ONE of the perks of working in R.AGE is that we get to travel quite a bit.
We occasionally get sent on overseas assignments where we travel to some of the world’s most iconic cities, stay in nice hotels and meet famous people.
Which is perfect for me, because my idea of a vacation involves two things – going anywhere outside of Malaysia, and having a comfortable, relaxing trip.
I’m not big on the whole “great outdoors” thing. I’d rather not have to work on setting up a tent or starting a fire while on holiday, since the whole idea of a holiday would be to escape work in the first place. I prefer nice cafes, good restaurants, historical sites, theatre, museums … stuff like that.
So when I was assigned to go for the BRATs Year-End Journey last week in Raub and Kuala Lipis, I wasn’t looking forward to it. First of all, it was going to be a camping trip. Secondly, it’s Raub and Kuala Lipis!
For those not in the know, BRATs (Bright, Roving, Annoying Teens) is The Star’s young journalist programme and the R.AGE writers and editors conduct the workshops.
When I got to the Kenong Rimba Park after a bumpy hour-long drive through the rainforests – with Sharmila “Sharm on the Scene” Nair and our editor Ivy Soon for company – I knew I was in trouble.
I was being attacked by mosquitoes and bugs all over, the chalets were falling apart, electricity was only turned on for a few hours after sunset, there was only one decent toilet between the 40 of us and worst of all, my iPhone had no reception!
To compound my misery, a couple of our friendly camp facilitators had a good laugh when I told them I thought our chalets would have towels and toiletries.
So there I was on the first day, having to borrow everything from body shampoo to insect repellent just to feel half decent. The jungle is unforgiving indeed.
But surprisingly, by the time the next day was over, I totally got into the whole jungle thing. We went trekking through the rainforest, visited a couple of bat-infested caves and went through a jungle survival skills challenge.
I had the satisfaction of being the only one to pass the fire-starting challenge!
Now the only fires I’ve started before were for barbecues, so starting that fire was like my Everest. But there was this sense of accomplishment, and even peace, from just sitting by the fire and watching it crackle. I felt like Bear Grylls for a minute.
Even better was the frog hunting bit in the middle of the night. We waded through the river at night, under a beautiful canopy of trees and limestone cave outcrops, looking for some frog legs to go with our porridge. We didn’t manage to catch any, but it was pretty awesome nontheless.
After Kuala Lipis, we spent a couple of nights in Raub town, which I thought would be just as boring as I expected Kuala Lipis to be miserable.
As it turns out, there is some crazy stuff to be done around Raub! There’s an absolutely gorgeous waterfall about an hour away from Raub town called the Lata Berembun waterfall, and the only way to get there is by going off-road on four-wheel-drive trucks.
The experience was exhilarating. We rode at the back of the trucks, which are completely uncovered apart from a couple of safety bars, and went through some really rough terrain – the best part being a heart-stopping river crossing. It really was the adventure of a lifetime, and everyone loved it.
Ianyway, being a KL city boy, it’s hard to imagine that such adventures are actually just a couple hours’ drive away from the capitol. Who knows what else the rest of the country has to offer?
* Do you guys know any other nice, little-known holiday destinations in Malaysia? I think I’m gonna try a few more vacations within Malaysia next year =)