Many months ago, my friend Paul told me about an old Orang Asal trail that connects a village in Pahang to another location at the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. I am not revealing the exact location of the two places because I do not want the trail to be overrun by city slickers. It is not an amazingly beautiful walk really but the trail itself has been used by generations of Orang Asal. And according to our Orang Asal guide, it was also once used by the British and traders as the main route to travel on.
Our guide Sami is well into his 60s. We initially made arrangements with another guide but he did not show up that day. We asked around and was told that Sami can also show us the way. We were quite surprised that he agreed to lead us on the trail. Considering that we just show up at his doorsteps without any prior notice.
We were told that we can do the entire trail in a day. But only if we started at 8am…we may arrive at the other end at around 5 or 6pm. By the time we met Sami and convinced him that we are genuinely interested in hiring him and doing the walk, it as already close to 10am. But at least there was only the 3 of us. This is not the sort of trip I would want to have to worry about what others in the group are thinking about. To me and Paul, we just wanted to walk the trail, enjoy our time in the jungle.
The initial part of the trail is the usual stuff. Open jungle with some plantations. We even had to go through a part that was used as a cattle grazing area. It worried me a bit considering there were so many cows and just the 3 of us. Sami walked straight towards the herd and through enough…the cows held up their tails and scoot.
Sami is more than just a guide really. All along the way, he was narrating to me the stories of the trail we were walking on. It is as old as his village and villagers used to walk up and down the trail to connect two Orang Asal villages. He has personally built and stayed in a jungle hut along the trail for several years with his family. They lived off the land, hunting and gathering jungle produce to sell to outsiders.
He knows the trail so well; he even remembers where his old hut was. His knowledge of the jungle plants demonstrates his closeness growing up in the jungle. He pointed to me several useful (some dangerous) plants.
Our walk on the first day was relatively easy, considering we walked down most of the time. I could not have imagines doing the trek without Sami. There seems to be trails in parts of the jungle but they seem to go every direction. At one of the smaller peaks we came to, Sami stopped to show us a stone maker. The British, according to him built a small stopover house there long ago. But it has since been destroyed with no remnants left.
The trail followed a particular stream most of the way. We crossed the very same stream over and over again. I don’t mind following the stream as it means getting water is never a problem. I mentioned this to Sami but he was quick to warn me. The river can look small and calm now but they can grow big and strong in matter of minutes is there is heavy rain upstream. He pointed out a few parts of the river that has signs of water levels going up to several meters from where the stream was.
This walk in the jungle was something Paul has been dreaming of for some time. I am extremely happy that we did it. The trail is an old Orang Asal trail and the experience is one of the rare opportunities I get to really enjoy a walk with like minded Paul and a good guide like Sami. And to top it all off…an opportunity to put my gear to the tests. Now…I doubt if it can get any better.