"It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under..."
Kuala Tahan, Malaysia
We had a three hour long-boat trip through the jungle. It added to the experience and the adventure. We later discovered that we could have got a bus direct to the place. Clearly just a tourist thing. The boat arrived at Mama Chop's floating restaurant; the riverbank was lined with several of these restaurants.
We had done some research on accommodation and Paul did a deal with the top guesthouse on Tripadvisor - DeLima's. Free tea and coffee, nice, clean air conditioned room. Delima the muslim owner did a great breakfast too with tea/coffee, eggs/omelette, chicken sausages and toast and jam.
The national park was across the river from the little town of Kuala Tahan. There were several short hiking trails near the park HQ and further afield were hikes that involved overnight stays in the jungle. There was also a canopy walk near the park HQ and at 45m high and 510m long apparently the longest in the world. The national park is one of the oldest rainforests in the world - 130 million years old, and was home to tigers, elephants, monkeys, horn bills and mouse deer. It was, however, highly unlikely that we would see tigers as they lived very deep into the jungle.
On our first day, we decided to do the canopy walk and one of the short treks. We had researched that going early gave you the best chance of seeing any wildlife and avoiding other tourists. We took a short boat trip for 1 Ringgit each (20p) across the river to the treks. There was a boardwalk taking you right the way into the jungle. We arrived 20 minutes before the canopy walk even opened, but at least there was no-one else around. It was 5 Ringgits per person £1. I went first and you are supposed to leave 5 metres between each person. The bridge felt fairly safe and there were helpers at some of the platforms between the walkways. The views were great and at the right level to see birds and animals. About halfway round, I reached a platform built round a tree and I heard something drop from above. I looked up and saw a squirrel climbing up the tree, it stopped, looked down at me for ages before climbing again. It was orange in colour with a fox like face and when I saw it climbing I noticed the bat like wings - I had spotted what I thought was a flying fox, but later researched was a red giant flying squirrel. It soon disappeared back into the canopy. Paul was still way behind me. The helper on the next platform along called to me and I joined him, he had followed the squirrel and it was very high up in the trees. Paul caught up with us, but his lens was faulty and he couldn't extend it. The squirrel then took flight and we saw it float quite a distance. That was the last we saw of it.
After the excitement of the flying squirrel, we did one of the treks. The Bukit Teresek trek was only 1.7km long but it took us to an amazing viewpoint of the national park stretching into the distance. A really impressive expanse of protected rainforest. Soon the trek was getting busy, we saw around 60 people on the way back down. Going out early was the best idea.
Evenings were spent at the floating restaurants. They were so busy with western tourists. The region really does attract an amazing amount of people, many of which were British. We kept meeting up with Shania and Chris too, a couple from Wolverhampton, they had travelled with us from Cameron Highlands. Chris was going to stay up for the England v Uruguay game, which was being aired at 3am in one of the river bars. We were glad that we didn't bother to get up.
On the second day we decided to do Bukit Indah. Again much of the start of the trek was boardwalk. We followed behind three other trekkers and they seemed to be having an easy time spotting the wildlife. Firstly they pointed out a large grey lizard, then in another 50 metres they were photographing an amazing iguana (see photo). The iguana was doing a little headbanging dance on the tree. Soon the trekkers turned off towards the canopy walk and we were on our own. Buoyed from my squirrel spotting the previous day, I was in the zone. Sheryl Attenborough was alert to the rustling, the insect and animal sounds and the movements through the folliage. We stopped every 50 metres or so to listen for signs of wildlife. I heard some rustling and spotted movement in the canopy above. I called Paul over and pointed it out to him. Then, I spotted it - a backpack! Unfortunately I had pointed out someone walking along the canopy walk. Paul said "Well done, you've spotted a German!" Ah well!
We continued along the Bukit Indah trail. The boardwalk section ended and soon it was tree root steps, climbing over fallen tree trunks and crossing rivers using boulder pathways. Most of the way there was downhill, which we thought was strange as Bukit means hill. However, over the last 500m all became clear - it was a steep climb. Ropes were attached to parts of the trail to help you climb up. The view was not so spectacular at the top, but it gave us a sense of achievement and it was nice to have the trek to ourselves. We saw only two trekkers on the way back down or should I say the was back up (for most of it). We saw no more wildlife, but were happy that wildlife was living and thriving deeper into the jungle. Thanks for your recent messages and welcome to the blog Auntie Barb and Jayne.