Monday, 21 November 2011

Taman Negara

Me and Alec left Andy and travelled from the highlands on a 3 hour bus journey and 2 hour boat ride to the oldest jungle in the world. The bus journey was pleasant enough, sleeping for the majority. The climate soon changed as we descended out of the highlands to the lowlands. We briefly stopped for refreshments and continued to the Tembeling river, departing a few hours later on a small wooden boat from the Kuala Tembeling Jetty. Alec and I made the most of the boat ride for the first half hour or so and then we both dropped asleep. The river ran through the jungle with trees on both sides. There were few houses and huts, just mainly floating jetties in very random places. The experience was quite surreal. We arrived at Taman Negara at 4 o'clock, pulled into Mama Chops restaurant and were briefed on the area. There were countless floating shops and restaurants. Following the brief, we went to find a hostel, the place was like a ghost town, neither me nor Alec knew what to think. We walked for half hour or so to the other side of the village and just decided to stay at Tahan Guesthouse. Very very basic and 25RM a night which for what we got was expensive. Anyhow we went for some dinner at Mama Chops. Neither uf us felt comfortable really. But we tried to keep an open mind. We were out in the wilderness on the edge of the oldest jungle in the world. What did we expect?
The village itself was very small with abandoned hostels, a few mini marts and a very small market. There were very few Malay or local people around, let alone tourists and backpackers. Had we missed something or was it because of the low season. There were a quite a few resorts about which were obviously much more expensive. Maybe there were more people there. We decided to ride and see what the night brought, and sure enough some more backpackers made it to Mama Chops for dinner. Finally...civilisation!!
Coming to Taman Negara, I wanted to see some wild animals and this became real when a snake moved under the decking of the restaurant. All of the staff became alert and
moved towards myself and Alec. They were stamping on the decking to try and deter the snake as it was directly below our table. Holes in the decking allowed us to get a good view of the snakes black and yellow striped body. The staff informed us that this snake is very poisonous and would kill in 30 mins. This didn't seem to deter any of the other diners in the restaurant, all wanting to get a good picture. The situation calmed down and the snake started to slither out into the river. First with it's head just petruding from underneath the wooden boards. The snake then made a move and with a cry "GO GO GO GO" from a member of the staff, it swam very quickly to the other side of the river. This was the first time we could see the length of the snake. About 2m long. An entertaining first night though.
Alec and I booked a half day trip to the Canopy walk ways over the jungle for the next day. It was an early morning and big breakfast, pancakes, toast, scrambled egg and a another sweet coffee despite for the 4th time asking for NO sugar. We entered the national park from the boat and walked the short distance to the walkways. They were quite unstable and not for someone scared if heights, but an experience to see the jungle from above, or bits of it anyway. We continued across 5 or 6 canopy walkways and then trekked into the jungle to a view point to witness Mount Tahan. The tallest mountain in the area.
The walk wasn't strenuous but good fun either way and worth the money paid. In the afternoon we chilled out and did nothing. The weather was very hot and humid. We had only planned a short stay in Taman Negara and I think 2 nights was enough. We booked our boat and bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur for the following day. Really looking forward to the Malaysian Capital!

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