Four adventures in one day

Kayakers posing by weathered limestone formations.

GO kayaking, fossil-hunting, river-wading and caving – all in a day.

It might be tiring, but if you have the stamina and want a rich outdoor experience, it is possible.

Retired geologist Tang Thim Wan, 75, gave it a try and found it satisfying.

“The important thing is that the locations of these outdoor adventures are close to each other, so there is minimum travel time and maximum playtime,” he said with a smile.

Kayakers and swimmers in life jackets.Kayakers and swimmers in life jackets.

His four-in-one jaunt was in an area in Perak about 30km south of Ipoh, within a radius of less than 10km around Malim Nawar, Jeram and Sungai Siput.

The start of his adventurous day began at about 8am on an ex-mining lake in Malim Nawar, which looks a little different from most other lakes.

Unlike the hundreds of ex-mining lakes in Perak, this one is not an open body of water.

Instead, it is ringed by craggy limestone outcrops that extend out to the water.

To see the lake from your smartphone, point your Google Maps app to “Pinnacles Kampung Changkat Tualang” and activate the satellite view.

This photo shows how the lake water is actually clear and the colour of Chinese tea.This photo shows how the lake water is actually clear and the colour of Chinese tea.

It is not a tourist destination; there are no proper roads leading to it, only dirt trails of kampung houses and farmland.

It covers an area of 6ha, or around eight Fifa World Cup football fields, and Tang said the lake has a rugged, undisturbed natural setting.

Even better, he said there were several fossils on the limestone formations.

“They are gastropod fossils. Several have been found and you can also find them during a short hike around the limestones by the lake.

“You are better off hiring a licensed geo-guide who can even provide kayaks for you to paddle out and explore the lake,” he said.

School students entering a limestone cave by a river.School students entering a limestone cave by a river.

One such geo-guide is Nang Yu Lee, 40, who said he would bring along inflatable kayaks for participants.

“It is a small lake so you will not become exhausted from paddling. The limestone formations that extend into the water make it a beautiful place for you to take memorable pictures of each other while paddling,” said Nang.

There is one other merit to this lake.

The high amount of dissolved calcium carbonate from the limestone gives the lake water a deep Chinese tea colour, indicating that the lake water is clean enough to swim in.

“Never swim in green lake water – it can mean the presence of blue-green algae and harmful cyanobacteria. The tea-coloured water here is safe,” Nang explained.

Kayakers navigating through limestone outcrops.Kayakers navigating through limestone outcrops.

He outfits all his participants with life jackets and encourages them to experience swimming in the cool waters under his watchful eye.

Nang said he has brought participants who paddle and swim on the lake for several hours before they stop for lunch.

The next adventure entails a 7km drive.

At a small town called Jeram, about half an hour south of Ipoh, a shallow river flows around limestone hills about 200m tall. In those hills are caves that can only be reached by wading along the river.

Fossil in limestoneFossil in limestone

Again, these are not popular tourist destinations; there are no signs or ticket counters.

Nang takes his charges along farm trails to reach a section of the river bank that they climb down to wade into the river.

“Although the sandy river is just up to your knee or waist at most, everyone is required to wear life jackets. Besides safety, there is a fun reason for that,” he said.

You can just float on your back and let the river current take you downstream.

On the other side of the river are a few cave entrances, which Nang himself discovered with friends on their exploration trips.

Explorers admiring a huge stalactite.Explorers admiring a huge stalactite.

“When you look up, you can see how the roofs of the cave mouths have smooth undulations caused by thousands of years of water erosion.

“That means the gentle, shallow river by the caves was deep and swift aeons ago.

“This is also why we can easily find gastropod fossils in the limestone formations,” he said, adding that thousands of fossils have been discovered in limestone and granite all over Perak’s Kinta Valley.

The pleasure of wading and floating downriver depends on the weather, and Nang said during the rainy season, he might not take participants to the river if it had been raining a good deal. Instead, he would guide them to other caves.

“There are so many caves here. In some, we found antique pots and crockery left behind by explorers who lived there while harvesting jungle resources.

“We left the artefacts exactly as we found them and frankly, I seldom bring participants to these caves because I want to leave them undisturbed,” he said.

Admiring limestone formations created by water in a cave.Admiring limestone formations created by water in a cave.

There are also caves where they have encountered Buddhist monks seated in deep meditation.

“They sit there with eyes closed and completely ignore us. We move away as silently as we can.

“I am amazed by these monks. Where do they get food?”

Nang said as per Perak regulations for licensed geo-guides, each guide is allowed to lead seven participants at most.

“So guiding fees for such outdoor packages depend on the number of participants, rental of equipment such as kayaks, life jackets, helmets, headlamps and the use of four-wheel drive vehicles, if necessary,” he explained.

As an example, he recently brought a group of over 20 students and teachers to explore the limestone lake in Malim Nawar, with a fee of RM100 per person.

For details, text Nang at 019-888 6013.

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