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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 80: From KL to Taman Negara

MALAYSIA | Thursday, 24 January 2008 | Views [1284]

The view from my cabin at the 'Durian Chalets', Kuala Tahan

The view from my cabin at the 'Durian Chalets', Kuala Tahan

Thursday 24th January

The tour operator (Han Travel) were due to pick me up outside the hostel at 08.00 to take me to the coach that was to go to Kuala Tembeling, and from there a boat would take us up the river to our final destination: Taman Negara National Park. They arrived in a mini-van at 08.15, turned around and we drove all of 100m down the road to the coach (no wonder there are serious traffic problems in KL with this kind of thinking, I would have walked if I had known).

Before I got on the bus, one of the tour agents provided me with a full set of bus and boat tickets for the entire jourey between KL, Taman Negara and the Cameron Highlands. It was likely to be slightly more expensive to do it this way than to do it independently, but it was also a lot easier and still relatively good value. The fact that the tour operators were so well organised and easy to deal with also made the experience a lot more pleasant, and that's got to be worth something as well.

We left KL at 08.30, drove about 150kms to Kuala Tembeling jetty, arriving there at 12.00. The tour operator representatives there were also very friendly and had everything set out for us on our arrival, including the park entry permits that cost about 15p (but, if we didn't have it on us when asked by a park warden, we would face a fine of about 1600 quid or three years imprisonment – harsh!).

The next leg of the journey was by longboat, a two seat wide, thin...erm...long boat, that took us two and half hours up the river. It was a very pleasant trip, passing through thick forest on either side, with only the odd fisherman in sight to suggest that there were many people inhabiting the area (it wasn't exactly 'Deliverance', but it was still remote). I even managed a nice snooze, laying down on a life-jacket and drifting off to the drone of the engine (just like when I was a kid in Donegal, out on the old boat on the Swilly!).

We arrived in Taman Negara around 14.30, and we were given a briefing on some of the activites available to tourists in the area. Then I set off in search of a place to stay. The Lonely Planet recommended somewhere on the egde of town, further out than all the others but, once I got the 'Durian Chalets', I was very happy to have gone the extra distance; small wooden chalets were set in a beautifully created and maintained garden, it was very quiet with only the sound of the animals in the background to disturb the silence. The room was cosy, and the shower/toilet at the back was on the primitive side, but I was really happy with it, particularly the setting. In fact, I think it's one of the nicest places I have stayed on the trip so far; despite the fact that it was basic (with a corrugated roof to keep the rain out), it also had a lot of character too.

I relaxed on the porch of the cabin, deciding what my plan of action was going to be over the three days that I had planned to stay here. Trekking is the major activity in the area, and these vary from hardcore, nine-dayers to a few that stay closer to home. I just needed to decide what I was in the mood for, but the idea of a long, hot trek into the jungle wasn't the most appealing.

I got talking to a young couple from the north of England – John & Anna – who I had seen in the hostel in Melaka a few days before. They were also on the same route as me, on the way up to Thailand, and we had a good chat. We met up later to go for dinner in one of the restaurants that are housed on floating barges on the river. We had a good laugh, talking about our travels, comparing sick notes from when we were ill on our travels (luckily for me, I didn't have many too firsthand accounts to tell). We wandered back to the chalets in the dark, and I was looking forward to some sleep. The nights seemed to be cooler here, and the wooden huts had much better ventilation than the pressure cooker hostels that I had stayed in prior to this. If there were any problems with the heat, there was a fan to cool me down, and a delightful pink mosquito net to keep out those clever little bastards should they come looking to feast on my sweet, sweet blood.

Tags: On the Road


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