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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 82: Canopy walks and bat caves

MALAYSIA | Saturday, 26 January 2008 | Views [1098]

The canopy walk, Taman Negara National Park

The canopy walk, Taman Negara National Park

Saturday 26th January

I had booked onto a 'Canopy Walkway' walk and another short jungle trek through the tour agency. A group of about twelve people met at 09.30, and we queued for about an hour before we were able to step onto the thin walkways set amongst the forest canopy.

Despite my considerable fear of heights, I felt pretty comfortable with the walk, some of which – we were told – lay as high as 45m off the ground. The operation was professional, with guides ensuring that each of us kept our distance from the person in front at all times, while the walkway itself seemed sturdily supported. We walked a total of 300m, not too long, but good enough fun.

The 'jungle trek' involved a walk up the same hill that I had ascended the day before, but this time we took a different, easier route. The views were nice but hardly stunning. I had intended to visit a bat cave further south of this area, so, shortly after getting there, I left the group on the hill, and set off on my own. Some fellow trekkers from a group on a team-building trip didn't look the fittest, and a few of the fatties stayed at the bottom, dripping in sweat (and no doubt dreaming of lunch!).

The bat cave was about 2.5kms from the main village, and I was told at the information centre that it would take two hours there and two hours back. I wasn't sure whether this was a miscommunication on behalf of the tour officer, but I made it there in about 40 minutes (again, that was the Rambo in me kicking in), despite some steep inclines and the constant heat. It was great exercise, and I knew that a good sleep was ahead of me that night.

Most of the trails had been fairly empty, and I only passed people sporadically along the track. When I got to Gua Telingga bat cave, it was deserted. I strapped on my head torch and crawled into the cave on all fours, through a narrow opening and over slippery rocks that had been polished after years of trekkers passing over them. I breathed in a mildly horrible stench. Two ropes led the way into the cave, and I inched my way through. I shined my torch in the few feet in front of me and saw bats fly across a narrow opening ahead.

At this point, I stopped. I debated with myself as to whether I should go any further. There were a few things stopping me from proceeding: slight claustrophobia, and a reasonable fear of getting hit by a stream of bats (I know that their sensors should prevent them from colliding with anything in their path, but I wasn't there to test that out!). But, it was the fact that I was on my own and wasn't familiar with the path ahead that stopped me in my tracks. Tourists can book guides to take them through the 80m long cave, and perhaps this would have allayed my fear of the unknown (and it would have been generally safer in a group). So, I turned back and made my way homewards.

I got back to the hut and jumped straight under the shower: never had a cold shower felt so good! You can feel pretty grimey out in the jungle, with the layers of sunscreen, mosquito repellent, sweat and dirt making you feel quite uncomfortable. I had another kip, tired out from my five hour excursion.

I also caught up with John & Anna who had arrived back from their overnight trek and stay in the animal hide earlier in the afternoon. The general impression was that it had been too long, not worth it (they were too tired to stay up and look for animals once they got to the hide). It sounded fairly arduous and not much fun – they hailed a longboat from the shore to take them all the way back that morning – but at least they gave it a go. However, it didn't really inspire me to do something similar myself.

We had dinner and then returned to the chalets to get our stuff ready, as we were all moving on the next morning, and I had an early start on my trip westwards to the Cameron Highlands.

Tags: The Great Outdoors

 

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