Have Gophers will travel

29 August 2010 – New Sunday Times

“We will not get lost. My GPS system will take us there,” promised the enigmatic Chong(inset).

IT is one thing to feel the freedom of being able to get into a car and drive all the way to China if you wish. It is another to end up going in circles because you not know the way. As such, I now have a new motto: Answer the call of adventure only if you have a GPS or suffer from the stress of being lost in Nowhere Land and being left at the mercy of road vultures.

Admittedly, I am smitten with the Gophers Visi-O, the Powermap-driven device with a super big 5.0″ flush fitting touch screen and driven by the latest Sirf Atlas IV GPS receiver.

On a recent trip to the East Coast, the planning was made with great enthusiasm and to get there we got the help of Gophers Visi-O.

Our first stop was Gua Senyum and the coordinates were given at 3°41’50.2″N 102°25’58.2″E.

According to the Pahang Trekker website,there are two popular folk tales as to how this 400million year old limestone outcrop got its name.

One tells of a duel of two Malay warriors which ended in the vanquished dying with a smile on his face. The second allegedly took place in the late 19th century when the Sultan of Pahang was en route to Kuala Krau, Temerloh.

When asked the name of the mountain the members of entourage could only look at each other and smile. Realising that no one knew the name, The Sultan proclaimed that it be named Gunung Senyum.

The true course of our destination was Sungai Lembing, with the coordinates given at 3° 55′ 0″N,103° 2″ 0’E.

A former mining town,this quaint hamlet is famed for three things. One is the Sungai Lembing Museum, which was formerly the residence of the general managers that worked for Pahang Consolidated limited Company.

The company managed the once tin-rich village’s underground mine from 1906 until 1986. The exhibits are a reminder of its tin mining’ heritage.

Another is Bukit Panorama, which is a popular place to watch the sunrise and the Gunung Tapis Nature Park, about 16 kilometres from the village where you can camp, fish, and shoot the rapids.

For a place to stay for the night, the Gophers Visi-O came up with the directions for Lembing Riverview Resort at 3° 54′ 44.6″ N 103° 1′ 43.3″ E. It is run by Hoh Yoon Sin, 53.

Though, we had to pass a Chinese cemetery to get here, we would be rewarded by an awesome morning view (and a cool river dip) as this place is located just beside the banks of Sungai Lembing.

Hoh also recommended a popular breakfast of tofu which is made with mountain water at the market place. This place is also known for ketchup noodles and coconut biscuits.

Folks are friendly here and no one bothers to lock their front doors. In a place where the population numbers only 5,000, familiarity guarantees safety. Also remember to leave your shoes at the door, even if it’s to enter a hotel as this is the village custom.

The next destination was Gua Charas, Panching, at coordinates at 3°54’39.9″N 103°8’50.5″E. Standing majestically at 150m this limestone rock is home to a sleeping Buddha housed within its longest cave which is about 30m in length.

To return without a good seafood meal would be wasted and for this, Gophers has a restaurant in Beserah Seafood at 3° 52’40.3″ N 103° 21′ 57.6″ E. Ideally, this should be accompanied by a dip at the Batu Hitam Beach which is just at the back of the restaurant.

Mind that the place is closed on Sunday so ,be prepared to look for alternatives. If it is the beach you love and not so much the food, then look out for this small stall called Black Stone which serves simple Malay mixed rice and kuih.

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