"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharal Nehru

Friday, November 8, 2013

A view unlike any other...

I'm sure most of you would have seen this as my cover picture on FB. A spectacular waterfall that cuts right across a river. However, few will actually know that this place exist in our own backyard. Rather, my backyard!

This natural wonder actually exist in a place known as LUSONG LAKU (LL). Where in the world is that? I tried googling to get a map but even that does not exist. LL is part of the Belaga district of the Kapit division. However, to get there one needs to travel via Bintulu. I do not think logging roads or paths connect this isolated place to Kapit, which is the administrative center of theis division. 

I made the journey there because a health clinic exist there. I believe LL is probably the Health Ministry's most rural/ isolated clinic. If you don't believe it, look at the map I found from our divisional office.

Once a KD, it's now a KK (Klinik Kesihatan)

Basically, LL is located right in the heart of Kapit division. Deep in the center of the Borneo rainforest. Although I think its is possible to get there by river from Belaga, I don't think it is a journey I would want to make. Furthermore, parts of the river has already been impounded for the Murum Dam.

It was possible to fly in via heli through Bintulu or Kapit but it would cost a bomb and would be weather dependent.  So the next best option would be to go by road and boy... what a journey it was!

First, I had to make my way from Bintulu to Sungai Asap. Thank God the clinic driver came to pick me up from the airport. The 3 to 3 1/2 hour journey is a bone-jarring ride. Although there are sealed roads all the way, the roads are now pockmarked by large craters no thanks to the heavy vehicles that ply it daily. Got to Sungai Asap safely, then spent a night with the clinic staff there.

Next morning, we loaded up our stuff in a 4x4 rented by the department.

We even had to carry our own fuel
Beneath the tarpaulin is our luggaged... all secured!

And fueled up on some carbs before making the journey. Nothing to heavy as  I heard the ride was vomit inducing!

Fueling up

Off we went! The road to LL took us through the Murum Dam construction site. There were tons of heavy vehicles along the way. The truck designs were unlike those I've ever seen. No recognizable brands such as TATA or HINO. Was told that the construction companies design and modify their own trucks to withstand the tough conditions they have to go through. Trust me, roads don't even exist in some places!

All lined up

However, was pleasantly surprised to find short stretches of highway-worthy roads.

Reminds me of the PLUS highway near Damansara

Was told that in the future, roads like this will lead all the way to the Dam. Alas, these stretches of proper roads were only present for maybe 5% of the journey. With the heavy vehicles plying this stretch, do not think these roads will hold up for long.

The journey brought us along mountain ridges and down into dense jungle filled valleys.

Sun in my eyes along one of the ridges

It was beautiful, cause there was mist or maybe clouds in the treelines (couldn't differentiate) as the treelines were at the same level of the roads.


Although the view of the virgin rainforest was hypnotizing, I couldn't help but pray as we went along. One minor lapse of judgement by our driver, we would have plunged into the green chasm! I shudder to think what would happen as mounting a search and rescue in such difficult terrain would be more than challenging. The forest is so dense here I doubt that any wreckage would be visible from the air.

At the fork which was to take us to LL, managed to see the inflow of Murum Dam.

These would be a Class 5 or the much debated Class 6
in rafting jargon

Because it had been raining, the water was the colour of 'teh tarik' from your friendly Mamak stall.

A few hours later, the dense jungle gave way to lalang. We then knew we were near...

Behind the lalang is the settlement of Lusong Laku. Settlement cause the only thing it contains is a school, clinic and church. No shops, no markets, not even a community hall or balai raya. Basically, the building with the red roof in the main pic is the school and the blue one is the clinic. Around it are either classrooms or staff quarters. This is one place where concrete buildings do not exist... come to think of it, I did see one or 2 - The OUTHOUSE or JAMBAN!

Wooden open walled church

But what's most spectacular is the LL falls or cascade. During my 2 days there, took evening walks after my clinics to photograph this spectacular wonder.

Amazing right? Never could believe there is a mini Niagara Falls here in Malaysia.

Stay tuned to my next post as it will feature true heroes of this isolated little settlement!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Good reads

Can't believe its only 2 months before 2013 comes to a close. My... how time flies! And what's worst is sometimes you hardly realize the tick-tocking of the clock. Especially if you're busy having fun or occupied at work or with life! Or like me - having fun at work and in all that I do! Hahaha!

Anyway, remember earlier in the year I blogged about my target to read 50 books before the year end? If not, here's a link:
to refresh that cobweb-ed memory!

Sad to say, I don't think I will be able to achieve it. It probably was an overestimated, unachievable target to begin with, but in reality I seriously underestimated the amount of work/ projects/ travelling I would be doing in Song and Sarawak over the past months. That will come in another blog post...I promise. So I decided to cut that total down by half to 25. Reading material that excludes my catch-up issues of Asian Geographic and various academic reading. Will give myself a pat on the back if I achieve the target, if not I guess I will just have to carry it forward to 2014. At the moment, that means another 3 or so books in the next 2 months. Me thinks its manageable!

So here's a low down of the books I read so far and reviews of some I particularly enjoyed. 

1. Think Big - Ben Carson 
2. Water for elephants - Sarah Gruen
3. The monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma
4. The night circus - Erin Morgenstern

This was an e-book I downloaded into my Ipad. Pretty good as a debut for Morgenstern. Basically a fantasy duel against 2 magicians who are employed in a mysterious circus which only opens its gates at night. Unbeknownst to each other, the magical duel is fought with each magician trying to out-do the other with conjurings such as an origami menagerie, a floating house of cards and a winter wonderland! Somewhere down the line, they fall in love but the duel to the death has to go on. I would love for this book to be translated into big screen. 
(Just googled it and found out my wishes might just come true in 2014, so am waiting with bated breath for its release) 

5. Who moved my cheese? - Spencer Johnson
6. What the dog saw - Malcolm Gladwell
7. Micro - Michael Crichton & Richard Preston

Must declare I have always been a fan of  Michael Crichton and this might have biased my review about the book. When I discovered Crichton passed away, I was devastated at the lost of a great author. I have enjoyed every single book he wrote, except for Pirate Latitudes and must say Micro did not disappoint either. Basically a ramped up, more suspenseful version of "Honey, I shrunk the kids" with some industrial espionage thrown in. Loved the detailed but not overwhelming physiological and anatomical description of the 'Mega' bugs, since the humans have been shrunk to micro level. This was definitely a page turner and forsee that it will eventually land up on the big screen too.

8. Multiplying light & truth - Stan Rowland
9. The hippie guide to climbing the corporate ladder & other mountains - Skip Yowell

What attracted me to the book was its cover and catchy title. Plus the fact it was only at a fraction of its price at the Popular sale. Clearly not your usual management guru style book but an interesting combination of Skip's go-getter if not hippie experience to bring JanSport where it is today. I like that he has very people-oriented company principles. The main 4 are:

  • We'll succeed because we will work the hardest
  • We value and appreciate each person
  • We believe there's more to life than a day's work
  • We'll make fun a part of everything we do

How I wish I had an employer like him! This book also details how he made a radical idea a reality and literally how to conquer mountains - both physical and figuratively. The pretty interesting pictures were another plus point!

10. Salmon fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday 
11. Beatrice & Virgil - Yann Martell (thought this book was just plain weird)
12. Empress Orchid - Anchee Min
13. Across many mountains - Yangzom Brauen

Another stunning read that features mountains - this time in Tibet. It chronicles 3 generations of Tibetian women who face various challenges of their time. But in adversity there are opportunities. Also provides an introduction to the various oh-so-mystical Tibetian cultures and life in some of the most challenging and remote areas on this planet.

14. The world of Suzie Wong - Richard Mason

This book is a must-read classic. 'Nuff said.

15. The perfect match - Kevin Leman
16. Like a flowing river - Paulo Coelho
17. The witch of Portabello - Paulo Coelho
18. Brida - Paulo Coelho (these last 2 by PC are not one of my favourites works by the author - abit too new-agey for my liking)
19. Catching the sun - Tony Parson
20. When I was a kid 1- Boey 
21. When I was a kid 2 - Boey

Yup, that's me with Boey, the Sharpie maverick!

Shiowch gifted me his first book as a birthday pressie and I so happened to be in Kinokuniya during the launch of his second. Because he's of the same generation, could relate to many of his stories, especially the one about going blind if you accidentally rub the powder off a moth's wing into your eye! Incidentally, the parents thought this book was funny 'cept mum who thought the second had to much #@&*^%!

22. Vanishing acts - Jodi Piccolt

Also read through various issues and segments of the Lonely Planet to do pre-trip planning but this does not count towards my book list. In fact got featured in The Star in a spread about the Lonely Planet.

As close as I'll ever be to becoming a
front page model!

As you can see, I tend to max out my book and magazine tax rebates every year (Thank God for those rebates!). At the moment, these are the books that are by my bedstand. Ya, I tend to read a couple of books at a time as to not get bored with the plot of the story. Sometimes you just want a change.

So, whats on your reading list this year?