So we relaxed, enjoyed the surrounding while some of us played at the edges of the rapid…it would have been safer during dry season. After a while, the kids wanted to swim in the river so we had to move back downstream to a safer place for swimming…..impossible to tell without the knowledge of an experienced guide like Pak Lah (of course there is a warning sign saying that river activity is at your own risk). So the kids enjoyed their safe swim while Pak Lah showed some swimming and swinging skills. Pak Lah also shared some 100% washable tattoo drawing skills using small coloured stones from the river bank….yellow, red, grey, bluish…so colourful and nice when you paint it on dry skin.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Taman Negara - Day 3 - Lata Berkoh & Rainforest Resort
Day 3 promised of more adventures and is our final day in TNP for this time round, the kids were asking for a 4D3N package but there is no time luxury and we had to contend with this 3D2N arrangement.
Same routine woke up early morning for solat before we sat outside sipping hot tea while enjoying the morning air….many of us continued their sleep after solat since we were only supposed to meet Pak Lah again at 9 AM for an excursion to Lata Berkoh. Lata Berkoh is on Sg Tahan, 8 km away into the TNP.
[Info from www.tamannegara.org/] - The Taman Negara park basin is drained by the Sungai Tahan, which originates at the foot of Gunung Tahan massif, and by the Sungai Keniam and Sungai Sepia. The pristine rivers in Taman Negara boasting waterscapes from mirror-still reflections to wild rapids and scenic waterfalls. With exotic names such as Tembeling, Tahan, Trenggan and Relau, these sungai or rivers including the tributaries and streams together number in the hundreds. Their waters range from crystal clear to coffee brown from the natural soil sediments. Rainforest rivers like these, which flow from peat soil virgin mountain forest catchments with no major human settlement or cultivation alongside, are now rare in the world.
On this trip, we had to take smaller boats (4 seater) so we ended up in 3 different boats. Ibu, Abah, Adik and Pak Lah were on one boat while Faiz, Dini and Uncle Ap shared another and Pak Long’s family on the other. Each boat has a pilot and a co-pilot who sits right in front of the boat tip…I thought this is even more challenging and the degree of difficulties kept increasing from one activity to another!!
The boats sped across Sg Tembeling into Sg Tahan….we could see the water level is high….initially the river was calm and the flow was slow, but it kept building up as you move further upstream. The river got winding with more rapids and faster water gushing through tight openings…again the boatmen was simply superb and skillful in their boat handling. After about 45 minutes, the boat couldn’t go any further and they would be parked at a very nice river bank (normally a feature photo of TNP). You could tell, feel and smell that this is virgin jungle inside TNP…it is as it was since its creation. The weather was a little overcast but it did not rain.
We disembarked and continued trekking for the next 1.2 km to Lata Berkoh. The path is not so difficult and mostly flat, mainly on the river bank. After a few minutes through nice jungle and debris from recent flood, we reached Lata Berkoh….beautiful place but the water is just too high. Lata Berkoh is a tight opening where Sg Tahan had to flow through creating the rapids…with brownish water gushing through heavily, evident of heavy rain upstream last night. The rapid gave out a roaring sound and downstream is a very deep pool (claimed to be more than 9 m deep and death had occurred in the past here)…so this place can be dangerous if you are not good at swimming.
Satisfied with the swim, feeling cold, tired and hungry as always…we slowly trekked back to the boat….again learning one or two new things about the surrounding flora and fauna from Pak Lah. One of it is a plant with fruit like chilly, which is claimed to be able to give a relief from asthma. When we arrived at the river bank where the boats were parked, we saw the boatmen were entertaining themselves with a game of chess…and I saw that a few times at Kuala Tahan too. Chess is a favorite game for the boatman and perhaps that’s how they maintain their high level of confidence in handling their boats in tricky waters.
The sun has now emerged from the clouds and the air got warmer. So we continued our boat journey downstream towards Kuala Tahan. Although we planned to stop at the Kelah Sanctuary along the way, we cancelled the plan due to the high water, low chances of seeing the fish….so the boat just zoomed past the sanctuary, perhaps next time during the dry season. We reached Kuala Tahan at 1 PM, already late for check out from the resort. So we quickly went back, pack our bags and refresh ourselves before we checked out and said goodbye to the Rainforest Resort…have no complaint of the place.
We were back at the jetty at 1:30 PM for lunch and some souvenirs. At 2 PM, we finally board our boat and bid farewell to Pak Lah…of course normally you’ll give some additional tip for all that he has done, a wonderful guide, teacher and host indeed.
It was hot and sunny during the boat ride downstream….meeting more boats heading upstream with more foreigners. The boat suddenly stopped in the middle of the Tembeling river at one point after the engine ran out of fuel….that woke up everyone from sleep. But the boatman filled it up with the fuel brought in a separate container…while the boat slowly moves following the water flow. After a 2 hour journey we reached Kuala Tembeling jetty….crossing the Sg Jelai again before docking at the jetty….Sg Jelai was also still high with ‘teh tarik’ color. We quickly disembarked from the boat and ran upstairs to the toilet….although you could ask the boatman to stop for toilet break!
Our cars were there safe and sound….so we said goodbye to Pak Long and we went separate ways. We headed to Jerantut town then on to Temerloh and on to the East Coast Expressway….stopping by at Lanchang rest area for solat and break. We then drove straight home, reaching at about 6:30 PM. Alhamdulillah and we had dinner at home and sent Uncle Ap back home later that night….everyone was happy and everyone was tired…but everyone is safe and everyone had learned something.
We would like to thank Firdaus and Pak Lah for all the services rendered and we were very satisfied with the whole arrangements. It was a worthwhile trip for the family and we’d like to encourage many other families to do the same….go out there and see the country, to know Malaysia is to love Malaysia.