Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mt Ophir 1974...The True Encounter with Princess Gunung Ledang Part 2

This is the continuation of my TRUE ACCOUNT on meeting the legendary PRINCESS of GUNUNG LEDANG in 1974 ( pl see my earlier post of same title dated June 11 2008 ).

To summarise briefly, I was at that time leading a group of just 5 of us to summit Mt Ophir.
We went during the 3 day Chinese New Year holiday period ,presuming we would meet no one during our climb... as no sane person person would want to do such a thing during CNY of all things. Correct? Right and wrong!
We made the trip and we were all sober and sane.
And we met 2 mysterious individuals and 1 mysterious group during the climb.
As I was the only one who had been up there previously in 1969, I more or less knew the route. Orienteering , map reading and topography is an area I'm particularly strong in, even today. Back then, we were not using maps at all for Mt Ophir. As our climbing party was just 5, we kept close together within vision and earshot. No danger of anyone getting astray.
Yet, about 2 and half hours after we started our trek upwards...I knew we had taken a wrong turn at a fork. There was sign that pointed Mt Ophir " This way " with an indicator arrow drawn. It pointed to the right of the fork....all of us simply followed the trail for nearly 2 hours!
That path eventually led us to a very hilly terrain in deep jungle and before us was a cave with quite a big opening. I immediately realised we had taken the wrong track as this was all "new" to me. Nevertheless, since we were at the mouth of a cave I ventured to step in just to have a look-see. It was quite dark within.
Before I could even proceed further, a booming voice came from within.
I was startled. I could make out the shape of a Malay man who was alone and sat cross-legged.
He was dressed in all dark attire much like the those who practise Silat.
He had a kerchief tied to his hair too.
This mystic asked me in Malay, " Apa di-buat sini ?" ( What are you doing here? )
I politely replied," Kita nak jalan ke-atas Gunung ". ( We are heading for the Mt top )
The mystic: " Sini tak boleh jalan ke-atas. Pusing balik!" ( From here, no way to the top. Go back! )
On behalf of my party, I apologised profusely for having intruded into his solitary meditations,
turned around and backtrack....the way we came.
Soon, we were back at the original fork junction and examining the signboard which was easily shifted, I realised someone must have repositioned it wrongly.
So, that was the meeting of the 1st mysterious person on this trip.
Back to the meeting of the old lady right near the summit [ reputedly the Princess of Gunung Ledang ]
She had seemingly appeared from nowhere as there was an outcrop just slightly ahead of me to my right. It was the narrowest part of the path to the top. To my right was the rock face and it was curving. Then this old lady appeared from slightly above me as I was moving upwards....she downwards. We both stopped and looked at each other, face to face.
Then she spoke in simple Malay to me, in words I can understand. Remember...this is almost at the summit which is 4187 feet high!
She: " Apa buat di-sini? " ( What are you all doing here ? )
Me: " Kita akan naik atas Gunung, makchik " ( We intend to get to the top, makchik ).
[ps: makchik is a very polite term to use for an elderly malay lady ]
She: " Tau undang-undang di Gunung ini dan apa boleh buat, apa tak boleh buat?"
( Know the do's and don'ts of this mountain? )
Me: " Ya makchik...undang-undang dan lain-lain saya sudah tau dan memang ikut.
( Yes,makchik...I know the do's and don'ts and will observe them )
She: " Baik-lah, ingat baik-baik, jangan lupa ya! "
( Very well, do not forget ok! )
Me: " Baik makchik.Terima Kasih ."
( Very good makchik. Thank you. )

The conversation I had with her lasted about maybe 2 minutes. I could hear the other 4 of my friends just coming up behind me along this narrow trail. The old lady then walked past me moving downwards also along this same trail. I removed my haversack and sat down on a rock. The other 4 members of my group were soon with me in seconds...also removing their packs and having a rest. I then decided to get their full attention and brief them properly about the do's and don'ts of this magical mountain.
I said," We are just metres away from the summit. And do not forget the do's and don'ts I have briefed you on much earlier. Whether you believe in them or not, please remember to respect the beliefs for this place. It is regarded in some quarters as a supernatural and holy mountain to the locals. And by the way....I was just clearly REMINDED by that" old lady" you saw just now."
All of them, in one surprised voice...." WHAT OLD LADY ???"
Me: " That old makchik I was talking to carrying a basket in her hand. You can't have missed her. She was walking towards all of you ! "
They: " No, we did not see any old lady at all ! "
Me: " Didn't any of you hear me talking in Malay with her ? I could hear you all coming upwards."
They: " No...we did not hear anything at all . "
I gave them a description of the lady but none saw or even heard her !!!
I was then wondering how did they fail to see her as she moved past me towards them on the trail.
She seemed to have VANISHED into thin air !
In all honesty, even back then in 1974 when this incident took place, none of us myself included, ever thought about the great significance of my meeting with this "special lady". I carried out my briefing as per normal.
The climb to the summit was very successful.
Before we left the summit area, I used an aluminium water bottle to collect water that issued from an overhead outcrop of rock. This was reputed to be "holy" water with special curative powers. On the way down, the next day, I also collected some plants particular variety of leaves that were said to be " special". Both the water and the leaves were not for myself but for 2 then colleagues of mine who were suffering from different ailments...and who had specifically requested for my help.
I mentioned a mysterious group that we met. It was where we were bathing near the waterfalls. We heard singing from way above us, high up on the ridge of the mountain. Looking up, I saw a few characters dressed in military fatigues. They were Chinese and were singing in Mandarin and waving a few red flags. Who were they?
My Goodness, I thought...they were most likely the remnants of the Malayan communists who we all thought had melted away!
I told our small party to wave back as hard as we could! ( To show we are not unfriendly for our own safety! The commies had weapons and arms if you recall. )
Those chaps way above us continued their waving to us.

( Story to be continued tomorrow...)

1 comment:

Lam Chun See said...

Very interesting indeed. Can't wait to hear the next episode.