Saturday, March 28, 2009
Woke up to a knock on my door at 7AM on a Saturday, it's today that I've been worried about for a week.
"Dennis! Wake up!"
It's mom with her high pitched voice, asking me and my sister to wake up for Ching Ming (Spring Remembrance), it's the day where the Chinese go visit the graves of their late relatives. For my case, it's time to visit dad's grave.
This is the 10th time I visit my father's grave since his sudden death in 1998, but I think we had it easy this year.
Previous years, my family had to wake up at 5am for Ching Ming, we usually go visit my late grandfather's grave first before going visit my father's. However, this year we had it easy since grandpa has gone back to Penang last year.
It is also the first time in more then 20 years that I didn't light a joss stick for grandpa during Ching Ming.
"What a pity."
I recalled my dad saying during a visit to my grandpa's grave, he was looking at the very old grave that's covered with growth and vegetation right next to grandpa's.
"It's been years since the last time anyone came visit this grave, I guess the family don't remember him anymore."
Dad, always the caring person that he is, clear up the stranger's grave a little, light a joss stick and gave some offerings to the departed stranger.
According to my grandmother my father never failed to go visit my grandpa's grave while he's alive, I intend to do the same.
Having my day started walking among the dead, I return back home for a quick rest and prepare myself for a celebration of a friend's birth. As a matter of fact, I have 4 friends who are having their birthday today, managed to celebrate 3 of their birthday over lunch and dinner. Missed out one, since the birthday girl made a decision to be somewhere else instead.
The one friend who we celebrated her birthday over lunch was done rather quick and easy. We just had lunch over at a shopping mall near by have the usual chit-chat, laughs and cam whore session.
The dinner plan for the other 2 friends however was a brilliant one but turned out to be a disappointment. The plan is to head up to Ampang's Lookout Point for dinner and since the supposed Earth Hour is around that time we will get a good view of the city turning the lights off. Before we even arrive I was having second thought about this whole plan when we saw the number of traffic in the area is. Along the stretch of road we have cars parked on the emergency lane and it's like maybe 700m long.
Reservations were made weeks ago, we already have a spot (at least we think) so we parked the car at the side of the road about 300m away and started walking to the restaurant.
A few of my friends were there already and they have waited for a place for 30 minutes. What happen to our reservations? It's a mystery, UFO came and aliens erased it from the restaurant database was my bet however it's was a management problem that was the cause. I was already tired since lunch, my patience was already at it's limit.
30 minutes later a waiter approached me, offered to take the cake which I was carrying to put in to the fridge. Poor fella approached me at the wrong time, wasn't not too happy with the management at that time and wasn't keen in waiting so long for food, plus I was bored so I decided to pretend that I was pissed for having to wait for a table even after reservations.
"Where's the Hell is my table?! I've been standing here with this cake for an hour now and I have a reservation yet I must wait for an hour to be seated?!" I shouted
I guess being an observer in an acting class does help, all those hours watching people doing what some people consider as nonsense does pay off.
The waiter's expression changed from cheerful to the not-too-happy look, he nodded, said sorry and walk off to the manager, who promised me a table in 10 to 15 minutes.
I wasn't keen to have dinner there after the little stunt I pulled off with the waiter, it's a rule not to mess with the people who serves you food, you have no idea what extra ingredient they have for you. Managed to convince my friends to go somewhere else for dinner, rather be somewhere else then to be stuck in Ah Beng and la-la land with people who pronounce Gasoline as "Gas-online".
"Give me an espresso, and a Tom Yum Noodle."
We are now at Yuan restaurant in Desa Pandan, or was it Pandan Desa. I couldn't remember, but I do remember working there for a couple of months and I quite like the restaurant which is just downstairs from my used-to-be office.
"Tom Yum and espresso? It's that a little too shocking?"
Mei Yoong asked, curious about my weird selection of food. I told her that I needed the shock to wake myself up, was really tired but my day isn't gonna end like this, I got another group of friends to meet up with after all.
"Wolves, wake up." Aurelius said while moderating a game of Werewolf at Linus place.
"Wolves, who do you want to kill?"
With my eyes closed, I tried to listen out for any possible clues like sound of minor body movement, and such.
Werewolf is a party game that my group is now kinda hooked on to. It's a game that involves 2 parties mainly citizens and a pair of wolfs. The goal of the citizen is to kill off the wolfs before they all get killed by the wolf, the wolves can mess around with lies and deception, either to defend themselves or simply use the citizens to kill off each other.
There are other characters in the game like the seer, who can reveal other people's card, witch that can heal and kill once, and cupid, who select 2 persons to become lovers, that have to protect each other for if one dies, the other one dies too.
This game becomes hard to play when you play it with people who knows you really well.
"Wolves, make up your mind... Wolf please make up your mind... " the moderator said.
That's enough for me to suspect one of the wolves.
Have a Great Day
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It's freezing, for some reason the chalet is actually colder then the camp site. I'm guessing that it is because in the chalet we have a fan spinning above our heads. I woke up at 7am because of the chill, I reach for my jacket and decided to go out for a walk, get myself some fresh air. It was a peaceful affair until Timmy and I decided to wake up out friends by throwing stuffs like fallen fruit like things and branches on to the chalet's metal roof which cause a couple of loud noisy sound especially for the occupants. Childish I know, but at least it satisfy the inner child within my soul.
I couldn't remember what we had for breakfast, but I do remember that we are to gather at 9.45AM at the meeting point and I was rushing myself to pack quickly so that I won't be late this time.
While I was still packing, Aaron came by to our chalet looking for his brother.
"Have you guys seen Linus? He's having my slippers".
I did see him when I was heading back to the chalet after my morning walk, he told me that he is going for a walk too and he hasn't been sighted since.
"Not Good..." I said, we have no idea where he gone to or what happen to him.
He could fall off a cliff or in to the river and got washed away or maybe got attacked by a tiger or mobbed by a herd of zombie wild boars or even got lucky with the Bigfoot that was sighted in this reserve 3 years ago. Soon we realized that all our theories are merely replays of scenes we seen in movies. Aaron was reunited with his slippers and Linus who is about to suffer the wrath of Aurelius is now rushing to get his stuff and prepare to head home.
We hiked with our packs, this time it is lighter as we did finish up rid of the food, and dried up some of the stuffs yesterday, I guess we all did get enough rest yesterday too making this hike easy as pie.
The boat wasn't there when we arrived at the "boat docking point", the sandy bank was missing hidden under the raised river water, the water too has changed in color, it's not as clear as it is now. We stood there for about 5 minutes until the boat came so that we could load up and get back.
The boat ride is comfortable for me, that because I don't suffer from motion sickness and I allowed my mind to clear so that I could enjoy the view.
At the jetty we unload the boat and was actually figuring out how to get off the jetty.
The jetty is a floating platform which rise and drop depending on the water level. It is anchored to the river bank using a rope. Uncertain of the depth of the water we didn't dare risk jumping across with our packs, so we pull the rope to get closer to the bank instead.
Once we all gathered up and got our packs in the jeep. We took a 5 minutes walk to Kampung Peta, some of us (including myself) took the easy way by holding on to the side of the jeep.
The Jeep ride back seems to take longer this time, 2 hours maybe more. Not very comfortable if you sit at the back seat I tell you, it's the bumpiest part of the 4WD. Maybe it's just me feeling a little unwilling to go home but whatever it is, I know that I have a better understanding and a better relationship about the people who shared their time for this trip.
Have a Great Day
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Woke up in the hammock and I could feel how bad today is going to be already. My back was aching due to the bad sleeping position that I have in the hammock. Things got worst when I tried to speak, I've gotten the trek leader curse, lost my voice for shouting around too much, the lack of drinking water while hiking makes it worst.
While I'm lying in my hammock silently bitching about my pain that I'm suffering, a few of my friends were at the blue lagoon, swimming and washing up for the day.
It is thanks to Audrey for the re hydration salt and Kim for the lozenges that got me feeling better.
"I'm back!" the Heng declared.
Audrey who was enjoying the peace when I was silent, now regrets helping me recover. *grin*
Timmy and I quickly manage our breakfast consist of canned tuna with bread. We cannot afford to complain at that time but most of us had sworn off tuna and baked beans for the next 3 months.
After eating, it is time to pack up our stuff and move in to the chalet. Packing up is quite a pain for me, I have a bad habit of putting things everywhere and I require quite some time to put everything in my pack. Aurelius was already yelling about asking us to quickly pack up and kept asking me to undo my tent. I knew for a fact that I could pack the tent quicker then I could pack my bag. Makes more sense to finish off packing my bag and leave the tent for the finale, still it was my mistake for delaying the group.
As soon as we are done packing and sweeping the camp site for rubbish, we started hiking, we followed the same formation we had while returning yesterday, some of us were complaining that our packs are actually heavier even after clearing most of our food and water. It must be the rain, most of our stuff got wet from the rain yesterday and that gives us extra weight.
The 45 minutes to an hour hike was easier compared to the time we arrived, as a matter of fact I did enjoy the hike to the chalet, right after crossing the last river and helping the others cross it. I jumped right into the cool water for a swim, most of gang followed.
When it was almost time to go and when everyone is out of the water, I was throwing pebbles in to the water, making them skip on the water as many times as I could. While I was putting my focus on that, I heard a loud "Thud!" coming from my chest, there was a sharp pain, I blacked out and fell to the ground. Some of my friends were running after me to see if I'm alright, that's when I learned what actually happen. Seng Keong took the opportunity to throw a stone at me which found it's way to my chest, it hit me so hard that it stunned me for a moment there, good thing is that it didn't do much damage or hit me in certain vital points.
After checking into the chalets, I quickly put down my pack and get the clothes line up so that we could actually dry some of our stuffs. my chalet mates took out all of our remaining food and planned out our lunch, dinner and breakfast. We decided that it was going to be spaghetti for lunch. So with Master Chef Timmy guidance I helped prepare the spaghetti sauce, all I need to do is stir the sauce so that it will mix with the corned beef with a good consistency. It's quite easy and straight forward, until Seng Keong decided that it is not cooking fast enough and turned the heat up a notch. His action leads to a chain reaction which involves hot spaghetti sauce flying all over my hands and legs, I guess I must have developed some kind of heat resistance by now.
We were supposed to go do a 2 hours hike up the hill after lunch, unfortunately I was too scarred and didn't have the mood to go hiking so I choose to pull out and stay back to avoid any further unfortunate events.
I wasn't the only one who stayed back at the chalet, the hike yesterday took a toll on almost everyone, we decided to rest and go down to the river later for a swim.
The river water from the chalet balcony was clear and inviting, we ran down to the river to enjoy the water however within 10 minutes we were forced to get out of the water, the sky was threatening us with light shower and thunder.
Back in the chalet, we all stood there and watch how heavy the rain fall, the clear river water turned brown as the water level rise, we were all thanking ourselves for making a good decision not to go hiking and was laughing at the unfortunate people who actually gone for it, the perfect time to laugh at other people's misery, good thing that they all made it back safely.
Night came quickly, our dinner plan was to make pasta and finish off the remaining food that we have, that includes 4 cans of tuna, 2 cans of sardine, one can of sausages, 2 cans of baked beans and some eggs. We even got some "fried" spaghetti from the other team, we ate till we are all stuffed and was too lazy to move about. All we did was boil water so that we could enjoy a cup of Milo before we sleep, problem was there were gazillions insects flying around and they kept landing in the boiling water, so we came up with this a make shift insect trap to control the number of insects.
The night was interesting for me since most creatures are active at night, I didn't need to go far to see some interesting creatures, most of them came and visit me.
To be continue
Have A Great Day
Friday, March 13, 2009
Legend had it that there was once a family of natives who lives at the foot of the mountain, one night the man of the house had a dream that a giant crocodile is coming to devour his son, seeing it as bad omen he quickly moved his house up hill.
Just like in his dreams, the crocodile came but it got itself stuck while climbing the waterfall. The man took the chance to kill the crocodile, used it's skin to make a big drum and hang it in the house.
However, one day while the child was playing under the drum, it fell and kill the child.
It's morning, everyone is busy either making or having breakfast, all I had was a cereal bar and oat meal.
"Everyone be quick, you got 15 minutes left before we go."
The distinct voice of Aurelius shouting for attention is heard, this means we better move soon or else we'll feel the wrath of the "Fluffy" one.
All of us assembled in to our own teams which Aurelius fairly arranged, my team is the first to go, not sure why but I guess that's because I am given trek leading duties. It's actually quite a simple duty especially when you have guides to lead, the only problem is that you won't be very popular at the end of the day for all the shouting and screaming that had to be done to keep the group together. Not gonna be funny if someone decides to stray ahead and get themselves lost, that will waste quite some time.
The trek to Buaya Sangkut takes 4 hours to complete and another 4 to return, I'm quite sure that I could manage that but I'm not too sure for the rest in the group. Of all 22 people, Henry was the only one to decided to stay at the campsite as he wasn't feeling too well at that time. I thought it'll be a good idea to have him at the camp site so that he could keep an eye and stand guard there.
Our trek started from a suspension bridge that is located right at the camp site, while crossing I yelled to the people behind not to cross with more then 3 at a time, for safety reasons.
The first 45 minutes of the trek came surprisingly easy, we arrived at a rapid where our guides signal us to take a break, some of the people in the group begun to head to the rapids to get themselves clean up, washing away mud and clearing leeches that might have got on them. I was more eager to move on so I asked the guides where is the trail? He pointed at a steep slope next to some sign boards to indicate the trail, I was shocked by what I saw, a very steep incline heading uphill and I wasn't too sure how far up it goes but it sure looks like one hard hike, we pushed on anyway. Crossing streams and rivers, the hike was long I try not to think much about it and kept my focus on the goal.
About 2 hours later, it is clear that almost everyone is stretched to their limits. Still we have an hour or more before we arrive at our destination. While taking a break I was told to allow the faster moving people to move on first. Not sure why I agreed to it but I guess I am also tired. When we continued on some of the faster moving people were going ahead, I stick back for awhile so to maintain visual of the people who's far behind, without realizing that a mistake has been done. The formation is broken, people were scattered along the track. This isn't good at all, we are at the risk of losing people. I pulled out my whistle hoping that it's not too late to signal the people in front to stop, as I was searching I realized that I only have my annoying duck whistle and it's not particularly useful in this situation.
I ran and shout, hoping to get a respond and estimate how far front those guys are, unfortunately I got nothing, no reply to indicate their directions or to estimate their distance, I tried shouting for a few more times, but stopped running entirely, don't wanna be wasting my energy now, got to save some strength to reach the waterfall and for the trip back too.
When I arrived at the falls, some of the group members were already there and about half a dozen were still missing. I asked the guide where were the other, and asked him to go find them while I put down my bag and head in the water to cool off from all they running, that's is all I wanted at that point other then lunch.
When the rest finally arrived, we had a little discussion about the issues we faced earlier. We both agreed that a bad decision was made and we had to do something about it. The solution was rather simple. We just stick to the old formation but have the slower people to the front, this is one of the method I am used to as it is easier for the faster moving people to slow down their pacing then to make the rest move faster.
Not even half way down the trail, it started to rain. The leeches will love this, it's wet and the whole group was getting tired, most will barely notice if they got bitten.
The rain stopped, we managed to arrive at the first check point 45 minutes away from base camp, this is when you can see the joy in our faces. Some of us are already seen by the river cleaning up or swimming around, it was an achievement for some of us and it is something to celebrate, not everyone could manage 8 hours of hiking.
As soon as we arrived at the base camp, we all started checking our tents for leaks. Most of the tents were badly flooded due to the lack of rain cover when it was raining earlier. Most of us weren't too happy having most of our things wet, lucky for me, my tent didn't suffer that much even with the rain cover partially opened.
After drying out the tents some of us decided to head to the blue lagoon for a proper swim/clean up. Blue Lagoon is a 10 minutes walk from base camp, it's actually a river but with clear blueish water, dive down and you can see the fishes swimming around you, an excellent swimming spot as the water is really deep.
Back from washing up, we started making diner for ourselves. Timmy and I decided to mix corned beef with pork cooked with some eggs to put in our bread, before we even started cooking Charlene offered me some rice with some of the food they had already prepared, I shared that out with Timmy so that I won't feel guilty eating while cooking. Our corned beef and pork turned out quite well, Charlene said that it looks like dog food, she don't have a clue what she is missing
After dinner we all started doing stupid thing involving a camera and a couple of flash lights. It's quite entertaining to think of what to draw and see the result, at least that didn't lasted the whole night, we did play werewolf too.
I slept out on the hammock that night, it was kinda scary but it is something that I wanted to try.
To be continued
Have A Great Day
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
3 months ago, Aurelius proposed the plan to go camping and his location is set for Endau Rompin where we could visit the Buaya Sangkut waterfall which involves 8 hours of hiking, or the blue lagoon and such.
Preparing for the trip is a challenge in itself, firstly I had to do lots of shopping because it's been years since my last camping trip, some of my stuff are either unreliable or missing. When it comes to packing, I needed to make sure I packed everything that I need but still maintain a reasonable weight, I for this I've repacked at least 4 or 5 times, I even measure the weight of all the items I'm bringing. In the end, my pack weights about 18kgs, this does not includes the 3kgs from the tent.
Personally I had 2 units of 6 men tents, these are bulky, heavy and a real killer to bring for this trip, so I decided to look around for a 2 men or 4 men tent, however I ended up borrowing one from a friend (Thanks Kak Nadia). I setup the tent before to trip so that it could air out and I could get an understanding of how the tent is set up in case of sticky situations. it's also to make sure that I have everything in place, it won't be funny if I missed out the rain cover and find out only when I need it.
At 3am people were already starting to gather up at the meet up point in Taman Tun. Final checks were made to ensure we didn't missed anything or anyone. Slightly after 3.30am our bus arrived, we started to load our packs and gears in the bus and be on our way to Kahang... the wrong way.
About 2 hours later the bus stopped at a rest stop, a chance for us to take a leak and stretch our legs. Chris decided to ask the bus driver our current location, that's when some of us started to panic, Chris realized that he's back in his home town, Temeloh. That came clear to us that we are now heading the wrong direction, there seems to be a mis-communication between us and the transportation company, they thought we want to go to Pahang while our actual destination is in Kahang.
We spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out the best way to take from that point on, personally I have no clue about the directions, the GPS shows that there is a way to go using an old road but it seems that this is not a popular choice, I have no more suggestions to give so I choose to ignore and gave myself a blindfold so that I could go to sleep.
When I woke up we were in Yong Peng, Johor and it's about time for some food, the bus driver drove us to Yuan Yean Fish Ball Eating House for breakfast. We enjoyed the last bowl of luxury as we are not going to get any meals like this for the next few days.
We finally arrived at the Taman Negara Johor Endau Rompin office in Kahang at 12.40pm, we register ourselves and made the necessary payments before loading our stuffs into the jeeps and from there it's another 2+- hours of mud road and oil palm plantation. The road is fine at first even thou it's just some dirt road but it is well maintained by the oil palm plantations, there weren't many holes but when we reach the edge of the plantation the damn potholes started to appear, the 4 jeeps drove on the bumpy road bring the 22 of us to the jetty where we met our guides, the guides got us up on the boats for an hour and a half boat ride up the river, unlike the 4WD ride the boat ride up stream is relaxing, the water is cool and clear, and the scenery is quite something to enjoy.
The boat stopped at a river bank for us to unload, there were other visitors there on their way back home. They warn us about the leeches but motivate us by telling us how beautiful the place is. It's a good thing that most of us came prepared with leech socks, but even with that we'll still get a few leeches on us.
Carrying our gears and backpacks we hiked on to a trail which leads us to a chalet, however this is not our stop, we are here to camp so this doesn't cut it. As we were walking away in to the forest it started to rain, everyone quickly got their rain cover and ponchos on and continue the trek for another hour or so. That hour was one of the toughest hour I been through, with roughly 20kgs on my back and 3kgs in hand I could feel the fatigue kicking in, but there is no way in hell am I going to stop, I kept telling myself that if a man with no legs can managed to summit Everest and if I can't do this, I gotta be the biggest loser there is.
When we finally arrived at the camp site, the first thing we all did is try drying ourselves to no avail, it's the curse of the jungle, once you got something wet it's very hard to get it to dry. It was getting dark at the same time, the tents had to be put up quick before night, we managed that fairly quick took our dinner which consist of what we could bring, it's mainly dried or canned food but at this point on, any food is good food.
To be continue
Have A Great Day