Monday, 29 December 2008

short weekend getaway: my gopeng resort - day 1

one fine day...

this was a very last minute trip. it all started last tuesday, when i was feeling particularly restless. so i sent N an sms:

“i suddenly feel so sien… feel like going away somewhere for few days. u think our gua tempurung trip can happen dis weekend?”

at which N promptly replied:

“can… so long v got friends go with us… u check website for min requirement. min 5 pax if i’m not mistaken”

but after asking everyone we can think of (that we wanted on the trip), no one wanted to go with us! i think it was because it was so last minute. less than 1 week's notice! i wanted to ask san, but she wasn’t online that day… and i reckoned it’ll be too last minute for her too.

so in the end, we decided to go by ourselves, which i think still worked out for the best! less ppl, less hassle! and we also decided to go to gua kandu instead of gua tempurung, which is also in perak.

long morning wait

as mentioned in my previous post, i was pissed with N for (i think) not taking this trip seriously that i nearly wanted to cancel everything and crawl back into bed. luckily N managed to persuade me otherwise…

and so, our trip began! since it’s quite a long drive to perak, we didn’t want to make it a day trip. so we booked a package at My Gopeng Resort, inclusive of full board (5 meals), 1 gua kandu trip and 1 night jungle trekking.

bored in the car

in between yakking abt anything and everything, and singing tunes from mama mia! at the top of our lungs, i was pretty bored in the car. well, i think these photos explained my boredom…

one indication that u're nearing ipoh
is the limestone caves along the highway...

N sempat lagi (malay: still had time) to pose for my camera!

yours truly... i was bored, ok? not very sharp pic, coz of the moving car...

our breakfast-on-the-go!

nearly there! 1 more km to the gopeng exit!

getting into gopeng town

well, the map indicated that upon turning right from the toll, we are to look out for a bus station on our right, at which we are to turn into gopeng town. but after driving for 15 minutes, we still did not see any bus station. and we were already heading towards setiawan! so we called the resort to ask again and found out that the bus station is only abt 3-4 minutes from the toll. ok… we made a u-turn and only saw the bus station after driving really slowly and opening our eyes really big.

the place don’t look like a bus station at all! i think the resort should indicate more landmarks in their map, such as the post office next to the bus station and also the police station next to the post office. those are the more obvious landmarks, compared to the bus station. also, i think the resort should have a sign board by the main road pointing INTO gopeng town, instead of appearing AFTER we’ve gotten our lost selves into there.

while lost, we passed by this 2 rows of empty pre-war shoplots...
very eerie. it was quickly dubbed as 'ghost town' by us

and the journey continues

dear, u think this one ok ar?

after a brief stop at an electrical shop in gopeng town (where N wanted to buy a headlamp or a torchlight for our caving), we followed the signboards scattered along the way towards the resort… from town, the road got smaller and the surrounding overgrown with bushes and undergrowth. the adventurous selves in us were awakened and we can’t wait to get to our destination!

this wira a few cars in front of us had some trouble with the pot-holed road.
so we got down from our car to 'kay-poh' (hokkien: become busybodies).
moral of the story: don't modify ur car!

along the way, i was looking if there were any cars behind us, and saw this!

some 20 over ppl packed behind a lorry!

we were laughing our heads off, commenting that they look like kena ‘mai-zhu-chai’ (canto: ‘sold-off pig’ --> human trafficking).

arrived at last!

main entrance to the resort...

entrance to the carpark at the back...

the place is very nicely tended, with vast open space and has a very peaceful kampung feel to it. after checking in at abt 1.15pm, we straight away had our lunch before checking out our living quarters.

the dining area... looks like a canteen, hor?

their buffet lunch was a simple fare...

back to basics... but good thing everything was very clean. no icky feelings!

and the adventure begins!

after settling down and changing into appropriate clothes and shoes, we were brought to gua kandu… on the lorry as mentioned above! turned out, those lorries are used for transferring the guests and participants to the various activity locations around the area! so the moral of the story here is, do not laugh at ppl at the back of lorries looking like ‘zhu-chai’ (canto: pig) on the way to the market, coz u’ll never know when u’ll end up like them! but we were lucky coz on this trip, there were only the 2 of us, so our guide (an org asli named ah ngah) let us sit in front with the driver while he climbed onto the back of the lorry.

we had to climb up a small hill to get to the opening of the cave

N was very excited when she saw this huge 'umbrella'! if u've watched
the cartoon 'my neighbour totoro', u'll understand this...

gua kandu is very different from the dark cave in batu caves. the whole feeling of the cave is different. for one, there weren’t any ‘adventure route’ for us to creep and crawl through. secondly, the smell of guano is minimal. thirdly, the chambers and ‘halls’ in gua kandu are huge! we felt like we were in a whale’s stomach!

also, there are more loose sand and dirt in this cave. according to ah ngah, if we were a group, the air will get very dusty from the trampled loose dirt. unlike in the dark cave, the inside of this cave is mostly dry. so instead of mud, we get a lot of dust on us.

an opening at the opposite side of the cave...

rock curtains... don't this reminds u of davy jones'
"octopus beard" from pirates of the carribean?

another cave opening... this opening is
actually very big, with a long drop below

one for the record! we were here!

with ah ngah. at another opening at another part of the cave...

haha... i made N do this! to show that the stalactite and stalagmite
are nearly touching! but they would still need a few more hundred years
to actually join into a column

there were also no regulations whatsoever in gua kandu. visitors are allowed to touch the cave walls and rock formations, which will actually erode and spoil them. and we are allowed to take flash photography wherever and whenever we like. no worries abt scaring the bats! i think the reason for this is because there weren’t any body managing or guarding this cave, unlike the dark cave, which is managed by mns. here at gua kandu, anyone is allowed to come and go as they please. we went in equipped with only our flashlights, without any safety helmets! and there were even rubbish scattered here and there, especially plastic water bottles.

water bottles left by some irresponsible visitor...

also, i think the resort can improve on this package by providing a more expert guide. the orang asli guide is a good guide, in the sense that he made sure of our safety and knows all the route to take. but on top of seeing the cave, we were also looking to learn more about it. so it would be great to have a proper guide to explain to us the facts abt the cave.

the communists hid here in the 1950s...

i don't read chinese but according to N, it said
"long live chairman mao!" and "long live the communist party!"

we emerge from kandu cave via this huge opening...

to get back to the road, we need to go through this path in the undergrowth...

back at the resort

no, i wasn't taking N's bum. i wanted to capture the menu
for today's dinner! ok, so i lied. i was taking N's dirty bum. so sue me!

sweaty and dusty, we went back to the resort for our afternoon tea. as we still had some 2 hours to kill before dinner, N and i decided to take a short trip of our own to explore the area around the resort. we heard that there is a waterfall nearby, so we drove up the road from the resort entrance in search of it, even though it had started to rain.

we got to the waterfall after abt 15 minutes of driving. it’s not everyday we get to see a waterfall, so we jumped right in! ok, not really… we just waded in up to our knees, just to soak our feet. and yes, in the rain! N was even wearing her poncho! what a sight we were! luckily there were only the two of us…

see, it's really rubber ler!

getting back to the resort, N the city gal excitedly went to examine the tapped rubber tree next to the resort car park. this was her first time seeing a real life rubber tree and she announced loudly that she’ll wake up very early the next morning to see the rubber tappers at work!


after taking the coldest shower in my life, we went to the mess for dinner. there, we found that dinner for that night was barbecue! each group had our own bbq pit and portions prepared according to the number of person in our group. i think this was done very well. everyone gets their share and we don’t have to crowd around a huge bbq pit. other than the raw meat and vege for bbq, the resort also prepared some fried rice, chicken curry etc to make sure big eaters do not starve!

night jungle trekking

after dinner, N and i went back to our hut to change back into our dirty caving clothes for the next activity --> night jungle trekking. personally, i did not enjoy this. normally i like jungle trekking, but it being night, we can’t really see anything other than the small area lit up by our torchlights. and because the group was very big (50 of us!) with a mixture of adults and kids, the trek was very slow. some trekkers who were ‘not so deft’, kept stumbling and slipping on the muddy and slippery jungle floor, slowing down the ones behind. N and i were right at the back (roll call number at 40 and 41), and we got pretty bored after awhile.

and because there were only 4 guides spread along the long line of single file participants, we did not hear anything the guides say. again, we were looking to be ‘educated’. so it would be great if the groups were smaller and the guide can explain things to us as we go along.

but N and i enjoyed the river crossing near the end of the trek. initially they had wanted to cancel the river crossing, because there were kids in the group. but N asked if we can be split into 2 groups, with one group going for the river crossing. so that’s what we got! of course, the river is not very wide, but the water was very rapid! and cold too! the water level came up to our chest and we had to cross it by holding on to a rope tied across the river. i would say it’s the only interesting part of the trek.

we got back to the resort at about 11.30pm. another cold shower ensued! brrr… if only they had hot water for these nighttime showers!


after shower, we were dead tired. those who know us would expect us to talk into the night, but nope! we just rolled out our sleeping bags and fell right asleep!

read also:

1) caving at the dark cave


Emily said...

Happy New Year 2009 ahead GURLS! May the new year brings you all your hearts wishes and more!

Rick@NatureEscapes said...

Good to see people getting out of the city and closer to the jungle. For more choices check out Nature Escapes

Biow said...

agree with you abt the "octopus beard"..

and my my you make me miss my youth days!

stargal said...

biow, u're not that old yet wat!