Kuala Lipis, 5 February 2001
Route of 4 days jungle trip through the Kenong national park. With pleasure I remember a four day jungle trip in 1996. It's more than four and a half years ago no, shortly after my work at Software Alliance Malaysia.

There is something magic to the jungle, and I fail to pinpoint it. Is it the tranquillity? The abundance of oxygen? The perfect system of total recycling? The concert of night animals at dusk?

Whatever it may be, the jungle of Malaysia fascinates me, and I want to go back.

Day 1

The big backpack, including passport, money, bank passes, etceteras, etceteras, remains in the Gin Loke Hotel. I want to carry as less as possible in the jungle. The small backpack contains just the minimal luggage.

The train from Kuala Lipis to Batu Sembilan takes about twenty minutes. At the station Sabri, the guide is waiting in a restaurant at the station. Did you have your breakfast yet? is his first question, a typical Malaysian question.

The track starts easy, a tar road. Once outside the kampong the path rapidly gets smaller. After an hour walk it's less than a small trail.

The sweat is leaving my body rapidly. My water bottle gets empty fast. During the crossing of a river I refill the bottle. I put the bottle in a side pocket of my trousers. My trousers drop a bit due to the weight. I want to continue walking, but loose my balance. Stepping back is not possible any more, my trousers are too low. I put in a bit more power, hear my trousers tear apart and drop into the water.

At night I investigate the damage. My trousers are torn from crotch to halfway my upper leg. It's still repairable, but needle and thread are out of reach, way back in Kuala Lipis. O dear, and these trousers have to last another four days.

Tree nut, accommodation for the 1st night. Well, let's cool down first in the waterfall, eat dinner and have a nap. Tomorrow is another day.

Day 2

The trip is more heavy than last time. The track is more difficult, but this body is a bit older and heavier. Every break is very welcome to me.

At river side the guide takes his fishing gear from the river side and happily starts fishing. His fishing gear was just waiting for him there, for a few months already. There is not anybody in the jungle that would steal it.

In the jungle you would carry as less possessions as possible.

  • Leave your fishing gear at river side.
  • Every camp has pots, cooking gear and ground sheets hanging up in the trees, out of reach of animals.
  • Water and fish are available in abundance everywhere.
The trail gets smaller and smaller. The rainy season is just over. For months nobody walked this trail. This is the first jungle trip of the year. At some places the path is completely overgrown. The guide chops it open again.

Clothes-line in the cave

Just before sunset we reach the second camp, a cave. It is the most luxury accommodation of the whole trip, a kind of spacious, dry bungalow, with kitchen, bedroom, dripping water supply, and a fantastic view.

During the day my trousers have torn even further. It's beyond repair now, no hope whatsoever. A leech has taken the opportunity and sits, full of blood, on my knee.

The guide is cooking a fantastic three star meal: A mee soup as a starter, Ginger tea to refill the lost liquids, followed by fried fish, steamed rice with chicken curry, vegetables in coconut sauce and krupuk.

Day 3

A short journey today, just an hour or five walk, on a reasonable trail. The last accommodation is a tent, in a corner of a small river.

My hands are full of scratches. My right upper are is bruised from falling down. My ankles are full of little wounds from the leeches. My feet are soft, after 3 days in moist shoes.

The jungle recycles everything. My backpack smell like it is starting to disintegrate. My shoes are wet and are beyond hope ever to get dry again. Torn trouser till knee

My trouser are hardly worth that title any more. The gap is now from knee to crotch, both at the front as well as the back. I might just as well walk in my underwear, but stay dressed anyway. Bare legs are too big an invitation for the many leeches.

I am tired but happy, and fall asleep rapidly.

Day 4

Yet again it is the last day of the trip. My watch tells me it is Saturday, but that hardly matters here in the jungle. Time flies.

On our way back we pass an orang asli camp. The whole camp is made of wood and leaves. To possess is relative if the whole jungle supplies plenty of everything.

An hour later we are back in the kampong of Batu Sembilan. I use my last jungle water for a small shower. I get out of my wet T-shirt. I'll use my dry nightshirt for the last part of the journey. I take the last leech of my toe. Bye bye jungle, till we meet again.

My large backpack is waiting for me in Kuala Lipis. The torn trousers end up in the recycle bin. Possessions don't make you happy, but still: after four days of moist jungle a warm shower, clean good trousers and a real dry T-shirt make me feel rich.

Till next week,

With special thanks to Mike Levyssohn (mlict.nl) who scanned my pictures.