Adventures of Jacqui and Paul
The bus journey to Taman Negara once again set a new standard of driving hell. I don't even need to go into detail any more, it was just like all the other journeys but longer. The best part was that when we finally arrived at our hotel there were no staff to be seen, and when we found someone she had the audacity to say "wait 5 minutes". Jacqui ate her throat. The place itself was alright, but full of cockroaches, geckos and other creatures, but that wasn't really a problem as we were in the actual rain forest, so there was no escaping it. On our night of arrival we went on a night jungle walk and our guide spoke about 6 words of English. It turned out to be hilarious because there was a Spanish family in our group and they spoke about 6 words of English between them, so watching them try to communicate with our poor guide was a spectacle to be admired. Anyway, on that walk the guide showed us all sorts of jungle bugs including scorpions and a bright yellow spider that was as big as my hand. It was only after I got right in its face with my torch and had been pointing at it for a while that he decided to tell me that the things can jump up to a metre and are actually quite poisonous. He was helpful like that. The next day we ventured out into the jungle again, only this time the guide seemed more comfortable with the group and was far more chatty. He told us all sorts of interesting stuff about jungle survival, including which plants can be used to stop bleeding, which can be eaten and which can be used as weapons. We walked through the jungle for an hour or so, climbed a mini mountain and took a few pictures of the view of the rain forest, then made our way to the canopy walkway. This was amazing; basically a series of rope bridges up in the tree canopy, something like 50 metres up. The longest of the bridges was 70 metres from end to end and it really was great fun, although not the most stable of constructions. There were a few blokes sitting on the platforms in the trees between each bridge telling people to stay at least 5 metres apart and not to stop, but of course everyone else knows better and starts bunching up in the middle taking photos. Unfortunately we didn't see any monkeys or anything, and sadly one of the first views you see is of a massive section of felled rainforest, but other than that is was quite an experience. In the afternoon we did something called "rapid shooting", which turned out not to have a whole lot to do with rapids at all. It was a sort of river cruise in a "boat" that amounted to a few planks of wood with a speedboat engine nailed to the back, and every once in a while the driver took us through some white water and soaked us. Still, we managed to see a monkey carrying its baby down to the water and a massive Iguana sunning itself on the river bank. Later, Jacqui went swimming in the river (rather her than me) and I defeated our guide in a round of stone skimming (jungle folk schmungle folk). Our next stop is the Perhentian Islands, which were recommended to us by a couple we met in Thailand. There's no way the journey is going to be smooth, this lesson we have learned now, but hopefully they are as spectacular as they sound...