To the east where nature speaks
He holds up his two roughly lined palms. Dark skin wrinkled beneath his murmuring mouth, deep in concentration chanting prayers of safety. We barely know him but reckon he should be one of the elderly local folks of Dabong, a small town on the river at Kelantan. A prayer chanted in Malay language biding us a safe journey to the foliage of the east.
Four modes of transport had led us here. Five hours car ride from Kuala Lumpur by car to Gua Musang, two hours train ride to Dabong, a five minutes river crossing by 'sampan' and four wheels drive to the Mount Stong resort. A pinch of night doze of crows shrieking to their maximum vocal code, rain oozing down on me from the old roof crevices, a well-cemented bed and pungent smell from 'durian' loaded sack at the train station gave the journey a pleasant memory of the unpleasant. It did not bother me too much when I focused on the wild thing waiting. But the eye bags however insisted to reveal the next day.
The view of the South East Asia possibly highest waterfall at 270m could be seen from the road after crossing the muddy Galas river by local sampan. 120 meters wide, it appeared small from the distance. Mountain ghosts started to lead way to the trail leading to the fall, heading for Jelawang base camp. The trail was clear to even get lost, not steep and relatively easy. An hour half hike led us there, a well-maintained site but loaded with campers giving city life a break on the weekends. Getting more graceful with pitching up tents for the night than ever, I was done in no time and quickly staggered along the uneven ground to check out the view. From the waterfall top, the root of the fall was totally not viewable. Only scenery that caught the eyes was fluffy white clouds towering over Dabong. More mountains unknown to me at the far end and campers busy pitching up the tents on both sides.
While Mountain ghosts taking their time to prepare dinner, the lazy bums as usual hang out loose. Literally taking our time mesmerizing the image of a sunset. Mountain ghosts has seen it numerous of times, leaving us with not much of a guilt after being chased out from the kitchen - apparently not much of a help. The mist slowly sets in, enchanting the jungle on both sides almost immediately. The big millipede that I'd came across earlier on had sneaked into its safe home somewhere in the wild I'm almost sure. Dinner ended with a roar of rain, giving us no choice but to say good night. An independence day celebration of just the sound of rain dripping on the tents and its tenants soundly asleep.
Mountain ghosts gladly took us for a Sunday morning walk as they would have defined it with a grin. A three hours hike to Gunung (Mount) Stong, standing at 1422 meters. A muddy trail stretched before us from the base camp, wet and damp from rainfall the night before. We passed by a bamboo world where fallen bamboo gave a narrow opening to squeeze through. Rocky terrain followed next with a slight upper body workout at certain part. Towards the near end of the hike, the terrain got steeper drenching me with sweat I thought I would need a wiper for my eyes. Not surprisingly all mountain ghosts appeared singing happily, showing their uninitiated physical fitness.
There on top of Gunung Stong, Gunung Ayam (Chicken) could be seen, just next to Stong in Dabong Forest Reserve. Mountain she-ghost had said the jungle forests there are interesting. Elusive wildlife such as elephants foot print and tigers has been seen. Coffee aroma enriched the fresh mountain air as we took our time over a cup of coffee with ground peanuts. Admiring once again how beautiful nature can be. The peak of Gunung Stong is a huge solitary rock that looks like a fish. Carving its name as Gua Ikan (Fish Cave), the only existing feature that actually makes Mount Stong stands out.
On the way down, we stopped by a baby fall where 'Oh ye Oh' was. A solid branch dangling from few meters on top that one can swing to and forth. This is definitely the place to train for Tarzan wannabes. When we got back to Jelawang base camp, nothing felt more rejuvenating than a waterfall shower at one of the waterfall further up. Scrubbed off the dirt and dived in the pool! As good as a day at spa could feel!
Jelawang skyline in the early dawn was of a spectrum reflection. A photographic representation of mix-colours with overflowing clouds beneath, hovering on the horizon. Letting a sense of tranquillity flowing pass like the peaceful flowing water. A satisfied emotion embedded just before leaving Jelawang and catching the train back to Gua Musang.
Published on 9/15/03