“Shall we go to Pangkor or Cameron?” We could not decide as we had an event coming up. Pangkor Island option looked more fun as we have not been to a beach for a while. It seemed to be the preferred choice, but then…
Fathi started reading the description on the Lonely Planet guide book about… this incredible moss forest in Cameron Highlands that has a “Hobbit like walk through the moss jungle… only 3 hours walk…”. Mari has been a big fan of Tolkien’s books for ages and the second part of Hobbit movie was about to come out in cinemas in days, it sounded like something we should not miss, so, we decided to stretch, get creative and go and visit both places. Little did we knew, we were about to remember this decision for a very long time and it would be one of the biggest lessons for our internet marketing business ever.
We arrived at Cameron Highlands around 7 pm. After driving up pretty steep hills and a curvy mountain roads, we finally arrived. The mountain air felt a bit chilly so I asked, “What’s the temperature? It’s pretty cold here.” Fathi looked it up on the dashboard of the car and said “25C…”. That was probably a statement that a Polish man has never pronounced in similar temperature, ever…
After a good sleep, we woke up in the late morning, had Malaysian breakfast and feeling excited we set off to explore and discover Hobbit like moss jungle walk, it was around 11 am. To get there we took a picturesque path leading along a river. After around 10 min walk we reached a house built next to a waterfall. Then we continued through the jungle till we came out at a foothill of a small village. Seeing guys with chainsaws cutting wooden logs, I could not resist but to convince one of them to let me give it a go… I know… it’s me…
It was just past midday, the entrance to the jungle has justified the claims. Right from the beginning, we could see various exotic plants, strange shaped trees, that could be easily found in the Tolkien’s books. The moss was growing all over, there were massive trees with strangely shaped roots and branches covered with moss. The deeper we went in, the more we could hear the sounds of crickets and various jungle inhabitants. There was one particular flying bug that seems to travel with us and it was making really loud sounds, we called it “The Drone”. We also saw a fly eater plant shaped like a vase, it was half filled with digestive smelly juices attracting mosquitoes and it had a leaf ready to cover it up once a fly got inside. Fascinating…
Then, we reached to a point in the jungle where all the ground was covered with tiny roots. When we jumped on it, it bounced us up like a trampoline. Fun…
We continued following the path that led down to a deep valley. The path became steep, and uneasy to walk on as it was frequently washed away by the tropical rains. We needed to hold on to branches and roots that were sticking out to avoid falling down and slipping. There were some bigger surprises ahead…
At the bottom of the valley, we found a tiny stream with two butterflies chasing each other in circles as if they wanted to tell us something important… The deeper we were walking in, the more jungle noises we could hear. It was already past 2 pm, we only started climbing up the Gunung Brinchang - the highest mountain in Cameron Highlands 2,032 m (6,667 ft). Going up the path was pretty hard as again it got strongly washed by the frequent rains. It wasn’t trekking anymore, it became proper climbing. Again we needed to use roots and branches as handles to go up, it was steep. We reached the summit after around 2-3 hours of climbing, it was already past 4 pm, we were pretty exhausted but happy.
We felt relieved as we thought we conquered the hardest part. It seemed that what was left was just an easy stroll down the hill. However, because two of us had some walking problems we decided to take a longer route that was less steep. It all started pretty well, nice and comfortable walk, easy for the knees. Nevertheless, it soon turned into a path with frequent and steep descending and ascending. After about an hour of walking, our 4 people group split into two groups, because of the difference in speed. It was already past 5.30 pm, there was gradually less and less light and the jungle noises were slowly intensifying.
We could hear the sounds of the city on the right hand side, it gave us hope and created an illusion that we were pretty close by. The path continued going up and down several times. At around 7.00 pm there was pretty much no light left for us to see as the bushy crown of the tree has sealed us from the remainings of the day light. The night was starting and the jungle symphony officially begun. It was both exciting and scary. There was everything there: whistling, tweeting, chirping, howling, creaking, groaning, hissing, growling and more. The jungle was waking up to the night, the feeding time… All the stories the locals had told us about the strange things in the jungle started flashing in our minds. My phone battery went flat, we had only Mari’s phone left with the remainings of the battery and we were already out of water.
Then we reached to a point where the road forked, left and right, we did not know which way to go and there was no sign posting. It was really dark. We decided to go to the right as from the far distance we could still hear the noises coming from the town. But we were wrong, it was a wrong turn.
The deeper we went in, the path became more and more overgrown leaving us little space to walk through, It was already past 7.30 pm, it was pitch black, the jungle was singing and dancing at the full swing, it was loud. It felt like the inhabitants were informing each other that dinner is about to be served.
Malaysia has about 210 mammal species, wild boars, monkeys, giant rats. Thousands of insect species. 250 reptile species with about 150 species of snakes and 80 species of lizards… The concert was on, we did not know if we were part of the audience or we were about to become part of the performance…
Suddenly the path became very steep, since we could not see anything and our legs were exhausted, we decided to slide on our bums to avoid tripping. We were sliding through the strongly overgrown path. I was wearing shorts, so my legs started bleeding after being scratched by some thorny plants that I could not even see. I was praying that I do not get infected or bitten by any animal around. At around 8.00 pm we reached a place where there was a sudden drop around 2 meters down right into a small water stream. I went first just to check it out and asked Mari to wait just in case we needed to go back. I crossed over the stream, climbed up the bank and found a path, I felt relieved.
However, I went deeper in and suddenly the path ended. I could not see anything, everything was black, so I was nervously touching with my legs and arms but that was the end, there was no path. At that point I felt that we were about to spend the night right in the jungle. And to make it worse, the river side is a place where all animals come to crunch their thirst at night… That sounded like a really bad idea but we were exhausted from the walk, dehydrated after around 9h of climbing up and down. Having no options left, I shouted to see if our friends could hear us. No answer, not even an echo returning my voice. I shouted again, no answer. The jungle music paused for a moment and then continued.
We got a whatsapp message back from Aru and Fathi, they went the same way. They told us that in the stream, there is a plastic pipe and that we should follow it. We stepped in to the water, found the pipe with our hands and started following it down the stream. Our shoes were wet, clothes were really dirty but we walked on, we did not care. We reached a point where the river turned right, so did the pipe. From that point the stream was covered with rocks and concrete blocks so we decided to slide on our bums in the river, to avoid twisting our ankles. We continued on, and then after a while, we heard voices of Aru and Fathi from far. Five min later we could see the light from their phone, they were waving from a distance! Our hearts started beating faster with excitement.
We slept long that night, when we woke up, had plenty of food and then we traveled to Pangkor with our sore muscles. We could not wait to dip our feet in the warm sand and dive into the warm sea. On the way in the car we had an interesting conversation about recession. Many of the banks and big financial institutions got bailed out by the governments. Was it good or was it bad? Or could they miss the biggest opportunity to grow?
While in the jungle, we knew that if we made a phone call to the police and asked for help, we would not get rescued, we would not get bailed out. Even though two of us had some problems with walking, after 9.5 hours of climbing we were exhausted, dehydrated but we had no choice, we needed to become resourceful and reach for places inside us that we did not know they existed.
It’s interesting to realise that: when you face it and embrace that no one will help you, you just need to step up and find strength that you did not know was available. That’s a life and business lesson I will remember for long time.
Leave some comments below, share your experiences when you reached for resources that you did not know existed.
To your success,
» Marcin Marczak has written 137 posts