Monday, September 11, 2017

Highways of the Past - River Spirits and Bees

A harvested beehive and soon-to-be. Zoom to see if you can spot the 2 hives.

A trek up an ancient highway still serving communities generations on.

According to Ustaz Amin, this is a beginner tree for the budding beehive harvester. Usually working in pairs, harvesting is almost exclusively done at night only. Half expecting a scientific explanation on bees being docile at night - but no. It is so that the climbers can't see how far they can fall. Advanced harvesters will climb trees that go as high as 150 to 200 feet and no matter how seasoned they are - they all do it at night so they don't see how high up they have climbed!

Pokok keramat
Sit down with the locals and they can tell you tales which stretches back to their ancestors decades ago regarding this very tree situated where 2 rivers meet. Days before the advent of modern medicine, many will discard ill and dark spirits that are believed to be responsible for ailments that afflicts members of the family.  Part of the trunk has been cut in pieces and left in the water but even the Great Flood of 2014 did not move those pieces - when the river broke its banks and flooded nearby villages up to roof level. You can take a boat ride and creep yourself out by looking at those very pieces today.

Highways of the past - no traffic jams
Private jetty belonging to Kementerian Kesihatan
There are still communities (out of their own volition) that are cut off from modern civilisation where the sole mode of transport is by boat. This private jetty operated by the Health Ministry will be put into action whenever there is a medical situation upstream.

#KualaMedang #BeautifulMalaysia #hiddengems #heritage #highwayofthepast #historysoonforgotten

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Most Interesting Thing About Kuala Dipang town is ....

.. there is NO town!

Continuing where we left off from our previous Chenderiang post - if you continue heading northwards, you will eventually punch out back on Route 1 near Jeram. Route A119 is punctuated with orang asli settlements spawning from POS Dipang. It's a super quiet road that snakes underneath PLUS Highway before doubling back towards Route 1. Kuala Dipang is signposted to be some 20 odd kms away from Chenderiang along A119.

And lo and behold - after 20 kms, there is no Kuala Dipang town! The signages disappear and the next town you come across is Jeram.

Kuala Dipang
Decades ago the town had old prewar shophouses - but any remnants of this past era has long since been eradicated.

It used to be a Royal town - the branch of family Tun Raja Mohar & Gen Raja Rashid whose leader was exiled to the Seychelles by the British. It had a Malay school which uniquely, taught up to Standard 6 where most Malay schools only served up to Standard 5. Those in Standard 6 were the brightest students who would then go on to Sultan Idris Teacher's College and become teachers themselves.

The town in which there is no town to speak of.  Nak ambik gambar pun tak boleh since there are no town, shops, facilities! A fortunate stumble that allowed us to delve into a time where history may soon forget  ..

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chenderiang, Draco Nature Park and Durians 2017

Chenderiang - a name that is seen many times in my lifetime but never have - set foot on until almost 5 decades later.

Accessible via Tapah exit off the PLUS Highway (2 hours from Kuala Lumpur), Chenderiang is also not on Route 1 - which means, it has always been a sleepy hollow town even before the advent of PLUS Highway. And it shows - an exceedingly short single street town that serves a 20,000 odd population - there's the customary tuck shop, a few restaurants and not much else. Your best bet for supplies would still be Tapah for your 7 Eleven or KFC fixes.

NOT Lata Kinjang!

WHY (for majority of visitors)
Most folks come to Chenderiang to head to Lata Kinjang - one of the tallest waterfalls in Peninsular Malaysia with its majestic vertical falls and cascades that is visible from PLUS highway as you drive northwards. But it is packed .. and too commercialised .. and on bad days may have cleanliness issues with the less civic-conscious picknickers (but the same can be said to most popular picnic spots in Malaysia unfortunately).

WHY (for the durian tegar crowd)
In July 2017, the local durian kampung (not those expensive musang kings) harvest is dire nationwide.  Due to the unseasonally hot weather, the blooming flowers were not able to last through long periods of rainless days. Except pockets of Perak .. like Chenderiang! With the right friends, you should be able to connect with the local orang asli for durians from their farms from the hills. It is not abundant - but enough to entertain your friends and families over the next few days with durio zibethinus scented flatulence ..

WHY (for the author personally)
It was for the river. Honestly, forget Lata Kinjang with its packed car park, crowded picnic spots and a river source which passes through many many orang asli villages upstream. It's all safe for sure by the time the water reaches the picnickers downstream but there's a little gem of an alternative about 10 minutes away from the turn off to Lata Kinjang : Draco Nature Camp.

And yes - to map the way to Draco Nature Camp :) . Currently Waze and Google Maps are unable to route to the correct location of DNC (July 2017) so you have to ask locals for directions at the point where the routing ends (which ends at Kem PLKN).

Draco Nature Camp
Nestled at the foothills of Sungai Salu Forest Reserve, DNC sits on aboriginal ancestral land. There is zero population upstream (nor any orang asli settlements) hence the river is nothing short of fabulous. In terms of mineral water clarity of its water - it ranks right up there with the rivers found at POS Titom which requires a few hours of traipsing in a 4WD. DNC is accessible without much drama.

The river skirts around the property anti-clockwise through a series of gradual cascades - plenty of places to bathe

Sprawling campsite

Perfect place to consume your secret stash of durians

Activity hall in the background 

DNC is spartan. It has only 1 event cum dining cum open sleeping quarters hall and 4  toilets but my - they are squeaky clean toilets which rivals even those found in city homes. No grimy walls, no icky flooring, no questionably looking stains or toilet bowls which seemed to have been constructed during WWII. You know how some toilets you wanna walk in with your eyes blurred and want to get out of even before you have finished evacuating that last few millilitres of ... you get my drift. Well I can tell you - as of July 2017 - from a guy who habitually checks out toilets of every accommodation before saying yes - DNC toilets get 2 thumbs up. For the weekend warriors, clean toilets go a heck of a longg way to making a stay enjoyable.

DNC is operated by Mr Hisham, a nature guide himself and you can check out their FB page.

As far as a glamping site goes - it gets top marks.

Visiting the top of Lata Kinjang
There have been numerous fatal accidents involving visitors having a look at the edge at the top of Lata Kinjang - so this is not an activity we would recommend so tengok pictures sudah la ye ... there is a visible trail that requires minimal scrambling down to the edge of the waterfall.

PLUS Highway down below

Orang asli hut at the top of Lata Kinjang complete with flushing toilets

Where the cascades begin before forming a giant torrent

Nature's own ropes

They were not kidding when they named it "Mini Hydro station"
Resident cats of Masjid Jamik Rahmaniah, Chenderiang