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Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to Basics: Cave Men and Women of Kepayang Besar

Kepayang Besar is a big cave. They say it can accommodate up to 300 people. The entry may seem small, but that's how large it is inside. There were 4 groups of campers that night. Each group had their own spot. It was damp and cold inside. It felt colder after we all bathed in the river. We then fixed our sleeping area and changed into clean dry clothes. The body aches prevailed when we stopped moving. We all felt like we want to lie down and rest. But no, we can't! There's dinner that we have to prepare!

our candlelit "kitchen"

While Moon and Zaifu were preparing our supper, the rest of us were just talking and sharing stories. There was nothing much we can do to help because we only had limited cooking utensils. When the dinner was ready, everyone remembered how famished we were. I didn't even recall to take photos anymore. In Tagalog, "galit-galit muna" haha. We had chicken curry and a veggie dish which I really liked. Well, I guess Moon enjoyed it the most because she is a Vegan. I have to give credits to Zaifu's cooking. It was yummy. Just like the Nasi Goreng he prepared for us that morning.

We had these games after the dinner. Stupid, corny games haha. But it was fun and stupendous. We did it over a pot of tea. The 2 couples started to get sleepy, so we ended our game sooner. We let them retire and rest. Zaifu, Moon and I went around the cave to see what else were there with us that night aside from the bats at the cave ceiling.

a spider-cockroach?

We just saw some arthropods and insects.


And well, amphibians.

a rock?

At first, I thought it was a rock. But it was a frog! Yaiiks!

no, it's a frog!

There were also a lot of this creepy-looking spiders. They have legs like roaches.

more weird looking spiders

There were a lot more but I wasn't able to capture them. Some areas were unexplorable at night. Aside from the darkness, the pathways were very wet and slippery. We decided to just go back to our spot.

the campers from a far

That's what you'll only see from a distance. Our candle lights. The three of us did some more chatting and sharing. I felt sleepy after a while, so I just let the two of them continue to get to know each other. Hehe. ;)

It was one hell of an uncomfortable sleep. Well, I expected it to be. It is a cave, so the ground surface is very hard. It didn't help with our already sore and painful bodies. Then, there was the water drippings from the cave ceiling. If you're unlucky, you may also get some bat crap in your face. If unluckier, in your mouth. Haha. I kept waking up every now and then. I probably just had two hours of sleep.

Malaysia Day 5

We woke up at around 7:00 AM the following day. Sunlight was slowly filling up the cave. Everyone were starting to get up. It was a cold morning. The first thing we did was drink our tea and eat our cookies. When breakfast was over, we started to pack-up. It was time to hike again.

chilly morning in the cave

We had to go through the same passage again. It was more difficult getting out. Below was the beehive I was talking about. You have to be very cautious not to disturb these guys.

the bee colony

Our trail that day was different than the one we trekked the day before. It was more arduous and challenging. Maybe 3 to 5 times more difficult! The obstacles were greater. The trails were maze-like. It was more freaking scary. There will be times that we can't see our guide or there were no pathways anymore. You have to be very sharp to figure out where the hell did they go. One wrong decision and you'll be very lost. It gets scarier when you shout and no one's responding anymore. The trees were much bigger too. It was hard to go under or over the fallen trees. I even wonder how did I manage to survive that.

exasperated much

I don't remember us having short breaks anymore. We were all longing to get it over with that day. The farther we went, the more difficult the trail became. There was this steep cliff with a ginormous log blocking the pathway, where the Dutch girl almost fell at. Yaiiks. We did a lot of balancing acts for us not to fell in mud. It was an action-filled day. The German girl fell flat on her face in one of the muddy rivers we crossed. It was a mud fest! On the lighter side, it was funny how we cheer for each other every time we have to pass through a difficult path. And no matter how dirty, stinky and wounded we were, we were all still laughing. :)

After four hours of non-stop trekking and hard-won hurdles, we reached Sungai Tahan (Tahan River). There, we had our break where at the same time we had lunch and swam. Maybe bathed is more accurate haha.

Zaifu cooking lunch

There were lots of dragonflies in the river. They come in different colors. They were also friendly, they kept coming to us. They were beautiful.

black dragonfly

We enjoyed the river while Zaifu prepared our food. The water was cold and it gets colder the longer you stayed.

soaking in

We didn't stay that long. It was so cold. We were also getting impatient with our food not ready yet haha.

Sungai Tahan in the midst of Taman Negara

I just sat there in the islet and looked around this marvelous place thinking "I am in this 130 million year-old virgin rain forest in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia". That was awesome.

"Hey Zaifu, how long till we can eat?" :)

That was my group. Those 2 tall people in front are the German couple and those 2 behind Zaifu are the Dutch lovers. Our lunch that day were curry noodles, stir-fried veggies and rice. I did the curry noodles and rice combo. It was good! I think I got 3 servings haha. I was that hungry. It was my first time to eat a curry noodle. I think all of us were so starved after that non-stop hike. Notice that there were no food photos again haha. What could be better than eating curry noodles with rice in a river somewhere in the oldest jungle on Earth? :)

turquoise dragonfly

We went on after that hearty lunch. It was two more hours before we reached Tembeling River where we will ride our boat back home. The first thing we did when we arrived there was bought a can of ice-cold Coke! Yay! That was the best tasting Cola in our entire lives hehe. We were dead tired and exhilarated at the same time.

Our boat came in a few minutes. We were just sailing in 10 minutes when it suddenly stopped. Uh oh... Something was wrong. We waited for somebody to help us. We were just floating there for 20 minutes. Fortunately, a local came to help. Our cruise back was more fun! The rapids were wilder. Moon and I were in front, so we got the most splashes of water. We were screaming the whole time too haha.

my jungle battle scars

We alighted after an hour and a half. We thanked and said goodbye to our trek mates. We were all heading to different parts of Malaysia after Taman Negara. When we got back to our chalet, we were like loonies. We were like "Oh yes, fresh clothes!  Shower! Comfy bed!". We were that ecstatic! It felt like we've been in a jungle for years.

It was one of those travel experiences I'll never forget. One of those moments that I felt so alive. The body aches, the gashes and bruises, the leech bites, the mud, all of them did not matter. I didn't regret trekking 16 km  for 12 hours (back and forth). I didn't mind the stink after that sweaty activity. Being surrounded with vast array of huge old trees and just breathing the fresh air from a virgin jungle were already a precious reward. I love the feeling of being one with nature. I know it sounds dramatic but I really do. I will always be in love with the Earth and its creatures.

This is Part 4-3 of my Peninsular Malaysia travel series.

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