and park it at home. At the workshop we meet Paul (DAFFY 1KZ Powered Hilux Surf) and he is fitting the new 120AMP alternator before scooting over to our place to join the trip.

Packed and ready to rock we wait for Paul and Tappa to turn up. Paul rings I'm going to be late the brand new alternator is not working they have to get another.

Ok so off to the ice cream shop to wait.

5pm rolls around and we are now 2 hours late in leaving soon its a lot later and Paul turns up and we depart Kuala Lumpur 6pm right in the middle of rush hour. In our trucks we don't care we just bully our way through and reach the Chenor turnoff by 8.30pm and then its a refuel at a little known place called Jengka and only 30k to the trailhead from here. A quick meal and a hot drink and its time for the road.

So its DEATHSTAR (me), DAFFY (Paul and Tapa) and Green (Steve and Sharon from Oztralia)
Roll into the trailhead 10pm air down and lock the hubs and give the Aussies a demo of how GREENs 4x4 system works.

The first 20k is logging truck road - uneventful until I run into a herd of Elephants and the screams of Elephants off both sides of the track can be heard - and monkeys alerted by the screaking from the Elephants. Engines off we sit quietly for 10 minutes then move off quietly.

After 20k we come to the massive cleared area from a previous logging camp and then the track narrows to what we expected.

Suddenly the road in front dissappears and the first obstacle a washed out bridge and a drivearound is available - feet wet crossing time.

Destination is River crossing 1 for tonite's camp and finally we reach it damn camp is being used by University Malaya so we cross the river and camp on the other side. Erect the jungle hilton and it time for a coldie a quick meal and then a well earned rest.

Deathstar is the chuck wagon also.

The slightly yummy licious meal.


Saturday morning the mist is alive with a chorus of birds.

Breakfast after doing the dishes - yum ommelettes and sausages and milo or tea.

The dawn mist in the Malaysian jungle.

Then 10.30am on the road, the track is easy then the first obstacle a mudhole and DEATHSTAR gets stuck twice (then GREENS winch fails rescuing DEATHSTAR) before I decide enough is enough and use brute force to clear the mud out.

Then we climb the uphill bridge which is now gone and its down past the left/right fork the left fork leads to Gunung Ais and Sungai TEkai and the right more adventure - we head right and soon is the second river crossing which we find out later is called Sungai Song.

Then the WAR ZONE 100 meter descent on the crest of drop offs big ruts and and the bottom is a 1/2 log bridge its aptly named. DEATHSTAR promptly breaks the bridge and is inches from disaster and I drive out.

Green cruising the easy jungle tracks.

Daffy playing tail end charlie.

The black rock pass.

Disaster as GREEN almost topples into the gully.

Rescued by DAFFY.

Bridge being repaired.

Lunch point at Sungai Song.

We repair it and GREEN with the Ozzies is in a lot of trouble the main log collapses and GREEN is left precarious for 20 minutes while we fix it then winch GREEN backwards. We repair the briodge again and retry - yup it breaks again and GREEN is across. Then we repair it and DAFFY crosses - same result CRACK. Damn rebuild when we return.

slippery uphill then its Sungai Song and we decide time for lunch in the shade back on the other side. However DAffy decides to try the lockers out and climb the bank he ends up with a bent up rear and whacked updoor before giving up.

Lunch is filled with the sounds of birds and Johnny Cash. Post the pasta meal its time to dive back into the river and head into the wilds aagin, Soon we encounter a blockage in the track manmade I walk past it so does Steve however Paul walk over it and is rewarded with a steel wire round his foot and is pulled of his feet DAMN a TIGER TRAP. The 5mm steel wire is freed and the wire and trap put into GREEN for handing over. TrAck cleared we carry on

A long uphill climb slippery and rutty is followed by the stinky Elephant crap log bridge crossing it really stinks. Then its the first of the 4 gullies easy one to warm up second a little harder and the 3rd then the toughy the 4th a tree root across the track on the other side is the only winching point even with lockers front and rear its a tough climb.

The tiger/Tapiar trap after Paul got snared

Daffy with the broken steering in V-gully 4.


Convoy at the start of V-Gully 3

DAFFY goes first so I can winch off him and then pull GREEN up. We don't get there DAFFY Snaps the steering arm on the SURF winching up. Recovery takes and hour and a lot of hard work by DEATHSTARS 8274 eventually DAFFY is secure - help is needed we do not have a spare steering arm it was a brand new piece fitted :(

Satellite phones out DAMN Paul has no credit and mine has gone FLAT. We decide to empty DAFFY and head back to Sungai Song at least one hour away and then drive out in the morning for parts to be driven up from Kuala Lumpur we know where the spre part is and one sitting on a Hilux Surf in the workshop.

The return journey takes us into the night and 90 minutes later we find outselves at Sungai Song setting up camp and a late dinner of curied chicken, vegs and rice.

DEATHSTAR climbing V-Gully number 3 on the retreat.

The all important nite cooks hard work

The delicious chicken curry.


Next morning to a chorus of birds we have breakfast and head off at 10.00am by 10.49am we are at the war zone and a bridge has to be built this time to last. 1 hour later we have rebuilt it and levelled the ground and its crossable - up the war zone and its a bumpy 30k still to town. On the logging trail I encounter a wild boar man its 70+kg and a solitary heavily loaded logging truck.

1pm highway and still no reception eventually we get reception and organise parts they will be arriVing at the workshop 3.30pm to strip the SURF in the shop and leave about 5.30pm. So we wait in JENGKA how many MILO ICe's and food can you eat in 5 hours. I check GREENS winch its dead 1volt flowing into it. Bugger and the spare motor is at home. They have left Kuala Lumpur. Then they are at the Chenor exit. So we move to the petrol station 10 minutes later the howl of a 7M appears out of the dark only 1 3 LED sidelight working. Gods its Wild Bill driving the mekanics Angry Hornet (ah yes Wild Bill busted his 7th diff in 2 years) and the mekanic and the lead mekanic. Soon its cutting of wires and a joining and they have headlights again. It's just going to be one of those trips. Dinner and we are on the road 10.00pm and just to spice it all up its raining.

Soon its the trailhead we all stay in 2WD for fun on the wet track. DEATHSTAR in the lead the visitors in the middle and the two rescue vehicles (Angry Hornet II and A Pajero(Miss Bitchy) ).

Near the end of the logging track it gets real slippery especially when a wild boar runs out.

Into the abandoned logging Kongsi area and slip the hubs into 4WD. This is going to be fun. DEATHSTAR leads out 2 hours at least to go. incident free even on the slippery track the stinky elephant log bridge passed easily then Sungai Song and then the 3 gullies and the long uphill ascent. Then trouble I clip a rotten log lying on the ground and result a flat tire.

Then finally Gully 3 comes up and we know only 2k to go. Then Daffy is in sight. Camp is erected and cold drinks to celebrate its 2.30am. Ah Haw and Ah Wah supposed to open the workshop tomorrow looks like that ideas out the window. 9 of us sleeping under a 30*20foot tarp beside a narrow valley with a little stream in the bright moonlight - MAGIC.

Monday - Home day

Morning 9.30am all up breakfast and into the repair.

Back at V-Gully 4 to fix the stricken DAFFY.

Our campsite view from V-Gully 4 and the track we missed on.

Then the horror emerges the steering arm on DAFFY was modified to cater for extra leaf's and is higher. The new part from the other SURF does not fit. We have to grind out a part and then press it out. No ginder what to do? Ah Wah has a 100mm cutting disk in his tool kit. I have a grinding disc and a sanding disc also. Simple off with the axle stub and bolt the cutting disc to the end of the axle. Put DAFFY into 4HI and jack the rear up. 4000REVs in 4th at 110k and we have a grinder. Simply unbelieveable we are all stunned.

By 2pm we realise the situation is hopeless. So a decision is made out to Jerantut some 3-4 hours away over to Ah Wah's brother engineering shop push out the part and slip in he modified bush from DAFFY and return. So off whizz the Pajero and the Angrry Hornet II. ETA 11pm back here. As soon as they leave the heavens open and our TARP collapses.

Campsite expanded to cater for the 4 rescuers.

Ah Wah grinding using the worlds biggest grinder

Wild Bill looking on with amazement

Paul looking worried - what if the truck drops.

Drawing up the mods to the rear of DEATHSTAR while they go back to town.

Jungle by moonlight

Moonlight dinner - once again curry chicken.

Dinner at camp for the remaining 4 is yummy curry chicken and potatoes and vegtables.

Just as the rescue convoy deadline approaches the radio springs to life - were coming in followed soon by the sound of a howling 7M engine. They turn up hyped. The Pajero is sick. It fell of the stinky elephant log bridge and broke its wishbone took them an hour to find bolts to fix it.

Then the rescue squad arrives 10.00pm with KFC.

And the jungle workshop opens again

They repair DAFFY I'm asleep before they finish it.

Tuesday - Public holiday

Up early breakfast and pack meantime the busted (Miss Bitchy) Pajero is jacked up and the wishbone

So 4 vehicles out and the Pajero is left the repairs to be effected at Jerantut again and return.

Stinky Elephant bridge

Incident free but the old DEATHSTAR shows the padi farmers how to climb V-gullies without revs and wheelspinning and we turn off at the Sungain Tekai turnoff we turned right and the rescuers and Daffy go straight on. We encounter a large Tapiar track and follow it along the track then a group of hunter 6-8 armed to the teeth with shotguns and radios not happy to see us and their 4x4 is hidden in the long grass and we cruise past no smiles or exchanges.

Tapiar tracks

Next is the bridge is down over Sungai Tekai the alternate rossing is a long shallow crossing.

Poachers on the lower part of Sungai Tekai

Green on sungai Tekai Track

Gunung (Mountain) Ais 901 meters high.

Climb climb climb is the long climbs to 470 meters and we stop for a view of Gunung Ais then it's onto the Camp site at Sungain Tekai Upper once again we have no time to drive further rats another trip required here hahaha.

Sungai Tekai (Upper and the start of Sungai Tekai) and lunch time

Lunch is delightful then its time for home and we will wait for the rescue convoy at Jengka. We meet them at the logging kongsi clearing they coming in fast with new parts for the Pajero. We will wait for them at Jengka if not there by 7pm we will come back into the jungle to search for them.

Jengka and we have hours to kill so we make the video of the trip and relax. 7pm is the cutoff if they not out we have to go back in.

by 8pm they still not back and we head off back in we get 10k and the radio crackles to life they are out refueling at a little village.

We turn back and wait at the coffee shack.

Jengka and the story comes out. The Pajero repaired broke it's steering in V-gully 3 crossing then minced a CV joint and then ran off the track at the war zone as he only had 2WD and drove of the track going to fast denting all doors and panels.

The recovery was spectacular.

They cruise off and we wait another hour then head off into a pouring thunderstorm and then DEATHSTARS alternator fails I drive the remaining 170k home on sidelights only. 2.35am I drove very happy customers at the hotel one day late and went home for a well earned sleep.

Next day I dealt with the poachers.

I cannot wait to go back again and I have several people wanting to tag along.