Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Belum : Part 1

Better late than never.. 

I get the most out of my Chinese New Year break by doing some traveling.
The plan was to get out of the Klang Valley and savour the great outdoors.
So, having researched some locations around Peninsular Malaysia, I ended up with the Royal Belum Forest near Lake Temenggor in Perak.

The plan

The aren't many accommodation facilities around Belum.
Shortlisted was the Belum Rainforest Resort and the Belum Eco Resort.
I found the first place too expensive as the rooms came up to RM800 a night.
Of the lot, the best choice was the Belum Eco Resort.
Its operated by Mr Steve Khong and his family.
So, having narrowed down to my choice accommodation at RM650 for 3 days 2 nights inclusive of meals and a tour to the Royal Belum Park (permits must be applied a week before checking-in).
And on Chinese New Year, there was a RM70 additional surcharge.
We didn't mind that because it was all-inclusive.
Still, I placed my expectations really low.

Leaving behind our dogs for Belum
To me, the Belum state park is a place to see before its all gone.
Right now, the forested area surrounding the protected area is being logged.
So, naturally, with the destruction of habitat, some of the flora and fauna are gone.
We took a drive from our home in Subang Jaya to Ipoh via the PLUS North - South Highway.
It was a smooth journey until we reached Gopeng where we had a late breakfast.
And we couldn't believe our eyes when the entire town as swarmed with cars from the Klang Valley. 
Seems that this place had experienced a boom over the brief period in Chinese New year.
From Gopeng, we continued our journey towards Kuala Kangsar and short of reaching Sauk, my cellphone rang.
Thomas Khong, the son of Steve called to remind me that we had to reach the jetty half past twelve.

Late breakfast in Gopeng, Perak.
It's a rush!

We had to reach Banding jetty before noon, so, naturally, I scoped the route ahead and floored my car.
Traffic was heavy and I maintained my speed to reach Gerik, the last town before Banding where there is another 40km to cover.
To my surprise the terrain around this route was really hilly with gradients exceeding 15 degrees.
We slowly negotiated the hills and reached the first bridge in Pulau Banding, a small man-made island linking Gerik to Jeli in Kelantan.
But the excitement died down when I found out that we were on the wrong side of the area.
Thomas directed us to the second bridge near the 'Jeti Awam' (public jetty).

The boat ride

Our cosy A-huts at the resort..


Finally, after a six-hour drive, we arrived at the public jetty in Banding.
Thomas was already waiting with a family of three.
We learned that the guests were from Ipoh and another group had left earlier.
From Pulau Banding, we boarded a fibreglass boat and took a 15-minute ride to the resort.
The scene was breathtaking and as we arrived at our accommodation, lunch was served.
At this point, I sized up the guests.
There was a family from Klang who were really loud, comprising two mothers three kids and four old ladies.
The Chinese family from Ipoh were really civil and this also included a lone lady traveler from Taiping.
We had our lunch and prepared ourselves for the first programme of the day, a hike to a watch tower in one of the islands..

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