A group of men took photos of selfie under rays of light known as ‘God Light’ in Keris Cave, Dabong
People might say Kelantan – the East Coast state of Malaysia, is relatively popular as food heaven and steeped in tradition of Malay culture but little did I know that it has the best spot for adventure tourism which off the beaten path.
Frankly speaking, I have never heard about Dabong, a small town in Kuala Krai but I am surprised to learn that it has the tallest waterfall in South East Asia.
Dabong is geographically situated in remote area but it could be easily accessible by road or train nevertheless. Located about two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kota Bharu, it is surrounded by pristine forest reserve which has been gazetted as a state park and ecotourism site in 2007 and named as Stong State Forest Park (formerly known as Jelawang Forest).
My first trip venturing into the wilderness of this countryside made me realized that I could never resist the charms of this place. Mount Stong is familiar to me as one of the adventurer’s paradise among Malaysian hikers but little did I know it is actually located in Dabong! In fact, Stong State Forest Park has at least seven sizeable peaks to climb including Mount Ayam, Mount Stong, Mount Tera and Mount Che Tahir with Baha Camp is the starting point for all these trails.
Near Baha Camp, there are also several attractions to visit including Rantai Cave, Kolam Puteri Waterfall, Telaga Tujuh and Dua Gunung Waterfall besides Sumalian Trail that will lead you to Kelawar Cave, Orkid Park and magnificent Kayu Jadi Batu Cave.
Unfortunately, my short one-and-half-day excursion to Dabong is not enough to discover all these secret hidden gems. We only managed to catch a glimpse of seven-tiered Mount Stong Waterfall from the bus as we headed to Jelawang Pipe Resort & Extreme Park.
Jelawang Pipe Resort & Extreme Park
Located at Kampung Sungai Batu Jelawang, the resort itself is situated within the oil palm plantation, a hilly area of the private land and we stayed in tube chalets adjacent to the river for a night. We felt close to the nature as we listened to the relaxing sound of flowing water. The facilities provided were adequate to cater for nature lovers including camping site, barbecue site, toilet, prayer room and cafe.
Upon arrival at the resort, we proceeded with 180 metre zip line activities. As we flew down a zip line from the higher point, we enjoyed an aerial view with scenic backdrops of Mount Che Tahir and Sungai Batu Waterfall. The zip line was totally safe with well-maintained facilities and thus recommended for the first timer as it was also professionally designed with braking mechanism. Therefore, we enjoyed the activity even though it was raining.
The only thing that you should be extra cautious if you love swimming in the nearby river is the water level as it might suddenly rose especially after raining.
Jelawang Pipe Resort & Extreme Park offers many activities with assistance of local nature tour guides from Persatuan Malim Gunung Kelantan, ranging from caving, waterfall hiking, jungle trekking, rock climbing, via ferrata, abseiling and paragliding around Dabong area upon request.
For example, there are 23 routes for rock climbing in Dabong while 155 -metre via ferrata track at Ikan Cave in Stong State Forest Park is the third in Malaysia after the world’s highest Mount Kinabalu’s via ferrata in Sabah and Paya Gunung in Pahang.
Since the resort’s location is also situated near the Dabong Railway Station, you can always ask the management to arrange for pick up with a small fee.
Address: Jelawang Pipe Resort & Extreme Park, Kampung Sungai Batu Jelawang, 18200, Dabong, Kelantan, Malaysia.
Facebook: Jelawang Pipe Resort & Extreme Park
Phone: +6014-8324363/ 019-3867357
Ikan Cave Complex
The next day, we started our day early in the morning as we geared up for the new adventure to uncover 150-year old limestone caves. We were told that Ikan Cave Complex consisted of six caves – Pagar Cave, Keris Cave, Ikan Cave, Gelap Cave, Tembakar Cave and Manggis Cave.
However, we only explored three caves (Pagar Cave, Keris Cave and Ikan Cave) in which all of these caves were believed to be submerged under the sea after the discovery of seaweed fossil at Pagar Cave.
There was no proper walkway to the entrance of these caves, so we first spend the day trekking through forest. As we delved into the Pagar Cave, we were mesmerized by the formation of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites that were formed over a very long period of time.
Along the journey, we were alerted with the existence of trapdoor spider which constructed burrows in the ground, witnessed cave begonia plants and spotted flowstone – a crystal-like mineral deposit found in the limestone.
Besides, we were also reminded not to touch the stalactites and stalagmites as to avoid any ruins to their growth formation.
At Keris Cave, the main highlight were the rays of light passing through the cave for about half an hour which also known as “God Light”. We were in awe of these astounding lights emanating from the cave sinkhole as we stayed a bit longer just to catch for the right timing which was around 11 a.m. in the morning.
In Malaysia, you might also find similar rays of light at Niah Cave in Sarawak and Batu Caves in Selangor but I bet you will definitely have really good shots in Keris Cave. Hence, I could say Keris Cave is one of the most Instagram-worthy spot not to be missed especially if you are a novice caver.
River Tubing Adventure at Kenerong River
We then ended up the day with some refreshing activity – tubing excursion down the Kenerong River which located about 9.2 kilometres away from Ikan Cave Complex.
The sandy-pebbled Kenerong River looked so crystal-clear and cold but we were reminded to always wear life jacket for safety precaution. At first, we were given inner tubes with enough air pressure.
You don’t need to worry because the basic concept of river tubing is to get you into flowing water on the inner tube and let the current float you down the river. Therefore, it was so much more fun tubing in group as we enjoyed lots of splashes.
The fact that the current was quite calm for more than one kilometre really made our day since we encountered only small rough stream. All we needed to do were to accustom our hands to navigate as paddles.
So, if you come here, just feel a litte bit rush while you float, slide and rollicking under the guidance of a qualified guide. A lovely day out in the beauty of nature as your backdrop surely will bring a lot of fun!