[Trip] Sungai Lembing, Pahang Trip 30-04-11

Sungai Lembing, a place we always heard for its beautiful mountain sun rise view and the food they have. About 30 to 40 minutes drive to the west of Kuantan, located near the mountain range deep in the jungles. Rich in tin reserve, Sg. Lembing has the world's deepest tin mining tunnel. Early economic development of Sg. Lembing is mainly due to tin mining, managed by PCCL (Pahang Consolidated Company Limited). PCCL sustains the development in Sg. Lembing until the major price drop of world tin ore in the 1980's and finally ended their business at 1986.

I had this opportunity to join this trip back to mother nature, organized by my fellow colleague. This 3 days 2 nights trip's main focus will be Bukit Panorama and also the Rainbow Waterfall. Days before the trip, I was surveying for the activities available here and also to expect what is there for me to have some good landscape pictures. Food is always a factor to look out for and have been digging into my friend's albums to seek for recommendations for food and places to look for.

With the total number of twelve people, we depart to Kuantan around 11am and meet up at Kg. Bukit Tinggi for lunch together. The other car was late due to jam and five of us were waiting in mamak, with our stomach quite full as we just had our breakfast not long ago when we met up.

The restaurant we went is located at the side of the highway, called Restaurant L.e.o.n.g C.h.e.e H.o.o.n.g. The food was not half bad but the waiting time is damn long. A picture of a dish that we had out of six, for more you can always refer my fb album.

After lunch, we continued our journey to the east towards Kuantan. We decided to drop by Kuantan before checking in at Sg. Lembing. Teluk Chempedak is our only checklist because it was quite late when we finally reach Kuantan. The beach was packed with people and the weather seems to be moody and gloomy.

My friends brought their kites and we had some fun flying kites on the beach with the strong wind blowing, signalling the rain is coming soon. The wooden bridge connecting Teluk Chempedak to Pantai Teluk Tongkang is seriously damaged and seems no effort is taken to repair it. The authority just simply closed it from visitors until further notice but the tourists took the risk to climb over and take a short walk.

There were many monkeys along the way and they are not afraid of humans. Some even grab food from the visitors who passed by and I'd been told that one of them even grab someone's McD nugget as their snack. It's a great place to snap some pictures of the monkeys with their rich facial expressions. I have a few to share and more in my albums.

However, not many people dare to walk till the other end of the wooden bridge, where we had our own sweet time to take pictures on the beach because there's less people. Less people means less disturbance and we can just leave our things there and enjoy. I hope the local authority will restore this wooden bridge asap and maintain it for the future.

We left Teluk Chempedak with a starving stomach craving for seafood. We tried to locate a place that was introduced by a colleague of ours, where he claimed that good and cheap seafood is served. However, we are unable to locate it, probably the restaurant is closed or shifted because we arrived at the correct place. With no better option, we settle down at some malay stalls for our dinner and did some small shopping for our food and water supply for the coming days.

We left Kuantan late and arrived at Sg. Lembing around 12a.m. midnight because the GPS lead us to the wrong way. Told them not to trust it but still follows it anyway, facepalmed. We booked a home stay here instead of guest houses because it was fully booked due to the public holiday demand.
We were brought quite further into the village, passing through a wooden bridge across the river then pass by some chinese cemetery and travel some distance before reaching our home stay. To our surprise, the home stay is very clean and comfortable, with air conditioning supplied. The only down side is it is bit far away from the town, but will not be a problem is you have a car. Driving for a whole day, I felt extremely exhausted and went to sleep right after taking a shower.

We woke up before 5am the next day to get ourselves ready for Rainbow waterfall. I'd been told that the waterfall is located deep inside the jungle where the only way to reach there is by 4WD, if is not by hiking. Even with 4WD will take us an hour ride and another hour hiking before we reach the destination. The best time to view it will be 9 to 10:30am in the morning.

We were brought to the market for breakfast before continue our journey up. It's Sunday morning and we saw many people already waiting near the market near 5:30am. Most of them are here to hike the Panorama Hill, which will be our plan for next day. Most of them came by tour bus and we can see tourists start to walk up the alley towards the hill.

We had our simple breakfast before heading to the waterfall. The last time I had a ride at the back of a 4WD is back when my dad had one back in the fish farm. It was really a good experience to ride on one especially within village roads with the fresh air and cold breeze. The 4WD fit all twelve of us, merely. With some people sit inside while the others outside at the back, with their custom made seats.

I had some hard time trying to capture some pictures of the 4WD ride, but thanks to the bumpy roads, I got many blurry pictures despite pumping up the ISO. I reserve myself from using flash because I want to preserve some ambient light as well and my flash was in my back inside the car that time. Which will be a hassle to get it out during the ride. The pop up flash from my cam is not sufficient to fire such a long distance and even if it does, the outcome is not satisfactory.

The pictures show here are few of many successful satisfied shots, some using ISO 6400, while others are shot when the sky becomes brighter. For more pictures, please refer my fb album.

After an hour plus of bumpy ass-pain-knee-pain ride, finally we reach the river bank where all the 4WD stops and we have to continue the route by foot. Along the way before this we do pass by many small streams and muddy lanes, something like we always see in TV where the 4WD convoy got stuck in mud and stuff. It's a really good experience for urban people like us.

After the head count, we were all ready to continue the journey by foot. The first thing we need to do is to cross the river, which is about waist deep. Then we need to continue to hike up about an hour before we reach the destination. We were told that today there will be alot of visitors, around 300 will be packed around the waterfall area. This is what to expect when you choose to go for a trip during public holidays.

Along the way we hike through streams and stones and also greenery. There are always some time where I will stop by to get some pictures of the floras that we seldom see around us. We also look after our legs for signs of leeches but i doubt so with the crowd of human going up. It will be like an all you can eat buffet for them until they puke.

You will be able to see many small waterfalls as you hike up along the water ways. The guide told us not to stop down for pictures as we can do so later when the sun comes out so that we can get better tones and also not to jam the people behind us. I think that's his main reason.

The weather today is not that good, the sky is full of cloud and the sun won't come out. People started to pile up around the waterfall area. Basically you are not able to see a rock clearly because everywhere with rock, is sat by human. While waiting for the rainbow to appear, some people choose to have a chill in the cold waterfall water, while others patiently waiting beside for it. I took my time to set up my tripod and tries to take some long exposure of the waterfall. But apparently the waterfall's water is not as intense as I thought it will be. Even with 4 second exposure, the waterfall seems no different with the one I took with shorter exposure. Furthermore the sky is full of cloud makes the whole picture overblown by it and the colour is dull because there's no sunlight. I tried my best to preserve the pictures through photoshop and below are the results to share.

I did take some portrait oriented pictures of the waterfall but I think the one above will give you a better display of it. Below will be an edited version.

As you can see, the sky is overblown even with filters and stuff, you still get white colour sky due to the cloud, which is some minor disappointment as a landscape fan. Nevertheless, we still waiting patiently for the rainbow to appear, to be exact, is waiting for the sun to come out from its hiding place behind the clouds. The guides busy preparing hot water for our cup noodles using the water from the waterfall. It's all part of the package, mountain-water cup noodles, not bad eh?

The feeling of disappointment slowly stacks up as the time ticks by, I can see many people waiting patiently behind their tripod, for the moment to appear. Me too, waiting behind my tripod, waiting for it to appear, so that I can go into the water for some fun after taking the picture of it, have no choice but to wait. While my friends went swimming in the water pool, with me taking their "naked" pictures.

As time past 10:30a.m. some people already start to leave, with a disappointed heart. Where as for me, I was packing up, keeping my tripod back to the bag and almost ready to go. I was thinking, instead of wasting time waiting here, might as well go down to the spots where I missed just now for some better shots. Just when I was about to leave, a sudden cheer from the crowd indicating the rainbow as appear as the sun ray breaks through the clouds. The view was spectacular. According to the locals, different time and position will have different shapes and patterns of rainbow. Early time will have 2 small rainbows, while later time will have 1 big rainbow. It is all due to the angle of the sun ray. Besides that, seeing from left or from right will also affect the shape of the rainbow seen. Best still, if you view it in the water, you will see a astonishing circle rainbow according to them. Well, we were fortunate enough to have a view of it before heading home. That's what we came here for.

The crowd were so excited about it and shutter sounds can be heard non stop. The rainbow came on and off for a few times because the sun was block by the clouds. As soon as the rainbow appears, everyone will start snapping, taking picture together with the rainbow as a reminisce.

After satisfied taking pictures and spamming shutters, it is time to go back through the long journey up just now. On the way down, I manage to stop by a few places for some pictures and as shown below.

A long way down and another ride back to town on the 4WD takes us to a coffee shop for lunch and we also take this chance to walk around Sg. Lembing town. The town is very small, just a road, and basically that's about it. It's filled with vintage wooden shops, perfect for heritage themed shootings. I manage to take some and edited it into more vintage look just to bring out the mood of the quiet and peaceful town.

We stopped by this shop selling tea and cookies. Beside it, they plant some passion fruits along the alley. It's a very good place for some portraits shots, provided good lightning is there.

We went back to our home stay to bath and rest before going out for dinner later. After having a short nap, we decided to hunt for the famous roasted pork in Sg. Lembing. Located not too far away from our home stay, it's located quite remote at the opposite bank of the town. Directions are, from main town, opposite the police station, pass through the wooden bridge connecting two opposite banks and the follow the road up and turn right. After traveling some distance, you will see a small sign board showing roasted pork in chinese, then turn right and you will see a house.

We got the chance to see how the roasted pork are prepared. Their specialty is using charcoal to roast it and the taste is awesome I must say. Skin is crispy, meat is tender. Not too cooked, nor too raw. The price is RM40 per kg, kinda standard I would say. The BBQ pork on the other hand is RM34 per kg, this one is so so only I would say. KL have better ones.


Seriously the roasted pork is a must try and I heard peak season you must book because production is limited. Tender meat, crispy skin with good amount of layer of lard in between. We bought 1.5kg of it and never enough!

As for our dinner, we went and try their chilli noodle and tomato noodle, so called famous local food. But for me that's nothing special about it. Or maybe just me or maybe just that stall is not that good. But that's the only stall we able to find on that day, labour day.

That's basically the end up second day. Activities after that will be just card games and board games and sleep early for next day's hiking.

The third and final day, the plan is to hike up Bukit Panorama for sun rise view. We woke up early around 5am and had some tuna sandwiches as breakfast. We then parked our car nearby the old shops and start our journey around 5:50a.m. The crowd today is fewer than yesterday but still there are many people going up the hill. The hike was pretty easy as concrete stairs were build for most of the journey up and only a small portion where we need to hike up without it. It took us about 40 minutes, nearly continuous climb of stairs before we reach the top of it.

Along the way you can see many people stop to rest. You will need a torchlight to assist in seeking the path in the dark and you can see the nice view of cloud under you as you climb higher.

Many people are already there and all anxiously waiting for the sun to rise. After locating some nice spots, I setup my tripod and had a few test shots to check out the overall composition. The weather that day was not that good because of the cloud is blocking the sun rise view. I guess the shot today will be ruin by the cloud, once again.

The sun finally rises around 6:45a.m., with clouds around it, blocking the overall view. The colour tone of the sun light is also blocked by most of the clouds. With the help of GND, I'm able to expose the foreground better than without it, but still, post-processing is still required to bright out the colours of it. I shot in RAW, and also with ETTR technique, to ensure my pictures are ok. It was quite hard to find a good compo as well due to the crowd of people. I attempted many shots and only a few are selected for post processing. 

Maybe my post-processing will look irrealistic, but for me, I think it's nice enough.

When the sun goes up high and you start to feel hot, it is time to head back down. While everyone is hype for the east side of the mountain, never forget to take some pictures of the opposite site. Especially the sea of clouds, will make you feel out of the world, at least for a few minutes.

Along the way down we took some pictures, saving it in our memories, till the next time we come, for a better view in the future.
We went to the market for our breakfast but unfortunately many has sold out and we have not many options left. We had this yong tau fu noodles with the famous Lembing mountain water tau fu. The noodles with curry is not half bad especially the curry taste good. The taufu also taste good but the gravy is a no no for me. I prefer it with plain soup instead of starchy gravy.

We head back home stay to bath and pack up. Before leaving, we drop by at one of the four hanging bridges at the Sg. Lembing town. Where else can you find four bridges together for you to choose?

The sun light gave me hard time to choose a good white balance, with no choice but to process it in post-processing for a HDR effect to make it looks, better?

After packing, we went to the town again to visit its musuem. In fact, we wished to go for the mining tunnel but unfortunately it is closed to public. The museum itself displays most of the equipments used during mining and the stories behind it. Admission is free but you need to register your name before entering and there's no air conditioning inside. So prepare to get sweaty as you visit inside the museum.

The town itself has only 1 petrol pump and it is closed on Sundays! It's funny and I heard there's lady who operates it and fills up your tank using bottles or stuff.

Well, that's basically the end of our Sg. Lembing trip. We missed out the Gua Charas due to time constraint. But no doubt it is a very refreshing trip and would consider to revisit in the near future.

I have lots of pictures taken during the trip but I can only share this much here. If I'm free, maybe I will add more in the future! Take care!


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