Thursday, 2 February 2017

Outdoor Malaysia | Perak | Whitewater Rafting in Gopeng

Even though I love being in the water so much, I used to cringe at the idea of doing whitewater rafting. The image of water gushing, slamming big boulders in the rapids was not helping either; I mean like, the list of the what-ifs I could think of was  endless =D

However, I happen to have friends who are certified whitewater rafting guides and later learned from them that there are safety procedures and measures involved in this recreational sport. Like duhhhh of course la, just like any other sports he he .. but it was until the umpteenth time I asked them about how safe whitewater rafting really is that I finally did it

This was after several times they told me that they even rafted with kids. So what more could they ever say to convince me? :P I had no more excuse really, except to face my fear and do this yeaahhh!

So on a very early Saturday morning, about 4 am actually, a bunch of us -friends and cousins made our way from Negeri Sembilan to Gopeng town in Perak via the PLUS highway. We wanted to reach the Gopeng toll exit by 8.30 am where my rafter friend waited for us; he then took us to the rafting spot just 5 minutes away from the toll.

By the way, That's my friend in the green helmet in the article below, trying to capsize the 'ship' to add to the fun experience .. aha yes, so I have famous friends :P

We parked our car at a car park right beside the river - at the rafting end-point, quickly changed our attires at a toilet in the vicinity and later a lorry came to pick us up; yup, we hopped on the back of a lorry to be transported upriver where the starting point is situated about 10-minute ride uphill. 

This is our rafting end-point; photo taken from the car park

I felt like a cow ha ha and some felt like immigrants being deported. But it was part of the experience and it was fun =D 

When we reached the starting point, we saw the river was flowing so fast, there's a lot of water gushing and fear started to creep in... no no no .. I got this!

When I saw the water, I was like .. "really? we're rafting on that water??"
But fear didn't stop us to take some selfies  though he he :P

And then it was time for the safety briefing.. a very informational and reassuring one I might add. Besides the do's and don'ts and the proper way to don our gears, we were also taught the code instructions the guides use to maneuver our craft. 

My friend Daus briefing us on the gears

Demos on the proper sitting position, holding the paddle, and some code instructions..

In case we fall off the raft, this is how we should 'lie' floating on the water

After the talk, we headed down to the river where a water confidence session was conducted. This was good coz now we could practice what we learned in the briefing before taking on the real thing.

One quick shot before I hit the water

To make our bodies get used to the fast current and to teach us what to do when our raft capsizes, Daus held us one by one while we lie floating near the fast flowing water and literally let us go with the current;  like this ...

This is the chance to practice that floating position we learned earlier ^^

on his cue, we swam back ashore. I was nervous but the first one picked to go .. I could imagine how everybody felt when they saw me drifted away, I mean I would feel the same thing.  

Some of us had a bit of struggle to swim back due to the fast current (nothing serious really, we have buoyancy aid on for goodness sake), I think the guides have expected this having handled hundreds or maybe thousands of first- timers before, coz this was when they demonstrated rescue steps using the throw-bag as explained in the safety talk earlier. 

After that, we hopped on our rafts and practice some more just around the starting point, this time on responding to the code of instructions given and maneuver accordingly. 

For example, when the guides shouted 'boom boom' we had to get into the raft, duck and properly hold the paddles. Boom boom will happen when we paddle into a big rapid, basically where your adrenaline flow would spike most ha ha. It would seem like you'd want to avoid these rapids at first but trust me, after one or two boom booms you may want to get just about every opportunity there is to take on the big ones ha ha (while still sitting in the raft that is).

And when the guides thought that we're ready, off we went ..

Nice shot of the action huh? our accompanying photographer-guide went to perfect spots to take our photos

No mercy baby .. ^^
A 'high-five' after surviving every big rapid yeahh!

Half way through, we stopped for a bit of r&r and just enjoying the water ..

The guides provided us with bottled water to quench out thirst after a half-time of shouting and paddling and then we're back on the raft .. 

 It was my best 10-km wild river running yet. The water current got weaker as we neared the end-point downstream where the river gets wider with less boulders, no more boom booms to look forward to and it was almost like a lazy ride on the raft. But it was all good.

We came ashore exactly at the spot where we parked our cars, took more photos while we were still in the gears,

Victory high-five with the paddles :D

and our delicious lunch buffet was already waiting for us .. under the pavilion next to the car park. What an utter bliss after 2-3 hours spending all that energy paddling and screaming and laughing and capsizing and swimming ..

Awesome lunch spread

This trip was super fun, including the subsequent trip I had made sometime later. You could just do a day-trip and couple the activity with cascading (waterfall abseiling) or caving like I did in my other trip here but for this time we actually coupled it with a kayaking adventure in Chenderoh Lake, another 1 hour and 15 minutes drive up north. We headed there right after we finished our lunch =D 

Whitewater rafting at Kampar River in Gopeng is considered a Level I-III for such activity, it changes according to the water level here. This is why it is very suitable for first-timers or family. 

However, it is not short on adrenaline-pumping moments; these are the more recent photos of the trips that I've organized since 2014..

As far as I know, the difficulty level goes up to Level VI for whitewater rafting and coming here have inspired me to take on more challenging rivers in the future InSyaAllah. These days I also do whitewater kayaking  @ Gopeng and rafting trips @ Slim River and a few other rivers in Perak of higher grades :P .. 

These are some of the actions taken @ Slim River..

Lip-biting moment @ the highlight of the course; Box Rapid (Jeram Kotak) - Grade 4

A must-do victory shot when you successfully take on the Box Rapid 
Why not .. hahaha
 At Slim River, we end the excursion with a short body rafting sesh ;)

Getting to Gopeng:
The simplest way is to travel on the PLUS highway and take the Gopeng exit. You should have already booked this activity with the operator and meet them at this exit. Activity usually starts at 9.00 am so be sure to reach the meeting point at around 8.00-830 am.

For other rafting locations, please contact me directly via Whatsapp at the number in the photo below.

RM145 per pax including lunch and bottled water during activity for a  group of 10 pax minimum. Please check this out  or see below should you want to book a trip.

Other amenities:
Open musolla for muslims and restrooms

Whatsapp me to book - special discount for my Gua Batu Maloi customers ;)

Everybody knows that whitewater rafting is a great team-building element; so now I also organize team-building programs at Gopeng.. ha ha talk about doing what you love ;)

Negotiable for large groups

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Outdoor Malaysia | Negeri Sembilan | Gua Batu Maloi @ Johol

I've always said to myself that there is nothing like it anywhere else in Malaysia .. it's true, at least not that I know of :P. The most fun caving activity that I've ever done is right here.

That's me in the pink 'Enchantress' helmet LOL, look at the pretty diamond-like water droplets! Errrr, actually a lot of water is gushing through that passage hehe..

Whilst the more popular caves are karst and limestones, caving at Gua Batu Maloi is more like crawling and swimming in the tricky and narrow passages formed in between and underneath giant granite boulders. 

What makes it even more special is the fact that these boulders have existed and fallen from 2 mountains i.e. Gunung Tampin and Gunung Datuk and stacked up in and around the river thats located in the valley between those mountains, so almost 90% of the caving routes here are in the river itself. 

This is why you would be twisting your body, crawling, swimming, wading, climbing, squatting, combat-crawling and occasionally a little bit of breath-holding may be involved to pass through the gap that is submerged under the shallow water. 

Some rope action ...

Here's a video from my Youtube channel ;) .. the recent excursion by Akademi Laut Malaysia aka Malaysian Maritime Academy (ALAM) students;

But that's not all. The routes are all heading upriver, so you would encounter a few points where the water current is fast, creating cascades of whitewater gushing on the rocks and sometimes too fast that you can't even take a step forward without assistance. 

Whilst that adds to the challenge, it's also very refreshing at the same time. 

Another video from one of the trips I've handled; this one of a group of adventurers from Singapore;

(I have uploaded longer videos of other excursions too, do visit my channel okayy^^)

You will be kept busy with trying to make your way through the pathways that you wouldn't realize it would have taken you 3 hours into the journey but still have a long way to go before you reach the end-point. 

It's all about hashtagging these days baby, LOL #RNRAdventures, look me up, don't forget! ^^

The brave souls in metallic grey helmets are the guides in my team!

Smile for the camera!
Taking a breather half way through the checkpoints
Well, do not let this dampen your spirit, it's part of the fun and challenge, simply stop for a bit of r&r and enjoy the cool freshwater and cascades; if you look around on the cave walls or in the nooks and crannies of the rocks you might even meet some of the 'locals' here - giant river toads and bats or the fishes that swim around but are oblivious to you due to the darkness.
River toad ... and that's not even the biggest one here haha XD
This particular area along the cave system is pitch dark

I consider caving here as a rather extreme activity but one thing for sure is it takes you millions of miles away from that stressful day at the office. All your problems would seem immaterial because you will be busy twisting, turning, crawling, gliding, swimming, wading, squatting and climbing your way through Gua Batu Maloi.

After exiting the caving route, you'll do a bit of trekking through the forest back to where you would have parked your car;

Batu Maloi - it's actually situated outside the cave system
I regret to inform all of you out there that these legendary roots are now gone because the tree fell due to strong wind sometime in early May 2017 ;(

Pre-excursion intro and safety briefing

Tips and essentials:
Based on my experience accompanying many people to explore the cave, I have come to these conclusions in terms of what to bring/wear to optimize your caving experience here:

- Wear durable water shoes; nothing too bulky but have good grips. If you love your branded shoes, leave them at home. The cheap black latex ones like these are the best;

I have seen soles ripped, crocs floated away with the current; I mean, some people had to use tree roots to tie back their soles to the shoes ha ha.

- Avoid wearing crocs or any sandal like it

- Wear thick socks or the sands between your toes would annoy you the whole way =D

- Wear tights or durable leotards with another layer of pants outside. You will have to bend, crawl and climb and occasionally twist your body in unimaginable ways so you need to be flexible.  Cover your knees while you're at it.

- Gloves are great, but not compulsory

- Avoid bringing along any bag, if you must, bring the tiniest waterproof bag you can find just for essentials like chocolate, small waterproof camera and bottled water. Some people have lost Iphones to the fast current. I'm not discouraging you to bring cameras though, but just be very careful and like every thing else, bring them at your own risk. Leave your hands free.

- Wear a headlamp

*These are just guidelines; if you can, try to follow them as much as possible otherwise you would still enjoy caving at Gua Batu Maloi, but with 'additional challenges' he he .. many people still enjoy caving here even when they were not prepared as advised ;)

Getting here:
The best way is to come with your own transport. Take the PLUS highway towards Negeri Sembilan and take the Simpang Ampat / A Famosa exit. Follow the sign board and make your way to Tampin town. Upon reaching the town, you will come to a crossroad where there is Hotel Wangsamas and a Hindu temple on your left. 

Take a left or simply follow the sign to Kuala Pilah from here. after another crossroad and 5 minutes later, you will reach a T-junction with Kuala Pilah to the left and Gemas going straight. Take a left turn to KP until you reach the small town of Air Mawang about 10 minutes from the T-junction. 

By bus: Take an express bus from Kuala Lumpur or intercity bus from Seremban / Melaka for Tampin. Get a cab at Tampin bus station to take you to Air Mawang town to meet the guide. You'll need to book the cab to fetch you again. 

By intercity train: From Singapore / Kuala Lumpur station, get a ticket to Pulau Sebang / Tampin Station. Hire a cab here or make arrangements with your guide.

There are many accommodations from budget motels, homestays to hotels now in Tampin town. If you are from out of town, you could always check into one of those.

Since this trip would need a prior reservation, simply plan to meet your guide at Air Mawang or Tampin town. 

Lucky for you, I happen to be a registered guide with the Kuala Pilah Forestry Department he he ;) so if you'd like to book a trip with me for Gua Batu Maloi or other activities, go here for details OR simply **SMS/Whatsapp me for more info at the number below; we take you through the best routes when the weather condition permits ;) 

Please add +6 in front of my number to Whatsapp me - even for Malaysians, huhuuu^^

Camp sites
Open gathering hall
Dining area
Free parking

RM45 per person for locals & RM50 for foreigners for a group of 10 people minimum.  The fee includes: 
- Forest entry permit
- Local Committee fee
- Registered guide service
- Lunch buffet

*As the forestry department has also provided camp sites here, we also organize camps with various activities in store for schools, higher learning institutions, clubs, societies and government or private bodies. Price starts from RM65/pax for a 2D1N program. Kindly PM me for more details.

Some of the recent #RNRAdventures customers...
ALAM students 80+ pax

KRUM UniKL MIIT 20+ pax 
Program Sihat Staf Hospital Alor Gajah 60 pax

FETSA UTeM 80+pax

PROSIS UiTM S3 30 pax

Faculty of Dentistry USIM 60+ pax
SMTM Bukit Piatu 30 pax

Kelab Mendaki UPM 40+ pax 
Kembara KoKurikulum UiTM S3 20+ pax

And from time to time we also receive foreign visitors; in the photo below are expatriates from India, Latvia, Iran and the philippines.

Hope to see U guys @ GBM soon! ;)