Pahang’s Best Kept Secret

Rainbow Waterfall, Sungei Lembing, Pahang
Rainbow Waterfall, Sungei Lembing, Pahang

Tourists coming to this part of Malaysia usually head for the beautiful beaches near Club Med Cherating.

But has anyone heard of Sungei Lembing? A tired yellow river that runs sleepily through an old tin mining town near Kuantan, Pahang in west coast Malaysia. Well I haven’t, until my childhood friend Melissa suggested we visit and off we went.

What’s there to do in this dwindling commune? Honestly nothing much. This place, once known as the El Dorado of the East, is now more notorious for its massive floods when the old river overflows from the monsoon flush around Christmas.

Yet family-run hotels are mushrooming all over the aged town in recent years. From basic homestays to concept resorts, they host thousands of holiday makers willing to endure the bumpy one-hour ride on 4WD and a 45-minute hike to the waterfall where a single or multiple rainbows appear on clear bright days.

The phenomenon appears at mid-morning for about 30 minutes when the sun shines at the perfect angle on millions of water droplets falling daintily like icing sugar sprinkled from the peak to the cool cool pool below.

Not as spectacular as the Niagara falls but it thrills the day hikers enough to make a plunge for the grand photo shot.

What’s rather impressive is the place is surprisingly clean considering groups of people have picnics here every day during the dry season. Not a trash bag, food wrapper or plastic bottle in sight.

The reason is that the guides pick up after their own groups, making sure whatever food and drinks brought in are accounted for and removed for disposal back in the town bin centres.

Our guide explained, “This is our livelihood, why do we want to ruin it?”

Simple as that. No fancy statements or heroic acts to save the earth. Just a humble reminder that little acts will make a big difference in keeping the surroundings beautiful. These folks may not have heard the word ‘sustainability’ but they sure understand what that means.

Joan Yap

7am Sunrise on the road
7.30am Start of jungle track
Crossing streams
Over clay
Over clay
Roller-coaster on laterite
Zig-zag roller coaster
Crossover to hiking trail
8.15am Over to hiking trail
sort of rock climbing
Sort of rock climbing
Finally at the waterfall before the crowd
9am Finally at the waterfall before the crowd comes

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