What To Expect
Since it was the first recce run we had done we had no idea what to expect. We were expecting reasonable twists with moderate traffic. What we found was RouteHunters gold. There's two parts to the course, part one is the link between Dong and the Benta - Jerantut trunk road, and the trunk road itself being part two. Part one is nothing short of a tarmac rally stage. Much like the Gombak - Genting Sempah route of Episode 1, and the KKB - Fraser route of Episode 4, its tight, twisty and virtually unused. But unlike Episode 1 and 4, this route is much more visible, and you can achieve a higher speed. I'd highly discourage it though, the bumps and crest will easily fling you down the mountain if you're careless. Part two is a really lovely B road with beautiful curves, like an extended version of the Episode 4 Plus Tras - Bentong road.
Route Hunters: Episode 5 :Dong to Jerantut (via C159)
Just like the Fast and Furious franchise, this is where the Route Hunters operations graduates to the big leagues. This is where we step up the game for some big time GT runs rather than short sprints. The whole deal with the Route Hunters operations was to ensure we document every nook and canny of the Peninsular, and not to be contended to the standard issue Genting or Gohtong runs (no offence those are still entertaining runs). The irony of this run was that its our 5th episode and we did 500km in a single morning! A proper escapade with epic driving roads, void of traffic and good scenery. And Pahang, the state with the most amount of mountains is a good darn place to start.
As mentioned there are one or two areas that are prone to landslides so watch out for them or even work to repair the said landslides
Traffic / Villagers
You will pass by a few villages so be mindful of them and peg down the pace when you get to a cluster of houses or junction. There's plenty of road to up the pace again.
C159 is totally remote so be mindful of animals guys.
This is at your own discretion and believes, Dong or rather Ulu Dong has a really dark past as it was the scene of one of the most gruesome crimes in recent Malaysian history. If anything the motive of the crime revolved around the belief in the supernatural. Therefore I would not advise to use this course during odd hours or alone.
To actually get to Part One of the Episode 5 route, you have to first get to the village of Dong (awesome name, I know right??), which is about 107km away from Kuala Lumpur. It's an hour and half drive out, but if you start before dawn you get to see the sunrise from Karak Highway, which is simply breathtaking. To get to Dong, you first drive from Bentong towards Kuala Lipis via Raub, and 15km out of Raub you will get to the village entrance. You will trek along the C144 village road which gives you a glimpse of what's in store. C144 links Dong and Ulu Dong, which is infamous for one of the most shocking crimes in Malaysia, and the really scenic Lata Jarum. 8 km after Dong, take the left into the C159. This my friends is pure roller coaster.
This is the type of road you wished you had sold your kidney and kids for a WRC Group A spec Subaru with Electronic diffs, Hydraulic handbrakes and an Anti-Lag System. It's not just a series of hairpins and switchbacks, its more than that. A constant 3 Dimensional ribbon of tarmac that really tests your throttle control and weight shifting. You really have to pay attention how much of throttle, steering and brake you give at all time to maintain your composure. Using the bumps and crests to your advantage to help 'flick' and 'bump' the car to where you want it to be can be fun, and furiously frightening if done wrong. But one thing is for sure, the C159 is unique!
After the C159, it's on to the B road that connects Benta and Jerantut, Route 64. After crazy intense ride of the C159 this is more sedate and relaxed. Its like the super-extended, director's cut version of the Tras-Raub road, or Ulu Yam road without the elevation. You do pass by a few villages, at which point please peg your pace down. Otherwise this is roadster or GT country. Amazing pace, smooth surface on most parts, and nice switchbacks.
Just watch out for one or two parts in this 60 KM route has some patch road surface due to rain and landslides. Otherwise its one of the roads that qualifies as the type Dominic Toretto refers to when he says "They say an open road helps you think about where you been, and about where you're going". Running this route in a S2000, a straight 6 NA BMW, Cayman S or an Elise would be simply sublime!
Map images source: Google Maps