A most memorable trip to Chiling Falls, Selangor

A few friends and I decided to go on an outdoor activity sort of thing to level out the unhealthiness in us. From Waterfalls of Malaysia, I decided on Chiling Falls. The site listed its accessibility as ‘moderate’ aka some trekking required not as easy as parking your car right in front of the waterfall. Sounds fun already!

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 it would be wise to get a guide for the trip. Wrote to ‘Happy Yen’, he was available and we decided on a date for the activity.

On the morning of Hari Raya Aidiladha, we got together at a meeting point @ Damansara Jaya, had a light breakfast 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, tourists in KL 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.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 01 - Selangor dam
It was a beautiful day. Quite windy at the dam, very picturesque

We spent about 10 minutes enjoying the breeze, admiring the scenery and taking photographs. Then went on our journey, reached the entrance to Chiling Falls at around 11am. 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 beginners) along a 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 happy with my decision.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 03 - tricky trail
We plodded along the muddy trail, wrestled with thick jungle growth, yeah!

Yen proved to be an informative guide. While waiting for everyone to catch up, he would point at something interesting and tell us about it. For me I knew certain things already, so his commentary would benefit those 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.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 04 - Yen the waterfall guide
Yen telling interesting stuff, 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:

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 05 - bottom part of the river
Bottom part of the river where it’s still shallow

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 06 - should we or shouldn't we
Yen allowing us to catch our breaths

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 07 - Suanie with Fireangel
Me with FA. You can sort of see how fast the water was flowing, judging by the splashing at our feet

Being an unfit sort of person, I kept thinking to myself “this wasn’t what I signed up for”. Don’t get me wrong; it was 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 first-timers would do well to engage a guide unless they are old-hands at trekking.

Much later I was telling my bro-in-law about the trip 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. 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. Bah!

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 08 - trekking the trail
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.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 10 - ShaolinTiger and Kim crossing the river
At an early crossing

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 09 - Suanie crossing the river
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.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 11 - the magnificent 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 with plenty of fish. Yen brought some bread 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!

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 12 - Suanie with Val
With Val

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 went deeper. Could have drowned if I didn’t know how to swim. Dangerous, dangerous. Yen later told us that he believes there is a mini cave 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 itinerary included a trip to the Batang Kali Hotspring, but we decided to spend more time at Chiling Falls.

Chiling Falls, Selangor - 13 - a happy group

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. 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

don’t buy me stuff kthx

That came off sounding rather ungrateful, doesn’t it? Well, in my defense, I think it’s a well-intended message on my part to friends or anyone in my life. They should be thankful to me, and I’ll tell you why.

You know how people go on holidays and they come back with trinkets and souvenirs ‘exclusive’ to the countries they’d been? Not only are they all made in China, they serve absolutely no purpose except to assure your loved ones and friends back home that you thought of them while you were out having fun. Or so you assume anyway. Why, thank you for the lovely koala bear key chain; I’ll just put it in my closet along with the 14 other koala bear key chains that I already own.

You see, if you go away for a holiday, I’d want you to thoroughly enjoy yourself without a burden on your shoulders thinking that you are obligated to get me something. If you are there for work purposes, work! Spend whatever extra time you have exploring new places, or holed up in your hotel room emptying the mini bar (hello G). If you think of me once in a while, well it’s nice and I appreciate it. But I am not a shadow constantly whispering to your conscience that I am in need of a souvenir from wherever you are at. If you know me well enough, know that I’d want you to utterly, exhaustively and soundly (how’s that for my Shift+F7 skills?) have fun! Feeling compelled to spend some money on something that I would probably never use (ever) does not sound like fun to me. And if it is not fun to me, I don’t reckon it’s fun for you.

A couple years ago, FA went to Thailand for a few days of sun, sea and sand. She came back with fancy incense kits for some of us. It was pretty, no doubt, but if you think of it, a waste of money. One year later I got fed up with the thing taking up space on my table, so I teared it open and proceeded to lit the incense. It went poof within an hour. When a few of us went to Redang, we felt obliged to get her something. So I got her a colourful paper fan, which I don’t remember if she ever received (since I mostly throw my stuff in various places and proceed to forget about them). But you get what I mean.

When KY went to Myanmar on a working trip, he came back with gifts for us — the first one was a rather heavy golden elephant key chain, and the second one was a jade-ish pendant. When he returned from Japan, we got a cute Japanese paper doll. I love KY, but I also told him off. KY being KY grinned, and I understand that it is in his nature to look out for people. But I think we established that we should no longer give each other souvenirs (FA included) from different countries.

Sure, I love presents. But presents should only be given if you sincerely wish to give, and it should be something special and unique based on what you think the other person would like and appreciate. If you do not think enough of me to get me something, then don’t. I am not going to sulk and cry :) And I don’t want any of you (family members included) to feel any need at all to get me anything unless I specifically asked you to get them. If you still feel beholden to the traditional culture that you should bring something back, buy some chocolates (that are unavailable locally) to share. Or spicy beef jerky from Taiwan. Or Brazil nuts in their kernels. Or macadamia nuts from Australia. Or a cup of sand for KY. Or a hunky male Spaniard. Now, THAT I would appreciate :D

Kthx.

pat & steffi’s farewell party… byes!!

Rather busy today, so here’s a quick update during my lunch hour.

Last Saturday was Patrick and Steffi’s farewell house party. They have been here for a while, and Patrick is going home to Sydney, bringing Steffi with him. Sniffs and sobs all around.

It was lots of alcohol and coke (for me), snacks, mini-performances thanks to Steffi’s gym class, and an elaborate karaoke session. I know I have stated multiple times that I am not one for karaoke, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Pat & Steffi farewell party - group 2
From L-R: Mr. Tall, Adrian, Adele, Sheau Wei, Ester, me, Faeizah, Asish, Vikram, Toon

Pat & Steffi farewell party - collage
Clockwise: Me + Steffi + Ester, me with Patrick, me with Mr. Tall, me with the singing Pinoy

Pat & Steffi farewell party - group
The same faces

Pat & Steffi farewell party - bye
Me with those who are gonna ditch us…

Bye Patrick and Steffi! Come back soon for a visit :)

happiness is…

Credit card statement

Credit card statement close up

Now on to other debts!

if mouse is mice, why isn’t spouse spice?

Yesterday I topped up my supply of paracetamol. A few packets of Uphamol and a large box of Panadol Acti-Fast, I should be rather well-sorted for the next couple months; that is if no one else takes it. Paracetamol is one of the few things in my life that I’d freak out if I don’t have them (my favourites at least) with me at all times.

Don’t know why you needed to know that, but there you go.

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So many people have been back for the holidays, some of them leaving soon. I met up with Serena a couple of times, and Dabs, and Val. Have yet to meet with le Joe Harimau and judging by his schedule, it seems unlikely that we’d hang out this time round. Ah wells. There are also a couple of acquaintances leaving the country for good, and one coming back for a week-long holiday. Hope I get to hang out with them all.

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The Star’s AllMalaysian Bloggers Project (AMBP) is having its first blogger get-together:

Date: 12 January 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 10.00am onwards
Venue: Starbucks The Gardens, MidValley

First 50 bloggers to attend will receive a free drink, courtesy of Starbucks. Since for some incomprehensible reason they appointed me as ‘Pop Culture Phenom’ officer on their Facebook group, I guess I’d be there… hang out for a bit, talk some kok… Should be fun, so maybe you should go too :D

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Since almost everyone is offering their unsolicited views and opinions on CSL, here’s mine: I personally do not give a damn what he does behind his wife’s back. Yes it is hypocritical of him to implore upon Malaysians to practice safe sex and be faithful to their partners. But least anyone forgets, CSL is a politician. ALL politicians lie, regardless of whether they are in the ruling or opposition party. Some of it are good lies, some of it are okay lies, some of it are bad lies. But the crux of the matter is, they all stretch and distort the truth to their own benefits, or whatever front they are presenting in order to prolong their political careers. I have always assumed ‘truths’ to be similar with history books — what you read and learn are from the survivors’ point of views.

But practicing safe sex and being faithful to your partners are two things that could help prevent STDs, and raising a healthy and sound family. So what the guy preaching all that does not follow what he preaches? Does that mean you have to now go out and shag every young ciku that comes across your path, even if your wife still provides nookies? How old are you, 5?

Instead, what is CSL’s KPI? Has there been improvements in whatever his ministry is in charge of? Has he been delivering, or has it all been all talk just like his safe sex and one-woman man singsong? How was the baby Yok Shan’s case handled? Do you actually know what is going on in the Batu Pahat hospital? Why are housemen and doctors in public service who are in charge of so many lives obligated to work till the point of exhaustion? One may argue that it’s ‘the system’… but systems can be changed for the better, right?

I probably do not know what I am talking about, and I doubt anyone really cares. But there you go; yet another unsolicited opinion :D

But speaking of the CSL case, the description of the hotel fits the same hotel where I worked for 2 months after SPM. Now, I am not saying that it is THE hotel for sure, but allow me to recount some of my memories.

As far as I still know, Katerina Hotel is owned by Dato’ Au Ba Chi. Said Dato’ship was conferred upon him by the Sultan of Johor, and said Dato’ made various contributions to society, such as the piano in my high school. He also developed Taman Sri Jaya, where the road names begin with ‘Jalan Rotan this’ and ‘Jalan Rotan that’. Rumour has it that said Dato’ hails from Minyak Beku, and is an ‘orang sungai’. Rumours floated around of his supernatural powers that kept him powerful and healthy, in possession of a sound and sharp mind for someone at his age.

Rumour has it that said Dato’ had grand plans for the hotel, and that it was partly financed by his Indonesian son-in-law. Rumour has it that after the ’97 economic crash, Indonesian son-in-law either postponed or pulled-out from financing the rest of the hotel, and that greatly upset said Dato’. But in spite of the semi-delivered product (the Chinese restaurant and shopping mall were incomplete), the hotel opened for business. At that time I was done with SPM, and was working at a shoe shop where I suffered at the hands of a shoe shop tyrant (actually I was just lazy to dust the damn shoes every morning). My friend Andrew was working as a waiter at Katerina Hotel’s cafe, and I decided to jump ship. He left after a couple weeks I was there, I stayed on for 2 months. Until today my mother continues to harp on the fact that the management did not contribute to my EPF, even though the amount was deducted from my meager salary.

I’ll spare you the… erm, spiritual-related stories that may or may not have happened during my time there. But I can tell you about the night manager who was fired for dishonesty and irresponsibility — apparently he’d been accepting side money from random couples who wanted to make full use of four walls and a nice big bed for things they could not do elsewhere. One night, a Singaporean arrived at the hotel and wanted to check into his room that he had already reserved prior to his arrival. Unfortunately his room was already ‘let go’ by said night manager, as he thought that the expected guest must have canceled his reservation. It was also rather unfortunate that the hotel was fully-occupied that very night, and said night manager had no extra rooms for the Singaporean. Mr. Singaporean was so upset and lodged a complaint, and that was how the night manager was found out.

There was also the one time when one of the working crew relayed a message via walkie-talkie that a couple at a particular room was making very loud, enthusiastic noises. I remember some of them rushed to the said floor and listened outside the door. Nothing, my friend is sacred.

I could also tell you what an awful waitress I was, having had no training, but that’s for another post.

The one thing that I remember the most was said Dato’ sitting at the lounge, either screaming his head off or telling grandfather stories to an assemble of technicians, waiters and whoever unfortunate enough to cross his path. Must be lonely to be him.

That is why I blog. ‘Cos I can’t talk for hours like the Dato’.