Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Endau Rompin Adventure 2006

The Endau-Rompin's Romp In.

Date: 12th -14th May 2006
Strength: 26 participants. Of which 19 cyclist.
Total Distance Cycled (One way): 63 Km.

Day 1:

Pre-Amble
Most of the cyclist were from Klang Valley. We left at about 6.30am, with cars/trucks coming from all different direction to be at Kluang, Johor by 10.00am for our ride into the 143Million years old forest.

The RV place was RnR Seremban and sharp at 7.00am, Harry, Ismadi (Chips), Kak Noraini (Mrs. K), Nora (OP K's Eldest daugther) and Aliyah (OP K's Youngest Daughter), Terence, Soon, Adilah and Mark (All K-OPs) were having breakfast as me, Azly (Bandit) and Emilia (Azly's colleague) arrived from KL to meet them.

About 10 minutes later, Doc Hisyam (Doc) came with Doc Amir, Min Ming and Puzi (Puzi is one of team member of Team Toyota 2020 that represented Malaysia in Eco-Challenge) to RV with us.

OP Tahir and wife came soon after while everyone was in the midst of gobbling down what must have been last minute of carbo loading.

As the feeding frenzy happens, everyonetook the time to introduced themselves as there were a lot of new faces amongst the groups. Everyone seems all ready and geared up to go. Breakfast was quick and the drivers decided to drive in a convoy to ensure thatno one get lost (on the highway???)

Kluang Town of many traffic lights
The drive to Kluang was uneventful and took us a long 3 hours of which we RV-ed with OP Kam at Kluang as he was coming from JB side after dropping his wife the night before.

From there, it was anohter painful 45 minutes drive into Kluang town, passing by 2 roundabout and 1001 traffic light that was set up between that long 20km stretch of road.

We reached 5 RAMD by 11.45am and were welcomed by OP Amerul, OP Yoong, OP Mustafa Kamal (Bob),OP Ahmad Ramli (the Legend), The park Ranger En. Nizam and his two assistants, 2 units of 3 tonners with 7 support staffs from the Royal Signal Corp and morning break/tea for us.

We loaded up all the gears and bags and said our final farewell (well, for the next 3 days, that is) to civilization.

For many of the K-OPs, this is their first time entering an army camp proper and a first time for them to ride in a 3 Tonner. We the OPs had every chance to rekindle our love-hate relationship with this form of transport. The Signal's 3 Tonners were brand new. Hicom Handalan II, which is an automatic all aircond (for the driver and co-driver) plus it comes with sound system, as compared to the older Merc 3 tonner most of us are familiar during our time in Boyswing.

Even Adilah said that this 3 tonner looked different from the one that we took back to KL from Lumut last year.

After 30 minutes of roller coaster ride through the winding Kluang-Mersing road, we finally reached Kahang.

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The cyclist unloaded their bike and make one last final check to ensure all equipments; brakes, seats, drinks and legs are a-ok and ready to go.

And the way we go!
At 1300 hours. We are off. Well, almost, after taking the compulsory group pictures and after ber-posing maut.

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The faster rider such as Bob went ahead of everyone. The slower ones like me and doc drop back to ensure that no one is left behind.

Well, with almost 5 stars treatment from the Signal guys and the Park Ranger, the Non-cyclists has to endure the long slow hard bouncy journey as fast as the last person on the bike went. Yeap, there is support vehicle behind us. The other 3 tonners went ahead to set up checkpoints at 20km mark for refreshments and some RnR for us all.

Soon and Doc commented that is how the profesional cyclist felt like, having a support vehicle behind them in races. Yes, for this trip, we all felt like we are some hardcore pro riders.

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The first 20km was uneventful. It was purely cycling under the hot scorching sun in the middle of the Oil Palm plantation. A few of us concur that if we do inherit land as big as this, we imagined our fahter woud be telling us to go to plantation A, Section 3, Part B, Row 4 to fertilise the trees. The area is huge. So huge it isn't funny. What everyone city slickers like us will see along the highway is just a fraction of what the plantation is all about.

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Drama
At Km8, Doc's pedal mysteriously disloged from the crank. First drama for the day. Puzi came prepared with spare pedal. I guessed it's experience. He has been racing in those hardcore Eco-Challenges and he knows better what is worthy of carrying in races, let alone leisure ride like these. A first unofficial check point has been made right after the first river crossing, because of this pedal incident.

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By 15km, some of us already feel the pain. In the butt. In the head. On the skin. The heat was most probably at it's highest at noon time. Everyone was reminded to hydrate themselves well or risk putting themselves to injury/heat exhaustation.

OP Tahir, being the eldest (notice i use the word eldest, not oldest) rider showed no sign of fatigue. At his age, he is considered superman by many of our standard.

At the 20km mark, as per planned, the 3 tonner were waiting for us all, with ice cold isotonic drinks, energy drinks and fruits. We all took a good 20 minutes rest before proceeding after clearing the area off rubbish.

The sun kept burning down on us and most of us thought we will be cycling under the cool canopy of the National Park. Cycling in open area which were both hot and dusty were new to some of us. But there is a mere 40km to go to reach Kuala Jasin. No one gave up and gallantly continued pedaling.

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Both Harry and Chips has no problem doing 20km so far. Infact, both of them has a total combined experienced of 3 months between them where cycling is concerned. Well done Charlie Company!

Basically, for you all that is wondering what we ahd to go through the first 35 km. It all looked like the picture below.

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National Park Finally
We reached the entrance of the park at the end of the Plantation after what seemed like 3 hours of riding. There is 21.8km to go to Kampung Peta, where the Park HQ is on this part of the world. From there, it's another good 10km to Kuala Jasin where we will set camp is.

As usual, everyone stopped for pictures. This were the unknown time for some of us stopping as unofficial checkpoints. Taking things rahter easy as we are in no hurry to rush anywhere, we soak up as much dust, heat and nature as we could gahter.

The route in National Park has a lot of rolling hills. Meaning, there is a lot of climbs and a lot of downhill to be enjoyed. Experienced riders would love these route but for newbies, it could be a deciding factor if they ever want to cycle again. The gradient of the hills in National Park is of a minimum of 8 degree on the least steep climb and at least 12 degree (think the gradient at where the temple on the way up to Genting are) on the average. Long and hard for some of us.

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And of course, with every hill you climb, you will be rewarded with a fast downhill. I've touched close to 50kmh on the steepest downhill only to stop to take pictures of cyclist coming down.

Pure accelleration and adrenalin!

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After the last final climb before KM40 (second official checkpoint), everyone was huffing and puffing as they negotiated the steepest climb so far. Again, cold drinks and fruits were waiting for all the rider.
Looking at the Military staffs that came along with us, our cycling trip looked like some covert operation.

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Everytime we stopped during this trip, the Signal staffs will set up communication with the Camp. We felt safe of course. And we do feel that we are still hardcore riders!

The final 10km to Kampung Peta were tough as well. The road gets uneven and the climb gets steeper with every hill conquered.

We came to a point where we saw a tree that looked like a dinosaur and another that looked like a giant rabbit. See if you could spot them. The wonder of nature!

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At this point, we are already in the fringe of Kampung Peta. Orang Asli settlement could be seen flanking the road and after a short 10 minutes ride up hill, we reached the Park's HQ (Johor Side).

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The compulsory group photo taken and we are off again to our final 10km ride to Kuala Jasin.

Doc Balboa.
Our resident Doc, Doc Hisyam, decided to run the final 10KM. Being a nerd himself back in college, he is one of the late bloomers that could shy any sportsmen back in college. An accomplished triathelete and official Ironman was his fulltime job. Being a doctor was just something he does part time during office hour.

I played the song Eye of the Tiger for his while he ran up and down the rolling hills. At the uphill stretch, he is faster than the bicycle! See to believe!



OP K's eldest daughter, Nora, decided to give the last 10km a go on the bike. Ever the sporting OP Daughter, he picked up the bike like fish to water. After a brief tutorial by Bandit on how to maximise the gears on the bicycle, she was having as much fun as the rest of us.

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Drama number 2 unfold when Chips had a major cramp on both his quads. He was immobile for a good 10 minutes. His thigh muscle cramping and all me and Soon could do was to massage his humongous rugby thighs to relax the muscle. He was all sports and continued with the journey in the Trooper for the last 200meters to Kuala Jasin. In pain like his, if he pushed himself any furhter, he might be lying down in the bed for the rest of the trip. A good sportsman knows when to stop before injury sets in, and he did exactly that.

Kuala Jasin
It was close to 1900hours when we finally have everyone at the finishing line. Happy as everyone was for a good cycling trip into Taman Negara. Everyone made it in alive. Not being attacked by Tigers or even BigFoot. Well, minus the fact that elephant dungwas haphazardly dumped all over the road...someone got to toilet train these big mammals ;-)
We went in to our designated chalets. Meranti, Cengal and one more which i couldn't remember the name. Meranti was actually the usual chalet that Tengku Mahkota Johor stays. Wow. See, the 12 of us younger cyclist has the best chalet to stay! K-OPs were allgiven rooms to sleep in. The OPs like me, Doc, Bandit, Amir and Chips made best with the small living room that is big enough to place 4 single mattress with one person sleeping on the rattan sofa.

Amenities were minimal but adequate. No one expected any 3 stars treatment here even, which made it all much easier and more fun. As there were only 1 toilet/bathroom, the rest of us went to the communal toilet/bathroom to take our shower and clean up before dinner.

With the full moonlight on our head(it was Wesak day afterall), we had the most romantic dinner which tasted better with the company we are all in.

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Most of us stayed up till about 2400hours that night, feeling still excited that we made it that far into the National Park.

While most K-OPs went to bed...we, the OPs could still be seen talking to each other after lights off until 2am.

What a fullfilling day it was!

Day 2
Chips alarm went off at 0630hours. Waking up all the occupants in the living room. Doc came out with the idea to wake up fully for the day jump into the river in base camp.

And that was what exactly we did. By 0715hours, everyone in Meranti was awake and most of us agreed to go to the river to check it out.

By 0730hours, Doc and Puzi jumped into the river. The deepest portion to be easily more than 8 feet in depth. But it wasn't the depth that scares us. It was the icy cold water. Only way is to jump straight in without hesitating. We we all did exactly that!

The happy campers at base camp were most rudely awaken by a bunch of physco cyclists that jumped into ice cold water early in the morning.
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Our base camp is actually the converging point of Sg. Jasin and Sg. Endau, with rapid of at least grade 3, this place was good enough for white water rafting. Warning though, swimming is only allowed at the place as per the picture above and totally out ofbound for the part as per the picture below.

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Breakfast was served by 0800hours and everyone were asked to fall in by 0930 for the day's activities.


Hiking trip we go!
And as expected, Doc and Bandit has to give us a peek on how easy they could be.
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We will hike to Kuala Marong, which is esentially a place for the conservation of Kelah (or river fish, ingenious to our country) and was told that the Blue Kelah are only found in Endau Rompin. Some were as long as my forearm(EU Size 45)


From there, we went to Upih Guling, a waterfall about 2km away from Kuala Marong. Along the way from Kuala Jasin, we had to cross Sungai Jasin, which has current strong enough to sweep you away if you lose your footing. We also passed 3 suspended bridge, the longest being the one before we reached Kuala Marong.

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From Kuala Marong, we hike up to Upih Guling. No words could describe this place better than the series of photos below.

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Then, me, Doc, Adilah and Soon decided to do some rock climbing at the waterfall.
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Rain came pouring down 20 minutes after and we were forced to leave the waterfall for fear the water volume might increase and swell the whole place up. But the rain stopped as fast as it came, much to our dismay.

We hike back to Kuala Marong, where lunch was waiting for us. We each grabbed our lunch pack and headed to Blue Lagoon (Minus Brooke Shield, unfortunately) for eat and swim.

We were told to becareful as the water is 15 feet at least at the deepest part.

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Some of us wasted no time and jumped right into the water. Ice cold as usual! Some of us trekked across the shallower part to the other side for some sun and warmth while eating the lunch. By then, some of us has swam to the deeper part (pic above, right hand side there is a stone) and climbed up the stone and jumped right in. It was pure kampung fun!

Then, Mark, K-OP from Bristol climbed up the tree (pic above, the slanting tree) and jumped into the water below. It sure takes a lot of guts to be able to do that.

Out of no where, Nora decided to do the same. She climbed the tree and slipped the first time, entering the water at the shallower part and getting a bruise in return. She climbed it the second time and this time, she managed to go all the way up and jumped in again!

Then, our OP Tahir decided to do the same. Winning applause from everyone there. Most of us were happy just to jump from the top of the stone. Nevermind the tree.
We packed to leave the moment it showed sign it would pour again. This time, we weren't spared. We left and got stranded in the middle of the heavy rain. Only having a hut to save our own skin. That was also when Dram Number 3 came.

OP Legend (OP Ramli Kutu la tuh!) appeared at that exact moment to break news to us that the 4wd he was hitching a ride out to Kuala Jasin was stuck in the mud. Rendering his intention to RV with OP Azudin which was coming from KL to go back-failed.

So, Drama No. 3 involved all the guys (we left a few to make sure the ladies are safe, an even higher responsibility) and we hiked 2km back to Upih Guling where the 4WD trooper were caught in the rut.

The sight of the 4wd wasn't very pleasing. But it was what all 4wd lover would love to be in. What happen we found out later was that the 4wd was going up the slippery 45 degree slope when it started sliding back because of the water washing down the trailand right into the longkang as deep as 45cm on all 4 wheels. We had to winch it out and we had to do it fast. The rain wasn't the bothering issue, it was the fact that we were all attacked by leeches. A whole army of them!

We managed to pull the 4wd out half way from the rut when some of us realised that the cable has detached itself from the winch. Not very good. Stopped just in time before the 4wd would roll back or the risk the cable whiplashing anyone, we started to get worried.

Attempt to fix the winch were futile as a nut that held the end of the cable was missing. Nizam the Park Ranger grew worried. Maybe because this area were known to have tigers roaming around. But again, we were more irritated with the leeches.

Imagine this, while Mark was trying to fix the winch, i was busy squating behind him clearing leeches that was all over his calf and thighs. Even Doc Amir wasn't spared. There were one leech sucking on his hand as he was fixing the 4wd as well. The bleeding after the leech was dislodged took him more than 40 minutes to stop.

Then came Drama Number 4. No one could forget Bandit. A leech found it's way into his pants...and sucked on his testicles. He ran to the side, stripped his shorts to his knees and tried frantically to remove the leech. He totally forgotten there were 11 ofus there watching him do that. After a good 1 hour trying to push the 4wd out minus the winch and only realising that the 4wd function of the Trooper was busted in both 4L and 4H setting, we gave up.

Nizam gave us the option to back track to Kuala Marong or take the 4wd trail, it's only an extra 2km. Nothing we Old Boys, as he said, couldn't do. He stayed behind with his assitant to wait for anohter 4wd to winch the trooper out. We bid our goodbye and hope no tiger...or tiger leech comes out to harm him.

So, there we were, Me, Amir, Yoong, Amerul, Chips, Kam, Mark, Terence and anohter of Nizam's assitant walked up the slippery slope with more rolling hills back to Kuala Jasin. Mark was unfortunate as his sandal decided to separate from the sole, leaving him to walk barefooted. Kam was the next victim as he too, had to remove his sandal and walk barefooted. As for us rest with shoes, we had to walk as if our legs weight a tonne. Can't help it as the mud and slit stuck on the sole of our shoes, rendering us with platform shoes by the time we reached the first river crossing.

The walk was actually more than 2km as claimed by Nizam. We were hungry, cold, barefooted and hope we don't come across any Big Foot or tiger. Elephant was another worry as well as their dungs were everywhere. Usually these sightings would be very much welcomed, but not this time. We only have 500ml of water to be shared until we get back to base camp. It was essentially anohter adventure by itself.

Doc and Bandit backtrack to Kuala Marong after we said goodbye to Nizam. They will lead the ladies and others back to base camp through the jungle track which were nearer.

After an hour of trekking, we heard noises of people shouting. We are Near. But Kam said it might be elephant! But there we were. On the other side of the river, emerging from the track like we just escaped from the jungle. The rain made the river swell and the current was really strong. The 4wd adventurer had to form a human chain with the others on the other side to cross safely. Water was almost chest high as opposed to knee deep when we first crossed it.

OP Azudin and OP Amir was there to greet us. Their laughter and their joke, plus the OPs and K-OPs posing to see who has the larget tummy was a welcomed sight. Our worries now goes to Nizam, as along the way out, we didn't see any 4wd going inside to help him.

We all went back to basecamp and some of us decided to come back to this river to give our bike a wash and at the same time, take a bath as the communal bath place was conquered by a group of Rakan Muda out on camping trips.

Then came drama number 5. It wasn't until 1930hours that Amerul came and told us that we might need to go search for Nizam if he is not back in 30 minutes.

Then, as we waited along, Kam, Harry and Amerul came to tell us that they went to save the Park Ranger. They used a raft and paddled against the current to the other side as the river now was almost not crossable even if human chain were formed. So under the bright moonlight, the rescue mission to save our park ranger happened and he and his assitant was brought home safely.

It was also then where the leech on Bandit's left leg, near his pinkie toe decided to drop out after more than an hour sucking on him.



Back at Meranti. Card games were played and charade were acted out. It was total RnR for all of us while waiting for dinner to be served. While the game at Meranti happened, OP Azudin were telling stories under the tree to the other OPs and K-OPs which were there to listen.

It was a truly enjoyable night, especially after the long hike for everyone and in the company of fun people.

Dinner was served soon after and it was a full BBQ affair. Food were aplenty that we decided to give away what we can't eat to the Rakan Muda campers. Something we know they would appreciate and enjoy while being soaked up in wet weather.

After dinner, OP Amir gave free lecture on parenting in Cengal while the younger ones choosed to be back at Meranti for some games before calling it a night.

Lights off were earlier that night and everyone slept soundly.

Day 3
The day started early when OP Azudin went on his round to wake everyone up at 0630hours. Everyone woke up by 0700 and again, the usual Meranti gang decided to take one last dip in the ice cold river.
This time around, the current was stronger and we had to be extra careful. We spent almost an hour inside the water and breakfast was served. The nasi lemak tasted like heaven. By 0930hours, the group that decided to bike out to Kahang had their logistic sorted.

Doc, Mark, Soon, Terence, Adilah, Min Ming and Puzi decided to pedal out. After packing their bags, checking their water bags and ensuring they have enough food to last the ride, they said their goodbye to Kuala Jasin. At 1030hours, they started their journey back to Kahang, another good 60plus KM to go. Hardcores!

The rest of us stayed back and packed up as well. We will visit Kampung peta Orang Asli village. The ride out using the 3 tonner was a different experience when compared to us cycling on the first day. Everything looked awfully not familiar for some of us.

We reached the village and were given demostration on how to trap various animals in the jungle. We were then given the chance to test our skills using the traditional sumpit or blow gun. 3 ballons were placed at 10 meters distance and we have to burst all3 before we are allowed to leave the place.

Everyone tried...but it was Charlie company, headed by Harry, Chips and Amir that completed the task. They were the Champion Company Blowjobber.

Then, some of us went to buy souviniers from the orang asli village before heading back to the Park's HQ for lunch. Soon after lunch, we headed back out of Endau-Rompin. It was almost 1500hours that we got out of the park.

I received sms from Doc that the cyclist entered the plantation at about 1330hours. The road were dusty and bumpy, it made our bicycle looked comfortable!

We didn't see Doc and gang until 3km from the starting point in Kahang. It took them a good 5 hours to cover than 60km.

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Well done to them, they truly are hardcores doing the ride out minus any support compared to the day we rode in.

And they were well rewarded! They all saw a whole herd of wild elephant eating in the jungle. Mark has the pictures as he ventured inside to snap pictures of them. To be uploaded once i get the pics!

The Park Ranger commented that it was much easier striking lottery than seeing a whole herd (Adilah counted at least 6, from adults till baby elephants). And the pedalling out rewarded them with this once in a lifetime experience!

The 3 tonners brought us back to civilisation and we reach the camp at 1730hours. It was hard to say goodbye to the trip. Everyone packed and left the army camp by 1815hours. Non of us reach home earlier than 2300hours. But all of us agreed that this trip was definitely worth all the sweat sweated and drama involved!

Till next trip!

more videos:
How to trap tiger
Adilah Offroad Adventure
Our Resident Doctor

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