In pursuit of health, happiness and a pair of killer thighs
Ever heard of Lenggong? Yeah, me neither. Not until last weekend, in fact. But it is where I spend last weekend. Lenggong is a town in Perak near Ipoh (ah, Ipoh everyone sure know one) and it’s apparently one of the Peninsula’s most important archeological spots. Lenggong is most widely known as the home of Perak Man, a man who lived in one of the caves here 11,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era.
It takes us about 3 hours to drive from KL to Lenggong on Saturday morning. There are ten cars in the group, so the schedule is thrown a bit out of whack. The upside is that you get to see the town in all its rural glory. Everywhere you turn, there are limestone hills off in the distance and little kampung houses nestled in lush greenery … so idyllic. So laidback. So quiet. Am terribly impressed with the highways though – they are in perfect condition and there isn’t a toll booth in sight. I live in Klang Valley – toll booths here are as commonplace as stray dogs and unemployed youths lepaking in shopping malls.
With such an amazing highway system, it simply means you’re cruising along in your car, watching the quaint kampung scenery unfold uninterrupted for km after km after km. They’re not kidding when they say Lenggong is an open-air museum (by ‘they’, I mean Wikipedia)!
Our first stop is the Hutan Lipur Lata Kekabu where the Kekabu waterfall is. All I can say is, no wonder it’s listed under ‘easy’ in the Waterfalls of Malaysia website. We park and head towards the entrance.
I’m all prepared for an onslaught of leeches – have on my trusty leech-proof socks, my legs are smeared with mozzie repellent and dripping with leech spray. I suppose wearing shorts isn’t such a hot idea – the slimy buggers can slink up your uncovered thigh and crawl into your pants or something but I figure I’ll be able to catch them and get someone to pull them off before that happens.
So, on we go. We’re told there are three falls and the trail supposedly gets more challenging as we go up and the last falls used to be off-limits but is now open. Good good. Need to get in my hearty Saturday morning workout since I’m not running today (oh, the guilt!!)
So we’re marching along and it’s a beautiful park. A lot like FRIM.
Unfortunately, it’s as easy as FRIM too …
… there are brick paths all the way …
… and a couple of suspension bridges. Other than being attacked by mosquitoes, the walk (or should I say stroll) is uneventful.
We pass by this tiny waterfall …
… and move on a few minutes away to this one.
Obviously, we have to spend a good few minutes indulging in obligatory camwhoring … which we all do with great enthusiasm. I’m thinking this is the first of the three waterfalls but lo and behold, I’m told that this IS the third waterfall. What? This is the THIRD?? Where were the first two??? “We passed two falls already earlier ma, you didn’t see meh?” Um, no, I did not. Maybe I should stop wearing my sunglasses so much.
We get back into the cars and head to where we’ll be spending the night: Nur Lembah Lenggong.
Nur Lembah Lenggong is a recreational and training facility that’s built along the Perak River. Here, groups can indulge in all kinds of team-building and character-strengthening activities like rafting, trekking, climbing, living in a tent (ie. camping), etc. Luckily, we’re going to stay in the ‘hostel’. Lucky cos the last time I went camping, we set up our tent on an ant hill. The consequences were near-catastrophic and the emotional scars live on till today.
We head to the dining area for a buffet-style lunch before checking in.
The food is … to put it kindly … edible (as in I didn’t get food poisoning or anything after ingestion). I’m hardly a fussy eater – I pretty much eat anything – but this time, my appetite deserts me and I wind up tossing away most of what’s on my plate in favour of the mustard pretzels in my bag. Yum. I like pretzels.
This place is all about ‘roughing’ it and building character, so obviously, we have to wash our own dishes. I believe that having to use those mouldy-looking sponges to clean my plate two days in a row has made me a better human being.
It’s raining by the time we finally check into our dorm – a huge room with something like ten double-decker beds and an air-con that’s stubbornly set at 24 degrees (damn hot okay). I’m one of the last ones in so I wind up getting the top bunk. I don’t know why but I have this thing about sleeping on the top bunk – as in I prefer being at the bottom. I’m always expecting the bed to give way and crash into the ground while I’m on it. I also half-expect to roll off the bed in the middle of the night and cause grievous bodily harm to the poor girl on the bottom bunk. It’s weird especially since I don’t weigh all that much and I don’t thrash around in my sleep.
We give the room a once-over and somebody loudly announces that there are maggots behind the door. Eeww. Little do we know that throughout our short stay here, we will encounter more friendly creatures, namely (1) a grasshopper, (2) a praying mantis and (3) a monstrous furry centipede which we kill off by (1) spraying two truckloads of Shelltox, (2) pouring buckets of water and (3) getting Johnny Low to come over and pummel it to death with his shoe.
Thankfully, the rain stops soon after and we head out to fly 100 metres across the Perak River.
It doesn’t look so scary up close. Oh well, if anything goes wrong, I’ll just fall into the river. It’s not so bad.
The guy in charge, Halim, briefs us on how to fly the fox. He shows us how to strap ourselves into the harness and I’m surprised that there’s only one clasp connecting us to the cable. Halim assures us that the clasp is very canggih one and costs something like RM80 (wah really ah …) and isn’t something he bought at the pasar malam (oh ok lor …). He wraps up by telling us, “Semalam, kami flying fox 130 orang dan semua okei. Hari ini, ada 50 orang aje so kalau tak okei, I tak tahu la – hahaha!!!” Hmm.
This flying fox is perfect for first-timers cos it’s a short distance and isn’t all that high up, so it’s not scary at all. Some more we go two by two, so lagi not scary. It’s a lot of fun though :-) … I do it with Siew Fun. We strap ourselves in and off we go … a few feet off the platform and Halim stops the pulley, leaving us dangling above the ground for a while. I have no idea why but it gives us a few seconds to camwhore …
… which is why I have this pic …
… and this …
… once he lets go, off we go. We scream really loud, not cos it’s scary but because everyone is egging us on. Entertainment value, you know. It’s a great feeling whizzing through the air, the river flowing beneath you, wind in your hair. People sometimes ask you what animal you’d like to be if you were to be reincarnated in your next life. I definitely want to be a bird.
Before we know it, the flight’s over and we’re stopped by the red piece of canvas at the end (to prevent us from crashing into the trees and you know, killing ourselves). So fun! Must find another place with a more chi-kek flying fox to try out! (Chi-kek is Cantonese for ‘exciting’; it’s not to be confused with ‘cekik’ which is Malay for strangulation and obviously, not the same thing at all).
We head off for a quick shower before dinner. Ooh, this is where I launch into something I do in every post: talk about the toilet. Okay, first of all, let me clarify something. I do not have a toilet fetish. And I know that this doesn’t do much to boost our international image, but aiya, it’s no secret that Malaysian toilets aren’t exactly clean. In most cases, they’re pretty gross. And this one at Nur Lembah Lenggong is no exception. It’s big, blue and gives me the creepy feeling that this is probably what the toilets in Pudu Jail look like. (Coincidentally, it’s in the toilet where we find the praying mantis, the centipede and a whole army of ants). All I can say is, when using that toilet, you’ll be glad if you have myopia and an impaired olfactory system.
Click here for DAY 2.
This trip was organised by MOTHS (Malaysian Outdoor Trekking & Hiking Society). MOTHS is a forum for all things outdoor, all things nature and all things adventure. Not appropriate for those who don’t like mud, bugs or those whose idea of an intense workout is wrestling a plate of chips from the family pit bull terrier.
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