Sunday, September 19, 2010

Camping at Commonwealth Park (Taman Komanwel)

I was an avid camper in the US and I'd planned to camp here in Malaysia. I even shipped over some of my gear like, a REI 6 man tent, an two man tent, and some backpacking stuff.
After being here for a few years I finally went! Well, this was the second trip I went once to Kuala Kubu Baru on my own for 1 night but this was the first "full scale" trip.
My friend's kids (10 and 7) wanted to, camp for the first time, have a campfire, and fish as well. Commonwealth near Rawang was near enough if a disaster occurred we could be home quickly. I loaded the gear and the dog in the car and we set out.
I took the 6 man tent for all of us, sleeping pads, and cooking equipment.
When we arrived the dog promptly threw up in the car. Now I know she has a history of car sickness but I thought I’d dodged the bullet when we pulled off the road and she’d been fine the entire trip, but alas no… So we parked, cleaned up as best as we could, and started looking for a campsite. It was Hari Raya weekend here (a celebration ending Ramadan the Islamic fasting month) so I figured the place would be deserted, so I was surprised to see multiple tents set up. I turned out to be a group of young guys from a local church.
Once we picked a spot we had to lug the gear and get camp set up. I started with the tent so if the daily rain started we’d have a refuge. The sites all have raised “beds” for tents which are filled with sandy soil for easy drainage, they have metal rails to tie up to... and trip over.  There are concrete benches and some tables, and a covered cooking area with a BBQ, some one had built a table of bamboo near the cooking area.1009201005410092010052
After the tent was set up, I had the kids collecting wood for “their” campfire. That’s always fun getting a fire lit in the jungle as the wood is always damp.
10092010050 10092010060 After the fire was started and the initial wow wore off they wanted to fish… ok, so I dig out the tackle and tie it to stick as we didn’t have rods.10092010057 They didn’t have much patients, the bait was barely wet before they yanked it out to check for fish or move to a better spot, so needless to say the fish were safe and none were caught.
That night the full effect of the fire could be enjoyed, even with the lack of roast able edibles i.e. marshmallows. I have solemnly swore we’ll bring them next time. The campground is fairly clean and the sites had rubbish bins (trash cans for us Americans) which is nice even if the monkeys and cats drag it out again. That’s assuming the trash makes it in the can in the first place, Malaysians have a penchant for dropping their trash wherever they happen to be standing. The facilities are pretty well maintained, again by Malaysian standards there are restrooms and piped water as well as a group cooking area.11092010065
We were fortunate it didn’t rain the two days we were there, although we didn’t see any wildlife we could hear monkeys and birds…oh and leeches I forgot to mention them. They are everywhere so pulling leeches off was a constant chore, not too many mosquitoes though.
I did see a firefly later that night and there are some huge ants but they didn’t seem too interested in us so that was alright. 10092010058
Lucy our dog had a great time in spite of being tied up a lot, I did let her off her leash since I didn’t see any Muslims and she was minding… mostly. She did tear off and start barking at a couple of the boys camping next to us so the freedom was short lived. But she had a blast while it lasted.
We kept it to one night, so the old adage of “leave them wanting more” is true as the kids want to go again. So the next one will be a two niter. Along with the marshmallows we’ll add hot dogs or other campfire roast able foods.
10092010056 I’d recommend this place for families, bring fire starters and maybe some dry wood. We didn’t have to pay but I’ve read they usually charge RM5 a night.