Receiving an invitation from state tourism agency, Perak Tourism, to discover Perak on a familiarisation trip for ASEAN media representatives meant that Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap, 32, had a second chance to explore Royal Belum.
Accepting the invitation, Yap, who had shared his experiences of trekking Royal Belum two years ago in an article for an in-flight magazine, the memories of coming face-to-face with a python and witnessing yet another species of Rafflesia, the cantleyi, in full bloom fleeted through his mind.
The recent 4D/3N tour of Perak was Yap’s third trip to Perak but he was just as excited as if it was his first. The full-time travel writer-cum-photographer said, “Besides revisiting Royal Belum, a good part of the programme allowed us to indulge in outdoor adventure activities such as jungle trekking, caving and whitewater rafting. I love the outdoors and I actively participate in such activities wherever I find myself in.
“However, I have not done whitewater rafting before outside of my home country, the Philippines. So, that was part of the attraction of the trip for me as well.”
In Gopeng, Yap and the other delegates explored Gua Kandu, a cave system a short drive from Gua Tempurung. The caves of Gua Kandu were believed to be used as hideouts first by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War and subsequently by Communist guerrillas during the Malayan Emergency.
No stranger to caving, Yap felt that Gua Kandu offers something different from the many other caves that he had explored thus far. He shared, “The course that we were put through is one of the most complete with different sets of activities right from the get-go, from trekking to commando crawl, climbing and rappelling. We exited the cave using a zip-line that was a hundred metres in length at a height of sixty metres.
“As though that was not exhausting enough, to reach the end of the course, we still had to descend the wall by a via ferrata route, followed by some flights of steep stairs before our feet touched solid ground. That certainly kept my adrenaline pumping.”
Yap also enthusiastically talked about whitewater rafting along the Kampar River, an activity much looked forward to. “It was dry season and the river was rather shallow, so, that came with its own set of challenges. Despite getting stuck in the rapids numerous times, it was a wonderful way to cool off from the extreme heat. Our afternoon activity was up to my expectations and I did have a memorable time,” said the experienced nature adventurer.
Besides these outdoor activities, the delegates were also taken to tour Kuala Kangsar and Ipoh.
Recalling his two days in Ipoh, Yap gushed, “I really like Ipoh. Where else in the world can we find a modern city amidst karst landscape? What an interesting contrast! It is quiet and peaceful. No wonder Ipoh is a popular retirement city. This is very unlike Cebu City where I live, which is more like Penang island, although the downtown area is like Jakarta! So, you can imagine what a breath of fresh air Ipoh is.”
Fresh from this trip, Yap is already planning another adventure to Perak. This time, he would like to make another attempt to see more of the archaeological sites of Lenggong Valley. He added, “I am afraid that accessibility could be a problem for a tourist like me. Therefore, it would be awesome if an international media trip could be organised in a continued effort to promote the UNESCO World Heritage Site to the world.”
Note: An edited version of this article [From Cebu With Love] was published on 14 May, 2016 in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.