Monday, September 17, 2007

Jungle jive

A couple of months ago, some family and friends spent the weekend camping on the fringes of the Endau-Rompin National Park, run by the Johore state government. The camp, a collection of basic huts situated along the very picturesque Sungai Lemakoh, soothed our weary, urban souls with panoramic views of glistening pools that seemed to shimmer as the first rays of sunlight gently alighted on it. At other times, we could hear the gentle gurgling of the river as it flowed by in no particular rush to go anywhere, except when it rained.

Upstream view (view) from the campsite.
Many pools (below), large and small, can be
found along the river just a few minutes walk away.

The camp is run by Buyin and his wife Ami, with help from their children and nephews. Buyin, an Orang Asli (the indigenous people of Malaysia), is a minor celebrity, and has been featured in some press and online articles on eco-tourism. This particular one showcases Buyin’s original camp that stood before the floods of early 2007 struck Johore and damaged it. Buyin rebuilt his camp and we were one of its first visitors.

The camp itself is made up of a collection of open wooden huts – a large dining/social hall with an attached kitchen; two communal sleeping huts; a shower; three bathrooms and a useful changing room just by the river. One can spend the day following guides on treks along the river or into the jungle; making a day trip to the Orang Asli kampung; swimming in the pools; or just doing nothing…

… except lying on the long benches, contemplating the meaning of life or admiring the sun-lit patterns on the roof of the huts.

Buyin takes care of all the food, and the oohs and aahs during mealtimes is testament to his and Ami’s cooking skills. Apart from our yummy daily three meals Buyin also provided numerous tea breaks: This must be what it's like in the civil service. Elevenses, mmmmm.

One of the treats was the BBQ dinner we had one night – chicken, beef, lamb etc.

You cannot go on a diet here. It’s impossible.

Come night time, Buyin puts up the hurricane lamps. After dinner, with no Astro (satellite TV) to kill all conversation, normally tired worker bees like us actually had long conversations around the dinner table and had some low-tech fun.

No, we were not trainees for the new Singapore casinos (oops, sorry, the Singapore government would like them to be called Integrated Resorts). We were literally playing for peanuts!

On one of our days there, the heavens opened up in the afternoon and subjected us to a typical tropical thunderstorm – a dramatic downpour with appropriate audio and visual accompaniment that lasted all of 20 minutes. It turned dark-ish really quickly, and one of the seven dogs that came with us scurried under the table. We were in awe at the display of nature’s power and quite a few of us just sat quietly and watched the rain.

What better way to spend a weekend.

1 comment:

Kian Ming said...

hey, did you go on this trip with any of the cheong brothers? I remember that francis or gerard worked at endau / rompin at one point in time. not sure if he's still there.