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This is the single-news section of the marathonrally.com news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.









Elephant Mud Hole Adventure: Hardcore-Action in Malaysia.








The words Elephant Mud Hole evoke many memories for participants of the Malaysian Rainforest Challenge. In 2007 the ‘Mud Hole’ was not reached due to the well documented flooding in Terengganu and Kelantan that year. The final stage of 2008, Twilight Zone, should have included the ‘Mud Hole’ but a landslide, unseen by competitors, resulted in the organiser issuing an instruction for the convoy to turn back.

The news that in the near future the Hulu Terengganu valley is to be flooded to make way for a vast dam, the ‘Elephant Mud Hole’ lies somewhere in the middle, means that this pristine jungle area will be lost forever. With this shock new in mind a group of adventurers, some of whom had successfully crossed in the past and those who had suffered the disappointment of not having reached in their previous attempts, decided to attack the infamous ‘Mud Hole’ one more time.

The trip was to be for five days only but such was the interest aroused that of the eleven vehicles entered, restricted number, two participants had flown in from England, one from Italy, one from Australia and three drove down from Thailand. Most were veterans of the Rainforest Challenge. Included on the trip was a small contingent of Press reporters also some of whom had experienced the RFC.

Rate De Silva ‘aka’ Ahtek, many times Chief Scout at the RFC, was the leader of the convoy comprising mainly versions of the indomitable Land Rover, a Land Cruiser 70, competition Pajero and a competition Toyota from Thailand. Worthy of mention would be the six wheeled (6X6) portal axled Land Rover owned by the Australian and the Land Rover V8 pick-up owned by the driver, and Englishman based in Italy.

With some sponsorship coming from Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper the flag off from their offices was officiated by the Group Editor Datuk Syed Dadzri with the Cars Bikes Trucks supplement Editor Yamin Vong also in attendance. The convoy then departed from Kuala Lumpur en route to Lake Kenyir, Terengganu for an overnight stop at Kenyir Lake Resort before entering the jungle.

Initially the drive was relatively easy along approximately 25kms of logging tracks. Already there is evidence of trees being felled prior to the flooding of the valley. This is not a good sign for the abundance of animals and sometimes rare wild life in this remote area.

The logging track crossed Sungei Miak which was unrecognizable after what RFC participants experienced in 2007. After the logging track finished the convoy entered the jungle proper and after three years of growth the track was hardly visible and hiding many dangers including deep potholes, logs, rocks etc. This initial foray indicated that there was going to be many obstacles and a lot of winching on this trip.

Crossing Sungei Ebay reminded 2007 RFC participants that last time they saw this river it was over two metres higher. Officials, journalists and some crew crossed the river at that time using the ‘flying fox’ routine as it was impossible for vehicles to cross. Day 2 started off with a bridge building task as a confronting gully was too deep to drive. All hands to the wheel and a substantial log bridge was constructed.

The next challenge was ‘Rocky Hill’ also well known to RFC participants. However, weather and the passing of time had transformed it into a narrow potholed track. A very bumpy ride ensued. Worse was to come as the track completely disappeared due to a huge landslide. The only choice was to climb above it and create a by-pass track. More logging was firstly necessary to build a bund on the hill slope to retain earth. With many hands on cangkuls a narrow by-pass was completed. With all the winching and overcoming obstacles it was determined at the end of the day we had only covered 3kms and to add to the enjoyment it rained heavily.

Next day the convoy pushed on through deep mud to ‘Tokyo Bridge’ constructed by the recce crew for the 2007 RFC. Although constructed from a large diameter log split lengthwise the wood had split, become termite infested and suffered from rot. It was too dangerous to cross in this condition but if supported from the underside it should become safer. Large trees were cut for supporting props and after cutting away some of the rot the first vehicle was slowly guided across. No problem so the remainder of the convoy followed in the same manner.

Winch, winch, winch was the order of the day until we experienced the third vehicle rollover of the trip but this time more serious. Approaching parallel to a small river by a steep slippery slope a heavily laden Land Rover 110’s back wheels lost traction and the vehicle toppled over landing onto its roof in the rocky stream below. Luckily all occupants struggled out with only minor bumps and bruises. This was more than can be said for the vehicle but with some heavy hammer work, engine oil change and a full inspection it was ready to roll again.

The following day a quick recce on what was ahead became crucial as time was running out for the participants. There were flights to catch and business appointments to be kept. Apparently it was only 6kms more to reach the ‘Elephant Mud Hole’ but given what we had already experienced and with what lay ahead there was no other option than to turn back.

Even the incoming track had taken on a different appearance when going out due to the rain and ruts caused when entering. Slippery and dangerous slopes saw vehicles being winched down steep muddy slopes as it would have been too easy to lose control if trying to drive. In fact the Pajero against advice did just that which ended with a 30 minute recovery job for his troubles.

The last night camp was close to Sungei Miak and after crossing the next morning it was back onto the logging tracks to Laloh.
A final night a Kenyir Lake Resort gave everybody the opportunity to swap stories and all were unanimous in their disappointment at not reaching the infamous ‘Elephant Mud Hole’.

There was a full agreement amongst those present that to paraphrase the words of General MacArthur when he left the Philippines in World War II - "We shall return!"

2009/08/21 | 16:25 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Colin Webb






















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