Published: May 23rd 2009May 17th 2009
Transport to Taman Negara (TN) took us the best part of a day. We took a more gentle ride by speed boat from the Perinthians back to Kuala Besut on the mainland, then made the 8 hour minibus ride to Taman Negara. The journey was such a contrast to the bus journeys we had experienced in Indonesia the previous week! We had only 4 in our minibus so enjoyed numerous seats to relax on! We spent much of the morning leg eating fake/halal Pringles! After a lunch pit stop at a fancy hotel I managed to eat a whole loaf of "amazing" bread! 1 hour before we arrived at our jungle base camp, Kuala Tahan, we stopped at a town called Jeruntut for a short while where tour agents attempted to flog us some overpriced package deals for activities whilst in the jungle. We declined because we new that some they were selling could be done for free! We arrived at Kuala Tahan at 6:30pm after 10 and a half hours traveling. We stayed in a room covered in Pre-School style ladybird murals at the Tahan Guesthouse. The owner was very useful in helping us to plan a mega busy day
to bosh out all the best bits that TN offers before we quickly move onto the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. We had food with an English couple we met on the minibus to TN at a floating riverboat restaurant, sampling the local cooking style which subsequently included a lot of lemon grass! We also picked up our park permits for our action packed day tomorrow!
At over 130 million years old and spanning 4343 km2 of peninsula Malaysia, Taman Negara or "National Park" is the oldest rain forest in the world. It offers a jungle playground with numerous activities on offer and its simple signposted walks make it seem more like Sherwood forest rather than a rain forest! We set off early morning to make use of our limited time. We shared the day with our English friends and after a breakfast of Roti Canie (Flaky Pancakes) we took the short hop across the fast flowing and silty river for a 1 1/2 hour jungle to trek to Gia Telinga, "Ear Caves." the damp track was wide and well worn making for easy jungle exploration! After passing numerous termite mounds and avoiding blood sniffing leeches we made it to
the small opening of Gia Telinga, leech free. The cave was great! Although it was a little damp and the roped route was small at times, enhancing a claustrophobic worry to a man of my length! As we entered deeper into the caves our unreliable torches shone on walls full of bats hanging around and undisturbed as we passed through in close proximity, We also received a subtle fanning by some as they stealthily flapped passed us. The down side of seeing these nocturnal critters up close was that there was bat shit everywhere! We often received an unwelcoming squelch on our hands and feet when searching for a suitable grip to climb through the cave. We found a huge toad resting in the cool stream water at the depths of the cave. The final tunnel was so small that we took off our rucksacks to squeeze unconventionally through. Finally we saw light and headed out of the cave but struggled to find the overgrown path back to the main track! We stopped at an Orang-Asli tribal village on the way back for some blowpipe action but they didn't seem to want our custom so we soon headed back to
base camp at Kuala Tahan. Unfortunately the leeches were out in force on the way back and to Nik's joy it was me who was being bitten by the increasingly swollen slugs rather than her for a change! Our friend was poring with blood after numerous bites on his leg! It was amazing to see these small finger like creatures sniff out their next meal as we walked in different directions passed them. We had a river boat lunch then raced down a very easy track to the canopy walkway before it closed. Stretching 560m at 45m above ground height, the canopy walk was a brilliant way to see the lush greenery of the rain forest tree tops. The wobbly wooden bridges offered panoramic views of neighboring canopies and a birds eye views of smaller vegetation. It was excellent to slowly trudge along the roped planks and simply take in the patterns and shapes of the flora below. Obviously because its commercialized, we didn't expected to see too many animals, however we did see a squirrel and numerous butterflies which Nik attempted to snap. The colorful shades of green vegetation really made up for the limited wildlife though. We got
back to Kuala Tahan for a well needed relax before dinner and activity 3, a Night safari! Although this was in nearby Palm Oil plantation rather than in jungle. We clambered on to a 4x4 with legs hanging off the side and people sitting on the roof. As soon as we set off in the plantation we immediately saw a leopard cat run along trees aligned in a meticulous fashion. It was domestic in size yet with markings of its larger cousin. We didn't see too much more for a while but it was still cool to catch a night ride through the rich oily smelling plantation. After spotting a robin and kingfisher asleep on surrounding trees, our guide threw stones at a paradise snake so it would sliver its body across the tips of some marshy reeds. We also spotted a white boar and an owl swoop onto a tree and turn its head in a 360 motion, all clearly visible by the guides spotlight. On our return we immediately crashed out due to a very busy and highly entertaining day. We wish we could have spent more time in TN.. Onto KL. We have flights to catch soon!
Our eyes struggled to open with an early start for travel to Kuala Lumpur (KL). We set off still knackered from our adventure day and headed to the bus stop for a transfer back to Jeruntut, picking up some tasty supplies before we left. The trip was easy and we only had a short wait in Jeruntut. Before we knew it we were almost in KL! As we entered the capital we were welcomed with a clear view of the capital cities main landmarks, the Petronas Towers and the KL tower. Once at the bus station we walked to the monorail stop in close proximity for transport to China town in search of cheap digs. The monorail was impeccably clean and I only noticed the 50 quid/500 ringgit fine for eating after I scoffed down a chili pastry treat! Nik struggled with her bag in the sweltering city heat, but we didn't have to go too far from the monorail station near China Town to our chosen guest house "le village." Our room was nice enough although the walls were incredibly thin and we were right next to the common area. The place offered a creative, arty and relaxed
feel with numerous travelers offering a personal welcoming and looking like they enjoy a good spliff! The owner gave us lots of information which was received well! Once we had set up camp, we took our free map to explore the nearby area starting at the well kept colonial area called Mederka square with its lawned green surrounded by ye'old looking buildings towered over by huge high rise ones. We both noticed and was very impressed at how clean KL was and enjoyed its positive cosmopolitan feel. We then went into the central market which offered many traditional gifts suitable for souvenirs, however unsuitable to take around in our backpacks! We enjoyed the street vendors selling some cheap tasty goodies and stocked up on stuff we were running low on - (Deodorant!). Then we headed to the knock of Nigel market in China town, and got hassled to buy DVD's and fake goods! In the evening we went back to the main China streets and shared chicken rice cooked and served up in a clay hotpot. Tasty. We got back to our guesthouse for an early night, and even the chatting in the busy common area beside our room didn't
stop us from zonking out!
KL is renowned for its plush shopping centers, so we went to check a couple of them out. So in the morning we took a monorail to the South East of KL where we found a metropolis of high rise malls. First of all we went to "Times Square." The place was enormous.! It had 8 floors each with row upon row of shops, numerous food eateries and to top it, it even had a roller coaster and small theme park inside! Incredible!We were far to cool for the posh brands on the lower floor, and spent most of our time here searching out a bargain on the higher levels. The building was impeccably clean and very modern and ironically it was a bit of a culture shock to be back in the heart of modernity, rather than most places we have visited in SE Asia. We also headed to a large technological mall close by to Times square where Nik and I deliberated whether to chip in for a cheap laptop for the remainder of our trip! (Obviously to flog on after ;-)) Nevertheless we decided to give it a miss considering every
day we are counting our pennies and especially as we've heard that Australia is very expensive! After lunch we headed back to China town where Nik tried numerous photo shops to copy her precious photos of the past few weeks. No joy though. To make the day a little more worthwhile and memorable we walked to the KL Tower to take a look at the awesome views of KL during day and night. The walk wasn't too far from China Town because KL is a small, slight and intimate city. We had heard that rather than going to the viewing level, you can pay just 2 ringgit/40p more to go to a restaurant and get a free drink and dessert! Our excitement of a freebie was let down by the cashier when we found out that this only happened during the afternoon. Instead we shared the viewing area with a bus load of noisy Indian men keen to take a sly picture of Nik rather than the brilliant sky views. We arrived a little early to catch KL at night so waited at the top for a while before dusk finally set in. The stay was worthwhile because it was
cool to see the branded skyscrapers lit up below and orange and red lights of cars merge as if it was in an oil painting. Of course the highlight was to catch a glimpse of the Petronas towers (the worlds 4th* largest building) in their glory as they shone over KL. We trekked back to China town for some grub and then bed, yet couldn't sleep for ages because our ceiling, made of material, couldn't keep out the noisy chatter of other guests.
After seeing the dominating size and scale of the Petronas towers the night before, we went to explore them. We had a terrible chicken and pastry breakfast then took the monorail to the KLCC area which is the business quarter of KL. The monorail stop in the Petronas towers leads directly into the plushest shopping mall of KL, home to the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci and even a Harrods! Nik also went crazy when she found a Top shop and Zara!I dragged Nik away from the shops so we could book a free trip to the sky bridge, located on the 46th floor of the Petronas towers, ready for part two of our aerial
view of KL later in the day! We enjoyed a snoop around some expensive shops then took a look in the Malls art gallery which displayed some impressive stuff. We headed back to the culturally exotic streets of China town for some grub at a quick stop Chinese place and then sorted a post for home. One part of KL we hadn't yet explored was the park area East of central KL. So we decided to walk there and was conscious yet naive of the scale of a fierce thundery rains forest cloud which was gradually engulfing KL behind us. We got about halfway to the parks orchid garden before the rain hosed down on us. A fierce thunder clap deathened us from a strike nearby and the tropical downpour started to soak through our clothes! Fortunately we took refuge undercover at the national mosque which we found in close proximity and then made our escape from the rain using a hop on hop tourist bus as a getaway vehicle which conveniently passed the road in front of the mosque. We sat soggy on the backseat, enjoying the ride and routed tour of the city, making some sense out of
the muffled commentary! We managed to take the tour back around to the Petronas towers where it was nearly time for our sky bridge walk. Result! And even more of a result considering we got a free ride there, later to find that the hop on-hop off bus was pricey. We hunted for a cheap warm drink in the shopping mall before hitting the sky bridge. As part of the free sky bridge tour we bagged some classy glasses to watch a 3d short movie about "Petronas" (Malaysia's Oil company) as well as information about the construction of the towers only a few years ago. Then we took a fast lift to the 64th floor to take the short walk on the sky bridge. Although the view lacks the panorama and height compared to the KL tower, the views were still amazing, particularly down to the neighboring park and dwarfed sky scrapers below. Once back to a lower level and having enjoyed the tours "interactive zone," we watched a fashion show on a shopping mall balcony along with numerous professional and well dressed business workers taking a moment to relax in the evening rush home. We ate at the affordable
eatery in the mall so we could enjoy the Petronas towers with its lights blazing over KL at night. the view was well worth a look, particularly in the park gardens. The tower dominated the nights sky, demonstrated the inspiring ingenuity and technological advancement that much of KL offers, but acting more like a symbol of Eastern modernity that rivals western economic supremacy. We headed back to our noisy room for an early night so we were ready for our 2:30am start in order to get to Borneo! KL was very, very good!
There are more photos below