For any of you who are not yet bored of tales of getting to and exploring Taman Negara, here are a few more juicy passages!
Having arrived by boat at the National Park we were assigned dorm rooms and one of my roommates was an Australian man who had literally done laps of the world. He also had an unbelievable memory for dates, for instance, he was able to recall that he had been through Northern Iraq in 1973! To be fair though, I don't think that is the sort of event you forget! For any of you currently considering popping over to the Gulf he doesn't recommend it because, amongst other reasons, he said it was rather boring!
Once we got a good nights sleep, did I need it, we went down to the riverside to find out no-one else had sign up for the trek we had so it would not be going ahead. This was the first warning sign of the day! News like that gives you crazy ideas like .... we could do a trek ourselves! We took a short boat trip over the river to park headquarters and signed up for a night in a jungle hide. We thought that the two closest hides wasn't challenging enough so we signed up for Bumbun Kumbang, some 12km's through the jungle, not too far we thought!
We then sorted out the hiring of sleeping bags and roll mats and set off on our adventure. We were keen to do the Canopy Walkway as well so made a detour there. Within minutes of walking I was absolutely drenched in sweat, I've never experienced humidity like it! The Canopy Walkway was amazing, it is the longest in the world at 450m and at points you are 70m off the ground, the views are stunning, as are the sounds but rather annoyingly it seems like every insect in the jungle was attracted to my face whilst I was up there!
After the relative serenity of the Walkway we set off on the serious business of the trek. We soon realised that it is one thing to walk 12km along well sign posted tracks, quite another to being doing it through overgrown jungle with a free park map from HQ! The map bore little relation to the actual trail and was almost unreadable after about an hour due to being soaked in sweat!
I'd just like to make it clear at this point that I am not ordinarily a sweaty monkey and that these were very extreme conditions!
We barely saw a man, bird or beast for a good few hours but the jungle orchestra was on great form, churning out classic after classic! We did hear a few large animals crashing through the jungle but it was so dense we were unable to see the perpertrators. There was the odd sign of leeches making there way up my trousers or determinedly trying to munch there way through my socks to the juicy, juicy flesh! Every attempt failed as I fought them off but eventually one particularly resolute little blighter found its way all the way up my trousers, under my t-shirt and bit me on the belly! After that they continued to come with alarmingly regularity and, although no more got at my belly, a few managed to find there way to my ankles and got their fill!
As we continued to trek with no sign of the hide and increasingly hot and fed up we found our way to a river which we literally ran across to avoid leaches! From there it was only another 30 minutes and we arrived at the hide 6 and a half hours after setting out. Said hello to my new roommates then dived into a freezing cold rainwater shower, the nicest shower of my life!
That evening we kept a look out for wildlife until dark but other than the silhouette of monkeys, there was nothing to be seen! Then it was time for the sound and light show, the string section of the orchestra got into full flow and fireflies put together an impressive pyrotechnic display!
Everyone hit the sack early and the hide was pitch dark, I've never been in such complete darkness in all my life. You would think this would put you to sleep but the rats had other ideas! One particularly friendly furball decided to scurry across my hand and then chill out by my head until I shooed it away!
The next event in our jungle program was an incredible tropical rainstorm. I knew it was an ominous sign when the crickets packed away there violins and then came the inevitable thunder, again and again. Then the rain started, I've never seen rain fall so hard, and lightning, bolt after bolt of lightning hurled down from the heavens!
By the morning, with very little sleep under my belt, I begrudgingly put my wet clothes back on and a few of us trudged to the nearest river to hail down a boat taxi, wasn't in the mood for the return leg for some reason! A shower, shave and clean clothes were amazing and I felt a new and revitalised person.
It was definitely one of those experiences which is amazing to look back on but I've definitely learnt not to take the jungle lightly!
Since then I headed to the Cameron Highlands which has a lovely temperate climate and went for a trek with a few fellow travellers. Now going to chill out for a bit before going to Borneo complete with leeches, jungle and humidity, can't wait!
Take care of yourselves,