Sunday, October 09, 2011
Trip To Pelepah Falls, Kota Tinggih
It was my first outing organised by YMCA but for sure, won't be my last with them after this enjoyable trip. We've found good new company, especially the senior citizens among us.
The trip was scheduled on 8 Oct, Saturday and the 6 of us, Dora, CK, Kiat Sing, Kany, Yan Ping and me had arranged to meet at Woodlands station by 0645 hrs to take a Johor bound TIBS bus over to Singapore Woodlands check-point where we were supposed to link up with the rest. Unfortunately, we later learnt from Kiat Sing that Kany and Yan Ping had taken ill thus had to give this trip a miss. We arrived at Singapore check-point before 0700 hrs, early for us as the meet up was scheduled at 0730 hrs. While waiting, we witnessed an accident. A Malaysia registered combi was making a reverse which rammed into another Malaysia registered combi. Not a major accident, the rear of one dented the front of the other. Quickly, Dora took down the number plates of the two combis (cannot remember the number now) and asked whether anyone of us wanted to buy 4-D. All 4 of us placed S$10 each to try our luck (but later in the evening on our way back home, there was no news from Dora's father who bought on our behalf did not call and we knew our bet had gone up into smoke...haiz!).
The organiser, Sze Haw finally turned up with the rest and we took SBS bus 160 to cross over to the Johor side where our coach was waiting for us. I was pleasantly surprised they had arranged a luxurious super vip 26-seater coach for us - I was actually expecting a combi. We waited a little longer for another person, a Czek who missed his bus and was trying to find his way to the immigration. When he turned up, he sat across the aisle from me and then made a brief introduction of himself. Peter is a professor from NUS, been to Singapore just 5 days ago. One final count there were 22 of us including the organisers from YMCA.
We had our breakfast in Ulu Tiram and after that, we made one more final stop to shop for the much sought after 'kampong adidas' shoes since it was going to be a wet wet trail throughout. With our arrival, the shop was kept busy by us. After trying some, I bought a pair at RM6.50, really worth the money. More than 10 pairs were bought from our group.
We finally arrived at Kota Tinggih Waterfall and it was just before 1100 hrs. The guide, Azhahari and his 3 younger assistants were already waiting for us. After a brief introduction, we were ready to make our way to the fall. We slowly made our way, the 4 of us, Dora, CK and Kiat Sing stick close to each other. We had to trek on water and the 'kampong adidas' was a god-send to me. The weather looked fine, we couldn't have asked for more. It was easy walking as the initial part was mostly flat. Gracie, another organiser from YMCA told us there are altogether 7 waterfalls along the way and it should take 2 hours to reach, barring any unforseeable.
When we reached our first rest point and then someone pointed to a leech that landed on the foot of our veteran guide, Azahari who does not look panicky at all. Dora could have freaked out at the mere sight of a leech but she was surprising quiet, perhaps she was trying to conceal her fear for leeches from the others. A nice elderly gentleman in our group, Muthu came over and volunteered to solve this 'leechy' saga (without being asked in the first place). He asked our guide whether he had any leech repellant of sorts to take the leech out to which our guide said he had none. He (Muthu) then said saliva should the problem as there is alkaline in the saliva which will 'loosen' the grip of the leech or something to that effect. As he was about to 'gamely' spit his saliva on the guide's foot, he politely asked, "May I...?". With an amused look on his face, the guide stopped him in time and then, using his fingers, just yanked out the leech in our presence. He even gave put the leech in his mouth claiming leeches can be a delicacy in the wilderness. We had a good laugh (I still can't stop laughing the good gesture of Muthu and his leech wisdom in the midst of typing this, my apology Muthu my friend).
That joke aside, Muthu is really a gentleman throughout the trek. He was always looking out for people whenever there was a break in between, signalling us to the right direction. There were these two ladies, Irene and Agnes and Muthu was always there to help them out. Irene by the way is 60 year-old and ever so sporty and best of all she does not look 60 at all. And Muthu, he is 66 years old and he is a retired teacher. Little wonder why he is always so helpful. These are senior citizens and they are still enjoying the outdoor events as much as we do. How can I say I am old at 49 when both Muthu and Irene are still going strong, going into their 60.
Though it was not a long trek but some parts can be quite treacherous. As we were trekking along the waterfall, walking alone can be one challenging chore too. The rocks are slippery and any wrong step may land hard on the bum. Kiat Sing had a hard knock on the head as she missed seeing a big rock above her. I even heard the sound from the back - that was really a hard knock, ouch! I also had a hard knock on the left side of my lower back while hastily making my way down. I thought with the rope I was gripping on should hold steady for me but I was wrong. We had to be careful while inching our walk through. There are few steep slopes along the way and we have to muscle our way up using ropes. Kiat Sing was determined to make it all the way up but knowing her already, she is afraid of height. I then volunteered to carry her backpack so that she can conserve more energy for the climb. For that, she bought me ice cream later
What's the reward for us? The water gushing down from the fall is simply magnificent, a sight behold. I swam to the waterfall and sat under the gushing water from above to have a good massage on my head and my back. Kiat Sing joined in later but CK and Dora decided to keep dry. Soon, more joined us. I have always love waterfall, going under the gushing water and get beaten up or simply soak in the cool water. When the weather darkened and rain starting to drop, we knew we had to leave the place fast. Getting down the same way we did on the way up was more challenging. Everyone waited for each other before moving on, the guide and his assistants were simply superb. I had a good conversation with Muthu on the way down, a real jovial guy to be with. I know I am bad - I made fun of his hair (he is bald just like me) saying the water gushing on his head may well have pulled out whatever little he has now but he was a good sport indeed. For posterity, we took picture with our botak heads joined like Siamese twins during our firefly ride.
We found good company especially with Rose, Agnes & Irene (the 3 friends who came together) and Muthu during dinner. We chatted as if there is no tomorrow and joked like good old friends. During the firefly boat tour, we, the senior citizen group were the noisest and we had to be reminded again and again to remain quiet so as not to 'scare off the flyflies'. The Gen Y group seated at another table was mostly reserved. It was certainly one of the better outings I had and new friends are made. Thanks all for the wonderful time and I look forward to more with YMCA.