16th September was Malaysia Day. And to celebrate, a bunch of us very city folks with a couple of city-but-a-little-more-experienced-in-jungle-trekking folks headed off to Janda Baik. This is located just below Genting Highlands, our own homegrown Las Vegas, started by Mr/Datuk/I don't-know-how-many-titles-he-has, Lim Goh Tong, bless his Chinaman soul. I watched a tv interview of him a long time ago and I really liked the guy, even though what he created brings out the devil in so many people and causes so many heartaches due to some peoples' gambling addictions and an incurable need to make money the quick and easy way. On the other hand, he's helped the country's economy and workforce. But that's another story.
Greens are good for you. It's been proven, gastronomically and visually. We all know about the benefits from eating vegetables, so we won't get into that. Looking at green things apparently relaxes the eyes and calms the mind and soul ... so I read ... somewhere.
Janda Baik, which means "Good Widow", is filled with lush greens, especially since it's been raining almost daily for the last month. The secondary tropical jungle surrounds small fruit farms scattered around the area. And if you look carefully, you might see some pretty fancy getaway homes among them. These farms produce a good supply of local fruits for sale at the surrounding village shops and also the scalp-the-tourist shops below the entrance to and at Genting Highlands.
The morning started out like all groggy mornings. Fortunately it wasn't raining and was quite a lovely day. 10 of us left in 3 cars and convoyed to a good Malaysian breakfast in the hopes of having lots of energy for the trek. Unfortunately and predictably, after stuffing our faces, we were all pretty warm and woozy. Cups of hot teh tarik (hot milk tea) and coffee didn't seem to work. The drive took another half hour before we got to the little township of Janda Baik. Meanwhile, folks who weren't driving were nodding off in the back seats.
We left our nice, air conditioned cars (hey, we're city folks, remember?) at the car park of a quaint little place called Hawa Resort.They have a good facility for training, leadership and fellowship building purposes. It was quiet at this time of the year due to Ramadan and Eid and most folks are off to their kampungs (hometowns), so we have the whole place to ourselves...
...except for 2 of the most ferocious geese I've ever met. Hmmm... Christmas is coming, and we haven't had roast goose for a long while. Ok, ok, just kidding ...
They make excellent watchdogs.. umm.. i mean, watchgeese.
The air was fresh and clean, the earlier couple of rainy days helped, lack of noise pollution (except for the occasional jabbering from some individuals of our group), breathe in, breathe out, inhale, exhale ....
We started our trek going through a "langsat" (botanic name: Lansium Domesticum) fruit orchard. And thus, our trek was delayed by a good half hour :)
After having been satisfied with taking pics and some mouthfuls of the sweetest, freshest langsats I've ever had, we finally set off on the trail that our so-called guide and friend claimed he knew like the back of his hand.
You know something's about to go wrong, right?
It wasn't quite so bad. After much slipping and sliding, cuts and bruises, bugs and leeches and crashing our way through some denser undergrowth due to non-traffic during Ramadan season, we landed up at a place we were not supposed to be...in other words, we got lost.
Wild boar foraging grounds. You can see the upturned earth where they dig for edible roots. Thank goodness we didn't meet with any of them oinkers. Those things are fierce! and
dangerous! and you think just because they're big and fat they can't run? Think again. I've seen the pygmy ones in Africa and they were scary little round things with upright tails, running and nipping at our heels with sharp toothpick tusks trying to puncture the truck tires ... dumb things. I'm certain I wouldn't want to meet up with their Malaysian, 10x-bigger-in-size cousins!
I think some people in the group probably didn't realize this. Maybe it's just as well.
Nah, it's not quite as exciting as it sounds. It happened to be the backyard of one of those holiday homes and we just had to trespass (sshhh) and cut through the massive garden to the river where we had our picnic.
It was a lovely place to picnic. Some of us were frolicking in the river while others were enjoying the greenery and tranquility of the whole situation. And some were trying to stop the bleeding from leech bites with a forest herb called "Senduduk Hutan" (botanic name: Melastoma Polyanthum), a Rhododendron-like shrub, by crushing the leaves and rubbing it on the wound. It worked for some but not for all. Apparently, you need the ones that grow deep within the jungle.
(A word of advice: rub bug repellant around ankles to prevent leeches from crawling up your legs and into your socks and who knows where else.)
Things went really quiet after that. No more of the excited chatter at the beginning, no more screechings from discovering leech bites, no more shrieks from falling on one's butt into the mud (that was me...ahem).... just calm and peace with a hint of tiredness in the air. How do I explain it? A satisfying tiredness? Ah, yes,...... Contentment. Absoverylutely zen.