March 1, 2006
Andrewawi Initiated into Tribe
Who are they??
What has mountain biking to do with this "tribe"???
Questions only to be left answered when I headed back to Malaysia, mid-August 2005. Before my trip, sources indicated that Malaysia was blanketed with thick smog “haze” as a result of forest fires in Sumatra. I was bummed by this. Rumor has it that Malaysia suffered an economic loss of 9.3 billion ringgit. Situation critical---businesses, schools and public institutions were incapacitated. I had visions of riding the trails looking like cousin Darth Vader. But luck was in my favor, or rather thanks to Malaysia’s natural green defenses---its tropical rainforest and with its afternoon thunderstorms---these defenses, served as a catch-sink to the smog.
In KL, I hooked-up with "Patawi", a canuckian, and we managed to arrange for a meeting with the Fakawians. My journey started out on the following coordinates on the Google Map---3 12' 57.65" N, 101 46'25.10" E---I think the coordinates are close---a place called Kampung Kemensah. The night before our ride, err! meeting, the skies opened the flood-gates, and it poured. Great!---fat chance for a meeting. The next morning, however, blue skies and cumulus clouds, a great day to ride. We brought our bikes as our offering of friendship and good gesture to the "tribe", i.e., Chief Ongawi, and Kevinawi. BTW, Chief Ongawi offered coffee and cream in return. Sweet! I guess this means that I've been accepted to join in their venture into the pristine trails of the jungle.
We arrived at the point of take-off, and as we unloaded our trusty metal steeds, I couldn’t' help but noticed that everyone had a parang holstered to the top-tube of their steeds---yikes! This is one sight that I'll never see back in BC. Patawi had a GPS mounted on his handle-bar to plot the trail routes. My hands quickly reached into my hydration pack to see what similar tool, or its equivalent, that I brought over, perhaps something that could match their parang. Alas! all I could find was a bear-bell and a whistle. Great, eh! While it's prudent to have both a bear-bell and a whistle on those long epic rides up in BC, certainly parang is not one of them.
So I sheepishly prepared my riding gear, and readied my riding steed Brodie, with the hopes of not offending anyone, and as the four of us disappeared into the jungle, for it beckons us, I was acutely aware of my thoughts and actions, but with great anticipation of the unknown of what's ahead (or who's riding behind), black spitting cobra, wild-boar, and mozzies (mosquitoes).
The jungle trails are largely single tracks with ferns, and vines lined with thorns, along the way. Certainly there were uphills, uphills, uphills…should I reiterate more? The green jungle, never changes its color, seemingly behaves like an entity taking a life of its own soon enveloped us, literally. In certain sections, pathways were partially blocked by either overgrowth of bamboo or fallen branches. Aha! I got it, having a parang handy to hack through and to clear the way would be great. These single-tracks were mostly made by Orang Asli (aboriginals). There's always abundance of food---just need to know what to look for. Me, I was looking for durians, beats a powerbar.
The treat of the day---the waterfalls. Now do you think Starbucks would ever consider opening an outlet here for folks like us? After riding in the humidity, soaking in sweat, having to sit by the waterfalls, and splashing the cool water over my steaming head was a relief. It was good to be back, and in many ways I felt all charged-up.
Like all good stories, there’s always the beginning and the end, and in my case, an end of our ride. Patawi, Chief Ongawi, and Kevinawi, and I and ended our rides by having iced-cold Milo, and roti-canai to fuel up. At that time, while brief in time, our ride ended with the forging of a bond, created by the aroma of roti canai, that I felt despite where ever we are, and who we are, we all shared a common interest---to seek single-tracks and to keep on riding. I guess in many ways I now know what the Fakawians is all about. I don’t think that this is the end of a story, but rather the beginning. Thanks guys. I’ll be back.