The Asian Adventure Begins

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Bunbum Long Hide

Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Thursday, March 11, 2010

12 hour train from Singapore deep into the heart of Malaysia.  What a change.  Singapore trains do not allow eating, drinking or smoking and litering and you are fined $500 if you get caught.  Malaysian trains have people throwing trash out of the window every 5 seconds and everyone smokes the entire way.  It was not nearly as junglely as you would think "The Jungle Train" would be, but we barely made the ferry, as usual, to the Taman Negara National Part which was the definition of jungle.  We took a 3 hour boat ride up the Trembling River even deeper into the heart to the Malaysian jungle were we arrived in a little village on the edge of the national park.  We saw a few local people who live on the river fishing and swimming, water buffalo, beautiful Kingfisher birds bright blue and orange, a huge monitor lizard and a monkey swimming across the river. Malaysia is a very Muslim country with nearly all women wearing burkas, mosques in every little town and the enchanting prayer calls at sunrise and sunset.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of Singapore, Malaysian people could not be nicer or more friendly.  Everyone we talked to was so helpful and kind.  We ate dinner on floating barge restaurants that make the best fried noodles, Mamak style, with river fish.  They were fantastic and extemely cheap.  We spent the next day hiking jungle trails, walking through the jungle canopy on a suspension bridge (120 feet in the air), and swimming in the river.  That evening we hiked about 3 miles to a "hide" deep in the jungle.  The Malaysian National Parks have built these fantastic clubhouse like sheds in the middle of the jungle, complete with wooden bunks and toilets, all over the park.  It cost $1.50 per person, per night to stay in them.  About 5 minutes into our hike the downpour began and didn't end until we arrived at our hide.  Within 5 more minutes we were soaked and happy to finally be cool and wet instead of hot, sweaty and wet for the first time in 4 days.  We climbed, splashed, and stomped about an hour before we found the first leech.  Ri was the first victim.  She let out a yelp and Eric ripped the little worm off with more than a little tug.  After 2 wrong turns and 1 kilometer backtracks later we finally arrived at the hide.  Adam was the final leech victim, but didn't find his until he took his shoes and pants off and the leeches were so fat they looked like they were about to burst.  We bunked with another American guy from Chicago who was really nice and very happy to have company, especially Americans.  The hides are basically built over a jungle clearing/path that animals use to walk through the jungle, to the river, etc.  If you are lucky and observant you can see any sort of jungle animals, even tigers, elephants and rhinos.  We were not lucky enough to see those, but did see 2 beautiful jungle deer more like the size of elk.  It was very foggy and dark and there were probably other animals, but we missed them.  The jungle sounds were also amazing.  The minute after the sun dropped behind the trees, the jungle noise started blasting a humming sound so loud it was difficult to sleep or hear each others whispers.  Even though we slept on hard wood planks the experience was amazing.  The next morning we treked out early to meet our boatman who took us back to the village where we took the bus to our next destination-the Perhentian Islands.  By the way, we ran out of money and barely had enough for coffee that morning, but the wonderful people in Taman Negara let us ride free to the town so we could get money and pay them for the rest of the way to the islands.
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