In the Jungle with a tent.

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

8th November 2009


The Taxi picked us up from the Hostel at 3.30am and headed for Wakaf Baharu Station.  We shared the taxi with a boring guy from Belgium (not many of them around) who more or less invited himself along with us.  Not a problem he was harmless enough just a bit dull (an accountant by trade).  We boarded the train at 4.15am and headed for our 2nd class seat. The choice had been economy or 2nd class....we went posh as the train journey was over 8 hour we thought we should have comfortable seats.  Like most transport in Malaysia the A/C is turned up to the Maximum, this was no different, with in 20min we were reaching for warm jumpers as the carriage was like cold storage.
As it was dark outside and ridiculously early we reclined the seats and set about making up for our lost of sleep.  It started to get light about 8am and we were passing lush green farms and massive plantations of banana and pineapple trees.  Limestone cliffs rose up to the right of us and a brown chocolate coloured river run by the side of us.  Vast areas of forest have been cleared leaving dark red soil, like you are in the middle of the Australian outback.

The journey went surprisingly fast even though we seemed to stop at every station for ages.  Most of the stations where just a sign post letting you know what town you are in and a raised walk way one one side so you can get out the train.  We arrived at Jerantut only 10 min later than advertised on our tickets which was good going.  Jerantut is a nothing town that houses the jetty for the boat to Taman Negara national park (the Jungle) or you can also get the bus from here too. 

We stayed here for one night (with Pascal our Belgium Guy) and got the bus to the jetty in the morning.  We shared the bus with 3 Italians who we had previously met in Kota Bharu and 2 Dutch girls who were to become our new best friends for the next week....oh and of course Pascal.

The boat ride over to national park was fantastic, it was a long sturdy boat that you sat in the bottom of on cushions.  We jetted off down a wide river with jungle towering over us on each side.  The journey was for two hours to Kuala Tahan the village on the opposite side of the river to the main entrance to the national park. 

As we had brought a tent with us we where keen to get our first night under canvas and this seemed the best place to do it.  There was a nice camp sight on the edge of the river and best of all it was cheap...only 5rm each a night. We set up tent and then went off to explore. 

Taman Negara Jungle is 130 million years old that has never seen any sort of natural disaster, like earthquakes, ice age, etc so there for has been allowed to grow undisturbed in that time.  The whole area is 4343 sq km, about the size of Luxembourg and houses elephants, tigers, wild boar and a variety of birds and insects.

We set of in a river taxi across to the main entrance to have little look round at base camp.  We found a small trail that lead to a watering hole for swimming, within minutes of us entering the jungle it started raining.  Not a great deal that we got wet but enough that it brought the leeches out.  Now for anyone who doesn't know what a leech is or what is does well we have some great pictures of Gary's feet with three friendly little suckers helping  themselves to his type O.
It's not as bad as it sounds and Gary was very calm about the whole thing.  We had looked up on how to get leeches off before we came to the Jungle as we knew they had them here.  So Gary calmly flicked the first two leeches to the right and they flew right off.  The third however was hanging on tight and was perfectly happy chowing down on Gary's foot.  The next option was to burn it off with a cigarette butt or pour salt on it.  Now having never smoked the first option was out of the window so as we had walked back to base camp I went in search of some salt.  Once the salt hit the leech it  unattached itself and rolled right off his foot, leaving a river of blood running from each wound.  Out came the first aid kit and my big brave soldier was cleaned up and set on his way to tell everyone he met about his great adventure.

There are a number of trips, jungle walks, 2/3 day hikes, river rapid rides, that you can do while you are here and most involve having proper trekking gear and a reasonable amount of crazyness.  We had neither so the easy options were the ones we took.  The first night we signed up for a 2 hour jungle trek in the dark with the Dutch girls (Marij and Irene).  Not as scary as it sounds we had a guide who walking us around a fairly easy trek and pointed out spiders, scorpions and snakes.  We  also went to a salt lick hide to see what animal might have wondered in for a drink. There were only some deer, grazing on the sweet grass at the edge of the water.

Ok first night in the tent, first let me tell you that the tent is very small. Although its a 2 man there is no room for 2 men and 2 rucksacks, so I had to unpack all our rucksacks and spread the contents around the tent. Then put the rucksack down where our feet would have to lie on top of was also very hot in the tent especially with 2 people. 
We switched the torch off and lie there listening to the sounds of the jungle around us.....not as scary as we thought it would be and eventually nodded off.
A loud squeal followed by snuffling and crunching woke us at 1.30am.  Wild boar not something you want to meet in the middle of the night with only a millimeter of material between you and them.  We are both upright in the tent trying to get clothes on and working out the best plan should these grunting snorting pigs decide to turn nasty.  Gary's plan was to grab a aerosol can and lighter and blast his way out, while I was for the option of lets wait and see what they do.  After an hour of sitting the waiting listening to a number of what we think where babies playing around us we they finally they continued on their travels about 3am and left us alone and very unsettled.

In the light of day things looked a lot better  and we agreed to do one more night under the stars...pigs or no pigs.   We spent the day retracing our steps from the night before's trek and headed towards the salt lick and the canopy walk - which is a rope bridge 20m up over the treeline giving you an excellent view of the jungle below.
The trek to the canopy walk was quite tough, lots of trees and roots to climb over.  Places that are really narrow with shear drops. Not quite a walk through Belfairs woods.  After about an hour and a half we got to the Canopy walk...well the steps to it, the problem with having to walk 20m over the jungle is you need to walk up 20m to get to the starting bridge.  Very sweaty and red faced we got to the top and started our walkover the rope bridge.  The nice thing about going out of season is that everywhere is quiet and where we would have usually queued for ages to get on the bridge (only 4 people at any one time on the bridges) we had the whole thing to ourselves, which was good as these bridges swing a lot while you are walking on them.  They are not unsafe just unnerving. Each bridge was connected by a watch tower and there were 5 bridges in total, slowly descending down.

Taman Negara is really for the adventurous types who are happy to get knee deep in mud and trek for 4/5 hours at a time, not really us.............or is it??
We have done our bit of jungle and feel that there is not really enough here for us so we are going to spend one more night in our tent and get the bus out in the morning.  Marij and Irene kindly offered our rucksacks board and lodgings to give us more room in the tent over night.......they also offered their floor should the pigs come back and get feisty this time. With more room to move around and no pigs to keep us awake we slept well until just before dawn when the sky's opened and the rain fell out the sky in bucket loads.
Packing a tent up in the morning is always a hassle packing a dripping wet one while it is still hammering down and keeping an eye on the clock so we don't miss the 7.30am bus was an interesting challenge, but when the soggy tent finally went way, the rucksacks retrieved from our dutch mates and we settled on to the local bus we could start to relax for the first part of what was to be a epic journey.

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