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.