If you google or refer to a dictionary, u will find that the word Stonging never exist. Somehow i love to use it to describe my recent very very awesome and adventurous hiking trip to Mt. Stong (so you should got it by now... Stong-ing). Located in Dabong, Kelantan, Mt. Stong is one of the hikers favorite spot having Jelawang Waterfall, one of the highest waterfall in Southeast Asia flowing down its cliff. As this is my 1st experience going for a real hiking (Broga is juz way too easy to be called a hike... kidding, hiks), I was very excited to go. Since I dun have any hiking equipment, I did lend a few with the help of Hafiz, my housemate (thanx a bunch!). The only necessary hiking stuffs I bought for the trip is a RM8 pair of rubber shoes, a Tesco headlamp and a last-minute-notice-u-need-to-buy Vertical sleeping bag (Vertical as in the brand, not the way i have to sleep in it, haha). The rest of the stuffs I bought dont really play an important role but they surely contributed to my success in cheating starvation (Cadbury chocs, potato chips, packets of instant mushroom soup, 3-in-1 Nescafe sticks, Mentos, Ali Cafe coffee, bla bla bla).
We boarded train from KL Sentral on July 14th at 8.30pm. We took the coach with second class upper bed as the lower ones are sold out. The train stopped by Gemas to 'change head to the other direction' (LOL), so we took the opportunity to help ourselves with 'nasi kari ayam' sold at the station (it was not bad cuz I managed to finish it - since I already had Zinger tapau-ed by Hafiz plus the train's 'nasi goreng' earlier). We decided to call it a day after a few rounds of 'tipu' (a type of card games using the standard poker deck).
We arrived at Dabong KTM station at around 7.30am. It took us almost 11 hours to arrive. We had breakfast while waiting for the others to arrive (5 of us are from KL, 5 from Penang, 9 others from Kelantan). After everybody has gathered, we changed into our hiking attire since we will be going to Gua Ikan area to do spelunking or to put it in a simpler and understandable term, caving (yeah, who would use spelunking when we barely encounter it let alone need to think on how to pronounce it, rite? btw, its a US term to imply caving). Gua Ikan Recreational park just 10 minutes drive from Dabong station where we will start our adventure. Upon arriving, we are introduced to our guide (Dek), had a short briefing and light warming up session.
Off we went. According to Dek, there are a few caves that we will explore. Our very 1st cave is a very one-way-only-Alice-in-Wonderlandish narrow cave route. At points we have to duck, crawl and squeeze ourselves into the only small gap to pass through. As for the other caves, they are large enough to organize a bubble bath party (just to make my point, no dirty thought please...hahaha.) Well, pics worth a thousand words.
After the spelunking session (can't resist to use it once i know the meaning, LOL) , we had a rest at Gua Ikan Recreational park while waiting for the pick-up van to arrive. The recreational park is somehow looked disorganized and uncared-for but still it is inviting enough for a few local visitors and families to picnic at nearby stream. Since we are from different smaller groups, we made use of the hiatus to catch up, socialize and get to know each other better (is it 'we' or it is just 'me'? *evil grin*). I also took that chance to exercise my hand working with the old camera i bought during my studies.
The pick-up van arrived and we were chauffeured to the foot of Mt. Stong after stopping by Dabong station again to pick-up our stuffed and heavy backpacks. We temporarily settled down in the given dormitory to prepare ourselves (pray, 'throw big stone' - the fact that I will spend two days without proper cleaning and sanitation is enough motivation for me to empty as much as i could - ewwww, it might sound yucky, but it is one of the top priority stuffs that people often overlooked). We also repackaged the ration (rice, other food) into smaller portions to be equally distributed among each member of the troop to be carried uphill). We then, had our lunch, provided by the resort and started our journey up (after recital of doa for safety) to Baha's Camp, our campsite for the trip.
Welcome to Baha's Camp (what?arrived already?). It was the extremely hopeless, helpless, tiresome, mentally challenged moment on the way up to Baha's Camp I dun even have time to blog (talking as if i'm doing real-time blogging, haha). The 2-hours journey up to Baha's Camp is not as easy as i imagined. With a 20kg backpack and continuously ascending, nearly perpendicular (i'm just exaggerating here but you know what i mean) route, it was even hard for me, average sporty guy to go up, due to lack of stamina or the unnecessary overweight burden, i cant tell. I kept telling my mind to focus and to continue walking (climbing?). Yet i was the second person of the troop to arrive at the camp (not trying to be competitive, just to mention how hard the climb was, even seasoned hikers were can be overwhelmed by the toughness of the track).
Upon reaching the camp, i could hear the stream gushing next to it. I put my backpack and ran directly towards the stream just to feel the chilliness of Jelawang stream. It was effectively rejuvenating that all the fatigue inside seemed to be dispersed out of me.
After all of us reached the campsite (which is just next to the waterfall), we put up the tent and settled down. Some of us even decided to sleep in hammock (i should get one for myself for next hiking trip).Next activity... guess what? 1st clue, camping near waterfall, 2nd clue, its almost dark. OF COURSE! We needed to clean our sweaty muddy selves before the sun crawl back into its cradle. The coldness of the nearly 3-storey-high waterfall was shiveringly unforgettable (well, at least we got cold water supply throughout the camping period... for freeeeeeee).
That night, we did nothing much, some of us helped with the cooking preparation, some played cards, some chatted, all under one canvas roof. Food intake need to be controlled as we dun bring much (just enough for 20 pax for 6 meals) and to avoid the trouble of finding hidden place and good timing for restroom matter (esp. the big one... hahaha). We had our dinner, continued playing cards and chatting when it rained heavily like never before. I rushed to my tent and took the sudden rain as a sign of 'goodnight'. Zzzzzz....
To be continued....