Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pokok Cengal Besar (june 2012)

An easy tread lightly 4x4 trip cruise over from Kuala Lumpur to visit the Pokok Cengal Besar (TREE Chengal BIG) in Terengganu and back in a weekend. Guided by a foreigner running a 4x4 trip for ACKL on a simple easy track so what could go wrong. Oh yeah toss in an extra challenge no XT's it's tread lightly and I'm taking the stock LC II Auto Diesel. Saturday I'm late after reading a last minute FaceBook warning message I have to toss in chains and nails (bridge building kit) so 7.45am arrive at the meeting point at GOMBAK. At the meeting point the briefing - quick and lets go.

Wow 6 trucks all Toyota's 2 Hilux's - Paul and Alan in one and the ACKL president his 1KZ powered SR5 and on SIMEX XT's sneakers (wait a minute CHEAT!) along with passengers Elaine and Alan. 3 LandCruiser II's - 2 1KZ Autos (one driven by the foreigner) the other by Sam and Simon Sim and big brother Stiven Sim (both from 4x4 Shoppe) in his 2.7 Prado LC II and Richard. 1 100 Series Driven by Zul and his ex commando driver. I take one look at the 100 (I immediately knickname it puteh gajah "WHITE ELEPHANT") and crikey it's BIG almost as big as my Volvo - I calculate in my head how many LC II's are required to hold it winching - Minimum TWO. The flock of followers well for one it's his first time out in the 100 after a 4x4 education weekend. The Adventure Club Kuala Lumpur (ACKL) president decides to cruise along for the trip and also another pair of novices (Alan and Paul) in the other hilux. All other trucks are on 31/33" AT's or MT's - My job (the orang putai) is to lead the convoy in and out safely. Putting Stiven as tail end charlie and the rest of the herd in between we cruise off. 3 hours later after 50 Johnny Cash songs on my stereo we skip the turnoff to the tree and refuel about 5k past the turnoff and it's now lunchtime 11.45pm a quick lunch and a chat and it's time for the trail. Since I have never seen a puteh gajah in the jungle this will be an experience. 1.00pm at the trailhead easy stuff until the stock HILUX stalls before the entrance to the park and flat battery cannot start. Never mind we will nurse it into the jungle and back out. The grand entrace to the Cengal BEsar Track

The first obstacle

The tail end charlie wondering where that pesky lead handbag LC II has gone.

The first obstacle is the 2008 RFC one which took them 12+ hours to get past and some surrendered. Took my Blue open diffed handbag LC II up the deeply rutted track, the 1KZ purring and the auto making it a breeze in about 1 minute then the fun started - the beginners in the HILUX follow the same line easy. The other LandCruiser II AUto gets stuck at the bottom and is recovered to try again then the SIMEX HILUX it does its best jumping everywhere like a kangaroo and eventually makes the top. I seriously thought it was going to tip over several times. Then the HUGE and I mean its huge for our conditions the puteh gajah makes it slowly to the top with some guidence from experienced heads. Did I mention first trip for him cool he might actually make it. The second obstacle a small muddy climb takes us forever as my little LC II makes it easy then the HILUX gets stuck and is towed to safety. Then the puteh gajah gets stuck and is recovered by my now busy handbag LC II. The Simex sneakered Hilux tears the track up and then the auto LC II is also recovered. Trouble for the other Auto LC II at the first obstacle - rescued by 100 series

The Puteh Gajah (white elephant) starts the same obstacle

The 3rd obstacle where are the 4x4's?

Ah the reason the HILUX is stuck FAST.

After winching up the LC II Auto BLOWS its 80 AMP fuse.

Obstacle after obstacle is encountered - log bridges then a long rutted downhill. 3 trucks make it easy as we walking up to looksee the rest we get told the HILUX has flipped (chinese they say ching chong). Rushing up yup the HILUX is lying on its side the ACKL president has been kind enough to give the newbies a live demonstration of wrong driving line followed by jungle recovery techniques. Unhurt they are all extracted from the Hilux and tailend Stiven in the LC II has the rescue well under way. Some quick winching and shovel work and the Hilux stays level until it's pulled backwards and can be started. It STARTS no issue and the journey continues. Richard rushing to get more pics after catching it rolling over on video

Sneakers back on terra firma

I wonder if my HILUX can make it with no battery these guys are really nice to us

The log bridge over the river is now washed out so it's a real creek crossing in deep rocky water. Bangs and crashes punctuate the air as metal and big hidden rocks and muddy water do battle with the trucks. The trucks win. The white elephant on a dirt covered log bridge

3.45pm arrive at the banks of Sungai Loh, a 1 hour drive has taken us almost 3 we decide tree tomorrow and it's now setup camp and happy hour and a wash in the warm clear water of Sungai Loh. It's a long evening and capped off late into the nite with the Sim brothers treating us to whole BBQ salted chickens cooked on the hot coals. This one goes in the jungle cook book. Camp (3 case of beer 3 bottles of whisky 8 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of brandy for 10 people).

Some mothers do have them

mmmmmmmmm bbq chicken

Sunday Morning comes breakfast and break camp from possibly Malaysia's nicest river campspot and 10.00am we are lined up ready to roll and cross Sungai Loh. Sungai Loh

Incident free crossing. Soon a log bridge creaks under the weight of the handbag LC II I decide rebuild as the puteh gajah will just SMASH through it. Out with the AXE and some chains and nails and it's rebuilt.

Axing the tree outta the way to allow the girraffe height tail end to pass.

Bridge Building - notice all the supervisors

500 meters later the track ends for the day. This one will take hours to repair we decide with the experience (lack of) and the time needed it's now park and walk. 5k to the tree approx. It's stinking hot. No one has driven this track for MONTHS. The obstacle which made us walk.

We cross the mudhole, Tapir, Gajah, deer, tracks indicate an abundance of wildlife. We walk on then at a river crossing eveyone is woken up - Pussy cat and kitten tracks however no smell but they are FRESH. Artistic picture of mushrooms

Oh wow the tree carpark is reached after an hour of hiking. From the carpark it's 850 meters to the tree. We loose our way at one point due to the huge amount of overgrowth. Then it's the tree. Yup its still BIG and OLD (1333 years) and impressive. A long rest break then it's time to hike back. 70 minutes later we all back at the 4x4's and the grey clouds above turn to a huge down POUR as I shut my door, the track turning to slush in minutes. We cross Sungai Loh as the water rises and head straight out thunder and rain filling the air my stereo drowned out. 500 meters from camp and it's the first obstacle. I slip and slide down a muddy slope followed by the HILUX. Then they deicde to wait with the puteh gajah till the rain stops and it gets a PUNCTURE (mud in the side walls) after recovering the LCII (two winch recovery) which had slipped into the ditch which I had deftly avoided. The PUNCTURE is changed in the pouring rain. Some walked around the mud

Others fell in it

Everyone exhausted trying to keep up with the old trip leader

The pussy cat prints found here

Man he does not stop walking

At Cengal Besar the walkers relax for a few minutes

Once the rain stops it's easier - we almost loose the 100 at log bridge when the front grabs and it slips sideways - waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah so close to a LONG recovery. Every uphill and downhill we come to is an obstacle still with much slipping and sliding at one long downhill the HILUX ends up at a precarious angle until its guided quietly to saftey. Then it's the rocky river crossing a little more fun now the puteh gajah makes a lot of metal on rocks noises - the SIMEX Hilux makes mincemeat of everything in it's way. Then on the climb to the RFC obstacle the lead vehicle makes it the Hilux is next - no go it STALLS and is winched backwards till it can be key started. Eventually it has to be rescued by the handbag LC II and is dragged up the hill engine screaming wheels spinning my newly rebuilt 8274 getting a real workout. Next is the LC II auto it also is dragged up by the Handbags 8274 to saftey. Then the puteh gajah it's nose appears around the corner in time for us to HEAR the sound of BREAKING metal and see the front wheels stop spinning. Front PROP shaft is broken (the creek crossing noise). DAMN out with the WARN 9500 from the gajah and it's a two line pull the little handbags winch outpulls the new Warn XD9500i easily. The other LC II hangs onto the HANDBAG to stop it sliding down into gajah. Safe! The SIMEX Hilux eats the obstacle (and then becomes the tow truck) as does the last LC II piloted by Stiven Sim. The RFC2008 obstacle rescuing the LC II auto

One more obstacle the RFC 2008 famous one down here the little LCII plods its way down to safety and to guide the rest - everything goes to plan until puteh gajah gets stuck 1/3 the way down and the SIMEX Hilux reverses the hill easier than he drove it yesterday hooks up the stranded gajah and tows it down slowly to saftey. 6 in and 6 out

Wahhooo its 6.45pm almost 5 hours to get out time for lunch oh no!!! it's dinner time. First the 100 series broken PROP shaft is removed before it causes immense damage. The view on the prop shaft joint its too SMALL for the size of vehicle. and that busted battery on the HILUX well we got them back to Kuala Lumpur and they never used their winch the whole weekend and it never started itself the whole journey. Dinner in Cukai 8.30pm (40k detour) as the 100 series cannot go faster than 80k it's really sick. 12.45am arrive home in Kuala Lumpur exhausted and clothes still wet from the hike and the rainstorm - last seen the Mat Salleh was looking for his keys to his RED LC II monster he wants to go back and the newbies they asked when is the next trip. I promised them a scenic delight then. and that little BLUE 1KZ AUTO HANDBAG Landcruiser II with the 33" AT tires it's just awesome. Damage rollcall - Hilux one BATTERY, SIMEX Hilux mirros and window stuff and dented panel, 100 Series transfer case and PROP shaft and one flat, LC II one tail light lens, LC II Stiven - nothing, Handbag LC II - nothing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 04 28 - Kampong Rekom and C47

It's 10.15pm Saturday night, 600 meters up and 60+k into the jungle and its pouring (300 meters from camp), we are stuck Yellow is halfway up a slippery muddy slope it claws it's way to the top mud fly's everywhere. Then we hook up RED and then 2 sick 4x4's toss DAFFY inbetween and the 2 remaining strong ones all strapped together and .. read on to find out why how and what happened. Kampong Rekom trip been booked for months. Then I got really sick with LEPTOSPIROSIS and 6 weeks later I'm still in recovery. 7 trucks have volunteered and we have two adventurers from Australia joining us. They are tossed into the mighty Modified 13B-T powered RED theirs for 4 days - "ENJOY". I have been sick this is my first trip after 6 weeks of illness and just too phsically weak to pickup anything heavy or walk 500 meters. Thursday and Friday before the trip I finally start getting strong again. Yellow (now everyone calls it the School Bus) I finished it the day before we go. The RFC 2011 damage repaired, new CV joint, smashed door repaired, pushed up floor (and holed by a tree) replaced, 8274 winch repaired (new cables). It's loaded with 450kg of rice, and then oil and camping kit and spare winch cables etc. Roughly 650kg of kit in the rear. RED is finished well before (basically as it finished the RFC 2011), everything is checked and all fluids repaired and a new king pin fitted to left front wheel. It's packed with roughly 2 cubic meters of clothes which we sorted through and is then ready for the ozzies to drive. Friday starts badly the new Gecko Adventure caps are delivered LATE. Makes me late for the airport and the traffic sucks so the tourists are collected late. Then it's off to the 4x4 shoppe to pay them for the driver training course assist they did. Turns out the tourists know the shop owner damn then we have lunch with them. Then it's back home and traffic still sucks. Loading up the rest of RED and changing the sneakers we discovered someone has lifted the spare wheel and we also have a flat to fix. Since its now 6pm we get the tire levers etc out and fit a new tube. Finally we have dinner and ready to rock its 9.30pm only 4.5 hours late in leaving. We pickup the other car in our mini convoy ooops a Petrol Pajero (2.6petrol) it struggles to stay with us as we lope the 280k to Gua Musang in Kelantan the traffic sucks again and it takes us 6 hours including a 1 hour sleep stop (an byeffect of the LEPTOSPIROSIS). Arrive Gua Musang 4.20am in the morning refuel RED and have the diesel bowser in my hand to fuel YELLOW and the power to the whole town trips off. Convoy 2 arrives as the power trips. RATS! we go and eat food by candle light and I fall asleep in the drivers seat head out the window until 8.00am when the power comes back on and I finally wake up. Refuel and have breakfast and Convoy 3 arrives and joins us. Damn they only took 3 hours to get here. However, there is an issue VQ's petrol Landcruiser engine (22R) is missing badly. Powers back on 8.00am

The convoy RED - 13/14B-T LJ77 effortless to drive at 100k on 35"XT sneakers YELLOW 13B-T BJ75 TROOPY also effortless to drive at 100k on 35"XT sneakers MISS BITCHY PAJERO on 34" JT's struggles to keep up Convoy 2 (leave 11.00pm) 1KZ Hilux Surf - AUTO on 35"XT sneakers Heep Cherokee on 31"XT sneakers Convoy 3 (leave KL 4.30am) the new DAFFY Hilux SURF 4 door now and 1KZ on 35"XT sneakers LJ77 - stock on 35"XT sneakers driven by "VQ" Now its one convoy with YEllow at the front but not without drama. VQ manages to lock his keys in the car engine running at breakfast. 1 minute with a screwdriver and I have the door open. Action as GeckoAdventure turns car locksmith

Finally jungle time 26k to the trail head, air down and cruise on and the track is sticky. We stop at Gua Cha (cave) for sighseeing this is where we were supposed to sleep last night. We give the tourists a lesson in how to operate RED's god winch by parking it in the CREEK for them while they go to visit the cave we are 2 hours behind schedule still. Never leave you keys in the car haha it may repark itself.

Good the track is wet NO LORRI HANTU's (Logging TRucks) will be encountered we hope. The trip is uneventful except for the missing and now smoking 22R engine. Now its HOT stinking hot and the track is bone dry. The view is spectacular from 400meters up

1.00pm 20k into the jungle we are getting close to the turn off to the tough part suddenly CRIKEY! LORRI HANTU that was close as the 28tonne monster crawls past. Slighty wet track

1.30pm we cruise into Pos Simpo (650meters up) and drop off 100kg of rice and a stack of clothes from the ailing VQ wagon which is loosing power and smokes up some hills. Pos (Military Post) Simpo.

We spend almost an hour there looking at crafts for sale on the charity website we are now helping with and discuss supply and quality. We are given BUBU's (fish traps) a whole stack of them to show to the website people. Community hut Pos Simpo.

2.30pm on the road 10k to go and 600meters of climbing and we are dreading the triple SS stage (0, 1, 2, 3) 500 meters of either hell or simple driving. The last group 2 weeks ago took 12 hours to get to Kampong Rekom. Then its SS0 the warm up climb and VQ in the ailing 22R just makes it up. The rest follow Yellow is almost last. There are 4 orang ASLI's waiting for us they have cleared the track and done a wonderful job we do not have to do any work. The it's us we are second last and SS1/2 and then 3 all in a row (damn Yellow bottoms out on SS3 - retry).

Meantime the Cherokee falls into a RUT and bends the front ARM causing alarm bells to be raised. DAFFY rescues it but its not going far the wheel is bent back. Easy stuff 3k to the village (Kampong Rekom) up to 1200 meters then down to 1,000 and we are in the village. Goods are unloaded and we have 250kg of rice left in Yellow and REd has some clothes left for one more village.

Mission Accomplished!! We decide to stay at Kampong Rekom as the mission is accomplished and it only took us 6 hours. We decide to visit the rubber plantation we helped purchase last trip - wow 15 minutes walk later and I'm standing beside a 2 meter rubber tree which was only 10cm when I last saw it 9 months ago. They have had 100 die but the other 300 have started growing and are all over 2 meters tall. I decide we will purchase 600 more. Right the walk to the garden was 15+ minutes

Me with a 9 month old Rubber plant

The CORN seeds and others, oil, tinned fish is handed over and we discuss sustainability with them and how we can assist. They have proper water but no power not even solar. Then its a tour of the water supply and the issues. We setup camp back down the river 100 meters below and cook dinner and finally get to relax. Despite the altitude I sleep without a sleeping bag and only have a US military net for warmth. Sleep comes easily for all of us. 7.30am up and start breakfast and 9.30am we are about to leave when the blind chief turns up with crafts and another discussion with tea/milo ensues. Ok he was big - as big as my hand.

The view 1,000meters up at Kampong Rekom is awesome.

Now we are very late and have some 40k+ to travel to the next destination. Descending SS3 we realise our error the track is wet here and DAFFY slips sideways and has to be rescued. Daffy being rescued

While this happens it rains more and the next vehicle the Miss Bitchy slips into the TRENCH at the bottom after sliding down the slope and missing the crossover turn RATS DAMN RATS CURSES WE have a precariously rescue to do. Customers car is next and we have to rescue him. Roll out 40 meters of winch extension straps and the GOD winch, YELLOW anchors me and then VQ and then the HILUX surf to anchor YELLOW. I drive RED and PULL the PAJERO it all strains and the PAJERO suddenly POPS free then the GOD WINCH lets go (later find needed to hold it in) and the PAJERO flies back into the DITCH - RATS!!! To make it worse we are all attacked by BEES they are in the cars they are on us - I get stung in the neck. Most unpreasant recovery. The stricken Miss Bitchy

PLAN B we HOOK YELLOWS winch to RED on double line pull and move forward a few meters and hook 50 meters of strap to the PAJERO. Yellows winch starts SPARKING we just keep pulling. YELLOW WINCHES and I reverse slowly RED Sinks and claws its way to the edge of the bank then backwards and finally the PAJERO moves backwards FREE then the rain stops. Yellows mighty 8274 winch is DEAD. YELLOW Crossing the crossover at the obstacle

RED is next down the track followed by YELLOW then VQ and the HILUX (we almost loose it also the auto runs away). Ok one SS of terror over 2 to go. All easy and then SS0 and we are safe. Rest of the drive is incident free. Back down to Pos Simpo and we take the first timers down to see Perias River we have to rescue the Pajero on the trip up. Perias River

Then it's back on the road and all obstacles are easy except the MISS BITCHY gets badly stuck and is recovered by the JUNGLE bashing RED the customer is getting the hang of the RED bulldozer. However the view at the "LEFT" turn is spectacular. In the clouds at 500 meters.

"Left Turn" view.

Up to the "Y" intersection is fun YELLOW is in its element 4 wheel drifts uphill in a BJ75. The 13B-T purrs as it slides along. YEllow having fun

We drop the HEEP at the "Y" its going no further until the return journey. RATS its 6pm we are over 4 hours behind time 1 hour of daylight left and 25+k to travel or more. Downhill we go then the UPHILL not for long first YELLOW has to use both lockers just to move. DAFFY is right behind doing same and using all 3 lanes. Then the call VQ is stopped no power. YELLOW cannot move it and we (DAFFY) double strap pull it to the top. Then NEXT the PAJERO drops its 4x4 and is stuck. YELLOW gets it less than 200 meters and has to call for DAFFY again. That does it VQ is on the STRAP behind me and the PAJERO behind RED. It's a crawl long uphills TOW and TOW as DAFFY plays scout. Yellow TOW service

Delivering good to Kampong Kajang

8.45pm we roll into Kampong Kajang and deliver 270kg rice, cooking oil, blankets, clothes and tinned fish, soap. They are very happy. There is no men here only woman and kids the men are all off collecting RATAN. Next its off to the waterfall once we reach this turnoff it's 3.8k to CAMP. This is STEEP and I mean steep over 40deg slope for 400 meters up over 3 climbs. one is over a 1k. Then it rains 1/2 way up and before then VQ is on the back of YELLOW and PAJERO on the back of RED. It's late it's 10.20pm Saturday night, 600 meters up and 60k into the jungle and its pouring, 300 meters to camp we are stuck Yellow is halfway up a 80 meter slippery muddy slope (we left VQ at the bottom) it claws its way to the top then we hook up the 2 sick 4x4's and then its decided the 3 remaining strong ones all strapped together and YELLOW starts to pull slowly then we move and stop - (later I find out VQ's engine died) and slowly the LOCKERS grip and the 40 meters of strap behind me slowly inches RED up. Once RED is upp its easy the 2 mightly 13B-T's PULL HARD and its over straps are freed and we cruise into CAMP its 10.50pm. The camp is destroyed 3 bulldozers have wrecked where we normally camp. We pull down a bamboo frame and erect our camp on MUD. 11.45pm PASTA meal is served. 1.00pm we are all in BED exhausted and covered in mud. We wake and breakfast is served and we decide not to stay the whole day we will WALK to the C47 and then lunch and swim and depart some have to go home. We are heading to GUA CHA to camp for the night. Paradise ruined

First the walk of the 14 people 6 decide to walk. 38 gruelling minutes later we are at the C47 we spend and hour there taking pics and pulling weeds from the engines for better pics. The tail of KN630.

It's actually a wonderful spot it's a pity it was a war zone.

When its back down using a rope for the last bit and a SWIM and LUNCH. Pack and wait for the track to dry. By 2pm its safe to descend and we end up back at Kampong Kajang for a chat on how they are surviving. We have some stuff to assist them with for the next trip as most of them got arrested in the recent logging blockade.

Camp packing

Group pic Lata (waterfall) Pendat

The reverse trip is easier DAFFY removes the engine breather from VQ's its pouring out oil. Then white smoke - a dropped valve seal and a piston ring by the looks. The the Yellow submarine pulls the top shock mount off and we fix that and also have to now stop the axle pulling the steering arm off. You just never know what you will meet

Wet parts of the track provide ample fun and we cruise into Gua Cha (Cave Cha)right on dark. The rest leave and 3 of us camp for the night. Dinner under a shack and we sleep in the open limestone cave. Simply awesome. Our Camp a Cave

Tuesday is simple pack and breakfast in Gua Musang leaving one vehicle in the car wash - sweet chicken curry and rice for breakfast then back to Kuala Lumpur via cameron Highlands the tourists loved it with a quick stop at the hot springs and then for hot corn and icecream. and the tourists well they booked last year for once in a lifetime trip and then they booked again for 2013 for another 4 day trip same trip please they request! and to cap it all off they think that RED is far superior to their NISSAN PATROl hahaha. Damage roll Yellow SUbmarine - shock mount Daffy rear window randomly worked Yellow - winch REd - Nothing GOD winch works still Heep - Front Trailing Arm bent and torn - drivers ego busted VQ - 22R engine very sick, rear sway bar lost. Pajero - 4x4 randomly fails. Pendat Waterfall - RUINED for YEARS we almost all cried.