Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hidden Malaysia: The Kampar Tin Mine trail

Fellowship of the Foldies...
It takes the right chemistry, team work and understanding for a peer group to work.
And in the midst of things, someone has to take charge and do the planning while other able-bodied members of the team do their part by contributing ideas and roles. 
Such would make an expedition succeed.

From the wok to the frying pan
As soon as we hit our home from our Thailand bikepacking trip, we had 24 hours to set-up for another ride.
Arrangements were made earlier for a trip to Kampar, Perak to recce its ex-tin mine trails.
The man behind this was Master TT Siang.
Similarly, the same people did a ride in the area last year. I believe that they rode from Sungkai to Teluk Intan.
As for me, this was a follow-up from the successful Rawang - Sekinchan ride earlier this year.
We packed our 2010 Dahon Jetstream P8 (now, retrofitted with a Dahon Q front suspension designed by German A) and the 2011 Jetstream EX onto our car.
The deal was to drive to Kampar in Perak to rendezvous with the rest of the team.
My regular cycling kakis Toh CK and Roger Teoh and signed up for this ride after it was mentioned on the Malaysian Foldies Forums.
Another newcomer is Andrew Ng and his wife Hui Min whom I had the pleasure to work with earlier in their Kuala Selangor - Sekinchan ride.
This also re-united me and Michelle with Wey Pang and her partner Ming whom we have known since 2010.
Siang came with his wife Angela and their travel companion Walter Wuertz.
Two other riders who joined-in were The Star's Andrew Sia and his companion Anne.

The Dahon JSEX in Michelle's car boot

On the tin mine trail

Destination: Kinta Nature Park

Map reading on the trail
Murphy's Law
Sometimes, things don't always turn out the way it supposed to be.
That's why we always improvise.
The team was supposed to have traveled by train from KL Sentral to Kampar station.
Since they were due to arrive before 10.30am, we took our time to drive to the town.
From the Klang Valley, it takes roughly about two hours or more to get to Kampar.
For starters, this is a small town, just 45km away from Ipoh, Perak's state capital.
What's interesting is the fact that it is linked to Batu Gajah and Tanjung Tualang by a series of offroad tracks along the ex-tin mines.
For 100 years, these hole in the earth which is filled with water stood still.
We rode off towards the trail head after a late breakfast. 
As we progress, part of the trail had 'vanished'.
It was consumed by development and in the years to come, there won't be anymore tin mine trail to cycle around.
Our objective was to reach the Kinta Nature Park and observe some of its wildlife.
But as a rule of thumb, if you leave late, you are bound to suffer under the hot sun.
I gambled with a bottle of water in hope of a refill mid-way. But this had proven me dead wrong.

Team Jetstream

Our ride leader having his lunch
A good call..
We went on a zig-zag trail around the ex-mining ponds and got ourselves back on a Federal Road towards Batu Gajah.
Then, we turned towards another trail which was supposed to take us to the Kinta Nature Park. Batu Gajah town was really close and we were about 6km away from Malim Nawar town.
At this point, most of us were exhausted by riding on the loose sand along the mining trail.
We pulled over at a shaded area for lunch and just as I parked my bike, I did a water level check on my bottle and it was down to a quarter mark. At this level, the risk of dehydration and heat stroke is apparent.
Siang, our expedition leader then made judgement call.
He first asked the cyclists on their amount of water - whether they are okay or completely out.
Since most had been completely drained, he decided to detour to Malim Nawar. 
Instead of pushing on, we conceded to our last point of travel.
From here, I can see a sigh of relief on the faces of the cyclists.
We pushed towards Malim Nawar for a refreshment break.
Unlike the Rawang - Sekinchan ride, this one had no stalls in-between where we could have lunch and refill our water bottles.
It was barren right from the beginning of the trail.

Angry Bulls: Water buffaloes on the trial

Cool aid: Iced Lime juice
Back to Kampar
The ride to Malim Nawar was brief and exciting.
We encountered a herd of water buffaloes along the way and threaded cautiously.
When we reached this small town, the refreshment break was something that everybody was looking forward to.
Siang's call was rewarding to the thirsty cyclists. Although we didn't complete the mission, the least we did, was remained together as a team. No fights, no fallout, no drama.
After a good rest, we rode back to Kampar where we had dinner.
Some of us continued with a couple of beers to unwind.

The ride back to Kampar
Foodies at work
Nothing like a glass of chilled beer after the ride

A toast to the spirit of camaraderie!
We'll be back!
Kampar has a lot of potential.
Its trail should be tested again and again until we are truly satisfied.
The following day, the team was split on two. Some went to explore the town on foot. Some slept through the morning and some rode up to the Kampar waterfalls.
After checking-out of the hotel, we drove to Tanjung Tualang for a good lunch and went separate ways. that said, I can look forward to the next adventure: Rawang - Teluk Intan offroad bikepacking ride.
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