A short lunch and cat nap refreshed my muscle. I failed to train for the hiking trip though as the whole, it was not as demanding as I had thought it would be. Still, my poor legs were exhausted and the short stop was most welcomed. It was just too bad we could not jump into the pools at Upeh Guling.
With the first goal of the day achieved, we were on our way to the almost fabled Tasik Biru. The entire story about Tasik Biru got me to imagine Lake Lukens, the most beautiful lake I have ever seen.
Lake Lukens. A time long ago when my photography skill tremendously sucked.
Lake Lukens sits a few miles away from the Tioga Pass in the Yosemite National Park. I vividly remember the approach to the water body late in the morning during one summer day. Large trees with little undergrowth characteristically of Californian forest slowly give way to smaller trees and plants, before reddish, field of violet, pinkish flowers that stretch from all the way to an unbelievably blue lake. The sun was high up, dragonflies were flying joyfully, the sky was blue and the water reflected the open sky. That was what I had in mind. The blue dragonflies I spotted at Upeh Guling further brought my imagination higher away, turning Lake Lukens into my benchmark of beauty.
While I could dream of being in the Sierra Nevada, I cannot dream my way to Tasik Biru. I had to physical walk to realize the magnificence of Tasik Biru that I had in my mind. And so, we retraced our steps all the way to Kuala Marong, going downhill.
Recrossing Marong River (?). Notice the stacked rock? No. It is not a sign of somebody having too much time. If you ever go hiking in the wilderness anywhere in the world, take careful note of those rocks because it might make your life a lot easier. You do not want to get lost in the wilderness with all those elephants, tigers and, gulp, leeches! (Photo by L** W** S****)
Now, I wrote earlier that conservation-wise, Kuala Marong is a special place. The reason is that the place is a protected breeding spot for several threatened fresh water fish species. There is a board that informs visitors of the conservation program, which is supported by none other than the Malaysian Nature Society along with one or two other partners of with I failed to jot down in my notebook.
Kuala Marong is where an MNS-supported conservation effort takes place.
Kuala Marong looks like a success story and it is easy to get such positive impression. I stood on a platform, standing no more than 10 feet above the crystal clear water, and saw school of fishes swimming calmly in the river. I do not remember the scientific name of the species but those in the conservation areas is kelah as it is called in Malay. I am bad with fishes but kelah might translate to carp or mahseer.
Threatened species in crystal clear river.
Anyway, after a short lesson in fish conservation, we went ahead to Tasik Biru.
There were several interesting faunae along the way. One of us sounded like a biologist or something close, able to name many plants at ease. I was quiet impressed by him and decided to stay close, learning as I hiked along.
A coral-like plant that I had never seen before.
One of the more amusing observations is an anti-gravity bamboo! Really! This one bamboo was totally detached from the ground. Of course, its branches above might give it the support to it, thus providing the seemingly anti-gravity effect. As for the bamboo itself, it was dead of course.
It took some time to get to Tasik Biru and I played heigh-ho in my head over and over again. And then, there it was, Tasik Biru.
Tasik Biru (Blue Lake) turns out to be green river. If I were alone, this would not be the place I would want to be at. One would never know what lurks in the greenish depth. (Photo by Katrin Shmidt)
If Tasik Biru were a box for sale on a shelf, there would be a small note saying that it was neither blue nor a lake. It is a river, possibly Marong, deep enough to dive from a cliff into, and green, due to how the tree top provides shade and how the water reflects the color of the trees. Many of us agreed that the name Tasik Biru is a misnomer. Regardless, I enjoyed it through and through, though the place has an eerie atmosphere.
The fishes would say, OMG, look out n00b5! (Photo by L** W** S****)
From a cliff, one by one either jump into the river or slowly walk into it for a noon bath. I was not ready to miss out any chance for a dip in the cool water, especially during a hot day. So, I joined those that were already savoring the water.
While in the water, I somewhat panic when I felt something bit me in the back a couple of times. I was ready to rush for solid ground when I realized that there were fishes in the river. Schools of them. Whenever the water is shallow, the riverbed by the bank and the fishes could be seen; it was so clear, which made the experience all the better.
Despite the occasional biting, it tickled more than it hurt. More importantly, the species does not have piranha teeth. So, I carried on with my business, having myself soaked in water, trying to overwhelm my sense of touch, forgetting for awhile all the worries in the world. All that I cared was that, I was there. Tool’s Parabol could be heard sung in my head. We barely remember what came before this precious moment… This body makes me feel eternal, all this pain is an illusion…
The cold was not an illusion. Sooner or later, the coldness started to bite me to the bones. As a person with little body fat, I am unable to keep myself warm for too long when the temperature gets low. So, I got out of water and did what reptiles do, sunbathing. I did not bring a towel with me and that made sunbathing a perfect activity. With the cold wetness, the fierce Sun became a gentleman, a welcoming guest as it was to me during one of those long harsh winters in the past.
It was too hot soon after. I started to feel the Sun burning my skin. That reminded me on how painful burned skin could be and noticing that I was already dry, I prepared myself for our trip back to the base camp.
From Tasik Biru, we found ourselves back to Kuala Marong. Just like Kuala Jasin, the effect of the last big flood was noticeable. There was a suspension bridge that crossed the river and all that is left of it was several supporting pillars.
Marong bridge has fallen down, fallen down, fallen down…
Actually, if the bridge were still up, we probably could have gone to Upeh Guling without getting relatively wet.
From Kuala Marong to Kuala Jasin, a boat ride back to Kampung Peta and finally, to Limpako. And yes, by the road, on the hill, beside the shack, the puppies were still there.
At Kampung Peta, right beside the jetty was a red rose-like flower. According to Gary, in the morning, it was white but I and another person which I shamefully cannot recall the name did not trust him. Gary, probably feeling a little bit indignant in a friendly manner, challenged us to check the flower tomorrow, when it bloomed. So, tomorrow it was…
That means, to be continued.
Anyway, forward a couple of days, back in Kuala Lumpur, I, being a person whom have trouble cutting myself from the past, got on Google Earth to relive the journey. And for those that care, this is where Kampung Peta is in Endau Rompin. We start with Southeast Asia:
The Malay Peninsula:
Northeast of Johor:
Southern Endau Rompin National Park:
Kampung Peta and its surrounding:
I do think that Google Earth got the location of Kampung Peta slightly wrong. It is supposed to be on the other side of the river. Nevertheless, nothing could stop me from saying Google rocks.
p/s — thanks to L** W** S**** (the diving into the river photo) and Katrin Shmidt (the eerie Tasik Biru pic) for the permission to use their pictures.