Jungle Camping Trip In The Wet Monsoon Season Part II (Final)

( Continuing from Part I )

Second Day In The Jungle Camp

Waking up to the sound of a gentler stream flow, we saw that last night's muddy and aggressive jungle stream was already mellowed according to prediction. Thoroughly rested after a good night's sleep, both of us awoke fresh from our camp-beds. Swiftly, the night campfire was re-lit as cooking fire.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Pancake Breakfast
Breakfast of champs - Pancake and Coffee.
After some suspenseful paper-rock-scissor rounds, I, as the ultimate winner decided that the breakfast should be coffee and pancake. With that, breakfast was soon served. But unfortunately the food we partook also obeyed universal the law of directional physics - what goes in must go out.

The Jungle Toilet

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Jungle Toilet
A simple jungle toilet. All the bin liner used  were taken out with us later.
With great urgency, a jungle toilet was hastily erected. Several minutes later, with the toilet finished and occupied the same instant, one could still hear the laughter from our campsite, joking on the nature of this emergency. Honestly, we both clumsily forgot to build this simple jungle toilet the day before.

The Weather
However, the morning felt very uncharacteristic - unlike a wet monsoon November morning as we used to remember. Tens of years ago, the mornings at this time of the year would normally be drizzling with chilly rain. I figured this must be one of the strange weather effects by the global warming phenomenon.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Jungle Camp in The Morning
The camp in the morning..
The Activities
After breakfast, we left some water slowly boiling at the camp and set out for our activities separately near the camp. The whole morning was filled with leisurely activities like river trekking, swimming, nature photography and fishing. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful during our fishing trip. Only a few very small fishes were interested on our bait. This is normal as fishes in this kind of jungle stream tends to feed only during early morning or evening time. After all, the stream was too shallow to allow for larger fishes that will feed at any time.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Nature Photography Pics
One of my Nature Photography pics. Not awesome, but ITS MINE ~ HAHA!
After lunch, the weather seemed a little bit more cloudy compared to the morning but still no sign of  any rain. So we collected some firewood, stacked it at our camp and I continued my river trekking. My partner stayed behind at the camp getting busy with other things of interest. All the while, I was a doing some work - taking notes on plants, vines, snapping pictures for JungleJournals.com and taking some time to enjoy myself in the jungle.

When I got bored of doing technical stuff and felt exhausted from my work, I took a pause and drifted away to see the beauty of nature and simply relaxed under the canopy of the stream. A few minutes later, I'd continue my work happily. Evening soon arrived and it was time to return to camp to prepare for the night. Though the weather was very pleasant and I enjoyed the activities very much, I began to wonder if I'd get my chance to photograph some activity done in wet monsoon jungle camping.

The "Tiny" Jungle Problem
On the way back to camp, I had a short bath at the river to clean up the trekking dirt before putting on my dry kit. Upon my return to the camp, I found my usually unflappable camping partner was curiously busy yapping around, scratching and moving the firewood stacked under our camp-beds all at the same time. The amused me, after being thrown a stick or two started helping and I immediately saw the problem - it was US, providing a habitat for some Semut Gatal or Tropical Fireant also known as Solenopsis Geminata - any myrmecologist or entomologist please enlighten this humble idiot if I'm wrong. We both forgot to heed one of the shiniest golden rule of Jungle Camping 101 - Don't keep anything lying on the ground! This is one of the reasons why we do not use a tent in the jungle.

The ants were already swarming under the camp-beds, complete with their version of miniature highways and road network. Looking at their incredible progress, I was surprised they didn't build a mini KLCC under my camp-bed. It seemed they moved their whole kingdom into our border and tried to conquer our campsite - all in a single night.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ The Ant Problem
Sorry ants, we have to give you an eviction without notice. Please relocate yourselves as soon as possible. Thank you.
I mentioned that the problem was US, not the ants. This statement is true 99% of the time when any animal-human conflict for space happens in one way or another. In our case, we were very careless by stacking the firewood bundle under our camp-beds and the ants were simply following their survival instinct - trying to look for the driest place under the cover of dead woods to build a nest in the monsoon season. Of course, the dry ground below our comfortable flysheet plus with some firewood stack for cover was considered an open invitation for these wonderful and diligent creatures.

Solution was simple enough for this case, we simply removed the woods and repositioned them upright leaning to the flysheet pillars. Without the firewood or anything lying on the ground providing cover, the ants had no choice but to reestablish their utopia kingdom somewhere else. Though I pity the ants, there was nothing more irritable than having to scratch your feet every minute. So away they go. As I sit comfortably in my home now, I am waiting for court summons from the ants for the unlawful eviction without notice we executed (just joking la~).

The Last night In The Jungle.
The weather was definitely weird. All over the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia were ridden with flash floods and heavy rain but at our campsite, the sky over our campsite betrayed no sign of opening up. Hardly a drop fell on our flysheet for the whole second day. In a way, it was kind of a put off for me because I originally planned to show to my readers at JungleJournals.com about how successfully one may camp in the jungle even during wet monsoon season.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ The Night Campfire
The night campfire burned away safely while drying our socks and boots for the next day's trek.
Nonetheless, we both truly enjoyed this camping trip. During the day, I managed to collect much materials for my blog, sharpen my skills and practice some bushcrafting. That night, we both sat and chatted about our activities and summarized on how we can improve our trip next time around.

After writing some notes, taking more pictures, checking my bearing and pace table that I took for trail mapping during the inbound trek, I lie down to relax and savor the final blissful night on the camping trip quietly. Leaving the night campfire burning low for our safety, we tucked in our camp-beds and trekked away deeper into an unvisited jungle in our dreams.

Striking Our Jungle Camp

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Cleaning Campsite
Squeaky clean campsite. I didn't bother to sweep back the dry leaves to cover our tracks. In the tropical jungle, you just give it a day and it will be full again with newly shed dry leaves.
Late morning, after a late breakfast and even later lunch, we packed all our camping gears and struck camp. With an intention to show off our 'good camping habits', we cleaned the campsite from all rubbish and packed them together with our own. Afterwards, we leaned the woods and bamboos that we used to a nearby tree, so they can be used by other needful campers without harvesting more wood. At minimum, they can be used as dry firewood if weeks passed by without any camper visiting.

Trekking Out From The Jungle Campsite.
After a last look around our campsite  to make sure the fire was thoroughly doused and properly fill the toilet hole (very rude surprise to the next camper if forgotten), we began trekking out.

I took back-bearings from the dead reckoning notes and table taken during the inbound trek two days earlier. This helped to satisfy me that the bearing and pacing table was correct and later it can be used to draw an accurate trekking trail on my topo map.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Dead Reckoning
"Recommending to alter course to two-oh-seven degrees, Sir!"
 
Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Hill Trekking
Hinsz! Hinsz! Uphill ho! Half dead climbing up the bamboo grove.
The trek to this campsite is pretty well established and quite straightforward. Myriad of tyre tracks showed that this trail was also well travelled by motorcyclist - most probably rubber tappers and orang asal. There were very few trail branching out from the main trail.With the combination of those trail characteristics, I can imagine that an accurate trail map that I was trying to make is not particularly useful to anyone.

But I still decided to finish mapping it anyway because practicing the jungle trail mapping, jungle compass marching and jungle dead reckoning are easily forgotten navigation skill sets. Leave it out of your head for a few trips and soon you'll find yourself scratching your head to remember a skill set you once mastered. Many of my fellow ex-serviceman who were considered experts with compass and map can no longer remember the skill after only two or three years leaving the service. So I decided, if I wish to pass this skill to my children, I better keep it fresh and to do that, the skill must be practiced often. Furthermore, a guide skilled with map and compass is few and far between in Malaysia. Some of them don't even know how to read a map or orient a compass.
Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ Clear Jungle Trail
Clear trail on the hilltop. Obviously well traveled.
Sadly, during our trek we hardly encounter any of the usual fauna. Birds, Beetles, Frogs, Squirrels and other small animals with the exception of the murderous looking Pit Viper, were nowhere to be seen. Maybe they were hunted to extinction in this patch of jungle or maybe they were migrating to where the snows are falling to escape the rain and heat.

However, leeches and mosquitoes are plentiful by the buckets on the trail, with some them racing at their top speed to catch and suck my blood to death. Miraculously, some of the leeches were successful on chasing me but to their disappointment, I was no easy meal. My boots, trousers and all exposed skin were covered with mosquito repellent cream that was also very effective to deter leeches.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ The Abandoned Jungle Hut
No wonder they abandoned this bungalow. Getting a CF should be impossible this close to a ravine.
When we passed the Abandoned Bungalow landmark, I honored my promise to stop by and admire it's architecture and engineering. To my surprise, even though the 'bungalow' was built using nature materials, it's architecture are no more orang asal's than the Kuala Lumpur Tower.

I recognized that most orang asal's jungle hut will never be built using wood exclusively. Orang asal mostly uses bamboos to engineer their hut and have some unique architecture depending on the tribe and uses. This hut is simply a normal jungle hut built using jungle woods and nails- not an orang asal's epitome of engineering and architecture of jungle shelter building. With nothing that interesting to observe, we moved on.

Monsoon Jungle Camping Log ~ The Last Leg Trekking Out
Water level was much lower compared to the day we trekked into the jungle.
An hour and fifteen minutes of trekking on the jungle trail, both of us emerged safely to find the swelling lake was already receding slowly. Even in wet monsoon season, we camped totally dry during the two night's stay with exception to our first day. No wonder Kuala Lumpur is having water crises.

Upon arrival at the resort where I parked my car, Kak Uza, the friendly resort handler that took the responsibility to our car greeted us with relief. She seemed so glad we were not eaten alive by leeches of sucked dry by mosquitoes. Honestly, leeches and mosquitoes did not bother us much, as long as our mosquito repellent is available. During the chat, we can clearly see that Kak uza clearly was a jungle person herself. After chatting around there and exchanging phone numbers with Kak Uza, we headed home with much satisfaction and promised to return to this campsite when we have the time.

Conclusion of Monsoon Jungle Camping
After the camping trip, I began to do a post mortem and try to see things in a skeptical way. There were some things I would do differently next time I camp e.g; the firewood stacking that caused ant problem and forgetting to build a jungle toilet before its needed. it was all just part of a jungle camping trip. There is always some old knowledge to refresh and new skills to learn.

But after all the trips I made including this one, I still maintain my opinion that no matter how a monsoon rain season acts - dryer or wetter, camping in the jungle will always be the same. Even in the dry season we'd always expect a daily dose of rain in the jungle. So rain is never a problem.

Of course, secondary problems resulting from the rain like muddy river, flooding, landslides, and inability to use electronics much outside the dry area do exist but if proper care are taken, so little is affected. And that does not take away the quality of jungle camping at all for me. I was still able to light firewood, stayed comfortably dry when I wanted to, go out to learn and practice skills and do most things a summer camper could do.

In the end, this trip only reinforce my confidence in doing jungle camping in any season. I hope, I did show some skeptics out there who read this journal to try out the right way to camp in the jungle during rain season, instead of being steadfastly sure that such activities are not doable at all. Half of tropical year is rainy season or wet monsoon. If a man only go out camping only in the dry season, he will surely miss the jungle experience the other half of the year. So go camp - responsibly and safely!

Cheers,

v_V


5 comments:

  1. Gelak sorang2 baca ur journal dalam bas..informative! will try to camping one day after long time ago do that... :)

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  2. Hohohoho... gelak yer. Kesian tul kat semut2 tu. Mereka sgt rajin dan tekun. Tetiba kena halau. Apakan daya... kalau I ditempat diorang pun i musti mau saman. If u wanna camp, just tell me. much better can get a few friends to do jungle camping basic together with u.

    Cheers,

    v-V

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  3. Mr. V, i am waiting for your next post.. happy to read it..

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  4. Hi.. sorry for my late reply. Been very busy. Thanks for ur support!

    ReplyDelete
  5. as-salam....hai there...lusuh here..remember?

    ReplyDelete

Everyone can have their say but say your words in good spirits. Cheers!