Val was home for the holidays, wrote on her MSN status that she would like to go somewhere, anywhere. So I talked to her, and after going through a short list of where we could go (only day-trips; no overnights allowed due to non-parental consent reasons, lol), I finally decided that we should all go to a waterfall. It is awesome being a dictator. You should try it sometime.
From Waterfalls of Malaysia, I decided on Chiling Falls. The site it listed its accessibility as ‘moderate’, which means some trekking required, a.k.a. not as easy as parking your car right in front of the waterfall. Which suits me (and all of us) fine, since
we I am an unhealthy sod and it’s about time I sweat it out.
Since I have absolutely no idea how to get to Kuala Kubu Baru/ Ulu Yam/ Selangor Dam (aku orang Johor, ok), or what the trail would be like, I thought we would need the services of a guide to help us along. There were a few comments on the Chiling Falls page at WOF stating that one would not require a guide, everything is easy like a pea, bla bla bla. There was also someone by the name of Happy Yen writing stuff about ropes to cross the river etc. Doesn’t sound like an easy pea to me. So I wrote to ‘Happy Yen’, asking about his fees and such. It sounded and we decided on a date.
On the morning of Hari Raya Aidiladha 2007, we got together at a meeting point @ Damansara Jaya, had something light to eat then headed for our destination. We had an extra person with us; an Ethiopian dude who was in the country for business, bound to leave for home later that day and had wanted to do something ‘different’ on his last day in Malaysia. I guess at some point or the other, people do not want to go on endless shopping mall trips.
Yen’s itinerary included a short visit to a Buddhist temple in Rawang where we had an interesting discussion on what is ‘real’ or ‘fake’ Buddhism (if there is such a thing). Then it was off to Kuala Kubu Baru for an early lunch of wantan mee, followed by a visit to the Sungai Selangor Dam.
It was a beautiful day. Rather windy at the dam, very picturesque
We spent about 10 minutes enjoying the breeze, admiring the scenery and taking photographs.
We reached the entrance to Chiling Falls at around 11 a.m. Yen advised us to leave some stuff in our cars (i.e. change of clothes), then our adventure began!
The beginning of the trail to the waterfall was marked by a suspension bridge. After that it was more than an hour’s trekking (for us noobs) along a somewhat defined but narrow trail. Within the first 15 minutes, the sole of ShaolinTiger’s Reebok came off. Yen was grinning all the way, telling us that he bought his ‘kampung Adidas’ for RM6.99 at Jukebox and how they’d served him well. I wore my Teva slippers (I usually do anyway), was rather happy with my decision. Maybe I should invest in a pair of Teva sandals.
We plodded along the muddy trail, wrestled with thick jungle growth, yeah!
Yen proved to be an informative guide. While waiting for others to catch up, he would point to something interesting and tell us about it. For me I knew about certain stuff already, so I guess his commentary would benefit those who are foreign to the country, or a particular breed of urbanites who would excitedly point to a goat and exclaim, “eh, kangaroo!” It was a few years ago, he was my ex’s cousin, and boy did he get ribbed that day.
Yen telling interesting stuff, Kim and KY looked on
Since the last time I trekked was more than a decade ago, I had to pay extra attention to the trail as so not to hurt myself (really bad) or fall over (worse). Occasionally we’d stop for a few seconds to take in our surroundings, and we’d be rewarded with scenes like this:
Bottom part of the river where it’s still shallow
The photo above may not look like much, but I can assure you that it is very different once you are there.
Yen allowing us to catch our breaths
Me with FA. You can sort of see how fast the water was flowing, judging by the splashing at our feet
Then we had to move on. Most of the time I was thinking to myself, “this wasn’t what I signed up for”. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting anything like this. Don’t get me wrong; it was easily one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve had in a while, but I was expecting something… easier? Yen laughed and said that this was an easy trail for him, but for first-timers would do well to engage a guide, unless they are old-hands at trekking. Much later I was describing the trip to my brother-in-law, and he scoffed at the idea of a guide, saying that he used to go to Chiling Falls with his friends, crossing the rivers and what-not without guides etc. Then I told him that at some point, the water level was rather high, there were rapids, and the river was gushing, and… and…
Still, he was not impressed. Bleh!
Following the trail
Yen brought safety ropes with him, and used them to guide us across the river (5 times each way). Sometimes it was difficult especially when the water was coming down really hard and fast. Sometimes we’d slip a bit, no thanks to the treacherous river rocks. At the 4th crossing, we had to wait around a bit because a fitter looking guide borrowed Yen’s ropes so his group of 17 kids (by kids I mean late teens – early twenties) could cross the river. Heh, it was a case of ‘my guide is better and more prepared than your guide even though your guide looks fitter hence proving the age old adage that physical appearances mean shit’. Later we found out that it was the same group who’d bought some cheap ass shoes for this trip. When the soles came off, they simply did not bother with them; instead they left the damaged shoes all along the trail, which Yen picked up (all of them!) on our way back. I hope they hurt themselves, those irresponsible ass wipes.
ST and Kim at an early crossing
Me using the rope to cross the river while Yen looks on, probably laughing to himself at us noobs
After 1+ hour, we reached the main waterfall.
It was rather magnificent, really
There were only 6 other people there, including a group of 3 who brought some beer with them. One of them who was rather inebriated tried to pick up Kim, lol.
There was a small pool before the waterfall, and there were lots of fish. Yen had brought some bread with him so we could feed the fish, though reading this comment at KY’s blog, it probably wasn’t a good idea. Yen also brought a disposable stove/ burner with him and made us hot drinks with water from the river. Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? Heh. It was lovely anyhow, and quite an unexpected gesture from him.
When KY saw all the equipment that was coming out from Yen’s magic pocket, he jokingly remarked to him, “It would be so perfect if you had a hammock as well…” To which Yen replied, “But I have a hammock!” and proceeded to pull out a rolled-up hammock from his backpack. “I just don’t have a string for it!” Jaws dropped, laughter ensued. Goodness gracious!
I dedicate this trip to Val :D
We spent a bit of time at the area. The water was cold, but I swam for a bit anyway. At one point near the waterfall, I lost my footing because the ground suddenly slipped much deeper. Would have drowned if I didn’t know how to swim. Dangerous, dangerous. Yen later told us that he believes there is a mini cave or something near the waterfall. A few years ago, a couple of people drowned there — one had accidentally fell off, and a couple others dived in to rescue the first person. Their bodies weren’t found until a couple of days later. Yen said that he once threw a ball into that direction; the ball disappeared for 10 minutes before resurfacing.
There are two other falls just after this one, but Yen said that the trail was closed as it was too dangerous. But this one was more than good enough. Yen’s original itinerary included a trip to the Batang Kali Hotspring, but we opted out of that in order to enjoy a bit more time at Chiling Falls.
It was a one-way-in-one-way-out deal. Of course it was more tiring, and during one river crossing, FA’s slippers were swept away. So she had to trek the rest of the way bare-footed. I heard she got bumps and bruises later, lol. Sang songs along the way to take our minds off our lackluster psychical conditions, and finally made it back at around 4 something p.m. We had a good meal at Ulu Yam, then went home.
I had difficulty walking and moving my limbs for the next two days, but it was all worth it :D
If you would like Yen to be your awesome guide to Chiling Falls, you can drop him an e-mail at happyyen [at] gmail [dot] com or call him at +60173697831.
Also blogged: KY