Teman Negara

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End Jun 21, 2008

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, January 19, 2008

We arrived in Taman Nagara after a 6 hour minibus journey which stopped briefly for lunch and again when we reached the main town outside Taman Nagara, Jerantut, so that we could obtain permits to the National Park. The village we stayed in, Kuala Tahan, was very remote and the only words really to describe it would be small and basic. The accomodation was expensive and not of high standard but what did we expect really in such a small place with such a captured market. We checked into a guesthouse which was basic even down to having an asian squat toilet but it was reasonably priced unlike most of the other accomodation we had checked out. After having a wonder around the town which consisted of very little apart from a couple of small convience shops, a few hostels and some floating resturants on the river, we went to collect our original copies of our permits which had to be checked by the parks authorites before hand.

We realised it was going to be best to book our trek into the jungle for the following day because even though we had just arrived it was clear that other than the jungle there really was nothing else to keep us occupied. Unfortunatly there had been some heavy rain over the past few days and it was touch and go whether we would be able to do a trek into the inner jungle with a nightstop or if we would be confined to just doing day treks. We were told we would only know the following morning...we decided it was worth getting up early and we were in luck, there had been no more rain, the river had dropped a good few inches and the park was allowing people into the jungle for 2 day 1 night treks.

 We managed to team up with a dutch couple, Joyce and Marco and after a somewhat delayed start we were on our way up the river on a boat for about 1hr30, to then start our trek. Taman Negara is a mass of primary jungle over 130 million years old, the park sprawls 4343sq km and was something we were keen to explore. Our guides name was E, he was 25 and knew the jungle well, we were expected to carry our own bags complete with clean/dry clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, 6litres of water each, bowls and cups, wash stuff etc and E carried the food for the 2days. The first days trekking we covered 8km's of dense jungle, climbing over fallen trees, crawling under others, crossing streams and getting attacked by leeches, (because of the wet weather they were out in force), we came across numerous animal tracks including elephants and tigers, all which were fresh prints from the morning as the rain the previous day would have washed them away. It was at this point it dawned on us how crazy we were and how exciting it was to be trekking through rainforest where there are so many animals, some which aren't the most friendly should you cross their path.

E was a great guide, stopping and showing us so much on our way from plants to animals, insects and tracks. The walking was tough in the heat and the leeches made it a whole lot harder because everyone was constantly having to flick them off and stop them from going into their shoes and socks. As we only started walking at about 1.30pm it was getting dark as we were approaching where we were stopping for the night, our pace picked up and we reached the cave where we were going to camp. The cave was amazing, really big and as E told us can sleep up to 200 people. he also told us he had been capming here a few months back with some people doing the same trek as us and an Elephant had come into the cave during the night....scary stuff.

We set up camp and after having a wash in the stream and de-leeching ourselves again, we built a fire and E prepared dinner. We set up our beds meanwhile, a piece of tarpaulin, a sleeping mat and sleeping bag....basic!! Dinner was great consdiering our location, being the middle of the rainforest, chicken curry, vegetable soup and rice followed by tea,coffee or Milo (hot choc). The boys then went to collect more fire wood as we had to make sure the fire lasted all night to ward off any animals who may have been tempted to enter the cave. With the food tied up high, the fire roaring we settled down to sleep, or at least try to....the sounds and your imagination can make it quite hard to sleep when you realise how vunerable you are to an attack by a tiger!

The following morning after a sugar filled breakfast of toast (done on a metal plate over a flame) with chocolate powder and water made into a paste to spread, biscuits and hot drinks we packed up and continued to make our way through the jungle. We had to cover another 8km and the leeches were still out in force but by this point we had began to get used to them a little more. Blood stains from where they had bitten became normal and it was all just part of the jumgle we had began to accept. The walking was again quite tiring, constantly watching where we were going and climbing up and down and balancing on logs to try and cross large streams left us all muddy, hot, sweaty and wet. Biscuits and mentos (sweets) kept us going as well trying some traditional jungle food including jungle fruit, a tree which branches contained water to quench our thirst and some edible plant roots. The occasional spotting of monkeys in trees, lizards, spiders, insects and animal tracks kept us going too. We stopped half way for lunch, a quick bowl of curried noodles and lots of water to rehydrate and Henry indulged in a swim in the river to cool himself down.

We carried on trekking throughout the afternoon until we reached a hide where it is also possible to spend a night in the jungle and see animals such as tapirs, rats, monkeys, gibbons and elephants and after a brief rest we made our final approach to the river where we completed our 8km's walking for the second day. Tired and hot we relished the boat ride down the river to an Orang Asli village which looked a lot more tradional and 'original' than the one we had seen in the Cameron Highlands. We stopped off and after being shown the village, got taught how they made fire and how they kill animals using the poison darts and blow pipe. After all having a go at this we made our way back to Kuala Tahan on the boat and as we did so, the heavens opened and we got soaked.

Cold, wet, tired and incredibly dirty we collected our bags from the guesthouse we had stayed in and decided we had earnt a hot shower and a proper toilet regardless of the price. We checked into another hostel and paid a whopping 70rm (just over 10 uk pounds!) but i can honestly say it was so worth it to stand in hot water, get clean and know you are leech free.

The following day we pretty much did nothing but relax which we thoroughly deserved, but we both agreed on what an experience the trek had been, especially as neither of us had expected to be trekking in the rainforest. We got our laundry done as well which was a big necessity, especially as Felicity had to wear her trainers on the trek as they had no boots at the kit hire place that fitted her. Henry's beige shorts were also spotted with red all down one leg where a cheeky leech had made its way up and had a good old suck on his thigh. Generally Henry came off a lot worse with the leeches, however Felicity did get one bite all the way up on her stomach, they literally can get everywhere and through anything!

We booked our boat for the next morning and after another good nights sleep, interupted occasionally with dreams of leeches attacking, we made our way down to the boat to Jerantut and then from here got a bus to Kuala Lumpur...

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