The bus from the Cameron Highlands took 3 hours and then we had a 3hour boat ride up the river to the park which was exciting! We saw a huge monitor lizard, a kingfisher bird, some sort of eagle and some macque monkeys on our boat trip which was a good start to the national park adventure. We weren't sure what to do when we arrived as we had read you could stay in a hide in the jungle, but we only arrived at 4pm, so it was too late to get there on the first day. We found some accommodation for the first night, in a place called 'Agoh chalets' - sounds lovely but probably isnt what you are picturing! It did the job and had air con which was amazing but the bathroom was pretty rough (and had a random hude plastic barrell in there taking up most of the room - not sure what that was for?!) and when we were going to bed there was a liazrd merrily running around under the bed!
On Tues 6th March we headed off towards our hide! You could walk the 7 hour hike there, or take a boat down the river and walk 1 hour - so we decided to go for that option and we were glad we did! It took some time and some bargaining to get the boat price down (they really try to rip you off for that!) but we managed to get it down quite a bit. The river boat ride there was really choppy and a bit hair raising but got to the jetty safe amd started the 1 hour walk, hoping we would find the hide okay! The walk to the hide wasn't too strenuous but the jungle noises were really quite errie and it dawned on us that we were walking through a jungle that is home to sun bears, tigers, wild boar and elephants. It was just the two of us and no guide and I felt quite vulnerable and for that reason we kept up a fast pace! It was muddy in parts and I took a slip up a bank but somehow manged to land in a press up type position, meaning I didn't get totally caked in mud ha ha! We were very relieved to arrive safely at the hide; a concrete building hugh up on stilts. There was a hose at the bottom from a rainwater collecting tank on top of the hide so I set to work cleaning the mud of my arms and hands and Andrew sussed out our accommodation for the night! Up in the hide there were 6 wooden empty bunk beds with open windows all around the hide for look out purposes. The hide was quite exposed really, anything could climb up the steps and come through the wooden door that was supposed to keep us safe from the jungle! About half an hour after we got there a french pair arrived and we were releived that there would be some other people there for the long dark night! They had paid for a guide to escort them through the jungle so that was a bonus for us we thought, hoping to get some free knowledge while at the hide! Turned out that he and the french pair slept like babies all night, not getting up once to look out or see what noises were etc! It poured all night while we were in the hide, making it hard to hear noises outside against the sound of the rain on the tin roof. At one point though the whole hide shook quite noticeably; Andrew and I both jumped out of bed, thinking possibly an elephant was rubbing against the concrete stilts but we saw nothing. We are not sure what the shake could have been, other than a landslide somehwere nearby, land slides are really common here in Malaysia.
We didnt get much sleep through the night, between listening out for noises and getting up and down to see if anything was there and the worry of rats joining you in bed! There were signs in the hide to tie any food items up on the rafters from the ceiling as there are lots of rats there, so I slept with my torch firmly gripped in my hand ready for if I heard any scratching or felt anything crawl up beside me in bed! It was the only night in life that I have slept or dozed with my contact lenses in but I didnt want to wake up seeing or feeling something and not being able to see it straight away! Yuk!
We got through the night in one piece but unfortunately only saw some squirrels (which came into the hide to saw hello in the morning), a massive yuk spider which slept with us in the hide and a firebird pheasant bird. We were hoping for an elephant or a wild boar but no such luck. Our walk back to the jetty on the Wednesday morning was a right adventure! As it has rained all night the path was so so muddy and slippery and the leeches were out in force. We were doing quite well and about half way back we were still going strong and hadnt been bitten yet. But then we came across part of the path which had flooded in the rain and there was no other way around other than taking off our socks and shoes and wadding across bare foot...which we did! Andrew went first bless him, throwing his shoes across before him. He got to the other side okay but was covered in leeches and bleeding everyhwere. This obviously freaked me out and I really didn't want to walk through brown muddy leech infested water but had no choice. I went for it, making ridiculous noises and facial expressions as I went across but made it across in one piece and much to my relief with no leeches attached to my bare feet or legs! We had to just out our socks and shoes back on over caked in mud feet which was a bit minging, hoping to goodness there wasnt a stray leech hiding bewteen our toes! Yuk! Luckily the boat was there to take us back when we made it to the end of the path and we had some much needed breakfast and coffee!
Leech bites are not painful but look really bad (as you can see from the photos). The little annoying blighters release an anesthetic to prevent you from feeling them. Once attached, leeches use a combination of mucus and suction to stay attached and secrete an antincoagulant enzyme into your blood, keeping the site bleeding so they can get lots of blood from you! A leech attaches itself when it bites, and it will stay attached until it becomes full, at which point it falls off to digest. If you are lucky enough you will spot them before they are full and pull them off but you have to be careful as their teeth can remain in your skin which isnt too pleasant! It was quite freaky to see a leech before it had fed - they are really skinny small little worm like creatures but once they have fed from you they are thick like a slugs body. Yuk!
So after our jungle and leech escapades we decided to treat ourselves and checked into 'Woodland Resort' in Kuala Tahan for our last night, it had a swimming pool, en suite room and air con, a far cry from our night in the hide ha! We had some serious hand washing of clothes and shoes from the jungle to do, but after that realxed in the pool and had a good laugh about our adventures!Tomorrow (Thursday 8th March) we head onto Kuala Lumpur which will be exciting. We are looking forward to a city again and seeing what adventures it will bring our way!