Thursday, November 03, 2011

Men vs. Wild (Malaysia)

This past weekend my friend Sam and I took an overnight trek through the jungles of Malaysia. While not quite a "Man vs. Wild" equivalent, we did manage to have an adventure. We took some tips from's 2009 blog post about Kota Tinngi forest reserve in southern Malaysia, not too far from Singapore. Our criteria were location (close to Singapore), challenge (packing everything in and out), safety (we didn't want to die), and scenery (waterfalls). Kota Tinngi met all that criteria quite nicely, though the blog post didn't quite prepare us for everything we found.


We met up at Johor Bahru for breakfast at the Oldtown Coffee shop just inside the City Centre mall at the border, and then proceeded to hire a taxi to the Kota Tinngi waterfall park. The taxi price was a bit more than what the blog stated, but inflation is expected, of course. It took about an hour to get to the Kota Tinngi waterfall.

Once we arrived, we almost entered the park, but the lady said there was no camping, so we checked the blog post and realized that it said to follow the river/stream just in front of the park. We weren't clear whether to walk upstream in the river itself, but managed to find a path along the bank that wound through a palm-tree grove, following a group of day-hikers, until finally we had to cross the river in order to stay on the trail, which we discovered to be marked with red and white striped plastic bags.


The trail itself was pretty well marked from then on, and it was a pretty easy hike to the first real waterfall (crossing the stream occasionally), where we left the day-hikers. Here's a group shot of us all together. On our own, Sam and I continued upstream, and this is where the going got quite a bit tougher. At several points we were in the river itself, wet up to the waist, as we followed the markers. Had that been more clear in the blog post, we would have been sure to bring slightly different footgear. A word to the wise who follow - plan to get wet! As it was, we soaked our tennis shoes and clothes through, and simply had to be extremely careful when climbing the rocks and waterfalls, as many of the surfaces were slick from the water.


The climb was very picturesque, and since it was our first time, there were a few places where we had to pause to search for the trail marker. Where none was evident at first, we simply continued along the river until we spotted one. There were also well-placed rope at spots where it would otherwise have been difficult to climb. We weren't prepared for the amount of bouldering/climbing that we had to do, but took it in stride. Fortunately, it didn't rain - had it done so we might have called off the hike.


It took us about 3 hours, with rest stops periodically, to make it to the top, where the river and the terrain pretty much leveled out. We set up camp on a slight hill next to the stream. Someone had strung a clothesline between two trees, which we used to hang our wet clothes on, and then took a rest in the pool next to the camp. It was relaxing after the climb. We did some exploring around the camp, noticed some deer tracks (we saw the deer later that night coming down for a drink at the stream) and saw a buzzard flying around. Dinner we cooked on our SuperCat alcohol stove - quite filling and tasty noodles - then made a fire and sat around talking for the rest of the evening.


After a good night's sleep (it rained a bit, but we stayed relatively dry), we took our time getting up, ate breakfast, and headed back. Going down was faster (though still a bit treacherous from the wet), only about an hour or two, and we stopped several times to swim in the waterfall pools. On returning we found a taxi to take us back to JB, had a late lunch, and headed home to Singapore. All in all, a great weekend!

No comments: