Right I am back out of the jungle and it was great! To get there you have to take a boat for about three hours up river to get to the settlement of Kuala Tahan. This little place consists largely out of hotels and a number of restaurants build on pontoons that float along the rivers edge.
I settled on a place on the edge of town which had beautiful little bungalows in a tropical garden and an owner who seemed genuinely happy to see me. This was proven as a good choice in the next few days as again and again they went out of their way to make my stay and that of my fellow guests as pleasant as possible, going as far as one afternoon after a heavy rainfall prevented any further junglewalks, to take us in their four wheel drive and showing us the workings of a rubber and palm oil plantation which was very interesting indeed. Did you know that Malaysia is the largest producer of palm oil? No neither did I.
The day after I arrived I set out into the jungle armed with a bottle of water and a totally unreliable map. First to the Canopy Walk a contraption where they have hoisted a number of swingbridges between the trees where you can look down on most of the forest canopy and presumably spot animals that are unlikely to come down to the forest floor, like gibbons or the giant tree squirrel. However large numbers of people including a Danish family with four young children right behind me make seeing any animal most unlikely. I am sure they have left for a quieter tree top a long time ago.
Nevermind once I left the Canopy Walk I located the trail to the top of mount Teresek and never saw anyone else for the next five hours. It didn’t take long for my lack of fitness to manifest itself and as the trail is rather steep I was forced to frequently take breaks, sit down and drink some water. The unintended consequence of that was that I actually saw quite a few animals, most of them birds including several hornbills who are most impressive and when they fly over look like something out of Jurassic Park. Their wings make a sort of Woosh woosh sound. I also saw a racket tailed drongo and all sorts of bulbuls and another hundred or so different birds I couldn’t identify.
At one stage about three quarters up the mountain while I was catching my breath again I heard a noise in the undergrowth behind me and slowly turned around and tried to make as little noise as I could. After another minute or so a large wild boar came in view and it spend some time rooting around the plants in a gully before it noticed me and ran off into the scrub again.
After about two hours I reached the top of the mountain and was rewarded with a nice view over a large part of the jungle. This is where in my wisdom I decided to take a different trail back to the park headquarters. Initially all went well, it was going down hill after all but I had the nagging feeling that I was walking away from the park HQ rather then towards it. Then the trail started to move uphill again. I stopped for a while and listened for any sounds indicating people or boats on the river but al I heard was jungle noise. I walked on a bit and repeated the procedure with the same result I checked the time and decided that by now I should have come to the river that was clearly indicated on my map. I climbed one last ridge with nothing to indicate where I was and made the decision to turn around so I had some chance of making it back to civilization before nightfall, problem was that meant of course reclimbing the mountain and every step seemed harder and harder and I needed to rest more and more frequently by that stage I had also drunk the last of my water and felt rather parched. Another hour or so of following the trail back up and then I suddenly heard voices. The cavalry had arrived to rescue me! Well not quite it was a hiking party that had a guide with them that assured me that I actually had been going in the right direction after all. So as I wasn’t to keen on keeping climbing on my own I hooked up with them and went back the way I had just come, the third time that I walked that particular part of the trail. Finally when I was pretty much stumbling rather then walking we came to the river and I just dived in. I reckon that even after ten minutes in the water my body temperature was still to high.
From the river to park HQ was only a ten minute walk and when I arrived I drank two liter and a half bottles of water in one go.
After my jungle walking effort and a good nights sleep I decided that there should be an easier way to get around so I signed up for a boat ride up a number of rapids and back down again on a tube. Now that is my kind of sport. The water current is strong enough that you hardly have to paddle and the rapids aren’t so big as to be dangerous. So a leisurely afternoon was spend floating about watching the birds and a few with wings as well.
I am getting a sore arm from all this typing so I’ll write some more tomorrow, maybe.