We unloaded our stuff on the dock, parked the car, and caught a one ringgit taxi ride across the Pahang, a turbulent muddy river that can become a destructive torrent in the rainy season. There is a marker at the top of the stairs leading from the jetty that shows the high point of the 1971 flood where the river rose an amazing forty feet! Mutiara Resort is a collection of private two bedroom chalets and larger hostel-like bunkhouses. Our cabin was at the end of the property, down by the river; quiet and restful, with a nice little deck out back, two comfortable beds, a decent bathroom, a fridge and a safe. It was clean and comfortable, and with the aircon and fan both going, nice and cool after a sweaty jungle walk.
We dumped our stuff and sent Pete out to investigate river options while we relaxed on the deck. When Pete got back we did a little reconnaisance tour of the compound. Pete and Joan explored the pathways to the jungle canopy walkway while Pam and I investigated the beautiful foliage and found an observation blind that gave a nice view of a clearing in the jungle containing a meadow and a watering hole. We spent a pleasant half hour watching the butterflies dance over the meadow, but there were no tigers or tapirs to be seen at this time of the day.
Back at the cabin we considered river options. There was a cruise on the larger branch of the river that was longer and offered the option of running some rapids but had the disadvantage of minimal tree cover from the blazing Malaysian sun. Or there was a shorter trip up the narrow branch of the river that offered more tree cover and possibly more wildlife. Both were 50 ringgit. We opted to go upstream on “the smaller river” and this turned out to be the right decision. The boat held the four of us, the driver – who knew the river well – and a fellow who sat in the bow and kept a sharp eye out for rocks. It was a frisky river, and a challenge to make our way upstream against a strong current that was just as muddy as the main course.
About half an hour upsteam the river branched out and taking the right fork we found ourselves in a stream as clear as many you would find in northern Ontario. Another ten minutes brought us to a shallow berm in the river marking the end of the navigable course. It was there that we pulled in, and from there we could hike to the nearby waterfall, if we chose. We chose to swim instead. It was mentioned at the resort that this would be a possibility, so both Pam and Joan came prepared with bathing suits under their clothes. Not being strategic thinkers Pete and I were unprepared, so we just went swimming in our shorts.
The water was brisk and refreshing and there was a smooth ledge running alongside a deeper trough in the river that made it ideal for jumping in and allowing the current to take us downstream and then back to shore for another round. We swam until we were tired and then quickly dried in the Malaysian sun for a much quicker ride downstream back to the resort.