written by Caroline
Jan is an avid naturalist, scientist, teacher, blogger, and most of all – a waterfall-wallah. A close friend of my mum’s, he shares my mother’s love for the rugged, vine-ridden jungles of Malaysia along with the wildlife that thrives within. His main love is, obviously, waterfalls.
A dinner ago, Dave and I were excited when Jan proposed a trek to Kanching Waterfall, which is one of the popular tourist destinations in Kuala Lumpur. The waterfall consists of seven tiers, with the lower three transformed into more man-made pools for families, or people less inclined to do a moderate trek up to the higher tiers. Jan, being the experienced waterfall guide, suggested we trek up to the sixth tier but warned us of a fairly steep hike. Dave and I were quite happy to brace ourselves for the challenge.
As we hiked our way up, we came across a warning tape tied across the stairs that led towards the higher tiers. We aren’t sure why the entrance had been taped across, but Jan thinks that the entrance may eventually be closed off to visitors. Jan, having been to Kanching a countless number of times, shrugged his shoulders and we clambered over the tape and headed our way up. Concrete stairs turned into faint dirt paths, and the multitudes of mosquitoes started to disappear as the forest closed in on us.
It was pretty evident of the number of people who visited these upper tiers by the amount of rubbish that was scattered around the forest. Plastic in all shapes and sizes, as well as crushed styrofoam plates and boxes were embedded into the ground with leaf litter. Despite the rubbish, the waterfall still stood in its splendour, and we continued upwards towards the sixth tier. The dirt path turned to steep rocks and winding tree roots which we slowly made our way through, and it took us about an hour before we reached our destination.
The sixth tier gushed into a waist-deep natural pool, covered by a lush canopy of trees and the water was cold and refreshing as the three of us dipped in. We were the only ones around apart from a few leeches that managed to latch on to us. Also, the higher we climbed, the more insects we found which included a mass of ladybirds, as well as mayflies which I used to study in university in New Zealand! I beamed as I found two mayfly larvae that had accidentally crawled on my leg and as an adult mayfly flitted past me to rest in a thick vertical bed of waterfall mist-drenched lichen.
Jan had thoughtfully brought his cooking kit to heat up some water from the waterfall to make coffee and Milo. As we sipped our hot drinks, Jan piped up, “So have you guys heard of geocaching?” We shook our heads.
Geocaching (which is better described on Jan’s blog), is a hide-and-seek recreational activity using GPS coordinates or navigational techniques. You place a “treasure item” in a secret location, and then let people know of its whereabouts with GPS coordinates. Once found, you can take the item but this has to be replaced with another upon discovery.
Jan had placed a geocached item close to where we were by the waterfall and he pointed out the item that had been sitting in this location for ten years. So if you want to find out where this item is, you’ll just have to visit Kanching waterfall.
After a nice dip in the waterfall, we slowly made our way down and headed our way back to Jan’s place to eat a satisfying lunch of curry noodles laden with thick slices of crispy pork and zinging with a squeeze of lime. Was it worth the hike? Definitely, and we must thank Jan, the godfather of waterfalls, for that. 🙂