Dawn breaks @ Sekeping Serendah

morning

The fresh and cool morning breeze whispering in from the open patio woke me up the next morning. I opened my eyes and saw the girls still sleeping. The patter of rain can be heard and I looked outside. It was drizzling and the cloudy day makes it ideal for sleeping in. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I love the smell of the forest after it rains.

life

I was awakened from my slumber by Windy getting up. I’m a very light sleeper and tend to rise at the slightest provocation. Hmm…that didn’t sound quite right coming out, but you know what I mean. ;) Joyce was still sleeping so we went to the patio and chilled out there. It was still drizzling and the weather was melancholic in a good way. It’s perfect for sitting with a blanket wrapped around you and just relax.

nasi

The caretaker came at 8 am with our breakfast. I asked for three packets of nasi lemak. He wouldn’t accept payment – the food came courtesy of Christina. Thanks Christina! The nasi lemak tastes a lot better than it ordinarily would, thanks to the forest surrounding us and the cool drizzle that’s still going on. It was decided that we’ll wait until the rain stops before going exploring.

reading

I read a book I bought the night before. I’ve always enjoyed reading on rainy days – a habit I picked up when I was a kid. The rain didn’t stop until after noon but it was fun to just chill at the patio. We checked out at 2:30 pm and decided to head up to the Serendah waterfall.

waterfall montage

The other attraction in Serendah is the impressive waterfall located just 5 minutes away from Sekeping Serendah retreat. It’s a public park so you’ll see the usual suspects there – locals washing their clothes, out of town people having BBQ, foreign workers in large groups on their day off. Melting pot anyone?

serendah waterfall

Serendah Falls is really a sight to behold. It’s not very tall, probably about 10 meters or so, but the sheer volume and force of water coming down the waterfall is amazing! The roar of the falls can be heard quite audibly even from the side of the natural plunge pools.

goodbye

Sekeping Serendah retreat is a gem of a place – it’s peaceful and quiet, with basic sheds for accommodations and no distractions. You won’t find TVs, WiFi or even cell phone reception here…but if your idea of a relaxing retreat is some peace and quiet from the stress of the big city, head down to Sekeping Serendah.

A sliver of peace lies just an hour’s drive away. :)

Nightfall at Sekeping Serendah Retreat

bbq

Sekeping Serendah offers just about the ideal place for a barbecue at night – there’s the sound of nature seeping through the peace and quiet of the forest, a cool breeze blowing into the patio, and the sound of running water from the brook. It’s just so chill. The caretaker has already…er, taken care of the BBQ when we finished our extended swim and soak session in the private pool.

fire

The BBQ pit is an old fashioned receptacle with a mesh grill over it and good old fashioned charcoal covering the bottom. I helped to man the BBQ pit for a while, ensuring all the charcoal is evenly burned before Joyce and Windy took over. I’m not good in gauging food readiness, since I can eat raw food so I left it to better hands. ;)

flame

There are no restaurants or anything of that sort in Sekeping Serendah so you’ll have to either bring your own food or cater from the caretaker (RM 20 per pax) for dinner. We had the foresight (?) to bring our own food. A trip to the local Giant for supplies ensured we had enough food and drinks to last the night. The grocery shopping bill came close to a whopping RM 400 but a large part of that was due to ethanol based beverages.

food

We got lamb chops, fish, chicken wings, corn on the cob and eggs for the barbecue. I got eggs coz no one believed me when I said eggs can be cooked on a BBQ by just putting it right on the grill. It really works – I’ve done it numerous times before. We also got a lot of bottled water and fruit juices for hydration. For the dehydration part, a bottle of Absolut Vodka was procured.

warming

I would have thought that would be enough but apparently not – I’m in the company of veterans here, much to my surprise. It was decided that we’re getting another bottle of liqueur – Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur which Windy swears is the best thing she ever had. The bottle describes the history of the liqueur very poetically – “Emperor Ming of the Tang dynasty supplied his charming consort with a specialty for which she craved and was richly rewarded with her delightful smiles and appreciative heart.” Okay.

grilling

We also got a bottle of Merlot for good measure. I was a bit apprehensive about the amount at first – a bottle of vodka, a bottle of liqueur and a bottle of red wine for three people, two of whom I didn’t think could drink much.

bbq sauce

…and guess what, we were drinking the Absolut Vodka neat from the bottle without any mixers and nearly finished it before we even got to Sekeping Serendah Retreat! OMG! I knew we wouldn’t have enough alcohol at that point. Thus, I managed to persuade the caretaker to drive out to town at about 10 pm and get us some cheap, locally distilled vodka (RM 45).

plate

This is our dinner. I had the black corn, lamb, fish, and an egg. Everything was grilled to perfection! Kudos to the girls for manning the BBQ.

fish

I didn’t even know fish had to be disemboweled before slapping it on the grill. We used real butter to cook the food and had a bottle of BBQ sauce to go with it. It was great eating under the moonlight with a Styrofoam cup of red wine. The food somehow tasted better under the stars.

girls

We started playing Blackjack after that with the bottle of Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur and finished it in less than 10 minutes. (!) That leaves the dodgy vodka which left everyone (including me – and I’ve drank a lot of shitty alcohol) apprehensive as soon as it was opened. The smell of the vodka is…revolting. I don’t have a better adjective to describe it.

bbq food

I think everyone puked that night courtesy of the dodgy vodka with a distinctive methanol odor. It probably had a legion of other unidentified non-ethanol spirits inside. I puked straight after drinking it but was still sober and slept only at around 4 am. I made sure that the caretaker would bring us breakfast (RM 5 per pax) which is a choice of either roti canai or nasi lemak before sleeping for about four hours.

food done

It was a great trip despite all three of us throwing up before the night was over. ;)

drinking

Regurgitation Register:
Joyce: 7
Windy: 2
Huai Bin: 1

It was technically twice for me too, but the first time was not directly ethanol related. I forced myself to puke coz I was full and wanted more space in my stomach to…er, fit more alcohol in. :p

dog

I have much respect for Windy, she drank almost as much as me and managed to hold her liquor. :)

Sekeping Serendah retreat

mud shed

Sekeping Serendah is a Zen like retreat in the middle of the jungle. Touted as a place with a minimal footprint on the environment, I was introduced to this retreat by a coworker who’s been there. Sekeping Serendah literally means “A piece of Serendah” in Malay. Serendah is the town where the retreat is located at – it’s an Orang Asli (native) settlement area.

shower

Karen (my coworker – seen in the breakfast photo) was quite pleased with her experience there last time so I called up Christina and booked a glass shed. Unfortunately, being a long weekend and all, they were all out of glass sheds. The other option is the timber shed, which is also fully occupied. Sekeping Serendah only had the mud huts left so we went for that option.

serendah sculpture

This is the famous Sekeping Serendah metal sculpture. It turns out that there’s only a couple of sheds in Sekeping Serendah – 5 in total, if I’m not mistaken. It’s a very private retreat, perfect for relaxing in the green forest reserve and swim in the pool and just generally chill out – BBQ at night, hear the crickets sing their song. It’s a little slice of heaven just an hour away from the bustling city.

serendah sign

The sign to turn in the place is a little obscure (understatement of the year) so watch out for a white house with a blue roof. You need to turn left right before that. If you get out of your car, move some shrubs away and brush at this little concrete block on the ground, you’ll see that it says “Sekeping Serendah” if you squint hard and long enough. ;)

serendah entrance

You’ll head up a small dirt road lined with trees which will bring you to a rustic looking wall made of bricks. You’ll see the retreat right after that – if you’re on a heavily graveled road instead of a smooth dirt road, you’ve taken a wrong turn and would very likely need assistance if you go further in.

arrive montage

You can park right outside the only road to the sheds. The sheds are all partially covered by shrubs, with only clay brick steps leading up to the elevated living quarters. It offers a lot of shade (from the sun), shelter (from the rain), and privacy (from other people) – all three of which we experienced.

hut montage

The mud sheds have air conditioning, a fridge, a wash basin, open concept showers and washrooms, and clay partitions. The beds are thoughtfully fitted with mosquito netting to ensure a night of untroubled sleep. There are no modern distracting amenities like TV and your cell phone won’t work over here so it’s a perfect place to get reacquainted with nature. Everything is concealed – they do have hot water but the piping is hidden so you feel like you’re really living under the trees…

serendah montage

…which in fact you are. The forest canopy combined with the brilliant open style architecture allows the open skies to be literally above your head when you lounge in the patio and when you shower. Coupled with the truncated tree trunks in the patio and the brook running through the entire retreat, it’s like you’re completely isolated from your worries, and there’s just you and your friends.

pool montage

The private swimming pool is an excellent place to soak after the ordeal that we went through. We headed straight for the pool as soon as we got there and put our bags in the mud shed. The caretaker was kind enough to ask if we wanted to barbecue stuff at night and kindly offered to provide charcoal and light the fire.

nice

Meanwhile, we hit the swimming pool, relaxed in the cool, refreshing water and talked about stuff while soaking in the refreshingly cold water. I would say it’s a great place for company outings and bonding sessions, stuff like that. I was in the pool with Joyce and Windy until we were all wrinkled from the water and it was getting too cold to stay. It was dark by the time we got back to the mud shed.

relax

The canopy of trees above your head as you swim and laze around really makes for a relaxing experience.

It’s like a slice of paradise.
 
Just be careful of the pole supporting the curtain that covers the shower and washroom – it’s not anchored and very prone to falling down at the most inappropriate moments. -_-”

The epic journey to Sekeping Serendah

breakfast

The trip started off normally enough – it was supposed to be an overnight stay at a relaxing retreat about an hour away from KL. We had breakfast and bought some groceries for the barbecue at night before driving down…

serenti

…I even managed to drop by my alma mater. ;)

Sekeping Serendah
is supposed to be about 10 km after Serenti Serendah. I drove up too far, got some wrong directions from a local and drove into a gravel stretch of road. The website did mention a “narrow road” so I pushed on despite the numerous hazards on the road, nay, gravel path.

stuck

I drove into a deep pothole about 2 kilometers in. I tried to reverse,
failed to get a grip on the sandy gravel and had to get out. We came
out with this idea of putting rocks under the tires for traction and I
managed (with much acceleration and damage to the car) to reverse out…

…straight into another deep pothole. -_-”

ideas

This time I was really stuck and Joyce and Windy came out with a couple of…er, innovative ideas, including jacking up the front of the car (Windy: You have comprehensive car insurance right?) but it was to no avail. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere!

arrive

Thus, I called the retreat and asked for a tow truck. We were stranded there for two hours while waiting for the tow truck guys to come. It was certainly an Experience (TM). ;)

tow

The people fixed a length of rope to my car…

out

…and I reversed it out with the help of the 4WD towing me. The strange thing about these kind souls is that they wouldn’t accept payment of any sort. Cheers!

shop

The ordeal gave me cracks on both my rear tires and it was decided that a trip to the tire shop was in order so I won’t burst it driving back, lose control of the car, crash, and kill everyone. Damage for replacing both rear tires: RM 320.

fail

Oh well, at least I got a certificate as a testament to my driving skillz. ;)

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