Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kg Rekom Charity Trip 13-14 November 2010

Thursday Night load up Deathstar with 320kg of Rice which is mainly stacked in military boxes 30kg per box.

Then a stack of 70 liters of oil and finally the fridge and the camping kit we can spare. The rest is to be stored in Daffy and the 2-3 cubic meters of clothes well they can go in the small Petrol vehicles and I will take their Rice and oil etc.

Where we going with all this 6 vehicles loaded to the axles with Rice, Cooking Oil, Salt, Clothes, sardines etc.

Well Kampung Rekom 52k and 1,000meters up into the jungle from the end of the blacktop or 82k from Gua Musang deep in Kelantan, Malaysia had a small problem a herd of Wild Boars destroyed their mountain rice crop and ate all their sweet potatoes crop their main source of food.

Since they have our numbers and know we have helped them in the past we volunteer to do it again. It's the middle of the monsoon season and 13-14 November 2010 is the date selected.

6 Brave volunteers from www.offroadershack.com offer their vehicles to help me subject to the requirements requested and other donate food and clothing and rice. I get a phone call one afternoon what's your address? I tell her and she turns up next night with 150kg of rice and clothes and cooking oil. I'm once again stunned with the generosity of some people. She wants to come but we have no seats left. Next time I will take her along.

Friday night rolls around and I do the final shop and we are waiting for the RV at my house at 10.00pm however all are late ha-ha its 11:55pm before we have finally got everything to fit into the 3 vehicles. One more to meet in Gombak and 2 more from Penang to meet in Gua Musang at 3.00am. Deathstar has 480kg of Rice now tucked into it and 100+ liters of cooking oil and its normal recovery kit making it with about 700-800kg of kit plus us with fuel just over its max weight.

Our pesky neighbor does not relent and stares at us for over an hour until we all give him the 1,2,3 WAVE and then sing out "hello Mr. Grumpy" he still does not budge ha-ha were happy he is obviously really angry ha-ha oh oops who cares.

RV and its refuel and food time I have not eaten all day too busy at work etc.

Finally on the road at 1.00am and the 3.00am RV time is gone. I lead the others follow. We cruise along at 85k a convoy of 4 laden 4x4's. Hunger and a need for a drink grab me and we stop somewhere between RAUB and Gua Musang and have Fried Rice and a drink then its back on the road. Daffy decides to get a puncture a sudden one and it’s a quick change as we all play safety sitting way behind to give plenty of warning on the dangerous narrow road.

Gua Musang finally arrives at 4.30am and we refuel at PETRONAS. Deathstar takes in a remarkable 30liters for 290k considering its hippobottomous weight. Then we wait for the Penang crews to arrive. They arrive 5.15am yeah 2+ hours late ha-ha and we decide it’s too late to go to Gua Char for camping as it will be dawn when we get there. So Railway station it is then and we all pitch camp in the car park no tarps just in the open. Grab a nice beef curry and rice for breakfast and then bed I'm asleep in seconds and woken at 8:15am by someone waking us all up time to roll.

Refueling 4.00am Gua Musang

The wonderful location for a railway station is this Malaysia's most scenic station.

Paul gets up eventually and heads off to fix his puncture (later we find someone fitted a tube 2" too small and it exploded in the tire). A truck tube is fitted. What a majestic place to camp a huge limestone hill above the Railway station and wonderful hawker stall food.

Rolling at 9.30am the convoy is off with Deathstar in the lead and everyone trying to keep up.

Soon its trailhead time and air down the tires and engage 4x4 etc. We stop at archeological site of Gua Cha (Tea Cave) for 15 minutes to let everyone play tourist. Back on the road and we stop at Kg ToHoi for Azhar to drop off medical supplies then we are mobile again.

Gua Cha

Kg ToHoi Orang Asli's processing bamboo

The Sg. Perias log bridge appears and up we go. Deathstar starts to get hot at the top ah what it should not so we stop and investigate - I find an oil leak and pop in 1.5liter of water to the radiator. Time for me to head out and investigate. We (Daffy) leave the convoy and I hand over convoy lead to Kewees - they are to go straight up and deliver goods and come back down. We will be back tonight 7.00pm else we coming back in the morning. If not up by 11am the next day were not coming back in.

Deathstar after overheating

With that we head back to town. We find one problem the sudden oil leak is from the crankcase seal not serious. However there is a steering issue to be fixed and that’s found and rectified. Then the cooling issue. Find it - a new radiator cap with 3mm longer reach is required so the search around the spare parts shops is done and the problem is solved. Then its food at a Chinese restaurant and were off and its 4.00pm 2 hours to Pos Simpo we will just make it before dark.

We cruise back no issues check the Radiator and it makes that nice pssssssssssst sounds as I undo the cap - cool no need to check any further its pressurized and working. The clouds look ominous we come across two lorri Hantu’s parked up. Time for a safety briefing for the two tourists on recovery and what to do and what not to do.

Winch Safety Briefing for the Bangalore brothers by the 3 seniors

Paul fixing the stuck diff locker

The Lorri Hantu's

The Bangalore brother's admiring the Lorri Hantu's

Soon it’s the lookout stop and we stop to admire the clouds and have radio contact with the others they are below Pos Simpo on the river. We stay and watch the clouds on the next hill over Kg Dandut and its getting close to dark. We head off - DAMN too late it rains and the track instantly turns to slush. The tricky climb I watch Daffy claw its way up the difficult route and I follow up the easy route and get stuck. Damn we realize I have not engaged the hubs quick fix engage the hubs a 1 meter winch and it drives out and I slide across the track into the next rut. We unhook then realise I’m still stuck this time a longer winch is required and I pull DAFFY backwards also but out it drives.

Wahoo onwards.

The rain clouds above us and we watched much to our stupidity

Victor running out the winch cable to recover Deathstar

Yup Deathstar is stuck


Climbing to Kg Dandut

The tourists

It's just about dusk as we pass the Million dollar view village and the water fall view at Kg Dandut Baru (Baru=new).

Onwards to camp no issues straight up the landslide and then the last 2k into Pos Simpo and it’s still raining. Tomorrow will be Kg Rekom. Its 7.15pm time to get the camp out.

Night camp

After dinner chat.

Daffy becomes the chuck wagon and kitchen is setup and for dinner prepared my infamous Chicken Curry's. The others setup camp, Raghu, Ashwath, Victor and Paul while I start the meal prep. Then we realize we have 480kg rice in the truck and none for us. We have rice cooked for us by the nice crew from Penang.

Cold beer and chicken curry at camp in the pouring rain does life get any better - I think not.

12pm its lights out for me I'm totally exhausted.

Morning I'm up 7.00am but cannot cook anything or have a hot tea, Paul has setup his bed in the kitchen ha-ha. Stupid me forgets to go bludge hot water from another campsite.

Paul sleeping in the "kitchen"

Early morning coffee.

Pre breakfast walk.

Breakfast is late and we have the usual chicken sausages, omelet’s and hot drinks and also leftover chicken curry mmmmmmm delicious.

11.00 were ready to go just rewind the Deathstars winch cable as it has loops in it and air down the tires to 20psi for more grip.

11:30 trail bound and we are off 10k to Kg Rekom and 500 meters up the mountain to go. We drop 100kg of rice at Pos Simpo. Since it rained last night we are not sure of the track conditions.

The walk to inspect obstacles SS1/2/3.

Wow the ruts are that deep.

Soon its SS1 and we walk SS1/2 and 3 before driving them huffing and puffing I realize how steep the 3 climbs will be - least the walk down lets me catch my breath. Daffy wheel spins its way up the 80 meters of no mistake or long recovery then its followed by Deathstar which according to the video's does it in 1/2 the time and does not wheel spin. However I slip on the rock climb and slide backwards then realize NO BRAKES Shit! A rock is used and I have another go and make it. Our escorts Kewees and VQ follow in the HEEP and LC II respectively then its SS2 and once again Daffy literally claws its way up - it’s too light. Deathstar does it easier however sliding sideways and wheel spinning the ponderous weight and lockers give it more traction. Kewees slips and slides his way up as does VQ (the Silverstone MT 117 EX's not giving a lot of grip). That’s as far as they are going out escorts watch as we ascend SS3 - Daffy gets stuck and several attempts he is up. Deathstar follows what we don't see till after is the bank collapsing and the cave-ins dropping underneath it in the video clips - YIKES!

Climbing past the narrow SS1 climb

Climbing SS2

The ruts

The goodies unloaded from Deathstar and Daffy

The blind chief showing us Sokoi which they pound into a tapioca type paste to eat.

Deathstar climbing the dangerous SS3.

Then with cheers of good luck etc we are own our lonesome 2 vehicles 3 experienced guys and the 2 work tourists with the Orang Asli on their scooters behind us head the last 7k to Kg Rekom. At 1,000 meters up and 52k into the jungle it does not get much more remote than this place in West Malaysia. I'm immensely proud of all the participants and donors. The rest of the track is easy compare to the last 3SS's and we make Kg Rekom by 1:19pm and we are unloading at 1.30pm Kg Rekom is about 40 people 10 families and roughly 30% of them suffer from hereditary blindness. 52K into the jungle and being blind is not something I could handle. I cannot get over how resilient these little people are. 420kg of rice is delivered 380kg from Deathstar and 40kg from Daffy 100 liters of cooking oil and salt etc. Then I look at the pile and I open up my Coffee box and empty the contents and then the emergency box and food boxes and all the unused food and cans are passed over. Why you ask. The Asli's slaved for 8 days with 7 of them to clear SS1/2/3 so we could get to them and all I can deliver is 380kg of rice and the cooking oil I felt so bad. Still I feel hollow and I decide we must come back in March - we get a list from them.

Last night’s camp was in that grass clearing 500 meters below.

Kids outside a hut

The asli's who cleared the track for us with the chief.

The tools they need to replace.

This is how they carry the kids around

Chunko's, tools and I will also bring blankets for the kids and other stuff. We take 3 chainsaws away to be repaired as there is no way anyone is going to make it up here in a vehicle after we have gone until a bulldozer fixes the track.

The chief's house

The shower

A very nice hut

Note the swollen bellies on the kids - malnutrition.

The supplies after being unloaded

The village guest book

Soon it’s time to do the picture thing and head off at 2.40pm and promise to be back up in March somehow, I did not tell them but I’m going to try and drop the repaired chainsaws off in late December.

The return journey down SS3

By 3.15 we are back at the bottom of SS1 and I really have to fix the brakes our escorts are waiting for us as we find the brake issue a steel hose has broken off. We clamp it and continue the journey. 3.40pm and we have passed Pos Simpo and down to the river for a wash and a swim. Not before Paul how is driving Deathstar gets it stuck in the creek and I cruise across in Daffy two 4x4's so far apart in terms of everything ha-ha.

The brake repair.

4.10pm its time for home clean pants, shirt, sox and I’m ready to see little Yoke in 7 hours time. Little did we know what was about to happen.

The raincloud over Kg Rekom

Crossing Sg. Perias

I cross Sg. Perias as the clouds on our left at Kg Rekom look really menacing and I know it’s raining up there. Then I cross the creek no problem and lay into the gas to slide Deathstar up the 1k climb to Pos Simpo for a bit of fun. Nothing happens the mighty diesel engine coughs and dies - FUEL FILTER FULL :( oh No. I play around and it starts again and we get to Pos Simpo after 2-3 goes.

Then it’s up and over and down to the landslide and then it POURS, Kewees ascends and is gone. Then VQ and then the radio crackles VQ is in a ditch. Daffy goes down to assist and I follow damn its bad he is over almost 45deg.

The thunderstorm

Then we see VQ's truck stuck in the ditch

We try and pull him out backwards no use stuck firm. Then frontwards - no use Daffy cannot get grip and Deathstar will not start so I cannot assist. 30 minutes later the rain stops and we work it out two longs into the ditch and VQ winches downhill of Daffy and he slowly comes out and is free but not safe.

When the rain stopped it had tipped over even more.

He slips and slides the last 50 meters of the landslide then we see there was a real landslide in the rain and we take the bypass track out to meet the others at the logging kongsi.

Deathstar STOPS dead and is put on tow :( .

The busted Deathstar

It (DEATHSTAR) however starts and runs downhill - so a plan is hatched tow uphill release and let me drive downhill and then tow again when it stops only 42k to the trailhead and another 26k to Gua Musang to go it’s going to be a long night.

3-4 times Deathstar is too heavy for Daffy and has to be assisted by Kewees in the HEEP for a double tow.

The night drive

This vicious cycle of tow-unhook-drive is repeated until poor Victor is so tired he drops to sleep and is replaced by Ashwath.

We cruise into Gua Musang at 4.00am but not before being stopped by the police who do not want us towing until Kewees explains we have done this for 69k what’s 3 more k's until we reach town. Bemused and shocked they let us carry on. Daffy is also stuck in LO range and will not budge out.

Finally sanctuary outside the workshop

Daffy also outside the workshop.

I fall asleep sitting in the driver’s seat at the servo. Kewees and Victor and Azhar head back to KL. Ashwath, Raghu and Paul pull out pillows and sleep on the concrete ground. 7.00am they go get food I stay with the trucks and then we drive to the repair shop. I send the boss a message I’m not coming to work today.

I buy the parts for the Brake and fit them and we have brakes. They cannot fix the fuel - I buy two filters and still it will not run clean. They replace the bleed plunger claiming its busted (12 months old how can it be) then it starts and runs. 12.05pm we are on the way home Daffy in LO 2WD (max 42kph) 10k out of town it DIES again so we tow it back to town, put Ashwath and Raghu in a BUS and a mechanic appears out of nowhere and asks what’s wrong and ses he can fix it.

one hour later he has indeed (after confirming with my Kuala Lumpur Mechanic he agrees the guys knows what he is doing) and I get a lesson on filters there is more than I realized or the other shop knew.

We take it for a 20k thrashing the mechanic grinning he likes the 13B-T. It runs time for home and its 3.30pm 290k to go at 40k and hour :(. I play fighter escort for Daffy in front, behind and generally making sure he is ok. His xfercase and gearbox whine away something has gone towing the DEATHSTAR.

1/2 way home it’s time for food. Delicious a chicken curry and rice. Then it pours for the next 4 hours to KL and we cruise into my driveway at 9.45pm time for a cold drink and food and to see Yoke and bed.

I'm woken 8.20am the next morning exhausted still - hey time for work.

I can’t wait for the next adventure - oh rats yeah there's none I'm river boarding every weekend on a contract for a long long time.

End of Part 1 a GeckoAdventure production

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