19.07.2010 - 21.07.2010 30 °C
We stayed in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel very nearly next to the stunning Petronas Tower. There was a lot of construction going on in the KLCC and the hotel was surrounded by it, but our room was dead quiet with a breathtaking view of the KL skyline. No complaints about the hotel, it was as expected. We decided not to venture too far from KLCC and chilled out. It was very much an expat/tourist area with tonnes of 5 star chain hotels and mock-western bars such as 'Aloha'. Kinda of incongruous in a muslim country. Surprisingly in the foyer of what looked like an office block, we found a lovely casual Japanese restaurant called Yukozona. We went there for lunch and dinner ! I can recommended the fish head which was fried incidentally.
All fed, watered and chillaxed, we were ready for our 2 day stint in the oldest rainforest in the world : Taman Negara.
After a number of treachorous uncomfortable buses throughout our holiday, I felt rather anxious about catching the bus from KL to Juruntut. I was pleasantly surprised, it was like a National Express but with bigger seats – very comfortable indeed and pretty much empty. The rules around the taxi drivers were pretty strict so no haggling was required. We shared a 30 minute cab ride from the bus station at Juruntut to Kuala Tembling with an american couple who were teaching english in Taiwan. We arrived at the Kuala Tembling at midday. There were a handful of tourist agents so if there are enough people (around 10) to fill a boat, you can play them off eachother until one boat will take you then and there rather than wait for a scheduled one in a few hours time.
Empty longboats were sliced into eachother at the jetty. The one we climbed into, had a loose green tawpawlin roof with open sides.There was no raised seat, so you sort of sit with your legs out wide on fabric cushions. This was great for me because I have little legs but not so great for Julian ! The 2 hour ride snaked through the lush towering rainforest right into its heart. It was so relaxing, I actually fell asleep.
The boat moored up onto a floating wooden cafe on the banks. We had to get off the boat with our bags onto a narrow ledge which had diners at tables. After all the effort of not falling into the river, we ended up eating there. And the ginger prawns were pretty tasty I must say.
We stayed at the Rainforest Resort which was supposed to be one of the better places in the main town. The poshest complex which looked remarkably like the Dharma Initiative in Lost nestled within the rainforest was across the river. Our water taxi actually moored up at the same time as their guests, and we got to experience their welcome of the hotel staff putting on a song and dance !
We managed 3 walks in our day and half.
A little background :
"In the heart of the Titiwangsa Mountain Range, which makes up the central spine of Peninsular Malaysia, lies the country's most important protected area called Taman Negara (which means 'National Park'). The park comprises over 4,000 square kilometres of primary forest, mountain peaks, swift-flowing rivers and cascades.
The national park is home to around 14,000 species of plants and trees more than other forest in the world. Basically, there are over 2,400 species of flowering plant, 200 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 67 species of snakes, 55 species of frogs, 80 species of bat, 30 species of rats and 109 species freshwater fishes.
Parts of the area were first protected in 1925 as the Gunung Tahan Game Reserve, named after the area's highest peak. In 1939, while under British jurisdiction, the protected area was expanded to encompass parts of the states of Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan and was renamed King George V National Park. After Malaysia's independence, in 1957, the area assumed its current title of Taman Negara."
We approached the park office at around 4pm of our first day, eager to do the canopy walk. There was a lady slumped on the desk, clearly it had been a long day. We asked her directions to the canopy trail, and she summonned up a ''Close" and then she carried on looking the other way. I thought she said meant it was close by. We asked her what she meant, and she kept saying the same word. It transpired that this walk had "Closed" at 3.30pm !
It wasn't dark, so we decided to go for a little wander into the forest anyway. The paths seemed quite clear, through there were very few signs. The vegetation seemed prehistoric in size with huge curling leaves and ginormous tualang trees (kompassia excelsea), the tallest tree in South East Asia, various types of hardwoods such as meranti (shores spp.) and keruing (dipterocarps spp.)
The paths were quite wet and muddy with lots of slippery trunks lurking out of the ground in gravity defying contortions. We didn't see that much wildlife, except for some frogs, lizards and birds. The book had mentionned to expect your body to covered with leeches but we didn't see any. Mind you our body's were lathered with insect repellent.
We walked for a couple of miles, just getting a feel for the area and then headed back.
The next morning, we were up early and heading for the canopy walk. We were the first ones there the next morning at 9am. With 9 bridges and 10 platforms, 40metres above ground and 530 metres it is the longest Canopy Walk in Asia and possibly the world ! We walked slowly, with my husband being allowed to walk a few metres behind me for safety reasons. Looking down from the bridges was amazing.
As we finished our walk, we noticed all the tour groups starting the walk at around 10.30.
The next trail we followed was to the nearby peak of Bukit Teresek, just 2 kilometres from the headquarters. It was boiling hot and humid. The walk was all up hill (mostly steep) – a real killer if you are not used to this kind of thing ! But definately worth it. At the top, we looked out and jungle went out as far as the eye could see.