Published: February 13th 2009February 3rd 2009
(Day 305 on the road)
There are two ways to reach the national park Taman Negara (after getting to the area on the famous Jungle Train from the Cameron Highlands, which was a great journey through lush, deserted, well, jungle): By bus or by boat. Of course, we opted for the three hour boat ride, which lasted for about three hours in a longboat and took us through a pristine jungle environment. And speaking of jungle: This is what Taman Negara is all about. It is actually the oldest jungle in the world, some 130 million years old. It has been largely unaffected by ice ages and other climate changes, and its forest and animals could thus develop undisturbed.
After spending a a day exploring the village, we then set out on our main adventure: An overnight stay in a hide, deep in the jungle, only reachable by boat or by walking. We opted for a combination: Taking the boat there on day one, staying the night, then hiking back the next day. The hide itself can best be described an elevated, wooden structure from which to observe wild animals that are expected come out at dusk and dawn. We
were foolishly hoping for tigers and elephants. We arrived well before sunset, and shared the hut with a few other people. Then it was waiting time - sitting in the hut, keeping quiet, and looking out for the animals. We spent about five hours that way until it was pitch black and saw - absolutely no animals. Great.
The night on the hard wooden benches (we didn't take any mattresses) was rather uncomfortable, and we were happy to get going the next morning. We made an early start, and the trek through the jungle was great. The scenery was unspoilt and our path basically followed the river and went up and down through the mighty forest. At one point two elderly "locals" passed us; they looked straight out of a National Geographic documentary: They were both almost naked save for a few rags on their lower bodies, their taint was extremely dark, and their skin looked very weathered. In short, they looked like they had spent all their life in the jungle.
Some way further down the path, Jawad managed to catch a few leeches (despite sheer litres of insect spray he had applied to his feet), which
he noticed as his whole left sock was drenched in his own blood. It apparently did not hurt, but was a pretty cool sight (for me as an unaffected bystander in any case)! A few hours later, we came across a nice beachy area by the river, and we decided to go for an extended swim in the refreshing water. After that, we were pretty relaxed and too lazy to walk on, so when some time later a boat came along, we hitched a ride for the one remaining kilometre back into the village and called it a day.
And the next morning, it was already time to move on, towards the next adventure: Extensive diving and relaxing on Tioman Island. We can't wait.
Next stop: Ayer Batang (Pulau Tioman, Malaysia). Also have a look at my pictures at http://pictures.beiske.com