N5E103 is easily accessible. Even with a normal car one can drive as close as about 100m. It is located in an area where the jungle had been cleared some years ago and young underground, now about 10 feet high, has taken control of the area again. It is not high and dense enough to obscure the GPS satellite reception, giving a 3D EPE of 4 to 6m. The confluence is located at the edge of a small clearing, about 30 feet wide, at an GPS altitude of 52m, gently rising towards West.
When scanning the unexplored confluences in Malaysia to find one which gives a chance to get there, I noticed that according to the map N5E103 should be less than a kilometer from the nearest road. This is something one could do even in jungle area, however you never know as you can read from other jungle tours.
Our holiday trip to Malaysia’s beautiful East Coast was a good opportunity to try to explore our first confluence. The map was clear: Take route 14 from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu, turn West at Ajil (N5.0819E103.0823), at Kuala Berang (N5.0729E103.0260) turn south following the signposts to Air Termun Sekayu (Sekayu Waterfall). We then just followed our GPS and like a miracle, always when it strongly suggested to turn left, there was road to follow. When the GPS indicated that “our” confluence was no more than a kilometer to the left, a narrow tarmac path with a sign “Masjid 500m” (Mosque 500m) led in our direction. It was Friday and just prayer time, so we would meet a lot of people there. We followed the road for about 200m till finally the GPS suggested to continue on foot (see GPS track point (1)). There was no fence or populated area around, which made it a good starting point. We backed our Proton off the road into the low forest, changed our outfit form beach to jungle wear and put on ample sun oil and mosquito repellent.
We started off into a low forest, which was crisscrossed by many tracks from roaming cattle. The GPS said that our confluence is located a distance of 660m at a bearing of 22 degree and there was always a track to follow. But after 100m we ended at a steeply sloped steam, which blocked our way. Try somewhere else? We decided to find a way to cross it. About 50m upstream we noticed a ford which was used by the cattle to cross (2). The ground was very muddy and soft and we sank to our calves into the mud. This was the adventure part of the quest.
After another 100m we came to an oil palm estate, had to cross some cattle fences, but it was all fairly easy terrain with good GPS coverage. 200m before the aim we had a fairly steep slope ahead of us, about 20m high (3). It was a good idea to move around it to the East, because on this side we found a comfortable track, which led directly the direction the GPS pointed and brought us to a nice gravel road (4). I have to admit that after fighting out ways through the bush we found it frustrating that we could have also have come here by car. We followed the road for about 50m, till the GPS indicated that the confluence is less than 100m off to the north and headed uphill into the scrub.
The undergrowth was thick and scratchy, but the canopy not high and dense, so that our GPS continued tracking and it was easy to locate the confluence. It turned out to be just in a small clearing, giving the reception of 6 out of 10 available satellites (5). So I had the ambition to really zero it. Not easy, because of the GPS inaccuracy the point is wobbling around. But finally I was able to mark a point at
N4.9999970 E103.0000019 22-APR-05 06:45 (UTC)
We did the required confluence documentation and some pleasure photos. The photos of the confluence are not very meaningful, they might be taken in any scrubby area. But I guess that also the photos taken in four direction from the north pole will be equally meaningless.
On our way back to the gravel road we did quite a detour, as GPS track shows. We had to learn that it is better to use the compass than the GPS if you want to follow a certain direction. We then followed the gravel road (6) to find out where it is leading to. We could cross the stream now on a decent wooden bridge and ended up at the main road (7) just 500m away from our car.
So if anybody does not know what to do on a boring Sunday afternoon, why not visiting confluence N5E103? Follow the road as described above. At N4.9972E102.9940 turn left into the gravel road and cross the bridge after 100m. Continue to N4.99915E103.00008, park your car and have a nice stroll to the confluence. Avoid high healed shoes.
After the walk, which will leave you soaked in sweat, you can chill down at Sekayu Waterfall, just 20 min away or do as we did, take a one hour drive to Marang and relax in the warm water of the South Chinese Sea.