Day 98: Taman Negara

Trip Start Sep 21, 2006
Trip End Jun 01, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, December 28, 2006

I cross the river, Sangai Tebeling, just after 8am and tramp into the forest. Paths are a little slippy after last night's rain. The roots of kapok and rambutan provide steps. Unlike the Cameron Highlands, the paths are clear and well-signposted, though a better map would be appreciated.
I hear much more than I can see, though I glimpse a racquet-tailed drongo above.
From the top of Bukik Tenisek (344m), there is a fragrance like jasmine. A clouded view of the jungle canopy northwards is spread before me. Soon the mournful whoops of monkeys call out to one another. It's a beautiful location.
Just over the rise an unnamed path continues. Not far down it, a crashing overhead alerts me to the presence of rusty-coloured langurs, swinging right above my head. Just beyond, I catch sight of a mouse deer darting through the undergrowth and, perched above, a lurid red minervet (possibly).
I pause at the hide, Bunbun Tabing, and wring out my T-shirt, soaked with sweat in the humidity. There are bunks and a toilet at the hide. I'm tempted to spend a night in one of these basic huts tomorrow for the chance of nocturnal sightings. Tapirs, elephants and even tigers live in this jungle; I put the possibility of a rare encounter with a tiger our of my mind, though escape routes and stick weapons are sometimes considered en route.
I assumed I'd avoided leeches by not wading through water, then I roll up my trousers and find my socks soaked with blood. The irritating bloodsuckers reach up from fallen leaves, creep up my boots and either slip over the socks or drink through them. I flick four away leaving dripping wounds.
It's low season and it's not until I'm a couple of kilometres from base that I pass other trekkers. It felt like I had the whole 130-year-old jungle to myself!
I disturb a couple of metre-long monitor lizards off the path. They dig through leaves and taste the air with their tongues. A purple swamp hen roots further on, just as rain begins to pour down. I hear it before I feel it, as it hits the canopy way above. I shelter over lunch in the overpriced resort restaurant by the park HQ. A pair of large boar wander around the chalets.
After lunch I return to the jungle seeking out the canopy walkway, a series of ladders and planks suspended by ropes and nets 25m above ground, for a monkey's-eye view. I pass said monkeys swinging across my path, a family of crested fireback pheasants and one large brown wood owl.
The canopy walk is rocky. It seems to hang slightly lopsided between tree platforms. I see no wildlife from this perspective but it's an interesting diversion.
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