Published: August 22nd 2006August 18th 2006
Wednesday 16th August
Paul - So got up again and went for breakfast. Made a plan of getting some drinks and food and trekking into the jungle for the day. The canopy walkway is suspended 30 metres above the ground so gets you right into the thick of the action so we were all looking forward to doing this. Got lots of 100Plus (basically Lucozade) and set off.
As soon as we had walked for 5 minutes we couldn't see more than 10 metres either side of us! The jungle was so dense. All huge green leaves, swaying vines, enormous trees... it was an amazing sight and cool to think that we are in the oldest rainforest in the world. Walked for about 20 minutes, occasionally hearing the rustle of leaves around us and hoping it wasn't a tiger! Arrived at the canopy walkway and as you can see from the pictures it was good fun. Didn't see any large wildlife, just birds and insects but it was nice to get right into the thick of the action and see the rainforest from an elevated level. Plus the walkways were pretty precarious so falling over the side was probably
a definate danger!
Climbed down and we had decided to hike up to Bukit Teresik which was only about 5km but as it was the jungle I couldn't imagine it would be a particularly great path... which it wasn't! The jungle was even thicker here and it was tough going in parts but I suppose it was good prepartion for our huge trek tomorrow. Finally reached the summit after jumping over lots and lots of huge fallen trees and massive vines. The view was beautiful, if a little misty. Sat and soaked it in for 10 minutes to catch our breath before starting the walk down...
Walked literally 10 metres before Laura joked that we might see a tiger.... and then the rustling in the jungle got louder... we all stopped dead in our tracks as something fairly large moved closer. We all backed away sensing danger before one of us stepped on a twig and whatever it was ran away extremely quickly. All I got a glimpse of was a brownish streak and moving bushes. It freaked us all out for about half an hour but we saw nothing else on the way back to camp. Crossed
back over the river and got showered in our hostel and went to ask about booking treks. Hired our own personal guide as we didn't want to go with a huge tour and arranged to meet him at 10am tomorrow. Had dinner and bought supplies for our overnight trek starting tomorrow. Thursday 17th August
Laura - We got up relatively early, packed our bags for the trek and went to meet our guide, Ameal, at his floating office. After watching him speeding off on his motorbike a few times to get some supplies we were finally off. We got a boat over to the base camp on the other side of the river, stored our backpacks there and I hired some rather fetching boots for the trek. Eventually we climbed back into the boat and were off sailing up the river in the blazing sun. The boat ride was really nice - lots of dense jungle, a few monitor lizards and monkeys, and clear blue skies. We had packed lunch en route, which was very tasty. I almost fell asleep but was woken up by being splashed quite alot as we went over some river rapids.
We eventually arrived at the start of our trek at around 2pm and set off into the dense jungle. The track was more overgrown than I expected, and very steep in parts. It was hard work and it wasn't long before we were all dripping in sweat. We stopped a few times when there was rustling in the bushes, while Ameal checked it out. We were aware that we could come across a number of dangerous animals but I was too busy looking at the ground to navigate my way around the tree roots and vines, to look into the bushes for big animals. The only thing I was really looking out for were snakes and spiders!
After about 2 KM we stopped for a short rest, and Ameal had a cigarette (I noticed he'd packed THREE packets of cigarrettes for the trip!!). I was quite concerned when Ameal started drinking some water out of a stagnant pond. I had visions of him keeling over and us having to navigate our own way back through the jungle! We were soon off again and after a while we came to a fork in the path, where Ameal informed us he'd
encountered 2 tigers a couple of months ago. Great. We asked him what happened with the tigers but he just laughed and said "I'll tell you later, not now, you get too scared". Okay.....
Ameal started playing some classic Westlife tunes on his mobile phone, apparently to scare off tigers. Everytime I heard rustling at his point my heart was pounding. I had visions of tigers leaping out at us from the bushes! Surely Westlife would anger them rather than scare them off??
Anyway on we trudged, climbing over fallen trees and wading through streams. Much to my horror we soon came across a HUGE spider on the path. Anyone who knows me knows that this is my worst nightmare. I suddenly forgot about the tigers and snakes and began panicking over how I was going to get past the spider! It was hairy and browny-yellow with a red head. Totally disgusting. Luckily Paul came to my rescue and held my hand while we walked around it. My hero!
Later on the path we saw some elephant footprints and lots of elephant poo. I got quite excited at the prospect of seeing some wild elephants until Ameal
informed us that there was a baby with them and so if we bumped into them they'd be likely to attack. Great. So now we added elephants to our list of potential dangers!!
At one of our rest points there was a hanging vine, which amused Paul and Holmsy greatly as they got to play Tarzan for a while. A few KMs later and we eventually arrived at the cave we were to sleep in. We were very tired, extremely sweaty and dirty. Hey, we don't call oursleves 'Team Sexy' for nothing! The cave was so so big, much more than I expected it to be. The roof of the cave was also very high. I was pleased about this because I'd expected a smaller cave and thought it would be quite claustrophobic. This was a palace of caves!
We collected some fire wood and river water for cooking, then went for a 'Jungle Shower'. This literally involved standing in the stream and pouring icy cold water over ourselves from a saucepan. It was just what we needed. Me and Paul were the last to shower so Ameal left us with his machete to find our own way
back to the cave! The sun was setting so we didn't take very long about it. We didn't want to encounter the start of the night hunts of the nocturnal beasts!
Back safely in the cave we set up camp (which literally just included our sleeping bags and mats, Ameal on the other hand had the luxury of a hammock!) and chopped some veggies for dinner. We had a very delicious feast followed by some hot chocolate. There was one other group sleeping in the cave who were watching us eat enviously as they had only been provided with cold tinned curry!!!
After eating Ameal told us a few stories around the campfire about the cave. We were informed that elephants frequently come into the cave to sleep, and that the Aboriginal people who live in the jungle say that when you can see lightening through a gap in the roof of the cave, it means the elephants will come. He also told us that tigers have been known to enter the cave when groups have stayed there. We couldn't see any of us getting a wink of sleep after being told that!
We all went hunting
in the cave for bats, but as there wasn't many, the hunt soon turned into 'find the scorpion spider and giant millipede'. Ameal got very excited when he spotted a scorpion spider in a gap in the rocks. Paul took a few photos, I refused to look because I didn't want nightmares, but apparently it was the size of a crab! Was it poisonous? Very. Was the giant millipede poisonous? Ameal's answer - "If you get bitten by it at night you won't wake up in the morning". I decided to leave the rest of the group to continue the hunt for the millipede and went back to the campfire to sit looking at the rock which housed the scorpion spider, no more than 20 metres away from where we were sleeping...
A few more jungle horror stories later and it was bedtime. We took a quick toilet trip outside and scared ourselves by seeing a couple of red eyes lit up not too far away... The guides lit lots of candles around the cave and threw a few logs on the fire. Apparently this would keep away the creepy crawlies as well as the tigers and elephants. We
lay in bed and soon noticed that it was thundering and lightening outside. We looked up to the gap in the roof of the cave, saw the lightening through it and laughed nervously remembering what Ameal had told us about the Aboriginal's prediction. A while later everyone else had fallen asleep and Ameal was snoring. Me, Paul and Holmsy were the only people still awake. All of a sudden we noticed a very distinctive noise in the distance. We all looked at each other and laughed in disbelief, "It couldn't be could it?......". The sound got louder and closer and we were soon very sure that it was indeed elephants that we could hear. It was funny and not funny at the same time. Although it was pretty amazing to hear the elephants it was very scary to think that they could come in the cave and trample us to death! Forunately the sounds got fainter again after a while and we breathed a sigh of relief.
We all tried to get to sleep but everytime there was a slight noise or rustling in the cave we sat bolt upright and were shining our torches around to see what
the noise was. "Remind me who's idea was this again??!" I asked. We eventually managed to doze on and off, but were slightly alarmed by the fact that the candles and fire had all burned out. It rained pretty much all night long and the lightening lasted for a while. At around 3.30am Ameal got up and re-lit the fire and candles. This made us all feel a bit safer. I was bursting for the loo so Paul escorted me outside into the wilderness. After that we slept pretty well and didn't wake up until 9am when a gibbon was happily whooping outside the cave (honestly, this is the happiest sounding animal I have ever heard!). Friday 18th August
Paul - Woke up to be greeted by Ameal preparing us "jungle toast" which me and Laura liked the look of a lot. Asked if we could go take another shower in the river as we were very sweaty after our night of terror. Took one of the pans with us to pour over our heads and strolled down there. It was so refreshing to have icy cold water thrown over you (honestly) that even when we put
our sweaty clothes back on from yesterday we still felt good. I put my boxers on but Laura had sneakily brought a clean pair of knickers with her! Apparently something about female hygiene....
Went back up to the cave as the other group were leaving and settled down to the feast that Ameal had cooked us. Omelete, "jungle toast" (toasted on a roaring fire), beans, peanut butter... brilliant, this was the best breakfast we'd eaten in ages. Cleaned the pots in the river and took some photos of the cave before packing up. Asked Ameal if it was elephants that we heard last night and he said yes there were a herd of them!!
We were all quite sad to leave the cave actually. Twenty minutes later and my feet were covered in leeches as it had rained all night and I was REALLY sad that we had left...
Trekked for a couple of hours before coming to our dinner spot. There was a river running by there and Ameal took us to a tree near by and carved a fishing rod out of it! He then attached a bit of string to the end and caught
about 3 fish in a minute. We all had a go but only Holmsy caught one other fish, but Ameal was an expert. Chopped up our veggies for a very healthy noodles and vegetables combo for lunch.
After lunch we went for a paddle in the river after Ameal assured us there were no crocodiles ("No no no, just be careful not to close to the banks, this is cobra country...") right... Put our shoes back on and started on our trek towards the main river where we would catch our boat back. Once again another tree came crashing down about 30 metres behind us which made me and Laura jump. Who would have thought that falling trees constituted a major threat in the jungle!?
Actually speaking of major threats, clearly tigers, rampaging elephants, over twenty deadly snakes, leopards, deadly spiders, deadly centipedes (HONESTLY they are MASSIVE!) are NOTHING compared to the threat of mosiquitoes...... of course I'm joking.....................................
Back to the trek, sweat was now dripping from every orrifice on my body and I was pretty tired. Jumped across numerous other streams and navigated our way slowly past vines, trees and other natural hazards. We finally
reached a hide (a small shack that is raised above the ground where you can view animals out of) but didn't stay long as we needed to reach our boat soon. Another 20 minutes later and we arrived at an amazing view of the river and mountains. We had made it!
Collapsed into the boat and headed back to camp. Thanked Ameal for a truly amazing time and booked our tickets to the Cameron Highlands for tomorrow. The shower back at our hostel was the greatest thing since sliced bread! Had dinner and fell straight to sleep (not before Laura beat me at chess, apparently, I think she made have cheated when I had a toilet break)
There are more photos below