Dressed in khaki bush jackets with matching pants, we looked the part for our extreme adventure. But this four-wheel drive expedition to the jungles of Lata Kijang in Negri Sembilan, was a first time for me. I was with a bunch of friends, and only one of them had gone on such an adventure before.
“Be prepared to get dirty!” he said as we set off, “... because you definitely will.”
We anxiously clambered into the modified vehicles driven by rugged-looking guides. The first part of our road journey from Kuala Lumpur to Negri Sembilan passed uneventfully until we arrived at our off-road destination.
But for a slight opening in the undergrowth, you wouldn’t realise that any previous vehicles had been there before. The canopy of tropical rainforest closed in on us as the convoy of sturdy vehicles proceeded to the campsite. The air felt fresh and clean.
To say that it was an extremely rough ride would be an understatement. The vehicle rocked violently in all directions and it felt as if we were on a roller coaster ride. We were thankful that the windows were protected by strong bars, preventing any nasty surprises like tree branches swiping violently against the vehicles.
At a clear stream, we paused for a rest and stretched our legs. We also unpacked our picnic lunch. It seemed more yummy eating it outdoors.
“Now comes the tough part,” our driver-guide said.
The terrain to the campsite was uphill all the way and extremely muddy. We held our breath as he skilfully manoeuvred the four-wheel drive through earth and mud without skidding off.
We came to a steep embankment leading down to a gushing river. Revving up the engine to gain momentum, he floored the pedal and down we zoomed towards the muddy river. The water parted in choppy ripples when the vehicle cut through it.
To our horror, one of the vehicles got stuck in the mud, so we got out to help. Rocks and wood were collected to put under the wheels as well as on the path to prevent it from getting deeper lodged in the mud. The driver attached one end of the rope to the pulley in front of the truck and the other end to a tree so that the vehicle could pull itself out of the mud. But the tree wasn’t heavy enough to hold the weight of the four-wheel drive.
Some orang asli folks were passing by and they offered to get help from the other campers who were already at the campsite. When help arrived an hour later, the drivers hid their smirks at the sight of the dishevelled bunch before them. We looked like we had been mudwrestling!
Cables were attached and the two rescue vehicles pulled the stuck car out of the mud. Everyone cheered and clapped loudly. It was exhilarating witnessing a live rescue in action.
The campsite was located in a grassy clearing across a clear stream. The driver carefully navigated the vehicle across the makeshift bridge made of logs.
It was already late afternoon by the time we arrived at the campsite. The grassy alcove was a perfect place for setting up camp. Backed by a hillside jungle and fronted by a crystal clear steam, there were two makeshift attap structures that looked like longhouses. This would be our home for the night. Water supply was from a mountain stream uphill and there was an outhouse made of canvas and branches some distance away behind a few trees.
After cleaning up from our muddy journey, we went on a jungle trek to visit an orang asli settlement. Along the way, we encountered tropical flora and fauna, even the infamous tongkat ali plant, besides monkeys, birds, a wild boar and a mousedeer.
It was soon time for dinner. Our dining table was made of logs and branches crudely tied together.
After dinner, we played wargames in the pitch-black jungle in teams of five. Then, all wet and sweaty and covered in chalk dust, we proceeded to the nearby waterfall for a midnight dip. It felt rather erotic swimming in the rock-enclosed pool by the light of our torches strung up on nearby trees.
We then returned to the campsite for supper and a hearty campfire sing-along. The air was cool during the day and quite chilly at night. We were awestruck by the starry night sky. It was in the wee hours of the morning when we finally turned in ... all tucked into our sleeping bags like sardines in one row.
After breakfast the next morning, we set off for Lata Kijang waterfall. It was about 30 minutes away from our campsite. At 250m, it is one of the tallest single-tier waterfalls in Malaysia. We trekked to the falls and when we arrived, jumped in ecstatically into a rock pool right under the cool waterfall.
Tired but satisfied, we plodded back downhill to our vehicles. It was time to go home, but we would definitely go for another dirty weekend in the jungle.