How i almost died in asia

Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, April 13, 2005

im a nature lover at heart and by that i think i mean im an american nature lover at heart. i was not fully prepared for my experience at taman negara which is the worlds oldest rainforest. I have never dealt with the remoteness of such a place before. i mean lets face it, u get hurt in an american forest they will send a helicopter but if u get hurt here well its kinda up to you to get yourself out. so lets start at the beginning

i left kuala lumpor by bus to a small town about 5 hours away (its sad when a 5 hour bus trip is considered VERY short). the plan was to spend the night there and then in the morning take the first morning boat up the river into the park. so i get to the guesthouse which of course offers a bus and boat up to the park so i sign on and with the deal u get a little briefing. the guy pretty much goes over the map and some of the highlights etc etc. the only point of notice here was that he wrapped it up by saying "i pray to my god for your safe journey". not exactly ummm confidence instilling but what can u do?

got the wake up knock at 7am and we were on the bus to the "jetty" at 8am. the boat was a very narrow wooden deal that sat two abreast and rested very low in the water. this was our transport for the next 3 hours or so. all in all in was a very nice trip. impossible not to constantly think of apocalypse now as u pushed farther and farther into the depths of this behemouth forest. on the shores we could see monkeys playing as we slid by unnoticed.

we reached the park about noonish but of course they drop u off on the other side of the river so u have to pay an extra 50 sen to get across....its not much money at all but come on man cant u drop me on the right side of the river? me and an english guy decided to camp in the main park site the first day and then go on a trek for the second day. we reached the campgrounds and were greeted by a huge red sign saying "beware of monkeys". as if to give us visual confirmation we then noticed a troop of about 20 monkeys tearing the hell out of a tent that was left unattended. they werent so much doing it to be evil but were launching themselves off of it in play....then it ripped....and then it was like a giant piniata. very cute but i was a lil worried about my high tech tent (it survived). we set up camp and went on a 2km hike to this thing they have called the canopy walkway...its one of those super narrow rope bridges that was strung up about 170feet above the ground. im not too afraid of heights but i went reallll slow on that thing. u pick up speed and it swings and swings and gets real interesting really quick.

the night was uneventful and no monkey incidents to speak of so we packed up the next morning and proceeded to begin our trek. the plan was to take a 8km path that would lead to a cascading waterfall where there was legal camping. having completed the 2km hike to the canopy walkway in about 45 minutes we had no worries about the 8km hike before us. there were two problems with this thinking. the first being that the 2km path was almost flat and laid out for the older tourists. the trail before us was up and down nearly 90 degrees with ropes tied to roots to ease your rappelling efforts. the second problem was that the km count was as the crow flies and we learned much later that the actual trail was about 12km. so now im huffing and puffing with this backpack strapped to me. im trying not to gulp my water but its hard in the 100 percent humidity. it IS cooler in the forest but its relative. instead of 110 degrees its 94 and the sweat pours out of you like a river. i soaked through my shirt and my shorts AND my backpack and was just dripping as i struggled over fallen trees as thick as a truck....the leaches were determined and i started by burning them off but after awhile i was just too tired to bother with them and let them drink their fill.

the guide office said 3-4 hours and at the 3 hour mark we hit a sign saying it was 3.5 km to our destination and my water was almost gone. i stoppped in a stream that looked pretty clear and broke out the water purifier (thank you soooo much sara and mitch, josh and jake) refilled my water bottles and then trudged on at a slower and slower pace. by now it was going on 3pm and the sun was beginning its long slow decent. we walked about another 1.5km or so when we came across a sign declaring that our destination was somehow still 3.5km away. i almost started crying. after much walking and many leg cramps we finally climbed what is known as "the hill" and then made our descent down to the river bank. our campground was another half km after fording the river but i crossed and put my pack down and then sat in teh ice cold water, letting my body temperature plummet. it was one of the most satisfying feelings ever....everytime the water would cover my neck and head my entire body would break out in shivers and goosebumps. i sat in the chest high water for about an hour, my friend had gone up to the campsite to let me just cool down and relax. having accomplished that i went to stand and gather my things and thats when both my thighs cramped into twisted knots, my legs kicked out from under me and i screamed out in pain as i landed face first in the water and stgruggled not to drown. i was finally able to sit down on underwater stones and massage my muscles into roughly the shape they were supposed to be.

we set up camp with two american girls and set about to do nothing for the rest of the night but try and find enough dry firewood and play the name game until we all just got too tired to carry on. we slept in utter and complete darkness with the wildlife of the forest making more then their share of noise. i loved laying there and listening to it all. I was awakened by my friend and the girls wanting to hike back at 7am. the answer was a less polite version of no thank you. i told them to leave me and ill catch a lift with one of the fishing boats that goes up and down the river later in the day. so i was left alone but that was ok. i went further up the trail and swam in the cascades and as i sat there in a natural jacuzzi a 5ft monitor lizard swam past me without even a glance......i was in awe while wetting myself. i finally packed my stuff and headed back down to the river bank to wait for a boat....i waited a long time and i learned two things......the first being that butterflies are attracted to sweat and i had a mound of hundreds on my backpack. so many colors.....it was like a moving forest of colored confetti. i sat in the water to keep cool and watched.....but then i learned the second thing....as the day gets warmer bees are attracted to sweat also.....so the butterflies were replaced by bees. and im not talking a few....literally at least 500-600 bees were covering my back pack and flying about. i thought i had placed my pack on a ground nest or something. there were huge patches that were just covered with wiggling and squirming bees. finally it was time for my boat to go and the guy says "pick up slow, they no sting" well it was probably one of the worst things i had to do in my life...i had to put my hand in a swarm of bees pretty much and as soon as u move the pack they all lift off and swarm around YOU. i got stung only once but it hurt like hell and nothing like the fear of being swarmed by bees in the middle of the rainforest to top your day. i mean seriously........is there a hospital near by? i would have been dead if they would have been mad.

overall im glad i did it. it was a serious adventure and was probably one of the hardest things ive done on a short term in my entire life. ive never been so tired or beat in my life but on the other hand i had a feeling of accomplishment that taking the boat would not have given me. and that is how i almost died in asia
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