. We stayed three nights and went on treks each day. The trails were fabulous and we had to climb up steep hills using the roots of the enormous trees that clung to the soil as steps up. We saw some animal wildlife but the main treat was the trees and fauna that were magnificent. We got accustomed to seeing brightly coloured pitcher plants and trees that have buttress roots that came out from the trunks of trees hundreds of feet tall and hundreds of years old. We were lucky to be there in the dry season so did not encounter one leech and very few mosquitoes. In fact we are still to use the malaria tablets that we had bought for this leg of our journey in Asia and if anyone wants to buy some of the £600 worth of malarone pills that we bought, please let me know! One trail took us up a mountain via a canopy walk that was a wire ropeway suspended 60 feet above the ground and gave us glimpses of the top of the forest. Another trail took us deeper into the jungle where we went to a cave that was inhabited by a large number of small but rather active bats that we later were told bite if you get too close. I wish I had known that as I stuck the Canon camera into one of their jowls!
Everything centred on the river that split the town from the rainforest. There were a number of very basic open air floating restaurants along the bank and we would eat there under a blanket of flying cicadas that buzzed around the rafters and lights
. On our walk home these same cicadas would dive bomb us all the way back to our room. They are like drunken kamikaze pilots who bounce off everything from windows, trees to humans. The worst was when they got tangled in your hair. Many a scream followed by a frantic dance to rid them ensued!
One of the evenings was spent doing a night safari in the back of a 4X4 pickup with the kids sharing seats on the roof with a guy from England who left London 9 months ago on a BMW motorbike and is hoping to get to Sydney..... in about 1 or 2 years! We went through a dreaded palm tree plantation and saw a civet, a fox eating a mouse, wild cats, snakes and little birds. The kids thought it was a great adventure. The vast number of palm plantations around Malaysia has made it the leading country in the production of palm oil, a base ingredient for a huge number of western products including cosmetics. The natural and ecological catastrophe behind this huge individual wealth generating product is that rainforests and jungles have been annihilated to make way for the palms which has left animals without any habitat and therefore they die out and the ecosystem is damaged beyond repair. We will see more of this sad carnage across the whole country.
The whole area was captivating and when we left we were delighted to have spent three days deep in the jungle, sharing a memory of Liz's Mum under an enormous wonderful tree with the most amazing buttresses spreading out like waves in the sea.
Taman Negara is in the heart of Peninsula Malaysia and is said to be the oldest rainforest in the world. After arriving in Jerantut by train from Singapore we had a short taxi ride to a jetty where we caught a narrow boat up to Taman Negara Park. The trip was three hours and the river banks were stunning with the rainforest tumbling down to the water in green cascades. Much of the park accommodation and sights to see in Malaysia are run by groups (many from Singapore) which have captured the market and try to force you to go with a tour group costing a ridiculous, over inflated amount. We had decided that our budget could not take this and so had set off resolute in finding our own way around. Arriving at the park headquarters we could see the five star resort on the one bank behind us as we trudged up a steep hill with our packs to find a guest house. Unfortunately we struggled and so treated ourselves to the Woodland Resort which had individual cabins and yes, even a small swimming pool. We came to love the pool as we returned from our jungle treks with heads ready to explode from the heat and bodies covered in steaming sweat