Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trekking in the Deep: The Inner Jungles of Taman Negara


Malaysia Day 4 (continued)

After the Canopy Walk, it was time to get ready for the Jungle Trek. We were given everything we will need in the jungle. We have to bring our own stuff. Camping supplies like sleeping bags, mats, utensils, food and the killer of them all - the water. Why did I say so? Each of us carried 4.5 liters of water! Well, the guide was right, we will definitely need them in the jungle. Safety comes first. We can't just drink anywhere there. It's always better to have plenty of clean drinking water.


my overly-stuffed backpack

I just brought an extra pair of clean clothes, socks, a pair of slippers, a mini-blanket (malong), a flashlight, a first aid kit and an insect repellent. Oh, I also brought some sunscreen which I think was stupid. It is a rain forest! Hello! Everywhere is covered with huge trees and it rains most of the time. Haha. ;)


with Moon and Zaifu (at her back)

That guy behind her is Zaifu, our Jungle Guide. Random fact. Did you know that you can find love in a hopeless place? No, I'm kidding. In a jungle. This time, I'm not joking. They ended up liking each other. TMI, I know. But it was one of those happy stories when you travel that you can't help but share. ;)


Nasi Goreng onboard, baby!

That was our lunch that day. Zaifu gave it to us after an hour on the boat. It is said to be the national dish of Indonesia, but it is also popular in Malaysia. It literally means "fried rice". Nasi Goreng is a stir-fried rice, spiced by soy sauce, shallots, garlic, tamarind and chili. You can also add egg, chicken and prawn to it. In our case, it was a lot of veggies. Good thing I love veggies! :)


this is what you call a jungle

It took about a couple of hours to get to Kuala Keniam, the trekking jump-off point. It is somewhere near the end of the river where the deeper jungles are. They say there's a Research Center in the area set-up by the Department of Wildlife but I didn't recall seeing one.


does it look eerie?

It looked like an abandoned guest house and campsite to me. There are dilapidated chalets and public restrooms all over the place. Big trees and wide array of flora are everywhere.


one of them flora

I wonder why it was deserted. It would've been a great camp site. A little isolated but...umm, okay I admit it. It looks spooky. Haha. Maybe all the more at night. But it's more exciting, don't you think? ;)


8km trek!

Our destination was the Gua Kepayang Besar. Gua means cave and besar means big, so probably it's name is Kepayang. Just following that train of thought. Yep, it is the biggest of them caves.

We were a small group, consisted only of 6. According to Zaifu our guide, we were suppose to be 10 but the other 4 backed out the other night. We ended up only with a German couple and a Dutch couple. I was the only Asian there because Moon is technically from Europe too and she speaks Dutch. After some self-introductions and pep talk from our guide, we proceeded to the real deal - we started hiking. After crossing that suspension bridge from Kuala Keniam, the real adventure began. There was no turning back.


into the wild

I had to remember all the guidelines Zaifu gave us. Especially, the what-to-dos when you get lost or separated by the group. It is so easy to get lost in a jungle these huge and dense! OMG, I can't even imagine what to do if it happens to me. There are no villages, stores and shelters there. And I haven't undergone a single jungle survival training ever! Gotta make it good or else waaahh...


1st short break

The first two hours were the easiest to bear. The happy and keyed up group started to get silent after an hour or so. The primarily clear trails started to become undefined and difficult. When you're getting tired, you're starting to feel everything. It was hot, wet and muddy.


a peaceful stream

We had our first break after an hour and half. We halt in to this nice stream. It was just a 15-minute break. We just sat for a while, rehydrated, stretched and checked if we got some leeches in our body. Yes, Taman Negara is known to have many leeches.


leech-check  :)

We were told to walk fast. You know, not the walk in the park kind of pace. Why? First, it is a rain forest. It gets dark pretty fast because of the canopy hovering above you and it'll be harder to trek in the dark. There's the muddy type where you can still walk on and there's another type where you can be submerged. Another thing was the swarm of leeches! The faster you walk, the lesser chance they can crawl in to you. My third reason was, I don't want to get lost and be left behind by the group. If you notice, I just had photos during breaks. There was no taking sweet time to capture beautiful photos. No choice but only to keep them in my memory.


trek-break @ Gua Luas

A couple of hours later, we had our first and last long break. It was when we reached this cave called Gua Luas. It also signifies that we already hiked 4km from Kuala Keniam. We were halfway done! Woohoo! We did not explore this cave. We literally just rest there and eat our biscuits. It wouldn't only make you tired, but it would also make you hungry!


munching on snacks

We caught another group resting there, so our break became 40-45 minutes. You know, the getting to know the other group and sharing experiences and stories part. Still, they went ahead of us. We remained there for like 10-15 minutes more and then it was time to move on.

As we move along, we were all observing the various types of animals and plants around us. Like, I noticed that the ants and all the other insects there we all so big! Seriously. All of them were not of normal size! Including this relatively long and fat millipede (photo below). It was our German pal who tried to touch it. Yaiiks! She really did. :)


can't touch this!

They say there used to be wild animal sightings here but it diminished as time went by. There used to be elephants, bears and tigers roaming around this jungle. Zaifu said animal hunting was their big problem. The trail became more challenging as we went deep into the jungle. During the last few hours, I got gashes in my arms caused by thorns of some trees. Ouch.

Even though we hadn't encounter any of those wild animals, we still had fun. There were a lot of birds making lovely noises. It was impressive how the jungle guide knew which bird is which, just by its tweet. We also saw squirrels and wild cats. I was actually delighted to see the squirrels because it was my first time. They were like, "You don't have it in your country?". Umm... what do you think? ;)


Gua Kepayang Besar

At long last, after 6 hours we arrived in Gua Kepayang Besar. I know, it might not seem like a cave entrance but it is. A challenging doorway at that. You have to carefully climb up those sharp limestone rocks and make an effort not to disturb the hanging beehive in one of those rocks, or else it's not going to be a good story hehe. That small opening that you see there, is the passage way to the cave.

In front of that is a river where everyone bathe after the strenuous hike. It was also where we washed our muddy clothes and shoes. So cold and refreshing! After that very sweaty and filthy activity, it was our reward. We went back in to the cave before it gets dark. Time to have fun in the dark! Yay! :)





This is Part 4-2 of my Peninsular Malaysia travel series.