26 March 2010

Maliau Basin: Falling for The Falls

It would be my third day in Maliau Basin and my second day at the Ginseng Camp. Somebody was being too excited she couldn’t resist herself from waking me up quite too early than I had intended to.

And somebody must have been praying so hard too. It had miraculously rained in the middle of the night, bringing some hope that the falls would get back to their normal forms when we get there later in the day.
Mind to tell you, jungle trekking would squeeze your body into sweating so profusely all you’ll ever need to keep your system going is this.
Oh well, water is supplied to Ginseng Camp from the river via some gravity pipes and it is not the as crystal clear as you probably want to imagine.
Something about the earth ground in Maliau Basin makes it look more like Chinese Tea Pink. But don’t fret, we pour like gallons of it inside our bellies and none of us had caught a stomach ache. Errr, as far as I know larr.. You’ll just need to make sure it is BOILED.
Our journey to the MB Falls began by crossing this beautiful sky bridge which is pegged to a tree at both ends.
But it was also the beginning of a very long uphill trekking.
There would be some parts of it that are quite too steep they actually provided you with a rope for you to hold to.
But then, some of them didn’t look quite reliable enough. Not only the rope lacked in diameter, they were also pegged to the most unlikely anchors.
And how could I ever trust them if some of them seemed to have frayed at some points?
Well, for me, I would only get a hold of the rope only if it is deemed necessary.
But then, most of them were more like to keep you on the right track instead of giving you something SAFE enough to hold to.
Ohh, and you better be sure with what you’re holding to.
While the escorting rangers would be more eager to finish the trek than sticking to you or your group, there are times when you have to use your own sense of direction. In a thick forest like MB, it is very easy to stray off the track.
I couldn’t help but noticing the existence of patches of moss.
Stepping onto them was like stepping under the Tree of Souls.
And true enough, this thing floated its way over to me. I knew instantly that I was special. It was a 'portent' that I was the chosen one.
Looking up the sky, I had just realized I was sitting right under the Home Tree.
It wasn’t long before I began to feel thirsty. But then, I was in Maliau Pandora Basin, I would never get thirsty.
Ok. May be Avatar got too stuck in my head I couldn’t help but imagining myself as a Na’vi.
LOL! OK, back to reality now. Having rained the night before, I couldn’t help but noticing something:
Mushrooms were mushrooming everywhere!
The came in different shapes and sizes.
Believe me, you would want to come to MB for one thing: there are just so many rare things to see. Like, this one here, I actually trembled and jolted away at the sight of this.
I really thought it was a snake or something. GRRRRR! And some of the trees stand out for being so different from the rest, even by color.
I was actually trying to figure out who could have all the time in the world cutting these palm leaves into those round shapes. They really looked like being cut out by a scissor.
I realized later that they actually HAVE GROWN into them. You know, naturally..
Now, why did I feel there was something missing around this thing here? :-D
This is Amber Chia modelling for a Keep-Wild-Animals-Free campaign.
This is me modelling for a Leave-Strangling-Fig-Trees-Alone campaign.
I know, people keep coming to them and ask for lucky 4-D numbers, so, again, LEAVE THEM ALONE! Respect the nature! He he he. There was one spot along the trek from where you could get a spectacular view of the sprawling forest of MB.
I could only imagine how many gallons of saliva would be produced from the mouths of some people by just looking at this picture here. You know, those people that we call ‘zero zero kayu balak’ here in Sabah.
Quite true to its name, MB as viewed from the satellite DOES take the shape of a basin as if it was struck by a meteor at one time to form a giant circle of ridge they interestingly call ‘the rim’.
And seen from the eyes of a bird, it’d be like this. That's why some people call MB as The Garden in The Sky.
I believe this was part of the rim.
I just hope that nobody would be stupid enough to spoil this wonderful wall of stone by writing something on it. I know how stupid can people be at times. Apparently, hunger struck quite too soon for me. Luckily, MB has its own way of providing its visitors with food. It offers, among others, chocolate cotton candy!
Hehe. I know. It was a lame act of joking :-P. And towards nearing the waterfalls, you’d be descending what's appeared to be part of the rim. And it’d be around this downhill trek when you’re supposed to hear what you’ve been waiting of hearing and what have been coming to your dreams day after day prior to the trip: the growl of the falls!
MB Falls in one of their best forms, would have looked like this.
And an aerial view would be something like this.
Mind to tell you, again, that we were there when Sabah was undergoing a very dry season so it was quite expected that the falls wouldn’t be at their best looks.But still,
Maliau Falls are consisted of 7 tiers of waterfalls – all of them are gigantic. This is only one of them.
Oh well, this may sound familiar to you but the feelings that I had as I sat looking at the falls – I just couldn’t explain them in words.
Part of me wanted to cry, not only for its beauty, but to have another priceless God creation right before my eyes my simply tears-inducing. I couldn’t believe we had (another) something so unbelievingly beautiful right here in my very home state of Sabah.
I was so much engrossed in my own feelings when something so heavy splurged its way right into the water, making a loud splash that jolted me out of my self-engrossment. Judging on the ripples it had caused, whatever it was must be something very very heavy...
And sure enough…
Hehe. Well, it wasn’t long before I joined him actually. Oh jeez, it felt so surreal. Floating freely on the surface of the water with the distant sound of the growling waterfalls and being visually connected to the blue sky over the green forest around me, I REALLY THOUGHT I WAS IN HEAVEN.
You know how pictures can cheat you at times. If you think the waterfall is quite too small, think again.
In fact, when I said all the 7 seven levels of waterfalls are gigantic, I really mean it.
I actually put my trust into whatever energy that I had left by swimming right across this natural reservoir of water, all the 50m of it and landed myself at the rock shelter on the other side. *cough cough
No, of course I couldn’t do it. Not after all the energy-sucking trekking. I actually made a few stops before I managed to get across to it.
Oh well, while lacking the volume of water would probably make the waterfall less photogenic to most photographers, we actually took full advantage of it by taking photos as close to the waterfall as possible.
Taking photos so close to the waterfall when it is at its full force is like offering a goodbye to your camera.
Errr, while most of them had refilled their bottles with water, I intended to SWALLOW the whole thing so that I wouldn’t get thirsty for at least a month.
Ok, another lame joke. :-P. Well, a photographer would take all the hardship of stopping and setting things up in order to get a good shot.
A traveler would just keep walking and clicking away in order to get a candid shot.
At least I know which category I was in. But seriously, looking at the ladies like this, I really couldn’t tell which category they belonged to. I mean, what are they doing?
OK. I know what to call them. Errrrr, CALENDAR GIRLS!LOL!
Dom had actually agreed to pose for www.jipp-world.blogspot.com under one agreed condition : Turn him into a hunky man with a 6-pack ab! Wokey Dom... Wish granted!:-D
You’re right when you say the water is quite murky. Errr, 'murky' is probably not the right word because it doesn’t seem to content soil grains or mud.
It is more like reddish or probably brownish. I was told that something about the mineralogy of soils in MB that caused the water to be in such a rare color. But then, I would say, MB is full of mystery and it is only part of it.
After done being kanak-kanak riang, we spent at least another hour lepaking around and taking in more of the beautiful views of MB Falls.
Apart from the one in those pictures, you could actually see at least another one of the 7-tier Maliau Waterfalls which is the lower level to it.
This is the closest to death that I could go. *touch wood
And I was actually so tempted to prove my manhood by plunging right into the water pond down there..
This is Ulai while saying ‘You jump, I jump’.
This is me saying ‘You jump, I cabut….
Hehe. Well, while it was so easy to fall in love with the falls, we had to leave after spending a good 2-hour there. As much as I had wanted to stay longer, we had to say good bye to this yet another wonderful creation by the Almighty. But not before taking a memory photo, something that we could always look back at in the future, and say.....
WE WERE THERE............!!!!!
Getting back to stay another night at Ginseng Camp, I had actually run into at least two separate groups of wild pigs. But they would disappear as quickly as they come. My cameras were not designed to get a quick shot. I was struggling to keep going with my pace when something so light, yet so heavy to stay afloat, flew down very slowly to the ground and I did manage to get a shot of it. I was actually so tempted to catch it with my bare hand and how glad I am now that I didn’t.
Looking so poisonous, who knows what damage could it bring to a hand palm?
Oh well, it was rather an uneventful trip back to Ginseng Camp may be because I was too tired to stay alert to just about anything around me.  
In fact, I had to put on my MP3 player so that I’d be shut to the surrounding and concentrated more on keeping walking. Just as I was descending down the trek here, the song Bottletops came up. The lyric was just so ngam..
Such A Long Way Down….To the ground…. Yeah. It was such a long way down. I felt like being in a motion picture or something. :-P
When I finally arrived, there was nothing much to do but waiting for dinner time. You know, there are things that you think you are still good at but you are actually not, like, opening a can!
Dammmnn. It wasn’t easy mannnn!! And when did the last time I opened a can?
Then it wasn’t long before – candle light dinner! A candle night dinner in the middle of a rainforest...! How cool is that??? It actually turned out to be one of my favorite moments of the whole trip.
Sitting with a bunch of people with whom you share the same passion for environment and nature, it really was a beautiful night to remember. Unlike the previous night, there were no games this time; it was more like a session of campfire conversation, only without a campfire. Of course, the hilarity was still there. Nights with these people wouldn’t just go away without jokes and laughter. Dom told of how his friend’s father took his shoes off before boarding an Air Asia flight to KL. Hahahahaha!
Then, it was time to retreat to the bed dormitory. It turned out to be so damn cold on my second night at Ginseng Camp, probably due to the rain in the previous night. So much so that my feet were actually freezing. You see, I didn’t bother to bring with me a sleeping bag as suggested in ‘Things to Bring to Maliau Basin’ forwarded to me by Ulai 3 weeks before the trip.
OK, to tell the truth, despite topping the list, I wasn’t favoring the extra weight that a sleeping bag would contribute to my back pack. I DID bring with me a much thinner and definitely lighter comforter whose deficit in length had had me choosing between covering my head or my feet. Covering my feet would spare me from the discomfort of having cold feet in the middle of the night but then, leaving my eyes uncovered would make me so exposed to the sightings of whatever things that would probably come up TO MY FACE in the dark. So.... what I did was....
Smart, huh? He he he. It'd be my very last day in MB the next day and I was already dreaming of walking on the world-renown Sky Bridges of Maliau Basin! Wohoooooooo! BUT before then....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


kenwooi said...

haha.. i like the way you did random edits on the pictures - Avatar, 6packs.. lol..

must be quite an adventure, if i were there with you, i think i'll get exhausted easily.. haha.. =)

aud said...

Always dreamed of getting to Maliau, don't know bilalah I can reach it, but now that you've described the trekking I have second thoughts :)

Good pics I can imagine what its like there..

JIPP said...

Thanks Kenwooi. Aud, I don't think it'd be difficult for you coz you're quite active in joining those marathons.. ;-)

Bridget said...

Wow! These are gorgeous pics, it makes me proud to be Sabahan. The only thing I thought was iffy was the colour of the water, but then again, if it's due to the minerals, it's probably what made the water drinkable in the first place... kena 'tapis' kali tu.

JIPP said...

Hi Widgie. Yeah, I was having some doubt when I was told that it was safe to drink. But then, when you're there, water is all that you'll ever need so i had no choice. I was told how a student from KDU put in some iodine to disinfect the water and ended up falling sick. So, advice from the rangers, drink it as it is.. :-)

chegu carol said...

Reading this, i feel like the adventurous side of me is being triggered. So nice oh all the rare findings you and your team got to witness. I am really awed looking at all the pictures. The snake-like roots that circling the tree, the magnificent 7 tiers waterfalls even not at its best as you mentioned and the night spent in the wild...they are just so Wow!

JIPP said...

Carol, you should start planning doing something adventurous now. You'll be suprised how good it feels once you have accomplished it. ;-)

Murphy said...

after reading your blog, i went to maliau waterfall and it is absolutely beautiful! reaching there is more like an achievement than a trip. the trail is steep and the terrain is rugged. i finished my water & i drank the tea-color waterfall unboiled. taste very fresh though, haha..

JIPP said...

good for you Murpy. Congratulations! hehe. Wait for my entry on our recent Mulu Trip and the a climb to the pinnacles. It was like hundred times harder. :-D

Murphy said...

really? seem like next time i'll go to Mulu then, lol..

I met two Sarawakians in Maliau trip, they all say that the pinnacle is very tough to climb.


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