By now, almost everyone in Kruzer knows what a trip to Tasik Chini entails. Sweat, high heat, long treks and the one slug that everyone hates but tries to put a brave face when encountered with one: Leeches. The trip may also have been a life changing experience for some and a strong lesson to learn for all of us. Yet, in the final analysis, all’s well ends well…
The day started real early today with the riders meeting at 4am. Although a trip to Tasik Chini will not take more than 6 hours, it was important that all arrived on time and be properly briefed and prepared for the ride. The trip is also made much more interesting and challenging with several new riders and a fellow photographer from Clubsnap (a local photography forum) following us for the trip. With all the basics of group riding and the route we’re taking done and dusted, off we head into the darkness of the NS highway with 11 bikes and a car..
First stop at Yong Peng
Tasik Chini is Malaysia’s second largest natural lake with a sad story to tell. Once brimming with Sacred Lotuses (Nelumbo Nucifera), the 12 smaller lakes of Tasik Chini supported numerous Orang Asli settlements with a healthy fish catch and some tourist money. As we strive for balance in life, it is interesting to see in nature the seasonal rising and falling of water levels working in perfect harmony to keep the lotuses germinating and growing back to cover the lake’s surface every season.
Alas, as lotuses continued to bloom and the tourists came, the state government dammed up the lake in 1995 in an attempt to attract more tourists in the dry season where the lotuses traditionally die and allow for germination to occur. They have unwittingly caused a chain reaction of tree deaths and fish depopulation. The balance was disrupted. Although the dam was removed five years later, the damage was done and it would need many more years before the lotuses will be in full bloom and the brown waters become clear again..
Tasik Chini in the morning
As Kruzer have always been on tours which contribute to nature, it is befitting that we visited Rajan Jones once again. A champion for the lake and the native Orang Asli, Rajan operates a guesthouse amid an Orang Asli village and pays them for jobs such as looking for new trekking routes and bringing his guests out for boat trips. You will be assured to know that the money you spent on the tour stays in the village.
Rajan lighting up his lamp for dinner
Orang Asli boiling water for our tea
Orang Asli having fun by the pool
A few petrol stops, a beer stocking trip and breakfast later, we arrived in good spirits at Rajan’s Guesthouse at about 10am. By now, the unrelenting sun was peering down on us and we need our shower! But first, a walk to Rajan’s Café was on the cards as the rooms were just vacated and you know it needs to be cleaned if you saw a frog lying on your pillow. Realizing that time was short and we needed to start the scheduled trek soon, we changed and got ready for the walk. But first, a one hour, sun drenched bumpy ride to the trek start point.
the bumpy ride to the trek
Looking at the flimsy bridge we just crossed
Trekking to the waterfalls
Terapai Waterfalls was a new site which was discovered by the local Orang Asli recently when they were searching for new treks for us. Although the waterfall looked ordinary at first sight, the site was so untouched that even the fishes come up to you and nibble the dead skin off you! We were just getting sunburned without knowing it as we tried our best to scoop up the fishes and the occasional shrimp with huge pinchers. Ahh, the innocence of boys catching fishes with their bare hands…
Picking up leeches for lunch
The only reason we climbed out of the water was the look of impending rain and the hot drinks. As the rain drops created a cacophony of noise in the rainforest, we trudged along, hoping to walk fast enough so that the dreaded leeches don’t have the time to latch on. But as we neared the lorry pick up point, one of the most unforgettable and dreadful things to happen started as Shamen and Mei got stung by a yellow flying insect. What happened in the next 20 minutes was probably a life changing experience for Shamen as he battled a severe allergic reaction to the sting while Mei endured strong localized pain in her arm, apart from a mentally torturous time watching Shamen lose his consciousness. As he sat in the front seat of the lorry unconscious, Rosli massaged and pounded him for a good half an hour until he came back to life…and endured a one hour bumpy drive to the clinic. As I helplessly watch from the lorry’s rear, Rosli massaged and coaxed Shamen back to breathing properly and gaining consciousness again in the lorry. All I could do was grip the wooden plank by the side of the lorry tightly, praying that my strength is passed on to Rosli as he attempted to stimulate his vital points.
It is through the higher powers up there (and Dr Rosli, of course!) that decided that Shamen could recover miraculously. Although physically weakened by the ordeal, Shamen’s condition stabilized and was sent back to our rooms for him to rest. As much as he was physically burned out, we were all equally relieved and grateful that he is still with us. The feeling of helplessness is still very strong and I was glad that Isaac felt the same way too. There was no way we would allow this to happen again and vowed to check the first aid for such matters. We were just glad this lesson was not permanently paid for…
Food at Rajan’s has always been great. It is not the presentation or rarity of food that attracts us, but rather, the simple home cooked fare that his wife whips up for us whenever we are there reminds me of the wonderful food my mum cooks in her greasy kitchen. The dinner was made even better after I came back from sending food up to Shamen and Mei! I would think that I’m the first human being in the world to have a bunch of bananas as my birthday cake, such was the crazy creative ideas the Kruzers can come up with…and to top it all up, it came filled with 29 candles. My sincere thanks to all!
banana cake for monkey’s birthday
The simple but yummy fare
With dinner behind us, there was only one thing left to do in such a quiet, secluded place: beer and chit-chat. As we talked the night away, the night got noisier with snores, occasional laughter and the loud whispering of leaves as the winds of the early morning blew….
A day of riding awaits as we got ready to move off at noon. Breakfast was again simple but satisfying but this year, we got no demonstration of the fire making skills of Rajan Jones nor a boat ride around Chini. He does seem a little more tired than we last saw him two years ago. Age and the deteriorating state of Tasik Chini must have taken its toll on him. At least I know he’s still providing odd jobs for the Orang Aslis. He has been their guardian angel for the past two decades.
Today’s route was to be slightly altered so as to allow some playtime on the beach. That said, the twisties we had on the return leg was all I could ask for after 4 barren months of straight, mind numbing expressways. As they say, pictures paint a thousand words. And this will surely save me some….
Kruzers by the beach
Heading on to the beach!
the fine soft sand
Sean picked up his bike before we posed for pictures can rush to help him
chillin’ by the beach
A fine dinner spread of fish and meat at Kluang topped off a particularly warm ride. We were all only too glad that it’s a Sunday the next day….
In the final analysis, it was an enjoyable weekend. All I remembered for the next day (Sunday), was the aches, pains, sunburns and the god damned tiredness..and after checking around on Monday, I’m glad to report I wasn’t the only one. And we all agreed on one thing: this trip certainly taught everyone of us a little something new..
Till the next ride!
all pics are taken by Racheal, Jocelyne, Timothy, Isaac and Mei