Lex Petros: November 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Through Storm Culverts and A Leech-Infested River

From left: Mike Tjoa, Me, Jennifer Lee, Asther Lau, Simon, Francis Tan and Adeline Lew

Saturday, 24.11.2007: Barely two weeks after trekking through the jungles in East Malaysia's Bako National Park in Sarawak, I found myself too eager to volunteer for another trek. This time, to Gombank, specifically, Sg. Pisang (Banana Falls), known for its famous leech infested waters and a path trough a giant storm drain. For most novice hikers, this would be a suitable trail to test out their mettle. For me, this would be the easiest one so far, compared to the Chilling Falls Trek in Kuala Kubu Baru and the Tajoh Falls in Bako, Sawarak.

Left to right: Mike ascertaining our route vie GPS whilst the others took it easy
and me with my trusty hiking pole...

How to get there:
  • From PJ: Take the LDP (Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong) towards Batu Caves/ Kuantan (Middle Ring Road 2). Pass Batu Caves and keep left. Look for the road towards Sg. Pusu and International Islamic University, Gombak, on the way to Genting Highlands/ Karak. Just before toll booth, turn left. Once you clear the curve, keep left and just go straight all the way until you see a sign which reads Alang Sedayu. You will come to a narrow road which goes up to a pump station, at a dead end. Just park your car on the side and proceed to the river trail...that's Sg. Pisang

  • Then, once you get into the water. The falls are located upstream, about 1 kilometer from the starting point, near the pump house.
  • Just follow the water upstream and about 200 meters later, you'll be face to face with 2 huge storm drains, about 6 meters in diameter each. Go through them. The walk through the storm drain is about 100 meters (you can choose to wad through the water or take the easy way by the sides)
  • Follow the trail and approximately 800 meters and you will hear the distinct sound of water crashing. Congratulations! You've found the falls! (the water is clean but not deep...but beware of leeches)

The falls are about 12 meters tall, with a small 'waddle pool' at the bottom, but the crashing of water produces one hell of a natural fan breeze. Stay at the bottom too long and you'd freeze. Bottom: We chanced upon several climbers who allowed us to try repelling down the falls.

When we reached the falls, we found a few climbers repelling down the falls. Jennifer was the first one to ask if she could try doing so. Followed by Simon, Mike and Adeline. Though prompted by Francis, I was in no hurry to test my skills at negotiating heights and absailing. For lunch, "sumptous" char siew pows and chicken pows.


After eating, Francis and I decided to let nature's way of providing a soothing message. All anyone had to do was stand below the crashing water... the thumping force was really good on our backs and shoulders, not mentioning I nearly let the water wash my shades away...

The dip was really refreshing and any wariness of leeches and other parasites were clearly distracted from our minds. Whilst the others took their turns to absail down the falls, I spent some time in the water, like a little kid, building my damn with river rocks and carving a perfect triangle from the river stones.

We spent a good plus before heading back to our cars...only to find out that a 'few lucky ones' had become an involuntary blood donor.

As everyone was changing, we heard Adeline sheepishly going... "Asther, I need help!" ...He he he....One of the nasty blood suckers did manage to get one of us after all. Solution, an amber cigarette and oxide spray applied after burning the sucker off. (It's ok la least you gave me a chance to get a live one on film) *grin*.

Actually, I got "bitten"too, on the left foot, between the 2nd & 3rd toes...but looked like the tiny sucker had dropped off before I could take a pic of it. (in fact, I didn't know I got sucked) Simon had got one on his shin too, but that was a tiny sucker (no pics, sorry).

For some reason, I was bushed, even though this trek was child's play. So, we went back to Francis' place where I found my cozy corner in his living room and crashed before dinner...

Later, my observant friends commented on my ability to sleep next to an open balcony with the sun on my face... now you can sleep anywhere.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


This is hilarious!!
Ever wondered how Jack Bauer would be saving the world relying on the early 90's technology?
Click on the poster above for the link to the video clip.

This is a damn funny parody!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Asther's On the Media!!!

Click on the photo to go to Asther's blog

Asther Lau's making her TV debut on TV3 at 7.30pm (+8 GMT) this Sunday,, tune in to see her underwater prowess being featured on that female oriented talk-show, 3R....

Asther's also been featured in a Dove sponsored interview (click here to see)., entitled "Meredah Lautan Biru' Aiyo! (also, check out her video on the website)...So pretty ler... He he...

However, for convenience's sake, I've decided to reproduce the interview below :

...Meredah Lautan Biru...

“Aku sentiasa dikelilingi hidupan laut. Ini kerjayaku,” kata jurulatih skuba, Asther Lau.

Setiap hari Asther Lau menyelam ke dasar lautan, dalam air jernih beralun biru dan hijau, ditemani ribuan hidupan laut dan terumbu karang. Begitulah pekerjaan gadis berusia 29 tahun ini, seorang anak jati Sarawak (dan bakal pengantin baru!).

Bagaimana kamu boleh terlibat dengan sukan skuba?

“Percaya atau tidak, dulu memang saya takutkan air dalam! Semasa saya menuntut di Hawaii, teman-teman asyik bercerita tentan sukan skuba tetapi waktu itu manalah kami ada duit? Maklumlah, student. Universiti saya menawarkan bermacam-macam kursus termasuk yang berkaitan hidupan laut dan sains marin, tetapi kursus yang saya pilih ialah komunikasi korporat! Sekembalinya saya dari Hawaii, seorang teman memperkenalkan saya kepada selaman skuba. Saya begitu berminat hinggakan sanggup bekerja di sebuah pusat skuba di Pulau Tioman. Kerana saya bekerja di situ, mereka melatih saya secara percuma, walaupun sijilnya saya bayar sendiri. Dalam masa sebulan, saya mencapai tahap divemaster. Sekarang saya mempunyai lesen dengan pertubuhan Profesional Association for Diving Instructors (PADI). Saya jalani lagi kursus di Tioman. Kali ini, kursusnya lebih mencabar dan mahal. Hampir RM8,000! Pada fikiran saya, kalau tak lepas, memang rugi. Nasib baik lepas. Selesai kursus di Tioman, saya bekerja di Pulau Redang, Kuala Lumpur, Pulau Layang-Layang, juga Bali dan Phuket. Saya rasa sungguh beruntung.”

Apa yang memuaskan hati kamu dalam kerjaya kamu?

Saya suka apabila anak murid saya bertanya banyak soalan seperti, “Itu ikan apa?” atau “Bagaimana caranya untuk menjaga taman laut?”. Itu yang menjadikan saya lebih berkobar untuk mengajar, dan menyediakan peluang bagi mereka yang berminat.

Bagaimana kamu menghadapi sebarang cabaran?

Atasi cabaran dengan pengetahuan. Kalau ada pengetahuan, tidak gentar menghadapi sebarang masalah, walau dalam sukan skuba mahu pun kehidupan seharian.

Apakah pengalaman yang paling menyeronokkan dalam bidang kerjaya ini?

Saya pernah bertembung dengan sekumpulan ikan jerung jenis hammerhead di Pulau Layang-Layang. Rasanya lebih dari seratus ekor. Setiap seekor panjangnya lebih kurang dua meter, lebih panjang dan lebih besar dari tubuh saya! Saya kagum, dan pada masa yang sama - tenang.

Apakah rancangan anda di masa hadapan?

Erhm...selain ingin menimang anak dalam masa setahun, saya juga ingin melopori bidang skuba berbentuk adventure travel. Oh, lagi satu - saya juga ingin ke Filipina untuk menyelam.

Apa itu erti ‘cantik’ pada fikiran kamu?

Kecantikan itu ada dalaman dan luaran. Bila saya rasa yakin dengan diri sendiri, ketika itulah saya merasa ‘cantik’. Begitu juga dari pandangan mata orang lain. Apabila saya tampil yakin berhadapan dengan mereka, mereka akan melayan saya dengan hormat. Itu saya anggap ‘kecantikan’.

Apakah rutin kecantikan kamu?

Sebagai seorang penyelam skuba, kulit saya sentiasa terendam air masin, berselang-seli dipancar panas terik matahari. Untuk rambut, saya menggunakan penjagaan asas syampu dan perapi. Di rumah, saya menggunakan rawatan masker rambut yang melembapkan. Apabila saya menyelam, saya sapukan krim pelindung rambut. Sekali dalam tiga atau empt bulan, saya ke salon rambut untuk medapatkan rawatan rambut. Pendandan rambut saya juga seorang penyelam skuba jadi dia tahu apa yang rambut saya perlukan. Untuk kulit wajah, saya gunakan pencuci, penyegar dan pelembap pada waktu siang dan malam. Untuk menghindarkan jerawat, saya sapukan krim yang mengandunig aloe vera. Ya, saya pernah menggunakan jenama Dove. Saya suka dengan perapi rambutnya, yang membuat rambut saya begitu lembut sekali. Saya juga sukakan baunya iaitu bersih dan tulin.

Anyway, friends of Asther, do tune in to lend her YOUR support!!!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 6 & 7: Bye bye to Kuching

13.11.2007 & 14.11.2007, Tuesday and Wednesday...

Tuesday: After a tiring trek at Bako, it was a day of rest ...for me, at least. The rest of the group went to Semanggol in the morning to frolic with some orang utans, whilst I took the morning to clear my emails, surf You Tube and catch up on the daily (I thought I'd rather be a couch potato rather than let some simian pull at my hair or worse...)

For lunch, I managed to meet up with Desmond Sahathevan (my counsel attached with Messrs Batternberg & Talma) whom I had been in contact since 2 years back for debt recovery proceedings in East Malaysia. Turns out Desmond was a classmate during my CLP days at Brickfields College. He was one of those noisy indian guys seated behind the class. He sheepishly admitted that he had lost discipline half-way into the course!...*grin*... It was certainly refreshing to put things into perspective for me to put a face to the name...I had dealt with him so many times over the phone, failing to realise who he was...till now...I've now met an old acquaintance incidentally...

By evening, the rest of the group had gone, leaving Mike, Jennifer, Raymond and me. Asther's mum and her well known generosity again indulged us in Kuching food, this time, dinner at the Fook Xing Seafood" restaurant. Once again, Aunty Jenny's hospitality brimmed. Was beginning to feel rather "pai seh". We're simply pampered by her and Asther...Will definitely make it up to them!

Statute of Admiral Zheng He and the Pavillion Memorial...

After dinner, we took a stroll down to Taman Sahabat (Friendship Park).

The Taman Sahabat project situated at Jalan Song Kuching was completed in 2005 and officially opened to public on 18.5.2006 by the YAB Chief Minister of Sarawak. This unique and picturesque park is the product of a close relationship between Kuching City and Kunming City of China. Due to its unique features, it is gaining popularity for the locals as well as tourists. These pavilions were designed, fabricated and constructed and supervised by the Chinese Landscape technicians and artisans.

Amongst the sights, a 20-foot statute of Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433), commonly known also as "Cheng Ho", who started the biggest naval navigation in 1405 (about 300 ships in the fleet), about a century before Christopher Columbus (1451 to 1506) did on the Santa Maria...he had successfully made 23 voyages in his life and was known to be a great seaman, his voyages spanning over 37 countries across the South China Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Africa. (Way to go, mah Chinese forefathers!) If I could only wish these men these gallant men in the old naval tradition:

"May the wind be in your backs" and "May the stars be your guide"

Wednesday: This is it...our final day in Sarawak...early in the morning and already my heart was wrenching...I hate farewells...I was brimming with excitement when we first arrived, in fact, even before I boarded the Airbus which flew us to this vibrant and exciting land...but as they say, "all good things have to come to an end"...

We did lunch at the Kuching Gold Club and the cafe was set against the resplendent scenery of the green ( I think my good friend David Lai wouldn't mind teeing off here)...and as usual, my antics never let up.. this time, Mike Tjoa was at the receiving end...we had a good time making fun of his 'hot-gay-shorts' which he normally wear as casual wear, showing off more than what we would want to see (har har har)...something we had to do something about...too much THIGHS!!! From that day forth, Mike was dubbed the president of the 'HGSC' : Hot-Gay-Shorts Club...*grin

Later, wetook a short drive to town, where I disembarked briefly at the Kuching Courts. For once, I was in Court and NOT in black-and-white. It certainly bears no resemblance to the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex (size wise) but it's nice to be in any Court house...for me, that is...picturing my fellow lawyers dutifully doing their jobs in other states...

Kuching Courts and my less-than-dignified pose!

We rested in Tabuan Stutong, Asther's mum's apartment till we had to leave for dinner at Hui Seng Hawker centre (complete with 'kueh cap', 'white ladies' and 'matterhorns'...find out what they are...he he)
Kueh Cap: Pork 'spare parts' (Yucch!!)

Finally, with a heavy heart, it was off to the Kuching International was a sad, but happy goodbye...(ironic)...we had to be back again...this was one memorable trip I will never forget...

Aunty Jenny, Me and Timothy Lau at the airport.

Goodbye Sarawak! ... for now ...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 4: Sarawal Cultural Village (Part 2)

Continued... (from Part 1...obviously...)
Next up, the Orang Ulu longhouse...The Uluians were famous for their sword-making skills....We were graced by one of the locals playing a sape, pronounced "sa-peh", is a traditional lute of the Orang Ulu community or "upriver people" of central Borneo. It is traditionally used by the Kenyahs, Kayans and Kelabit tribes.

Carved from a bole of white wood which repels insects, the 'Sape' is a masterpiece of woodcarving. The carver, usually a musician, hollows out the body of the sape with similar tools used in boat-building to a length of about over a metre, and approximately 40cm wide.

Left the right: A Orang Ulu playing the 'Sape' and the Ulu girls breaking it down!

Jennifer and Grace producing a semblance of a tune on the Gabbang..

The girls on the other hand were having fun with a 'Gabbang', a traditional xylophone with eight wooden keys. This beautiful instrument, a product of the Kadazandusun community of Kg. Bitoon Nunuk Ragang, Ranau, is carved from pakudita wood. The Gabbang is often part of a musical ensemble played during festivities such as weddings and the Harvest Festival of Sabah. There was also a short dance performance by the Ulu ladies...

Kim, Francis and Asther trying out the 'Bamboo dance' under the Malanau tall house

Later, we proceeded to the Malanau Tall House....literally ! (it stands approx 30 ft off the ground) The Malanaus are known for their Sago harvesting and constitute 5.5% of the population in Sarawak. In fact, their staple food is Sago, in preference to rice. Hmmm...interesting...

Later, we visited the Chinese community, getting educated about pepper grinding...Do you know that black and white pepper comes from the same pepper seeds? Black pepper is when you grind the thing with its skin on and white pepper is made from grinding the pepper seed after it's been removed by soaking it for 14 days in water...Again, another piece of information which I never knew. Next up was the Malay house, but I was already giving up by then...I'm sure there's a show case on how to prepare belacan and stuff...Bo chap already!

Last, but not the least, a 45 minute cultural show at the theatre, show casing a myriad of traditional dances and costumes...

After a good seafood lunch (very late lunch at that!), we all went back for a short rest, only to prepare ourselves to venture to the Riverside, at the banks of the Sarawak River... food stalls, peddlers and the streets were strung with lights...nothing better than to exhaust the rest of the evening and ourselves!!!

The Riverside walk took us a good 45 minutes and terminating at the end, is a refurbished fort, probably left behind by the Portugese many decades ago...or more...on the way back, I spotted a joint with a sign which read "Happy 24 hours!" (in red-neon some more)...which I thought was "one of those places", till I realized it was a local convenience store... He he...I guess the fatique was getting to me...

It was the best sleep I had that nite...although, not much of it, since I stayed up to enjoy every minute I could remain awake, in this quaint and laid-back city...

I love Kuching!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 5: Bako National Park

Left to right: The river boat taking us to the river mouth leading to our trails; there's Bjarte, Marianne, Clarice, Mike Dolan and Kim Choong aboard and on the right, the resplendent backdrop of Gunung Santubong

12.11.2007, Monday...Hiking day! To be precise, the Tajoh falls atthe Bako National Park (click to check out the website). Bako is situated a bout 37km from Kuching (about an hour's drive in regular traffic conditions). After registering our names and paying the requisite fees (thanks to Asther again...), we took to the river boats from Kampong Bako to reach the base camp of our trails, situated at the river mouth facing the South China Sea and somewhere near the boundaries of Gunung Santubong. (According to one version, the mountain was formed when mythical Princess Santubong was speared by her jealous sister, Princess Sejinjang. Falling over, she gave the mountain its distinctive profile, like a pregnant belly. some say you can make out a face, the lady's breasts and her fat hips, frankly, I think these jungle people has had one too many tuak) Back to the issue at hand, there are numerous trails at the park, all colour-coded with different levels of difficulty and distance. We took the trail to the Tajoh falls, about 4 km from base camp.

The Adventurous 10 (from left): Raymond Leong, Bjarte Olsen, Jennifer Lee, Asther Lau, Mike Tjoa, Marianne Bones, ME, Clarice Bones, Mike Dolan, Kim Choong and Francis Tan

Left to right: Our group heading on the boardwalk through the mangrove trees and towards the platform leading to the trails

The start of the path to the trails takes a short stroll along the beach on a boardwalk, through the mangrove trees and up a slight climb to a platform with the sign...what else..."To the trails"... The start of the trail takes an almost 45 degree climb up, till 500m. Yes, there are trail markers showing your progress. At 500m, Francis was out of breath and ready to turn back, but thru sheer motivation and support from Asther, Mike Tjoa and me, we continued. Just after that, there is a rock flatbed, undulated and bizzare formations, probably due to the elements. Francis, Mike and I were in constant radio contact...Mike always 150m in front of us whilst Francis and I played the "sweepers" behind.

The sun was beating on our heads and I sweated buckets! The trail progressed along thru undergrowth and bushes. Finally! We reached the 1km mark! Up to this point, we were all mislead by the signs which read "2.75km" to the falls. Unknown to us, it was 2.75km from the 1km sign! Man... I just kept counting the colour markers along the way...after a while, I couldn't be bothered...only now, I realize how out of shape I am...but we gotta tarry on....

It's amazing with the amounts of energy I was expending, I could think of taking pictures of the trail markers, only to be put off by the distance we had to go..."Are we there yet?"....

Francis was beginning to wonder if we had been duped by the locals...the trail took us again into dense undergrowth and true the woods. This is one of those times I thank myself for getting meself a good pair of hiking boots, waterproof some more...dry feet = comfy! 1.9km!! Another 1.8 km to go...damn....SOMEBODY SHOOT ME!

10 minutes to go!!!

Cutting the story short, I was at the 3.4km marker (and shortly, a signed which read "10 MINUTES TO WATERFALL") when I radio-ed Mike Tjoa (I'd figure he'd reached now), "Mike Tango, Papa Charlie here, how does the waterfall?", to which he answered, "Papa Charlie, I've never seen anything like this!!!". Those words got me going even faster (Mike and I trekked at Sg. Chilling before and the falls were huge!!!) , every minute counted...I was tired, my legs were killing me, my thighs collapsing, my T-shirt drench!!! What's worse, my hiking pole malfunctioned (now, how often that happens! But then again, it cost RM25.00...)....I heard the beautiful sound of water gushing...when I cleared the path, THIS WAS WHAT I SAW! --->

AAARGH!!! I looked at Mike and all I said to him was "You have a SICK sense of humour!" *Grin*... This is it??? In retort, our cheeky friend said "Well, I did say I've never seen anything like this before and I never said it was big!". I will deal with you later, Mike!

Oh well, after a hearty meal of Nasi Lemak, char siu pow and taking a dip (water was cold and nice!!!) and getting a tan, we took off again now, back to where we came from... but the trip back was much as I wanted to complain, the short splash and the rest really refreshed, we made our way back to base camp...and back to Kampong Bako...

I survived!