I visited Batang Kali the other day and met up with my expert ‘waterfalling’ friends.
Batang Kali is the name given to a small town and its surrounding district in north-eastern Selangor state.
The town is best known for an infamous event which occurred there in December 1948. The Malayan Emergency was still only 6months old and the Government was struggling to devise effective counter-measures to combat the murders and attacks by Communist terrorists.
A patrol of 14 Scots Guards rounded up a group of Chinese rubber plantation labourers who were thought to include Communist sympathisers. It was claimed that they tried to escape and, after ignoring challenges from the soldiers, 24 of them were shot dead.
Newspapers at the time hailed this as a major success for the security forces but evidence subsequently came to light which suggested that these unarmed villagers may not have been trying to escape and were actually gunned down in cold blood. A commission of enquiry exonerated the army of any blame but suspicions remained that the affair, now known as the Batang Kali massacre, was hushed up by the Government.
The controversy still lingers and just last month, solicitors acting for relatives of the victims received some hitherto classified papers from the British Government which might support the relatives’ demands for an explanation, an apology and compensation.
Those events were many years ago and Batang Kali has long since returned to its normal state of sleepy anonymity.
There are many rivers flowing through the Batang Kali district and a number of them have waterfalls. The trail to the waterfall we were looking for starts somewhere near the Hulu Tamu Hot Springs. After driving along narrow potholed roads with numerous forks and junctions we arrived at the above spot where we left our vehicles.
I usually like to keep my boots and socks dry for as long as possible when taking these walks but here we had to wade across a knee deep river as soon as we got out of the cars.
Very soon we were hiking through a very pleasant orchard of pulasan, langsat and durian trees with the Titiwangsa mountain range (near Genting Highlands) in the background. One of our group was an Orang Asli, a skilled guide who did the whole trek in bare feet. He picked a couple of ripe pulasan fruits for us to try. They taste somewhere between a rambutan and a lychee.
Before long we had to cross another river where we arrived at the Pahlawan Eco Resort. This place describes itself as an Adventure Training Centre and its facilities seem to comprise a few chalets/huts, outbuildings and a campsite. A quiet place for a getaway?
From here on the trail became more overgrown and indistinct. Fortunately one of our party had been here before and had the route marked on his GPS.
It did not take long to reach the first waterfall – a fairly modest sized one.
From here we had to pass through more thick bamboo forest, keeping the river on our left.
Then we climbed up the river bed itself, scrambling over fallen logs, carefully negotiating very slippery rocks, trying to avoid spider webs and keeping an eye out for potential nasties lurking in the dense undergrowth. All this with steamed-up specs and dripping with sweat. I have to say I did not enjoy this segment of our trek very much.
There were a lot of leeches too. I counted 4 on my legs which I managed to flick away before they drew blood.
We passed an Orang Asli hut which seemed in use but nobody was home apart from a dog and her puppy.
Our reward was close by as we eventually reached the second waterfall. It took about an hour of hiking to get there (seemed longer!).
Here we took a refreshing dip and power shower under the chilly falls.
We rested here and ate our packed meals before heading back. The dogs joined us for lunch and seemed grateful for our leftovers though they didn’t like the rice much – too spicy perhaps!