03-Jan-2008 -- This is the first out of 7 confluences that we visited or attempted on our trip through South East Asia. Despite my eagerness to reach these confluence points we can only claim two new complete visits. The main obstacle is the dense vegetation – in particular the secondary forest with less giant trees than primary jungle but therefore overgrown with a lot of scrub.
Coming from Europe we flew into Kuala Lumpur. From Johor in West Malaysia we took a flight to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah Province on Borneo Island. Kota Kinabalu is due 110km north of the confluence point. In order to get to the town Tenom, which is located 15 km from this confluence, you have two main options: a spectacular 3.5h bus ride over 2000m high mountain passes or taking a cute old railway through deep canyons (even more spectacular, ca. 9 h). We choose the bus and opt to take the train on our way back.
After our arrival in Tenom, we discussed the means of transportation. With 15km beeline to the CP, we could of course hire a taxi. But my experience shows that a lot of hassles come along with taxies: explaining where you want to go, bargaining, time pressure because the taxi driver is waiting, etc…
Much more fun would be to rent bicycles. So we found ourselves in the only bicycle shop in town. Unfortunately, there was not much willingness to let us rent a bike. But I was determined to pedal to the point and asked around. Finally, a Chinese storekeeper told us, that the Orchid Hotel sometimes rents bicycles. We went there, but found two bikes, that had obviously not been ridden for many years. Well, better then nothing. After servicing the bikes (picture #7) which cost us a valuable hour of daylight, we started peddling around 2pm.
On our first hill, having ridden for not even 3km, my left pedal broke off. End of the trip? – no! I found out, that I still can proceed with one pedal and the tiny remaining part on the broken side. On a steep hill however, I had to push the bike. Without a good map at hand, decisions had to be made spontaneously at each intersection. After riding on nice surface roads for 19km southwards along the Padas River, the GPS pointed us to the east. We had to leave the valley (in the village Batu Batu with another 6km to go). A very steep jungle track (picture #2) helped us to approach the point up to 3.6 km. More and more it became obvious, that this track has not been used at all due to the overgrowth (picture #4).
Following this bad surface steep up- and down track took a lot of time. Anyway, we had to leave the track – because the GPS recommended doing so if we would like to further approach the point.
However, our attempt to hike to the point had to be abandoned due to the vegetation being to dense and the time constraints to get out of the forest again during the daylight hours.
Later, being able to study better maps, I found that this CP is better approached from the north. The general area is populated and cultivated so it is likely that a footpath may lead quite close to the confluence.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 16:10 pm
- biking time: 2 hours (from Tenom)
- total biking distance: 48 km (round-trip)
- Distance to a road: 6 km
- Distance to a track: 4 km
- Distance to houses: 5 km
- Topography: mountainous, steep terrain.
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 3.6 km
- Position accuracy at the CP: 12 m
- GPS height: 509 m
- Vegetation: Dense secondary forest.
- Weather: cloudy, 28° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the remote Banjaran mountains in the north-central part of Borneo.
- Given Name: The Broken Pedal Confluence
Story continues at 5N 115E.