Monday, 24 September 2012

Lata Medang, Lata Mecu & Lata Jerbus

            The storm was brewing in earnest to a point of no return - unabated. The water rose so high that the two survivors hiked up a mountain to escape the raging waters and finally clinging on to a sturdy and tall tree. A big flood has developed and gradually everyone in the village drowned in the swirling waters.

          The echoes of the epic Great Flood permeated in the fabric of many ancient cultures. For the Temuan tribe, the 3rd largest indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia, the incident too cast a dark shadow in their culture. The fascinating legend occured thousand of years ago - a time that will live in infamy. For the perceived sins committed that displease their god, Muyang then sent a disastrous flood which wiped out humanity except a couple - Mamak Bungsuk and Inak Bungsuk. The duo possessed an enchanting mantra which successfully kept the storm at bay. Ultimately this action saved their lives while stranded at a huge tree atop Gunung Rajah (Royal Mountain). The newly minted Adam and Eve who hailed from a Temuan village of Kampung Pertak entered into Temuan's folklore creating a new lineage, and all its descendants are traced to them. Mount Rajah (5,526 ft), located at the border of the states of Selangor and Pahang became the ancestral home and a sacred mountain to the Temuan tribe who are now found from Pahang down to the north of Johore.

            Not far from the present location of Kampung Pertak about 4 km away is the peak of Bukit Kutu (3,456 ft) - the 2nd most sacred site for the Temuans. The area where the giant boulders are located at the peak is revered as a fertility site. Between Bukit Kutu at this part of the range and Mount Rajah, lie at the hinterlands, the hilly sprouted waterfalls of Lata Medang and Lata Mecu - perhaps part of the remnants of the big flood that had subsided thousand of years ago!

           I'd been roped in to be one of the guides as some of the hikers have forgotten the way to the waterfalls due to the many junctions and forks along the trail. We started from Kampung Orang Asli Pertak, off the trunk road to Frasier's Hill, where we had left our cars. During the fruiting durian seasons which occured twice a year ie: months of January to February and June to July - trucks and lorries would converge here to collect these fruits to sell at the towns and cities.

                                          Lata Jerbus - The dirt road is above the embankment on the right.

             Due to a misunderstanding, another group had set off much earlier without my knowledge and  thinking that they had not arrived, I'd decided to wait for them at the trailhead near the first suspension bridge. After a fruitless wait for quite awhile, I'd then sped off to catch up with the other group. A few junctions later, Lata Jerbus loomed ahead but it's located on the left side at a lower terrain and parallel to the trail. Most hikers missed it totally, as one has to get off the trail down an embankment to view the waterfall in its full glory. During the durian seasons, the local Temuans will harvest the fruits from the inland and brought them out in a basket attached to the back of their motorbikes through the trail cum dirt road here. A few lone trucks tried to plough through the soft dirt road resulting huge pot holes albeit limited advances hoping to secure more fruits ahead of others waiting at the trailhead towards the end of each season!

                                          Leaving the Sg Luit valley - At this fork, take the right to ascent.

                                          Thereafter, at this fork, take the left.

      After over a kilometre along the road trail, lies a fork and at the left is the direction towards Lata Makau and onwards to the overgrown trail of Mount Rajah. The other right fork, branches out and ascent a slope to the direction of Lata Medang, leaving the Sg Luit valley. After about 20 metres, another fork awaits and this time to the left to continue along the hilly terrain. There is a small stream running across  the path ahead along with a few landslides and short makeshift trunk bridges over some crevices. Trekking along a ridge enables one to spot the flora and fauna such as mousedeer, the "resident" hornbills flying overhead and other birds.  The average time taken from the trailhead to Lata Mecu at a slow pace is about 2 hours. Since I'd quicken my pace, I've managed to clock under 80 minutes to catch up with my group at Lata Mecu.

                                         A hornbill bird shrieking above our heads on the ridge.

                                                    Sketch Map - not to scale.

Marcus, the German Shephard dog and Lata Mecu

     There is a nice pool to dip and swim at Lata Mecu while the camping site is suitable for a group of 6 persons. To proceed to Lata Medang, there may be some confusing trails so it's better to hike along the riverbank. Many hikers had overshot the destination and veered off  from the last waterfall (See the sketch map).  A few cascades grace the background of the fall which is consisted of the Upper and Lower Lata Medang -  A pictureque and marvellous sight!

                                                    Lata Medang
       The waterfalls, still in a pristine condition, are not a frequent haunt for the regular hikers due to the remoteness and unfamilliarity of the trail. However, it's fast becoming popular as more trekking enthusiasts begin to hear about them. Hopefully, in the future, the pristine condition can still be maintained. Afterall, with due respect to the God, Muyang, we would not want to compromise the cleanliness there and accidently incur his wrath either, won't we?

                                         At the first suspension bridge - Myself  at the far right.
                                                   Photo Credit: Suzanne Ng


  1. Hello,

    I've just read your post about Lata Medang and I'm quite interested in it as I'm planning a trip at the end of this year to visit the place with a group of friends. To be honest, we have roughly around 15 people and we might wish to camp overnight near Lata Mecu.

    Is there any permits which we would have to pay for trekking to Lata Medang or camping overnight near Lata Mecu?

    I also noted that you mentioned the campsite is suitable for 6 people at max, would you know of any place near the area where we might be able to camp overnight for around 15 people?

    Hope to get your reply soon.

    1. Hi Jonathan, thanks for visiting this site.

      Lata Medang should be part of the Bukit Kutu Forest Reserve. Hence, the relevent authorities should be notified and some fees may be charged. However in practice, dozens or more people have visited Bukit Kutu in the weekends and I doubt any have pay anything.

      Lata Medang is not the usual route for trekkers & away from Bukit Kutu! Suggest you should recce the place first before embarking a camping trip there. The camping ground mentioned, if it is clear-up may hold up to 10 or more if flysheets are used, instead of dome tents. There may be other small dry areas but u have to check them out. Good Luck!