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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Exploring the Oldest Tropical Rainforest: Taman Negara

I did not go to Malaysia just to see the Twin Towers of KL or visit a theme park in Genting Highlands, or to splurge in the popular Langkawi Island. Peninsular Malaysia is more than just all of those famous places. The adventurer and the nature-lover in me chose to trek in a jungle and sunbathe in a far away tropical paradise.

I was prepared to travel solo all the way. In the middle of my planning stages, a Malaysian guy friend offered to accompany me to Perhentian where he does his diving and a very kind woman invited me to celebrate the Hari Raya with her family. I received more genuine and kind offers after that. They also gave me a lot of help on my itinerary. I'm telling you, Malaysians are one of the nicest people in the world. Well, based on my experience. ;) Two months before the trip, I met a travel buddy from Europe. Plans and some destinations were changed.

I'm glad I met Moon in Couchsurfing. I instantly got a friend and a travel buddy. It was so awesome that our travel dates matched and that we love to do the same stuff. She lives and study in London but her parents are Chinese-Malay. She was born and raised in Holland, thus she has a Dutch passport. She spent her two-month vacation in Malaysia for 2012. That was how we met. :)

with Moon :)

Our initial plan was to explore the more off-beat Endau Rompin National Park down south, then head off to Tioman Island. Endau Rompin looks more exciting and challenging. It was so off-the-beaten that there are only a few travel agencies that offer tours and it is almost impossible to do-it-yourself. Even my local Malaysian friends had a hard time getting its info for me. We checked the tours and it was ludicrously overpriced! Package rates ranges RM 400-700 (PHP 5-9K). Like, are you effin kidding me? Unfortunately, they weren't. So we changed our plans and settled for the more tourist friendly Taman Negara.

Malaysia Day 3

Our call time that day was 7:00 AM for the registration. I left one of my bags in my KL Hostel (Sunshine Bedz) so I can travel lighter ahead. Moon and I just paid for our one way transportation and boat transfer. The tour type will be decided upon when we reached their main office in Jerantut.

our 1st destination

It was a 2-hour ride from KL. In Jerantut, we were given the chance to book our tours and onward transportations and have lunch. We ended up just booking a 4D3N tour instead of our original plan to stay longer for some reasons. Then we also pre-purchased our tickets back and onward to Kuala Besut and ultimately to Perhentian Islands.

When everyone was all set, we rode the coach again and were transported to Kuala Tembeling where we will ride a boat to Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara. It was 30-40 minutes from the booking office. Before boarding the boat, you have to pay for a "Camera License" for RM 5 each. You will not be allowed to use your camera in the park vicinity if you don't have it.

all set to sail

This is the boat. It is a long wooden one with no outtrigger, but motorized. It has a tin roof but God, it was still so hot!

river cruise under the midday sun

Believe it or not, it takes 3 long hours to get to Taman Negara National Park from Kuala Tembeling. At first, you'll feel fascinated and you'll be enjoying the river and the forest landscape. But after an hour or so, you'll start to feel the intense heat of the sun and the numbing sensation in your butt.

local fishermen

There's actually a road going the National Park and traveling through it, is much faster. The tourism authority just wanted the visitors to experience and see more by cruising the river.

water buffalos

While on the river, we saw how rich Taman Negara is. Malaysia seems to be doing a very good job at preserving it. It is evident by the thick trees and the very clean river. I secretly wished it was the same here.

the riverview from Floating Resto

We finally arrived after 3 hours! We were dropped off at the LBK Floating Restaurant. This is NKS' Taman Negara headquarters. We ironed out our tours with them before looking for accommodation. We scheduled ourselves for the Inner Jungle Adventure for the following day.

chilling at the resto

When we were settled with our Chalet niche, we went down to the restaurant to chill and have early dinner. We actually had joined the Night Safari thing that night too. But I was disappointed that there was nothing much to see. I am not posting the unsatisfactory photos I took that night. Do not get that offer! It'll just be a waste of money.

Malaysia Day 4

Taman Negara Canopy Walk

We woke up early, excited for our Inner Jungle adventure. We're not leaving until 9:00 AM, so we all went to Canopy Walk first. It's on the other side of the river though so we had to be brought across there.

adventurous ladies :)

It only takes about 5 minutes to get there. There is a RM 1.00 admission fee for the Canopy Walk.

it starts here

As I've mentioned earlier, don't forget to bring your camera license. The authorities are checking it. The photo below is the view of what you'll be looking at while at the canopy.

deep and dense

Taman Negara is said to be the world's oldest tropical rainforest dating back over 130 million years ago. Its location is far enough away from the ice during the Ice Ages so these forests are said to be even older than the Amazon (in Latin America) and Congo (in Africa).

canopy walkway
These walkways are 1.2 kilometers long and 25 kilometers above the ground. Oh did I say 25? Haha! But don't worry it doesn't look like it because of the thick forest. There are so many tress around that I hardly notice it is that deep.

fearless :)

They initially created these suspension bridges for biological research purposes before they turn it into a tourist attraction. They said it is the longest canopy walkway in the world. For me, it wasn't scary at all. The bridges were very safe and secure. You can tell by the way it looks and feel while you're walking. It is very steady.

view of Tembeling River from the tree top

I've never seen trees that many and a forest so thick without traces of human intrusion. Everywhere you look is just brown and green. Just Mother Earth and Nature. It felt so nice just to close your eyes for a second and breathe from that tree top.

hiking back to the river

It was an eye-opening experience. It will show you how important it is to preserve the trees and the forests. It will also remind you of how beautiful it is to live in a world where man and nature can co-exist. Then this Jason Mraz song played on and on in my mind...

♪And this place it will outlive me 
Before I get to heaven I’ll climb that tree♫
♪And I will have to give my thanks
For giving me the branch to swing on♫

~Jason Mraz

This is Part 4-1 of my Peninsular Malaysia travel series.


  1. So the oldest rainforest in the world is in Malaysia! Will go back to Malaysia for this. For now, I'm off to Penang. =)

    1. Yes hehe. As for e, I have yet to visit Penang. :)