Head to Taman Negara
Trip Start Oct 19, 2004
31Trip End Jan 18, 2005
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Up at 6.30 to walk over to the other hotel to catch the bus. As the hostel room had no windows it was very dark and therefore didn't do a thorough check which resulted in me leaving my towel behind.
Bus arrives 45min late, at 8.15. Arrive in Jerantut where we have a couple of hours before catching the next bus to the jetty. Sort out accommodation and wander into town to get some more money and an umbrella (coat went missing in Batu Puteh, was on the floor after boat trip but wasn't after the caves!). Meet a Swedish guy at lunch, Jenas, he's staying at the same hostel as him at park. Another 1/2hr on the bus to the jetty at Kuala Tembeling.
See a family of otters on the beach during the 3hr boat ride upstream to the park HQ. Apparently the forest is 130 million years old and the oldest forest in the world. It wasn't affected by any iceages or become the victim to any volcanic activity.
Arrive at the hostel with Jenas so in the same dorm. He's not quite ready for the jungle. He's never seen a squat toilet before! He tried to get the geckos, small lizards, out of the dorm even they're harmless and eat mosquitoes. He wants to do a jungle walk but doesn't want to see beetles or insects, I didn't want to tell him about the leeches.
After tea we head over to Tourist boat to enquire about trips and walks. There's a 9 day hike up to the highest peak in peninsula Malaysia which was tempting but decided I didn't have the time. Luckily it was cancelled anyway due to bad weather so opted for a 4day jungle hike.
Try to send an e-mail to the hostel about my lost towel but the Internet isn't working in the morning so go and get some rubber shoes as the guy said there'd be lots of stream and river crossings. Luckily XXL is just my size so head over to boat for 10. We were provided with a sleeping bag, mat, tin, mug and cutlery which we had to pack in our already bulging small bags. There's 7 in the group, 4 Irish, 3M 1F, an Ian and Stefan. The last two are only doing a 1 night hike then going back to the HQ. We set off about 11.30 for a 2hr boat ride further upstream and see a snake swimming along the shore.
After about 15mins walking we come to a collapsed suspension bridge with only single planks available to walk on. This stretches the nerves of a couple of the group members.
Along the way we see huge trails of ants, some very large ants, a small bat cave and get attacked by many leeches. This is all before our first break on a little stream filled with lttle cat fish which nibble on your fingers.
We were walking for about 4hrs, in the last hour it started to thunder and lightly rain then for the last half hour it blody chucked it down. We ran for the last 10mins and arrived in the 2nd cave about 6, its a huge cavern with one half of the roof containing bats which results in a less than pleasent smell. There's some elephant footprints at the back of the cave and we spot a few rats running around.
We have a nice beef curry tea, talk for a bit then try to sleep. Arrangements for this is a plastic sheet on the floor, sadly the floor isn't very flat. We hear the rat climbing through all the food dishes (cleaning them out) which our guide tries to scare away by throwing various objects at it. We have a fire going all night to make sure no animals, eg elephants came trampling through.
The next morning we had tea and toast(!), then went down to a stream to wash our dishes even though the rat had done rather a good job the night before. The clothes from the previous day still weren't dry even after being hung out overnight and most other things had got damp from the rain. After an hour of walking we came to the third cave which contained a lot more bats and scorpion spiders.
After another 3hrs we got back to the river and headed downstream to a Orang-Asli village (local tribe).
Ian and Stefan then headed back to the park HQ along with our the guide and our order for beer and fags. We headed down to the river for a wash as we all stank and were covered in blood from leech bites.
Shortly after it started to rain so we sat in our hut which we quickly found leaked along one side. A local said we should go to another one at the top of the village.
We played with the blow pipe, watched the locals 'making fire.' Saw a friendly Toucan and had a look around the village.
Once it was getting dark and we started to make tea the insects came out. They completely covered the porch where we were cooking, normally there would be a fire to keep them away but our new hut had been empty for a couple of weeks.
The inside of the hut wasn't too bad when we first went in to sleep but they followed us in quite quickly and after half an hour several of the group thought it was too much and headed back to the first hut which was free(er) of insects.
The next morning we were meant to be heading for a waterfall another 5hrs away but due to predicted heavy rain the campsite might get flooded so we went to a viewing hide just over an hour away instead. We played some cards, ate lots, and waited for the animals to come out. Ian and Stefan were on a day walk and decided to look into the hide and found us inside which was a surprise. Its was by far the nicest place we'd stayed in so far.
Later in the evening our guide found a large spider hanging form the roof of the hut.
Its dead but he decides to show us its egg sack. He cuts it open and releases a stream of baby spiders. After clearing most of them away, a hornet turns up as there's a small nest in the corner, we kill it.
Didn't see any wildlife apart from the odd butterfly from the hide so in the morning we headed back to HQ, had a shower and cleaned up the blood form the many leech bites. Then get the 2pm boat back to Kuala Tembling then the bus to Jerantut. The normal buses are cheaper but would require changing three times whereas the tour companies bus goes direct to KL. Decide that i'm tired so will save myself the hassle. Sadly get to Jerantut and find out the tour bus only leaves after the morning boat so have to go for the local buses anyway. Not too difficult to sort out, first bus halfway to KL, second one to bus station on outskirts (sadly get seat 12 which somelese already has), then catch train to chinatown. Get in about 10.30 and luckily get one of the last beds in the hostel. Go into the room and Stefan is sitting on the other bunk, think he's stalking me at this point.