Under clear blue skies, flowering blady grass patches appear like stalks from golden wheat fields. I was waylaid by charming Serendah for a few wonderful days. Happy to encounter new places, good food, four-legged friends and hospitable locals there.

From waterfalls to lakes to the rural landscape; Serendah bristle with natural beauty. It is such an under-promoted and unsung eco-tourism destination.

At the rate I am going, I don’t know when I will even reach the Perak border. But that’s alright. The little detours and surprise finds will make this photo essay even more interesting. Thank you and goodbye Serendah.

Next Stop: Ulu Yam.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/640 sec.

The Balcony

I think a hipster will trade his or her mason jar lamp (with the coffee filter shade) for a chance to do a selfie or a yoga pose on this balcony. Every fitting is intentionally hipsterish. The furniture is chicken (wire) coop style, similar to those found in KLPAC grounds or in Publika. Don’t ask me about the significance of that rusted and cracked wok (kuali) on the floor, though. Lol.

It is a shame that the place is categorised as luxury camping or glamour camping (glamping) though. Is more than that. Strip away all the pretensions, it is a resort hotel (minus all the staff). Taken as a whole, I found the appeal to be the subtle landscaping and blending with its environment.

Sure; there are creature comforts such as hot shower, a toilet bowl, coffee machine and a pool but then that’s what concrete jungle people expect when they pay RM 700 or more a night, I guess.

Standing on the balcony, I felt as if I was the conductor of an orchestra where the musicians were tireless birds and insects. To each, his or her own. For me; it was hearing nature’s symphony and seeing random leaves drift gently from trees. That was priceless.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 640, f8, 1/60 sec.

Wherever I Lay My Hat, That’s My Home

We finally reached the peak and before my eyes was a double-storey glass chalet. Megharaj pulled down the attic-like stairs and we did the final climb.

Wow! A room in a rainforest walled-in and roofed by glass. I can sleep and look at the twinkling stars at night, throw stones and walk around naked. I have never slept in a glass house before and I wanted it right away.

Megharaj: Sorry Sir, we don’t do walk-ins.

Me: Walked-in??? I climbed a bloody mountain to get here.

Megharaj: You can only book online.

Me: Wait! (Pulling out my iPad excitedly)

Me: Damn! There’s no bloody 4G, 3G or even 2G access here!

Megharaj: But that’s the whole idea about a jungle retreat.

Oh well. Anyway, the place is called Sekeping Serendah Retreat. I consoled myself thinking a shangri la in the jungle must charge Shangr-la hotel rates. I found out later that they do but I’m sure it will be worth the experience. There’s even a luxurious pool.

Megharaj is both the gardener and manager. Fantastic guy. Much appreciation for the impromptu tour of the place I discovered by accident. More pics of the ‘glamcamp’ coming up.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f8, 1/60 sec.

Gangway To Heaven

He bowed with hands clasped. My hands were clasped too after swatting one of the many mosquitoes buzzing around us.

Under the darkness of the rainforest canopy, surrounded by bamboo and wild rubber trees, was a mysterious, twisting gangway that goes further uphill. Up it, the two of us went.

My sherpa was really helpful. He held me by the collar when I leaned over too much at a ravine to take pictures. At slippery narrow stretches, he lead me by holding my hand, Instagram lover-style. At steep gradients, he dragged me up the mountain Hillary-style.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 16000, f4, 1/500 sec.

It’s A Jungle Out There

The inhabitants here are of the Temuan tribe and indeed there is a dog at every turn. Aboriginal dogs were originally kept as hunting dogs and were lean and mean.

Acting also as guard dogs for those staying deep in the jungles, they alert human companions to approaching wild boars, bears and other aggressive wildlife. Importantly, they provide endless fun and companionship for Orang Asli children growing up without toys, gadgets and electricity.

Here at this village, the dogs are mostly lethargic and sleep in the middle of the road. So do be very careful if you drive through the village.

I was enchanted by the rustic settings and asked a village elder if there is some kind of homestay hut. Although he speaks impeccable English, just like the aboriginal character in Crocodile Dundee, he didn’t understand the term ‘homestay’. I mentioned ‘hotel’ and he smiled.

Me, him and the dog ended up hiking up a steep jungle trail. Panting under the weight of my equipment, I stopped him to ask if this mysterious, fabled jungle place has a porter to help with my luggage.

Not surprisingly, he said “No!”. But then he added: “They have a Nepalese sherpa”. Haha. What unfolded next is mind-blowing.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 125, f4, 1/500 sec.