Corezone Perception Kayak 2 Day Bentong Expedition
Logistics: It took 2 lorries, 6 taxis, 4 cars and a van to shuttle all the kayaks, kayak equipment and humans to the starting point. Then it took 30 kayaks and 3 support vehicles to travel the 90km down stream in 2 days.
It was a crazy weekend.
We started very early on Saturday morning at 6:00am from Hartamas. After a hellish taxi ride out of KL (the kind where 'you'd rather keep your eyes shut all the way'), we were all stopped by a police block just outside Bentong town. What a start. The police counted all our cars, lorries and taxis...and by the end of the morning we were the famous 'kayak expedition' group.
The expedition started out very smoothly. All heads were counted and equipment assigned. We got into the water extremely excited and all pumped up for the journey ahead. As we headed down river through Bentong town, we were greeted with the unmistakable perfume of decomposing waste. We looked up and there was the amazing sight of rubbish hanging off every brunch of every tree all along the river, as high up as 4m above our heads and as far as the eye could see.
Being true Malaysians, we decided that this was the kampung version of 'le Christmas tree' to rival the city lights of KL. Our nose sensors automatically tuned off, and we began to laugh at each other crashing into the banks and into the 'Christmas' decorations. We had one mat salleh visitor with us and two Singaporeans. Not a very good first impression of Malaysia, I suppose, but we assured them that we had not sent the elves ahead of us to decorate the trees. (That would be one down for the Datuk Bandar of Bentong and Tourism . Our foreign visitor works for the Discovery channel)
There were many capsizes along the way. Some lost their water bottles, others their digital cameras and handphones, but everyone enjoyed the little rapid rides that riddled the first 30km of river.
Our first part of the journey took a little longer than expected. By the time we re-grouped with our support crew at Karak, we had 3 hours of daylight left to reach Lancang. Half the group pushed on to complete the next 30km in record time. We were relieved when the last of our kayaks pulled into the muddy banks of Lancang just before dusk at 7pm. We had been in the river since 8:30am that morning. We were glad to be received so kindly by the village head in Lancang who allowed us to camp at the community hall down the road. He even offered to shuttle tired paddlers on his motobike up and down the dusty road. Najib, our anchor guy, was there to take pictures and organize our group for the evening.
All our camping gear was transported by support van. By the time the tents were pitched and meals were cooking in the pots we looked like ABC (Advanced Base Camp). A quick inspection and I was tickled silly to see high end camping equipment everywhere…Snow Peak, MSR, Black Diamond, Primus, Trangia…you name it, someone is using it. The menus were also more than just maggie mee. We had full three course dinners with pasta, sausages, corned beef, rendang curry, salads, fruits, etc. Some even found ice cold beer. Later, I heard that the other camp at Karak had a BBQ going and even had ice cream on the menu, thanks to the Chee family support crew. Breakfast was also an elaborate affair with French toast, scrambled eggs, noodles, coffee, etc. It took us awhile to get our stuff together, but by 10am we were once again in the water.
Sunday was HOT! Sizzling HOT. We paddled and paddled. One river bend after another.
Sharon had a wild cat growl at her in the bushes. Needless to say, she ran back to the beach where she later realized that the multiple palm sized paw prints on the sand belonged to her nasty bush buddy. We passed a couple of water buffalos by the river. They didn’t look too pleased to see us.
By the time we got to Tanjung Kerayong in Mentakab, we decided to call it quits. The pain in our arms was beyond comprehension and the group was strung out over 2 km of river. We had one hour before our hired Mercedes Benz vans were due to pick us up, so we called in the support crew. With the help of half naked village kids, we got our kayaks out of the river at a broken bridge. Within the hour we loaded up the two lorries, cleaned up and were heading back to Hartamas. Only our still-excited foreign visitor from Australia was awake to take in the sights of the kampong during the van ride home. Everyone else was snoozing loudly and contentedly in the 12 seater vans.
Our river guides from the KL Canoe Sports Association were a charm. They patiently helped every capsize victim and volunteered to sit in double seater kayaks with those who needed their ‘motor arms’. Awie our head guide was as impressive as ever and Najib Tahir our logistics head honcho did a fantastic job of keeping us all coordinated. Syabas to the ‘Corezone Perception Kayak 2 Day Bentong Expedition Team’!