Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gerehang Falls

After a long hiatus with the country’s No.1 waterfall expert, we finally teamed up again to visit a not so known waterfall in the area of Tanjung Malim. Nobody would really know the place of this waterfall unless they spent copious and copious amount of time on Google Earth which I believe No.1 did so. He told me that he has zoomed, panned and tilted every inch of the Peninsula Malaysia Google Earth map to look for unknown waterfalls. Took him 2 years for that effort. Everybody - take a moment to salute this outstanding gentleman and that is why he is the No.1 Waterfall Hunter in Malaysia
Malaysia's No.1 Waterfall Hunter(Left)
Tanjung Malim is pretty near to KL. It is only a half an hour’s drive from Damansara. The Proton factory is there as well as a university too. I would say Tanjung Malim borders Selangor. But do not let the close proximity to Damansara fool you. The Tanjung Malim interior jungles actually has some of the wildest animals roaming around.
No.1 and I parked where most people park when they visit Strata Falls. Prior to this space, there is a housing area called Diamond Creeks whereby individual bungalows were built more than 10 years ago. Some units are occupied but majority are not. It lies in disrepair and looks quite creepy. But the solitude..oh the solitude and the close proximity to nature is so alluring.
I feel like buying one. But I reckon there’s no Internet or cell coverage in that area.

Anyway, we parked and started walking and within 45 minutes, we saw our first wildlife - a family of wildboar which bolted straight into the jungle the moment our eyes locked. I could also see No.1’s right hand on the handle of the parang already.
Nearly a quarter way in, we had to river trek and from afar, we could see some sort of a natural crossing made by animals from one bank to another. As we inched closer, we saw ….TIGER PAW PRINTS on the sandbank. Imagine the fear as we continued our journey. These big cats could lunge from the side and suprise us. Scary !!!
Look at the size of the paw
Mulitple tiger paw prints
The trek took us close to 2 hours when we finally reached the Gerehang Falls.
No.1's camera had a 30 second timer function
The upper falls
Just arrived
Making coffee
No.1 climbing to the peak

I love going to waterfalls with No.1 because we are able to talk about anything in the world from microscopic lens, satellite networks, beetles and more but ultimately, we would always talk about location and characteristics of waterfalls. We are geeks !!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sg Gumut Falls

A few weeks ago, the Godfather of Waterfalls, Mr Jan Stuivenberg invited me for a waterfall trip to a relatively unknown waterfall called Sungai Gumut Waterfall. He has never been there before but another waterfall enthusiast, Mr Eddie Yap visited this waterfall 2 years ago. Without much thought, I offered to drive us there. Getting an invitation from Jan is like Christopher Columbus inviting you to captain the Nina while Columbus captained the Santa Maria. Such a privilege.
Jan Stuivenberg

We met up with Rani at Damansara Perdana and he was to hop into my car as well. Before he could do so, his car’s locking mechanism remote failed on him and while attempting to bring life to the device, it rained heavily. He tried for 15 minutes but to no avail and Jan called Eddie to prompt him that there could be a possibility of a cancellation. Never wanting to miss a waterfall trip with Jan, I drove Rani to a hardware shop at 915am and lo and behold, he got it fixed there and by 10am, we were on our way to Kuala Kubu Bahru. After passing the Rawang toll, Jan and I got into a conversation of concentration camps. It was still pouring heavily when all of a sudden, the car in front of us hit the brakes and I in turn, pressed on my brakes as well. Because of the wet road and the sudden loss of traction, my Ford Ranger started to skid at first to the right and then to the left ...narrowly avoiding the car ahead of us. What we saw after that was a slight carnage (pun intended) whereby 3 vehicles were already in a pile up. Phew...I picked my heart up from the floor and continued our journey. Having said all that, I could have summed up the description with one word : Aquaplaning. We arrived in Kuala Kubu Bahru to meet up with KKB resident explorer , Mr Eddie Yap. 25 minutes later, we parked and began trekking to the Sg Gumut Waterfall. It was an easy peasy lemon squeezy trek (1 hour 58 minutes) and a short distance of river trekking. Below are some photos of the Sg Gumut Falls :
No.2 best waterfall hunter in Malaysia
From L-R : Rani, Jan , Eddie


Saturday, June 22, 2013

An Epic Waterfall in Peninsula Malaysia

Deep in the heart of Hulu Terengganu, it is really hard to believe that there is a waterfall of this magnitude here in Malaysia.
The question is how long can this unknown waterfall remain isolated? Well, the answer is grim. While I was there, deforestation has begun in this remote part. Here are some pictures that may sicken you.
WARNING! Graphic Images

Centuries old trees cut down for your teak furniture
Shame on the developer

I tried to do what I could to stop the destruction of the forest.
Chased away a bulldozer by throwing rocks.Just like the Palestinians during the First Intifada

We had to drive along a logging road to reach the campsite. If it rains, it is not advisable to drive in. Along the way, we passed by several rivers and saw elephant dung strewn along the road.
Crossed river
Spotted elephant dung
EDSI:Elephant Dung Scene Investigation. Horatio wannabe

We could have camped at the logging camp but because I have my reservations with logging companies,
Logging camp site

we moved far away from them and decided on a river bank. Although we had to cross a fast flowing stream with slippery rocks, it was worth it because this is how the scenery looks like :
Our campsite

We set up camp at 2pm and Siang Hui started fishing. He did quite well as he landed around 8 river fishes.
The Chinese Version of Jeremy Wade

Here are some photos from in and around our campsite
Crossing the stream
Bloody hard when the rocks are slippery and both hands are carrying stuff
Camping food that can beat any 5 star Michelin restaurant

We started at the break of dawn the next morning after a perfect night of camping complete with stars, running stream, small bonfire, wine, beer and thick wooly blankets. Snug as a bug

Crossing the stream in the early morn
Start of our trek

Because only a handful of people have gone into this part of the world, there were no trails. We had to rely on the eye in the sky aka the bird aka the satellite. We had 2 GPS with us and Jan brought his ever reliable Spot Satellite Messenger

Nifty device in case of emergencies

We did a lot of walking through the thick jungle in the first 2 hours and the next 2 hours was all about maneuvering rocks/boulders. The latter portion uses a lot of upper body strength and flexibility. So, it's no walk in the park. Here are some photos of our journey :
We had to cross several rapids. Always good to have a rope and a strong swimmer with balls of steel to get across first. That person would be me
Exotic plant

Finally, after hours of knee bending hell, this is what we saw :
Awesome isn't it? One of a kind in Malaysia

Most people would stop at the place where I took this video because it was another hour or so to clamber over the boulders to reach the bottom of the pool. We carried on simply because is there.. echoing Edmund HIllary's answer as to why he wants to climb Mt Everest.

Thank God for the raisins we brought along to fuel us during the last few metres. Suprisingly, we arrived at a totally different landscape from what we went through the past 4 hours. This time, instead of jungle and boulders, we were greeted by light green moss landscape and totally surrounded and dwarfed by mountain ridges. And not to mention the epic waterfall in front of our eyes.
Moss landscape. Almost look like a scene from Jurassic Park

It is almost impossible to take a photo so close to this thunderous waterfall. The camera lens just cannot cope with the intense heavy spray of mist.
Video of moss landscape

Finally reached the pool. An amazing feat

The epic waterfall from afar

After spending 30 minutes at the bottom of the waterfall, we slowly trudged ourselves back but before leaving this enchanting remote wonderland, we had to take a group photo.
5 Brave Lions

A truly satisfying exploration

Note : Some of the photos in this blog were taken by the Godfather Of Waterfalls, Mr Jan Stuivenberg. No joke carrying a DSLR slung around his neck
A true and much respected adventurer

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Simple Underwater Camera

Before I begin the story about my underwater camera, I want to inform the newly certified divers that taking up underwater photography is at your own risk. Bringing an underwater camera when you go diving will be

1. Expensive
2. Risky diving
3. Expensive

Why expensive? In no time, you will be adding new strobes, macro lenses, fibre optic, etc and that will cost a bomb !!!


Risky diving. No dive buddy will wait for you to take a photo of a candy crab for a duration of 20 minutes. If you're an underwater dive photographer, be prepared to be left behind by your group.

I bought my underwater camera 3 years ago... not because I was influenced by my underwater photographer friends nor was I mesmerized by their photos of underwater marine creatures. I was going to dive the Red Sea in Egypt and knowing I won't be going back again, I might as well make it memorable and snap some underwater shots of the famed Red Sea
In Dahab, Egypt

After the Red Sea, I went to Mabul Island, Sabah for the first time and that was for work. I finished work on that Friday and went diving on the weekend and brought along my underwater camera.
Stayed at Big John Scuba

I dived for the first time on Mabul Island and man oh man, I've never been so excited before in my entire underwater life. There were critters everywhere !! Frogfishes, dragonets, flamboyant cuttlefish, colorful nudibranches, ribbon eels, etc. What a blast !

I knew I had the God given talent for underwater photography when I produced this money shot of 3 mandarin fishes in one frame. Mind you, the mandarin fishes were in a coral, not in the open as the photo suggest and they're as big as a grain of rice. The current was quite strong that day. It did not help that a lionfish was quite near my face and a sea urchin lurked nearby my leg. I steadied myself, sucked in the air, lowered myself to the coral without startling them and SNAP !!!
My First Money Shot - Three Mandarin Fishes

No strobes, no macro lens, no Photoshop/Lightroom software.

And after that, the rest is history. I was hooked.
Anyway, enough of blowing my own horn. Here are some of my favorite photos from my simple underwater compact camera :

Will I upgrade to a better camera?

No. Because it is not the camera, it is the cameraman.
Spoken like a true underwater photographer dive snob