Monday, June 29, 2009

The short trek

Once started it is difficult to stop. The fire that is burning inside pumping me to explore further after I have hiked the Trek at the Dam side. "You need to carry on." I heard someone is talking to me.

It was yesterday that I did something differently. I started to go into one of the place that I pass by every week without understanding what and how it is. The level of curiosity has not been fired up before this.

This outlet from the jungle was located not too far from the car park. I have not noticed anybody either coming out or going in the jungle from here. But I had to greet good morning to the stump of a tree before I moved further to the other unknown end.

It was not a difficult pathway actually as I strolled along. A little attention may be required during the rainy day, as you can see, the concrete slabs are covered by a thin layer of moss, it will turn out to be wet and slippery by that time.

After making two continuous sharp turns, I saw a bright open end lied in front of me. No surprise, and no wonder, and I reached the other end of this trek that is shorter than I can imagine, shorter than my excitement and shorter than what I have written over here.

As I moved further, what a coincidence, I found myself standing besides the small dam which was at the left end of the picture.

Sometimes reality could never match the expectation. I concluded.

By the way, because of the simplicity of the new world, I have a clear mind to discover a stupid finding. The familiar smell that I can sense no matter where I am in the jungle is not something from the woods, not something from the swamp, nor something from the dropping, it is from my sweat. OMG.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pulai Tree

What can be seen in a jungle? This is kind of stupid question. In this rainforest at Cerok Tokun, giant aged trees with perimeter of more than the arm-span of two men can be found scattering here and there along the hiking trail.

This tree which has been my closer friend recently and starred in my previous posts are named Pulai Tree. I dare to declare openly only since I learnt their name from local newspaper last week. (You are not going to show your mum your girl friend without first getting known her name, aren't you?)

I am fond of elderly trees, not only they have been rambling to me decades long of history, they also show the kind of sturdy and rugged shape which cannot be matched by a young one. This is the beauty of an oldie, like me.

In the other hand, besides being benevolent enough to serve as a helpful staircase along the trail, its vine is always a good friend indeed for us to hold the balance or to pull ourselves up from the steep slope during the hike.

(Many places in Malaysia are named after a variety of trees. Simpang Pulai has been better known since the launching of the highway that takes us from Ipoh to Cameron Highland easily. Pinang of Pulau Pinang, or Penang Island, is the Malay word for Betel Nut or areca nut. A small village which is nearby to where I live is called Nyior Satu Batang, or A piece of Coconut tree. My familiar Mengkuang Dam is the same whereby Mengkuang is actually one type of tree. There are many more such examples).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Inside the Jungle

How do you feel about the jungle?

"The dense woods would have left me standing there crying", what "a challenge for those who are not into regular walking or hiking", or "as intriguing as it looks beyond all those vines and rocks...I would not have the courage or stamina to go and check it out"!

There are a few outlets to the main road, the tar road, along the Trek at the Dam Side. This the reason why many rather hike using this trail than others. One of my fellow hiker told if any strange or uneasy feeling haunted him and persisted during the hike, he would then leave the place and re-join the crowd at the main trek.

I have a few experiences in the past as well. When I first started my date with Cerok Tokun, I had lost the sight on my next trail beyond a flatland and was almost led into the wild by a false one. I was lucky enough to turn back and there it was. Why it was missing earlier?

I did run or sprint a few times inside the jungle. It was once during a heavy rainfall, the rhythm of fallen rain behind me sort of similar to thousands of people chasing after me. I ran to branch off from the jungle trek, and to return to my community. Do you still think I am adventurous enough? But those experiences are exciting.

To hike inside a jungle means I have to alternate between brightness and dimness. I always have problems with my point-and-shot camera when I am surrounded by dense woods until I bring along my DSLR.

To be able to feel the sunlight and blue sky is a blessing, especially after a long stretch of steep ascending path. This matches the feeling about seeing the light at the end of a tunnel.

But if you ask whether I like the track, the hike, and the jungle, then I have to ask again, why not?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rocky Trail

Do I like my new found Trek at the Dam Side? If you have asked, then the result must be positive. I am not telling new always means good, just like "some other things", but you really need a lot of energy and stamina in order to fully indulge in this one. No no no.... I am not trying to show off, I really mean it.

I needed no any extreme act like what Sylvester Stallone had done in Cliff Hanger for which I am too old to envy. Anyhow, there were big and small rocks along the trail. I just squeezed myself through some of them, stepped across the others, but I needed to climb over a few.

It is sort of different from my normal Trek at Pond Side mainly due to the long stretch of mossy rock, lying on my way instead of saying hello along the trek.

It made me feeling strange and mysterious as well in front of these entangled and giant vines. What can be the stories behind them?

Some rocks are properly stacked at a few places as you can see in the next picture. I wonder whether they are natural or the other way round. There are certain religious beliefs in some countries that link to the stacking of stones.

I like all these weird encounters that require less words to explain. Of course, I also know you do not like an old man keeps murmuring all night long. I am going to zip my mouth now.

Good night.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Hiking Trail

When I returned to Cerok Tokun last Sunday, it must be my luck to meet the man whom I have talked to on previous week. I checked, and we agreed, and, here we go, we started the hike on my new hiking trail.

I really felt so excited to try a new trek and started recording my trekking experience in pictures immediately. He really felt so surprise what on earth I was doing at the place that was nothing extraordinary to him. But he was then never talked much, I continued to busy at shooting at here and there between my huffs and puffs.

The starting point of this track (I shall call it Trek at Dam side) is found nearby the small dam.

To make it more interesting, this starting point is marked with a wooden "arch". On the left of the picture that is the dam. Observation on the trek itself I confirmed that, though not as many as my normal jungle trek (I shall name it Trek at Pool Side), it must have been regularly used by fellow hikers.

This portion of the jungle exhibited no animals except the butterflies again. The small blue one led me at the beginning and the big black butterfly hovered around in the usual manner. Yes, see no is never equal to hear no. The overhead smashing sounds told me who they were. Plentiful of half bitten fruits or skins which were found scattered along the trail concurred to that. Luckily those monkeys have yet to learn to throw sticks at me.

Fallen trees and rotten woods are forever parts of the jungle, they can be seen everywhere, either in a friendly or ugly manner.

The smell the jungle was as usual, but it was a little odd not to find a creek nor waterfall around, the prolong dry weather recently may have effect on this.

As it was my first trip to this Trek at Dam side, I had yet to acquire the sense of timing and landmarks on some parts of the trek. It took me one hour to come out from the jungle after numerous guesses for the end, and to re-join the tar road through a small path beside a base station at the peak.

And this is the end of my today post as well before I say good night to you. I shall talk more on the Trek at Dam Side in my next update.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Alzheimer's Disease

I am suffering from the old man syndrome. I keep murmuring to myself from day to day on the trivia.

I murmured why there was moon in the morning, thus the night on the other side must be without her. This was not a new encounter to me. I had never been disturbed by this trivia before, but why it was now?

But then I moved to another trivia very quickly when I discovered some ugly mushrooms. You may think I behaved more like a little kid by then. I totally agree with you as when human grow to a certain age, they will behave as "naive" as a three years old kid.

I murmured why these mushrooms looked so unfamiliar ugly. I have no magical hand to turn ugliness into beauty, no matter countless angles I had tried on the pictures taking. I would not kiss them in the way to change a toad into a prince.

I did not move away, yet could not stop myself from murmuring. It must be funny to see, in distant, my lips vibrating as though I was praying. Out in a sudden, I saw some magical changes. Ugliness does not belong to infinity. The mushrooms had turned into some young, fresh and beautiful one.

They danced under my flashlight like a group of ballet dancers on toe. I know little about ballet but Swan Lake is my favourite. Look at their ballet tutus, and the music was playing.

I closed my eyes, I stopped murmuring. I followed the music, I enjoyed the dance.

Not after too long, I opened my eyes. I knew I had to go home before I found myself out of control, and getting lost in the jungle.

I had been day dreaming too much due to the Alzheimer's disease.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hanging Fruits

Monkey is the only animal that can be easily found in Cerok Tokun, there are squirrels and birds as well but they are too small to be noticeable behind the leaves or branches. They eat fruits that are found abundantly in the jungle. I seldom see anyone of them as skinny as me, they must have a better life. As what I have mentioned in my older post, they sleep very much early than us in their kingdom without feeling anxiety about missing action on hiking, jogging or working. They need to burn no midnight oil for any blog update.

They must have their map for places with tasty and sweet fruits in their neighbourhood.

I observed, for past few weeks, on trees that grew clusters of fruits. In human world we focus on those low hanging fruits due to our shortcoming to move up a tree. This is not the case for monkeys. They can swing, leap, jump or climb as easily as our ABC. There is no difficulty for them to take any high hanging fruits.

I observed for weeks and found out those numbers of fruit had never decreased. By outlook the fruits looked beautiful and tasty, they might be actually sour, bitter or even poisonous which must have been well recorded in the kingdom of these clever monkeys.

The next type of fruit that is under my observation looks like grape but with thicker skin. When I squeezed hard, I did not see any flesh other than the burst out of juice. I never risked myself to taste or smell which monkeys have never done it as well. No animals can resist if the fruits are abundant and taste excellently.

I may be wrong if we go back to the habit of human: some of my friends do not like durian. Then I deduced that firstly these fruits may either be edible or not, and secondly those monkeys, squirrels or birds certainly do not like these fruits.

At the end, all my conclusions are only derived from the standpoint of human. I am not in the place of those animals to understand their thought well.

My thought starts from low hanging fruits to high hanging fruits, from abundance to poisonous, from inedible to dislike. This is the thought of a stupid and bored old man.

Anyhow, they are only some simple fruits in the jungle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Little Creature

You may expect some adventurous encounters from me in order to show the extreme excitements in the jungle. I have seen leeches standing upright in the middle of the trek, a little green snake, instead of crawling, was found skidding in an inclining dry channel when it was shocked by us unintentionally.

I have also seen some giant millipedes, instead of giving us surprises, were found smashed into flat pieces, and a big scorpion that did not bother my presence for a closer observation. But all these belong to the days when I did not have the habit of carrying any digital camera at anytime.

To add further, I always find the mess left over by wild boars at some areas in Cerok Tokun. These animals move around in the jungle at night time. They have an excellent sense of smell, and they use their snouts to search for food on the ground and in the soil.

Anyhow, what I actually want to show you now is what that looks very normal. It is a butterfly that had a rest on top of a fallen leaf. I had some special feeling for butterfly because I used to find a butterfly hovering above me, in front of me, at certain places on the trail. It may sound peculiar yet it happened many times.

This is certainly not the one that would like to talk to me in an inaudible frequency. It was discovered nearby the entrance to my new found trekking trail. Could it be possible that both of them are members of the "care-taker committee" of the jungle?

I do not have the answer for you, but deep in my heart, I think they are.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Hiking Trail

Besides the tar road that is the favourite of many people, the jungle trek that run parallel with it is the alternative of other hikers to ascend to the top of Cerok Tokun. Actually there are various trails available. I have tried one whose starting point is located immediately before the main gate. If I go alone, then I shall be alone for the whole journey. Some of you may like privacy, this vast space is not my preference. It is not owned by me, but by its respectively "caretaker". Though I call Cerok Tokun my "weekend lover", she is still much a mystery to me.

When I had done my hike yesterday morning, I found three men were heading to a trail that was not known to me before. I followed, and I asked. It needs one hour to reach the peak, and two hours for the round trip, for which I was lacking at the moment. I had my next agenda in schedule.

It was kind of disappointment for not able to trek a new trail that I shall not hike by my own self. It looked no different from my normal trek, but this would not tell the actual situation when the journey was kicked off. By the way, the starting point of this trail is nearby the dam I have talked about in my earlier post.

You can see the small dam at the background

I shall come back next week, if I am lucky enough then I shall join someone on the new adventure.

And day by day, bit by bit, I hope I am able to locate all the available routes.

(It must be fun to know your belief about the jungle and in the jungle. You, who are from different parts of the world, of different background and different religion).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wandering, East-West Highway

My family has the habit to make a last minute decision to visit one place or simply drive around somewhere that is new and seems interested to us. The journey maybe as short as one hour, or it can be a whole day adventure. Although this is an ad hoc plan, it actually started in our mind for quite a long time ago resulted from the information in newspapers, magazines or "hear-say" from friends.

It is excited to listen or read repeatedly about the herds of elephants wandering along the picturesque journey through virgin jungle along the East-West Highway. I had travelled once on this highway to Kelantan about thirty years ago, during which this highway was put under strict security control by Malaysian army whereby it was closed from the evening until the next morning. At that time, Malayan Communist Party (CPM) was still active in most of the jungles in Malaysia.

My whole round trip covered 250km which started from BM, passed through Kulim, de tour Baling, then we witnessed the rolling hills with miles of rugged terrain. After we had reached the other side of Lake Temenggor Bridge nearby Jeli, we made a U-turn for home.

Our car, at most of the time, ran along the tricky curves flanked by wild bushes and big trees. We scoured the bushes by the roadside for any signs of movement. But, alas, there was no sight of the wild beasts throughout the drive along the mountains that form the backbone of the peninsula.

According to on-hand information, "herds of elephants, some numbering 10 to 12, have often been seen crossing the highway at almost the same spots every time. Chances of sighting them are 80 per cent, but almost always at night".

By the way, I have kept something undisclosed and would like to tell you silently now. I might, it turned out to be another disappointment finally, also spot a tiger crossing the highway.

I have not found any road signs to warn motorists of elephants crossing, instead there were a few on deer crossing. Anyhow, none of these animals bothered to say hello to me.

It was an exciting, but dangerous, drive along some narrow and steep roads, especially in the heavy rain. I was sorry to see two car accidents along the way. To penetrate through the dense fog was kind of blind-fold, yet it was simply fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sky Watch

I seldom see the colour of sunrise at Cerok Tokun, you know I never mean that glaring bright light. The refraction in the haze today had turned the sunlight into visible orange hues of the sky. It is hazy now and then even I was in the jungle which I always believe should be a good filter for fresh air.

I remembered I did capture a more beautiful sunrise at Kangar, Perlis. That was enchanting but this is gentle and simple.

This was the view of sunset at a river bank nearby my jogging trail. Sunset colours are more intense than sunrise colours, since there are generally more particles in the evening air than in the morning air.

There are for some reasons that I am placing these two pictures together.

I must say I like sunrise more than sunset because of the feeling to start off a new day after a long night rest. The atmosphere is cool and quiet. Whereas wandering around while the sun is ready to set means I am as tired as this giant star. I have to feel and smell the heat of warm earth unwillingly.

After the sun has set, I shall enter into a world of darkness, if I stay further. This is what I do not like to face with, not to mention how it looks by the moonlight, especially in the jungle . It is anyway so good to say good morning after the sunrise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Silhouette of tree

Yes, I am a very funny and crazy man who always tries to look for the odd. I had in my mind the theme of the day, the silhouette of tree, during my hike at Cerok Tokun last Sunday. I spent my time locating the targets between those huffs and puffs during the ascending path, I should then collect them later during the easy and relaxing downhill trip.

Actually what are shown in the pictures do not really reflect what I have seen on the spot. The actuals were lush and green next to those bald trees. With the greenery around, you will not feel as gloomy as what you may feel right now, and this is not my intention. The reaction of camera towards the bright sky always distorts our perception.

No matter how, I like the way these trees appeared in the pictures, especially the fine details on the branches which added some softness if otherwise we may see only stiff big trunks. I would not want to exclude those trees stayed underneath for a more impactful picture of a lonely tree which own nothing. I was having a good happy morning hike.

Some of the trees stood just beside me, along the trail, but this did not mean they were camera friendly as they were surrounded by their friends, a clean view was not so easy. Those found far atop on the slope somehow made my job easier.

This last one though looked messy but it demonstrated a different emotion from others. Its richness of the branches definitely contributed to this.

It was a bright shining colourful morning, but what I have shown do not actually tell the truth. This is not my intention. The odd guy only tries to be a little different in his day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lantana camara

I did not have any idea on Ham 'n Eggs which spells like a Bacon and Eggs kind of thing. When I knew it is a common name for one kind of flower over here, then it really arouses my interest. Further research reveals that it carries other funny names: Spanish Flag and red (yellow, wild) sage. In order to confirm its Chinese name, I need to refer to shrub verbena or lantana.

Actually I have lantanas in my garden for years, I have safely kept the blossoms fresh in my hard disk long enough, unnamed. Having known its name by someone across the ocean was a great present to me in this morning.

Texas Lantana(L. urticoides)

Lantanas can be easily seen in the wild and along footpaths in my neighbourhood. The charming colours had attracted my wife for a long time until one day we found them along our jogging trail, we decided to upgrade them to one of our ornamentals.

No special care or attention was served to these lantanas after the promotion. Their inborn capabilities see the plants grow strong and blossom continuously.

Lantana camara blanca

One thing that I have overlooked, and only got to know by today, is lantanas are mildly toxic.

Anyhow, to have these little plants in my garden is not a bad idea, even the tiny bud looks so unique and funny in the picture.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Observation on An Unknown Creature

I had spent sometimes observing an unknown creature in my little garden.

I thought it was one kind of chrysalis initially, I was wrong by then after a long enough observation. It moved. I could not figure out how a chrysalis moved by my limited knowledge and the pair of helpless spectacles, until with the help of new technology. I previewed and zoomed in using my camera, there was a creature inside the chrysalis or, I assumed, a nest. If you look carefully, it appeared at the top of the nest.

I continued my observation and shooting which made me seemed like attending a high school biology class. Learned from the earlier hints, my focus stayed at the tip of the nest. The creature was camera-shy especially when the flash was on. Though it refused to be on stage, when it emerged, how could I let it go.

It moved inward, slowly, from the tip of the branch, like a acrobat.

Then it finally reached the end of the journey with repeated disturbances from a very busy body. The travel was short to us, yet it might be a tiring long distance to this tiny creature. I better left it alone for not to continue straining this pitiful one. Actually this was part of the reason, there were noises behind me due to my obsession on this part of the garden.

I found my friend staring at a Blackbird, I commented what a stupid idiot he was. I spent my evening bending towards an ugly creature, taking pictures of those unpleasant looks. Who am I???

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Refresh Function

I need to refresh myself though it is not as easy as in Windows. I do not have a built in refresh button. I cannot also simply ctrl-alt-delete myself.

I walk through my hard disk, and hike from one folder to another, looking for some wonder to serve the desired purpose, to refresh my tired brain and body. I have temporary lost in the tug of war game to my bread earning priority.

This is the view from one of the pavilion at rainy Cerok Tokun. I somehow manage to locate one of my refresh button on the bamboo trees. It was the day during which heavy downpour had kept me inside the pavilion. The bamboo trees appear to me as a piece of painting where tranquility prevails.

I have my next button being located near to the bamboo trees, immediately in front of the pavilion, in the bush of greenery, on the little purple wild flowers which are showering in the rain. I need no any close-up in order to fully understand them but a distant view in the lush green is good enough to give me a break.

We always insist on going back to basic, I just want to go back to nature.