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 Ba'Kelalan expedition with mondial 4x4

LE CIE DU RAID in Sarawak  page 3

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part 1 in Kuching

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I Hate Mud! and they come in all forms and consistencies.

From here on Labo told us to go ahead and he would see us at Apple Lodge, our base for the next two days. There were more sections that looked horrendous but we found that it had a firm base and reached our destination without any more dramas. I peeped under my car and saw the extent of the mud bath. Yes, the Lord is good!

The next day (four) was spent away from the car as we hiked around the rice paddies and walked the apple orchards- yes, they grow apples here.

My super muddy under carriage

Some of the many scenic villages that one would pass going into Ba'Kelalan

Lemur and Blouie had to drive out of Ba'Kelalan without Lapis. By this time, two dry days have passed and conditions changed quickly and the road had 'improved' somewhat. The backhoes and tractors had worked on the trail and the worst parts were the priority but there were a few sections that had us worried. There was a section where we drove downhill coming into Ba'Kelalan but now it was a long slippery and rutted uphill over mud that was still soft. Lemur being the lighter car, went first. Philippe followed the tyre ruts and got stuck very close to the apex of the climb. He tried a number of things that only made matters worse and so it was the first time the Ramsey winch would be operated. I tied the rope to the best anchor I could find and the winch cable was extended to it. It was a small slow winch but it did the job of recovering the car.

Lemur took a wrong line and Blouie gave him a tow.

Lemur lifting a wheel over the technical trail from Sorensin to Poring

I took a different line out of the tyre ruts and drove uphill without any dramas. Score 2-1 in my favour. We got to another section and I remembered that we had a tough time driving through it. Lemur being a lot lighter got but Blouie (with the spare tyre) got stucked. Score 2-2. One of the last obstacle was the point where I first towed Philippe the for the first time. Again Lemur got stuck taking a different line, this time its short wheelbase being the culprit - score 3-2 to me!

Maneuvering a tight line to prevent cross axel and maintain traction 

We got beyond Long Semadoh and the logging trucks appeared with more and more regular frequency. We were left to fend on our own to drive among the juggernauts, switching from side of the road to another. There was this one empty truck that was on the wrong side of the road- both Philippe and I went defensive, I used my turn indicator and stopped.

This is one scenic trail

We got to Lawas, I changed back to my worn MT tyres and headed to Kota Kinabalu where we spent two nights, with a dinner at Salut being the highlight. We went back on the road and headed to Kota Marudu to the Rungus longhouse at Bavaganzzo. The next day, we headed to the Sorensin trail.

Nice and easy water crossing when not raining

This trail is so different from Ba'Kelalan as it is a technical driving trail. One needs to watch the lines and drop into deep ruts and also to avoid cross axel sections. No dramas on the first 5 km of this trail as someone went in with a tractor and took out the ruts. There were many areas which was rutted and technical. The water crossing were pretty easy but the broken bridges was the one that hung heavily on my mind. The what-ifs started playing in my mind... what if the broken bridges broke further? What if the land slide broke further and we could not cross and had to turn back? I monitored these points on my GPS and saw it drawing nearer. We got to the first one and the bridge was intact and crossed without dramas. The second obstacle was the land slide section and again someone else had worked on it and made an easy crossing.

Mt. Kinabalu makes for a fantastic background on this trail

 

Philippe took many pictures of the cars and mountain

Finally it was the log bridge. It looked a little worn out and needed to be propped up. I took out my found a macaranga tree. A few firm blows saw it fell and Philippe and Pierre helped me cart the tree and propped the bridge. After a few turns of thick wire to bind the logs together, we were good to go. I crossed first and since Philippe wanted to take pictures, Pascal had to drive it. Eunice navigated her through. Pascal had never had the experience of following the instructions of a navigator and was so elated or clearing this obstacle.

Lemur's proud portrait with Mt. K

We got to Pine Resort our based for two nights for some cool mountain air and to visit the Kinabalu areas - Kundasang market, Mesilau with its nepenthes garden, Ranau rafflesia conservation area but more important to drive the village roads that links the many villages in this scenic mountainous area where we took tones of pictures. From here, we headed back to Kota Kinabalu where both Eunice and I bade farewell to the Grielens and left them to visit Sukau and Mulu on their own. Borneo 4X4 may be in the lead at 3-2 (recovery score) but Mondial 4X4 still has a chance to catch up as there would be more expeditions to come.