I went on a mission today to deliver some food supplies to a few Orang Asli villages in the Endau Rompin area. We were a small party, my brother James and other member of the Ara Bumi group, an NGO of Majodi that assists the Orang Asli.
We left at about 7:30am from JB and headed north on the PLUS Highway until we reached the Kluang exit.
We then drove along Route50 the main trunk road that leads to Mersing. The low-lying areas along both sides of the road had water on both sides and in some areas near the river it looked like a huge lake.
About a kilometer before Kahang we got stuck in a traffic jam for 500 metres. The low section in the road was under water about knee high and to make matters worse, a lorry with heavy equipment had broken down thereby blocking one half of the road at the flooded section. Luckily there was a policeman on duty and he took care of motorists patiently and with a smile. Well done!
We stopped in Kahang to re-fuel and then continued towards the Orang Asli villages.
The first place Kampong Sg.Tuba was not accessible and the road was flooded soon after turning off the trunk road - maybe 200 metres before the water reached knee height and we could not contact the villagers to come and collect their rations.
So we got back on the trunk road and we could now see vast tracts of low-lying area on both sides of the road that looked like huge lakes. A few isolated home were also half-submerged in the flood.
About 5km after Kahang, the road was closed and we had to leave the Ford Ranger to continue by boat. Luckily my brother had managed to contact the Orang Asli headman and he organised the boat transport. We took the boat for about 1km to another section where a car was waiting and were driven maybe 5km closer to the village. We then took another boat to the village where the goods had been delivered to inform them how the rations were to be divided.
The Orang Asli are a happy people but maybe their lives have become more complicated as some of their lands, the Endau Rompin forests have been cleared to make way for oil palms. Some plantation owners even prohibit them frm entering the cleared lands and thus their traditions are definitely being stifled. The children really seemed to enjoy playing in the water and it seemed like an opportunity for them to learn how to swim or boat.
When it was time to leave, our only worry was that the water level was rising and we were afraid the place where we had parked the Ford Ranger might be submerged but luckily the area there was wide and the water had risen by maybe 4inches.
The ride back was bumpy as the load had been unloaded and apart from water-sodden shoes, everything was fine.