Batang Kali Waterfalls

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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It did not take long to reach the first waterfall – a fairly modest sized one.

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From here we had to pass through more thick bamboo forest, keeping the river on our left.

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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.

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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.

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Our reward was close by as we eventually reached the second waterfall. It took about an hour of hiking to get there (seemed longer!).

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Here we took a refreshing dip and power shower under the chilly falls.

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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!

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Lata Medang – A waterfall near Kuala Kubu Bharu

Yesterday I went for a hike to Lata Medang, a remote and seldom visited waterfall near Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB).

KKB is a pleasant small town situated on the road to Fraser’s Hill.

Kuala Kubu Bharu

The start of the trail is a few kilometers out of town near the village of Kampung Pertak, just past the Selangor Dam and reservoir. This is Orang Asli country and some of them were displaced when the reservoir was built. The Government built quite a smart looking village for those affected.

Modern resort style cottages for Orang Asli villagers

I was accompanied by two Dutch friends including Jan who is the author of the website Waterfalls of Malaysia. He has been to Lata Medang three times before and knew the way which is just as well because I don’t think I would have found it on my own. The distance walked (there and back) was about 12km and it took 6 hours including time for lunch and a soak at the falls.

The start of the hike passes through old rubber plantations and durian orchards. The durian is in season now and the villagers were harvesting this valuable crop. There are a couple of rickety bridges to negotiate along the way.

One of the metal suspension bridges is no longer suspended!

Considering how few people use the trail it is quite clearly defined but there are a few forks in the path providing ample opportunity to go the wrong way. Jan frequently checked his GPS in order to check we were on the right trail.

One of these forks leads to Bukit Kutu, a 1050m mountain which I would like to climb on a future trip. On the top are the ruins of a sanatorium and residence built as a hill station during British colonial times. Seems odd that anyone would want to build a sanatorium in a place whose name translates as ‘Flea Hill’ but that’s the Brits for you!.

Turn right for Bukit Kutu, left for Lata Medang

We saw no animals on the trek, no snakes either thankfully, just a lot of bugs such as this millipede.

Why are you taking a photo of me?

All three of us were visited by leeches. I managed to flick mine away before they extracted an involuntary blood donation.

The first waterfall we stopped at is called Lubuk Mecu, a lovely spot with clear and refreshingly chilly water. We had a swim and lunch here.

Lubuk Mecu

The area is very clean with no litter. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Lubuk Mecu even has a 'beach'.

Lata Medang is only 200m from here but there is no clear path. You need to scramble through bamboo forest, clamber over rocks and walk in the river to reach it. Here my expensive Timberland boots decided to fall apart (the sole fell off). Fortunately I was carrying  a new pair of kampung adidas, a type of basis Malaysian-made rubber shoe favoured by rural workers and the guides who climb Mt. Kinabalu. They are not very stylish but practical for walking in rivers (and cheap – I paid RM8 for mine).

Jan in the river and my Kampung Adidas (are my legs really that white?).

Finally we made it to Lata Medang which was looking lively after the recent heavy rains.

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If you want to go there, Jan will soon be writing a page on his Waterfalls of Malaysia website with instructions on how to get there.

I took a short video of the falls and my ten year old daughter has posted it on a YouTube channel for me. Here is the link:

Lata Medang