A dirty weekend at Lata Kijang - Part 1

File photo of off-road vehicles at the halfway point of an adventure rally.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

When my friends said that they wanted to go away for a "dirty weekend", little did I realise that was literally what they meant. Our off-road adventure began when we got to our two rugged-looking modified four-wheel-drive vehicles and their equally rugged-looking guides in bush jackets.

We left behind the stresses and smog of city living as our convoy set off for Lata Kijang, in the Jelebu district of Negri Sembilan (not to be confused with Lata Kinjang, which is near Tapah, Perak). Except for a slight opening amid the undergrowth, there was hardly any trace that previous four-wheel-drive vehicles had been there before us.

A tropical canopy of jungle foliage enclosed us in our sturdy vehicle. The air felt fresh and clean.

We were thankful for the barred up windows that prevented any unwanted surprises as tree branches brushed violently against the sides and top of the vehicle. Rocking violently in all directions, it felt as if we were in an amusement park motion master ride.

We stopped for a rest at a gurgling stream to stretch our legs as well as to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. The terrain heading towards the campsite was uphill all the way and extremely muddy. We held our breath as our guide skilfully manoeuvred the hardy vehicle through dry earth and mud, without skidding off the side into the deep undergrowth.

Jungle survival skills were put to the test when one of the four-wheel-drive vehicles got stuck in the mud. Photo: The Star/ANN, Ming Teoh

We came to a steep embankment leading down to a huge gushing river. Revving up the engine to gain momentum, our guide floored the pedal and down we went towards the brown river. Water parted in choppy ripples as the four-wheel-drive cut through it.

This was when our jungle survival skills were put to the test for, to our dismay, one of the vehicles got stuck in the mud! We collected wood and rocks to put under its wheels and in its path to prevent it from being lodged deeper in the mud.

Our guide attached one end of a rope to the pulley on the front of the truck, and the other end to a tree to enable the vehicle to pull itself out of the mud. But the tree wasn't large enough and was not strong enough to hold the weight of the 4WD.

Fortunately, some orang asli came by and we kindly asked them to get help from other campers already at the campsite. While we waited, we waded in the stream, and even engaged in a mud fight!

It was about an hour before help arrived in the form of two four-wheel-drives. The drivers hid smirks as they caught sight of the bunch who looked like they had been mudwrestling!

Ropes were attached and the two rescue vehicles pulled the vehicle-in-trouble out of the mud to loud cheers and claps. It had been exhilarating to experience a live rescue in action.

The campsite was located in a grassy clearing across a stream. Our guide carefully navigated the vehicle across the makeshift bridge made of logs. We had started our journey from Kuala Lumpur in the morning but it was already late in the afternoon when we arrived due to our muddy episode along the way.

Come back tomorrow to read about the jungle adventure, from playing war games in the dark and a midnight swim to visiting an orang asli settlement.

Lata Kijang, in Negri Sembilan, is about an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur. It is another 1 1/2 hours by off-road terrain to the campsite. For more information on Lata Kijang 4WD adventures: visit www.mudtrekker.com