Thursday, October 24

Trekking the blues away

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The various tiers of Wong Iseng.

IMAGINE walking under the canopy of a lush jungle with birds chirping overhead and the distant roar of a waterfall that gets louder with every step.

For many trekkers, the sound of cascading water signifies the reward for a successful outing while for some, it acts as a therapeutic hegira to ease the mind.

The cascading water at Wong Kemantan Lidi.

Avid trekker Nur Izlyn Alwani Tamin turns to trekking as a way to deal with depression, general anxiety, panic attack and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSO) after being diagnosed with these acute mental stresses in 2014.

“I stopped working between 2014-5 due to these disorders and was put on medication. In 2016, I decided to become active in hiking, and realised that relying solely on medicine to get better is not enough,” the 40-year-old told thesundaypost.

With increasing suicidal cases due to depression and other mental disorders, Nur Izlyn hoped she could inspire others to enjoy the beauty of life through nature.

She said over the years, her mental health had greatly improved – thanks to her passion for hiking, which she started while still in school.

Asked on her favourite trekking spot, she replied, without hesitation, Kumpang Langgir, Engkilili, in Sri Aman.

Kumpang Langgir near the Malaysia-Indonesia border is about an hour’s drive from Sri Aman town on a tar- sealed road. Cars are normally parked at the Tuai Rumah Baying longhouse.

“A warm welcome can always be expected from the longhouse folk, most of whom have distant relatives in Kalimantan. The longhouse folk are more than willing to tell you which route to take if you are unsure of which waterfall or trail to pick,” Nur Izlyn said.

According to her, at Kumpang Langgir, trekkers can choose a number of different routes based on their preferred level of difficulties and distance.

Nur Izlyn cooling off at Wong Kemantan Lidi during one of her treks.

For her, the best waterfall in the area is Wong (waterfall) Kemantan Lidi, some 15 minutes from the longhouse.

She said this waterfall was breathtaking with its several tiers and clean water and it could also be reached easily as proven by her 13- year-old daughter and 16-year-old son who tagged along.

Due to its close proximity to the longhouse, the residents have built a toilet as well as a proper camping site for those wishing to spend a night in the jungle and wake up to the white noise of the waterfall.

The Red Ant Troopers taking a breather at Wong Serar.

Nur Izlyn observed the jungles and the crystal-clear waterfall in Kumpang Langgir were still pristine, especially the waterfall which is not known even to folks in Sri Aman because it’s off the beaten path.

She also said the longhouse folks had been instrumental in keeping the area clean with good habits such as not littering or dumping rubbish into the river.

Besides Wong Kemantan Lidi, other known waterfalls in the area include Wong Iseng, Wong Empit Twin Falls, Wong Chibut, Wong Engkarah Besai, Wong Langgir, Wong Serar, Wong Empaga and Wong Rapuh.

The picturesque Wong Kemantan Lidi, about 15 minutes from Tuai Rumah Baying longhouse.

Nur Izlyn revealed there were actually other areas and waterfalls yet to be discovered.

“For those who wonder, it’s also possible to get mobile coverage in the area,” she quipped.

Nur Izlyn belongs to a group of avid trekkers calling themselves “Red Ant Troopers”. The places she has trekked in Kuching include Mt Singai, Mt Serapi, Mt Mike, Mt Santubong, Mt Gading, Bukit Gondol and Mt Silabur.

In Sri Aman, among the places she has trekked are Mt Baya, Mt Perapau, Mt Batu Burak and Bukit Batu.

According to her, besides Mulu, a world- famous eco-tourism destination, other areas in Sarawak can also be further explored and promoted.

“But I believe these potential tourist spots have not been explored and promoted because our youths are not really interested in hiking or adventure.

This smaller waterfall is called Wong Empit.

“The population of youths in places such as Engkilili is also dwindling as most of the young people have migrated to the other parts of the state in search of better jobs.”

She said the youths in Sarawak could learn a thing or two from the Indonesians when it comes to conservation of our natural forests, adding: “They should consider studying forest conservation and management.”

She stressed this would open the door for young Sarawakians to focus their studies or research on locations such as the Kelingkang Range which, she said, was yet to be fully explored.