Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu is the capital of the eastern province of Kelantan, the place of origin of the largest Islamic party in the country and for a long time the only Malaysian province ruled under Islamic law. The city is an important port towards the Perhintian Islands, but we decide to stay a few days longer, to skip the islands and alternatively to spend a night in the jungle. On the night market we taste the best murtabak so far: a mix between pancake and omelette, filled with chicken or banana. We go for a second round, but the cook decides to close his stall to deliver a few orders. After an hour or so he happily fires up the stove and we get our murtabak.

The rumors that the eastern railway line is not operational by Malaysia appear to be correct. In heavy flooding in December 2014, the track and a number of bridges were badly damaged. Our jungle plans seem to be a bit of an issue because the entrance to the Stong State Park that we want to visit is only accessible via the jungle railway. After many inquiries at the bus stations, tourist offices and hostels and a lot of different and faulty information, it seems possible to reach the park via a number of bus connections.

One day later we find ourselves  – after 5 hour bus journey, waiting, transfer and walk in Dabong at the foot of the Late Jelawang, the highest waterfall on the Malaysian mainland. We report to the park entrance and head for the top of the waterfall. At least, the top of the first of seven waterfalls where we have a great view over the rainforest. Once we arrive at Baha’s Camp we meet Markus, a Swedish guy who is the only one staying at Baha’s Camp at that time. Baha’s Camp turns out to be no more than a few rickety huts, a central cooking-eating-living tent and two small tents of which we can use one to spend the night. The inspiring location of the camp and the half-decayed state of the few huts create a perfect atmosphere and we actually regret that we did not take any stuff to stay for a few nights. Later in the evening, a local guide and his wife arrive in the camp and we prepare our evening meal together. After a shower in the waterfall, it is time to hit the pillow.

The next morning we are treated to a beautiful sunrise. While the valley is still covered in fog, we are at the top of the waterfall just above the clouds and the rising sun creates a nicely lit cloud cover. We enjoy the sunrise for about two hours until the clouds reach our camp and we have breakfast with some bread and an apple. To our surprise, the Malaysian guide presents us a large plate of noodles half an hour later, just like that, delicious! For the ‘morning shower’ we climb a bit higher along the waterfall and we find a few small holes in the rocks that we dip into. Two meters deep and with a diameter of half a meter Ruben fits in perfectly. Filled with ice-cold water, we are immediately awake for the descent to Dabong.

In Kota Bharu there is just enough time to go back for a portion of murtabak before the night bus leaves for Melaka.