After a season of living and working in the hub of the city, it definitely seemed like a great idea to visit the world’s oldest national park – the Taman Negara National Park, located in the state of Pahang Darul Makmur in Malaysia. I decided to join the trip with a group of friends after a few hectic months working with computers in the office.
We started traveling by bus from Kuala Lumpur at 9am and reached the Jerantut town after four to five hours. We had our lunch at one of the backpacker hostels near the Hotel Sri Emas before continuing our journey to the Jerantut jetty (that would take another 30 minutes’ drive). Everyone was happy and excited while waiting for the boat to take us to the refreshing greenery of the park, despite being hot under the sun. The boat ride would take almost three hours…I thought I could just take a nap on the boat, with the wind blowing right onto my face, but then the boat ride started and not long after, I found out I was wrong. The seat was so low and narrow, and I could barely stretch my long legs! The mighty sun never stopped disseminating its heat and the strong wind was carrying with it the river water, splashing onto our bodies. And with the noise of the motor at the back of the boat, it was just so hard to fall asleep…
It was a total relief when we arrived at the National Park. Everyone climbed up from the boat as fast as the thunder! We quickly rushed to the resort, got our room keys, headed into the bathrooms and took a cold shower. We rested a while to get recharged, and later we started to explore the resort and the rainforest. There are many resorts available to suit the budget of any visitor and most of them provide a van for transportation. We got our map from the friendly receptionist at the lobby and decided to go into the jungle at night with the company of a guide.
The guide showed us a video of the nightlife in the jungle and exposed us to the treasure of the rainforests. A walk in the dark jungle was scary, as many unfamiliar sounds were heard. We took hold of our courage and walked closely with the experienced guide and we finally reached a hide. We climbed the hide silently and observed far into the jungle (with the aid of torch-lights). Not long after, we noticed some movement very far away and saw a group of deer relaxing around. A baby deer was jumping and running joyfully. Some were eating grass and some were standing still. It was truly a great experience to watch the natural behaviour of these shy creatures. We soon felt tired and decided to leave the hide and head back to our resort to rest after a day trip. I fell asleep once I dropped myself on the bed that day…ZZZZzzz.
The next morning, we had more adventurous activities. We had a canopy walk and trekked the jungle. The suspension bridge we strode on during the canopy walk was about 40 meters high and suspended between tall strong trees. The Forestry Department was careful to choose the trees and made sure that the bridges were nailed to the trunks without damaging the internal structure of the trees. It was definitely a challenge for those people phobic to height. The walk took about half an hour. We then continued to trek towards Bukit Teresek. There was so much to learn from Bukit Teresek! The same guide showed us plants like Tongkat Ali, species of fungi, rattan, liana trees and others, and told us of the commercial and medical values. We were quite unfortunate that day because the sky was too cloudy, so we could not see the Tahan Mount (it is the tallest mountain in the Peninsular of Malaysia).
In the evening, we took a boat and shot the rapids. The water was cold and quite brownish, too much mud I guess. And of course, we were wet! I was glad that I did not bring my hand-phone (there are service lines in the forest for your information) or else it would not work anymore! We later went on to observe a settlement of Orang Asli or Aborigines. The Orang Asli were quite shy and there was so much to learn from them. They showed us how to produce fire using Meranti wood and rattan, how to kill birds or other creatures by poisonous ‘sumpit’, and how to get safe drinking water from the liana trees. We also had explained to us some of the customs of the Orang Asli, e.g. their wedding and funeral ceremonies.
We went home to Kuala Lumpur the next day. It was a short stay in the National Park but an enlightening one. I am glad that I am a Malaysian and that Malaysia has taken the effort to preserve the rainforest. Without the rainforest, many lives would definitely be threatened and our future generations will not be able to learn about the basic needs of human beings. It was a memorable day for all of us!