Living like Cavemen in Taman Negara

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Feb 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Yellow Guesthouse & A Cave
What I did
Walked, walked, sweat, sweat.

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good morning all!

We left the town of Jerantut early to get our boat into Taman Negara rain forest. The boat ride was a lovely 3 hour jaunt up river. The scenery was amazing once again but I must admit that I drifted off to sleep for most of the journey as it was so relaxing.

Once off the boat we quickly found our guesthouse and chilled for a while. The small village is on the opposite banks of the entrance to the rain forest and that is where most of the accommodation is. There is one swanky 5 star hotel on the other bank but we obviously did not stay there. 

That first night we decided to go on a night safari. We sat in the back of a pick up truck and the guides drove us around the Palm plantations (They cannot drive in the rain forest as there are no roads) to look for nocturnal wildlife. It was a fun experience. We managed to see owls, flying squirrels, wild boar, a bear, a snake and loads of cute little birds that were sleeping. The trip takes 2 hours in total and on the 2nd hour we found out why they call it a RAIN forest. When I say the heavens opened, I mean they really opened. Even I thought the gods were angry! We have never experienced rain like it. We were all drenched to the bone. The funny thing was though that it did not stop the tour. Oh no! They kept on driving at their leisurely pace, looking for the animals even though we could not see a thing and if the animals had any sense they would have found shelter. It was very funny. We got back to our guesthouse soaking wet and then realized that the clothes we were wearing were meant to be the clothes that we would wear on our 2 day / 1 night trek for the following day. Oops! 

The next day was hard, very hard! Typical of Karen & I we under prepared for a 5 hour trek through the world's oldest rain forest. It started off easily as we had a boat ride further up river for an hour or so. Then we began. We walked and walked and walked. Up and down the trails, trying not to slip in the muddy bits. We both did though. Luckily we were not hurt and all we had were a few bruises to show for our efforts. We went on the trek with 2 Dutch girls; Eline & Nikki and our mad guide who we will talk about later. 

The flora and fauna were amazing. Ancient trees that touched the clouds, plants as far as the eye can see, ants as big as your thumb and leeches, lots of leeches. We walked passed tiger footprints, wild elephant footprints and even Dinosaur footprints! Only kidding but it did feel like we were the only humans on planet Earth. 

The heat was immense, you could literally ring out the sweat out of my t-shirt. The sounds of life were all around us. We could feel eyes looking down at us from the rain forest canopy. After 5 hours of trekking we finally made it to our very humble abode for the night. A cave! Apparently according to my Parents I have always wanted to live like a caveman. So that's another ambition ticked off! lol. The cave was fantastic. It could easily sleep 400 people. After collecting firewood, we had our well earned dinner. Tinned chicken curry never tasted so good! We left a bit of food for the jungle cats, hoping one would come in to the cave. We then lay our sleeping bags on the floor and chatted for a while. Bats were flying in and out of the cave with their breakfast. It was brilliant. As were all so knackered it did not take too long to drift off. An hour later we were woken by the sounds of tins being moved. We all looked over at the leftover food and lo and behold there was a jungle cat the size of a dog eating right in front of us! It was beautiful and it did not seem to mind that we were all there with our torches watching it eat. 

The thing that amazed me throughout the 2 days in the rain forest was the lack of fear I felt. I really did trust the animals and nature itself. It was like my subconscious was saying welcome home. There was a sense of peace that we will never have in cities and towns. We need to be close with nature to truly switch off. Talking of nature, I will now pass you on to my little tiger...

So once again I found myself in a situation where I kept asking myself, 'Why exactly did I do this?' As we walked in the jungle I was absolutely horrified at the amount of leeches around us, I was feeling faint with the heat and exertion and by the end of the first day I had 3 huge bruises from 3 separate falls! My answer came when we were lying in our sleeping bags in the huge cave. This was a PROPER adventure. The thought of sharing our sleeping quarters with tigers and elephants and buffalo was quite exciting. Plus experience had taught me that usually it's these situations that turn to memorable highlights once I'd survived them.
Our second day in the jungle was a little easier, mostly because we knew we'd be getting home that day and that we'd covered most of the trek. We walked for three hours in the morning and then stopped by a river for lunch. While our guide made lunch we went for a much needed swim in the river next to us. While it felt amazing to swim in the cool waters we did have to pay a price. Without the protection of our Baygon sprayed clothes (a tip I'd found after EXTENSIVE research on how to avoid leech bites), it was free reign for the horrible blood sucking slugs. So far we'd managed to avoid a single bite which was a feat in itself, but our luck was about to run out. Paul looked down at his feet and saw not 1 but 2 leeches on his feet. Luckily he had rubbed his feet with wet tobacco, (another useful tip) and the leeches hated the taste so they hadn't bitten him yet. He came over to me as I had the bag of salt which brings us to tip 3  -  never pull off a leech as it could turn your wound septic, instead pour some salt over it and it will fall off. So I came to the rescue, poured some salt over the thing only to have Paul flick his foot backwards and forwards sending the leech flying god knows where. I found out where it landed as I changed into my bikini and looked down at my tummy. Think 'breep breep breep' background music from the Psycho movie as I looked down and spotted the sucker helping himself to a little bit of me. Yuuuuuuuuckkkk! I screamed louder than Tarzan, jumped higher than a kangaroo but at least managed not to cry. Paul came to the rescue with the salt and soon the leech was off, phew! I think I may have been scarred for life by that one!

After lunch we sat around chatting with our guide who decided this was a good moment to open up.  He told us about his past which started with, 'when my father sent me to Penang to study goldsmith-ry I threatened to start smoking opium in the opium dens'. We were interested to hear about this time in the seventies and we asked a few questions. This led to yes, I then moved to Amsterdam and used to smuggle heroin to Marseilles, yes I've been to prison 4 times. I was addicted to heroin up until 9 months ago, but now I quit because the quality is not so good'. Okayyyyy.....not your average guide then. He was a lovely guy though and had his own ABC philiosophy to life. Each letter meant something, a is for Attitude, B is for Behaviour, C is for Character and so on. It made sense, although I'm not sure why he chose the English alphabet instead of the Malay one. 

We finally made it to the boat quay where we got picked up and taken back upriver to town. It felt great! And sure enough Paul and I both agreed that this was one adventure worth doing. 

We were looking forward to a good rest in our guesthouse. But alas, it was not to be. At about two o'clock in the morning I woke up and saw this glowing green thing on the ceiling. Thinking it was a glow worm I woke Paul up to have a look at the wonderful creature. He decided to put on the light and it was then, as I turned my head that I spotted about thirty mini cockroaches, having a party next to our heads, on OUR mattress, by OUR pillows! Another PSYCHO music moment! I let out a bloodcurdling scream and flew out of the bed! Paul and I looked at each other not quite knowing what to do. All social niceties flew out of the window and I decided to wake up the owner. He didn't have a spare room for us to move to but my panicking and rambling made it quite clear that I could not stay in the room. Bless his soul, the owner woke up his friend and both of them came and took the whole bed out of the room. They brought us two new mattresses, swept the floor and all this with a smile. Amazing response. Oh, and the glow worm that started all this off, it was the green light from our AC....

The next day we decided we'd had enough of the jungle and decided to set off to our next destination. We went to the bus station and waited for 5 hours (yes 5 hours!!!!) for our bus. We will NEVER complain about London Underground delays ever again. But sure enough the moment the driver turned up he bought some mangoes and proceeded to share them with us.  

We spent a night in KL where we were greeted like long lost friends by the guesthouse owner we'd stayed with a month earlier. That morning, we headed to Melacca. A World Heritage City with a fame for great food! Woo hooo!

See you when we get there

Lots of love
Karen and Paul
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Mom on

Fantastic Read lol a few times xx

Pauline from Perth (met in Donsol) on

I'm really enjoying the posts... I hope you both get to see Sabah, Borneo.
you'll love it ... lots of creepy crawlies too

paul_karen on

Hi Pauline! Glad you are enjoying them. Unfortunately, we have skipped Borneo as it was quite expensive! Hope to see you in Perth!

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