I may be able to spot arrowheads on the desert but a refrigerator is a jungle in which I am easily lost. -EDWARD T. HALL

i just got back from one kick ass jungle trip. i’m currently nursing nine pacat bites, three bee stings, still prying thorns out of my hands and an inflamed laryngs caused by dehydration.

taman negara tak main lah, friend. they have paved road and even four wheelers can go in. i was at krau, located north of taman negara. the entrance of the area is kuala gandah, roughly twenty minutes from mentakap.

our mission: to search for the little known lata tujuh. inaccessible by any land vehicle. bloody expensive by heli. almost impossible without a really good pair of track shoes.

almost impossible. you know, we were joking on the way to the first checkpoint about how huge our rucksacks were. i mean, we brought tents and sleeping bags and all the cookingh stuff and food and all, that we actually need, and the only space left for us to lighten the load lies in clothes. i honestly did not know how much to pack. is five t-shirts enough for a three day trip? do i need to bring an extra pair of shoes in case one gets soggy? how many pairs of socks? how would the native guide that live in the jungle go about footwear? for crying out loud, the dude would probaby just came sehelai sepinggang and not wear any shoes at all.


the dude came carrying nothing but a rokok daun clenched between his teeth. he wore a shirt and a pair of shorts which has evidently been on him for quite awhile and nothing else. no shoes.

and this guy is for real. he and his friends we kind anough to carry half our packs and stuff for us and trots away to the destination just like that. we, with lightened loads arrived hours and hours later. this is not some jungle with a nice trail to follow. we got stumped so many times looking to what might be a trail.

and it had all the works of a children’s tv show obstacle course. just that the cushioned pads were mud patches. and there were thorns of every size from little ones that clings to your clothes to three inched ones located at the most strategic places… like when you are walking on a muddy slope and need something to pull yourself up with…

and then there were leeches. all you people who gave me all those remedies on pacats lied. salt did not work. i do believe they are mutated somehow. and there was no way in hell i was going to let a collegue burn the fucker off me. and wearing two layers of socks did not work because it went right through.

here’s what worked: tobacco. you buy a pack from your friendly kedai runcit for a ringgit a pack and instead of smoking yourself silly with it, you waste it by mixing a bit of it with water and squeezing the mixture over the pacat. the pacat will choose happyland from you and drop right off.

it did not work on bees though. we entered the jungle when it is honeybee season which was brilliant. just brilliant. the bees are attracted to anything sweet and salty, which made us a full fledged buffet everytime we reached a checkpoint or stopped to rest. we all got stung. i got three, all on the rigt arm. honeybee stings are not poisonous, but they are damn painful and the thought of having been stung by a bee just sucks. i got a big ass swell on my right wrist now which they say will go down in a coupla days.

there were trees everywhere. duh! i thought that it would be like a canopy sorta jungle… tall on the top and clear at the bottom. i was so dead wrong. there were threes on every layer of the jungle and then some. there were rivers and streams and some much bigger and wider than others.

i learnt that i have a really, really bad sense of balance. little log bridges low over the water, i can cross blindfolded. but when you put a single big ass log over a three storey below river and ask me to walk holding on to nothing for a good fifteen meters, i’d tell you to go fuck yourself silly. the damn log was not even even. it was jagged and all and there was a branch sticking out in the middle of it.

likewise, walking on little stones over a still stream, i can do. walking a huge rocks over a rapid is next to suicide. i actually looked down to see my legs shaking. my collegues were laughing and telling me to stop it, but i couldn’t! it was moving by itself. i’d rather wade through a waist high water than to hop over moss infested stones.

lata tujuh was beautiful. can’t show pics because my nikon is in the shop and the canon they gave me to use can only be loaded on monday. but the place is really beautiful. there is a real natural slide there. not some stupid ones that go over a wussy stone like those at frim or sungai congkak. a real massive one. very cool.

and right at the head of the lata, a waterfall. not very high, but very cool. picture this ok: the waterfall plunges into a deep pool of water, wide enough to swim half a leg through, which then collects at this very cool rapid and then slides into another deep pool of water. you don’t want to get out of the water.

collegues also took time to do a bit of fishing, which were then roasted over a fire. that’s right, we had a campfire and all. i learnt that different sticks burnt differently over fire. some burns on one end and smokes on the other. some releases sap on the outer end. some burnt longer than others and then there are those that expodes when burnt.

the hike in took two days and two nights. the hike out, which was a do-or-die thing, took one day. the whole expedition comprised of 40 kilometers. we got to see the natives and their houses along the way and stop by at many streams and rivers. my shoes tore and upon arival back to civilisation, went straight into the dumpster.

i learnt that i need to workout more frequently. i’m so damn unfit.

oh, there were animals in the jungle. wild elephants, boars, deers, snakes etc. the works. i got to see a hornbill and bats. but they are part of the ecosystem and by nature, only hunt that they need. truthfully, if we don’t go cari pasal with the animals, they would really rather not bother us. i guess nature’s alright.

except the pacat.

die, pacat, die!!!


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