Alone in the Taman Negara forest

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Due to Hari Raya, there was only one place to eat breakfast. So, that’s where I got my three slices of toast with jam, a fried egg and tea. They were out of watermelon which would also have been part of that set but apparently they ate all the fruit during the feast last night. Anyways, if there was something wrong, slow or missing Hari Raya was the excuse. It was past 11 when I finally made it on the other side of the river. I could have joined a guided group but they only stayed on one path, are too loud and therefore scare all the animals away and they can’t take a break when they like. So, I wandered off on a path myself. I thought I’d just do a circle up to Bukit Terisek and then walk back to the canopy walk (it was only open from noon to 4 that day, due to Hari Raya. Usually it’s open in the morning already). My guide book said that it would only take me 45min to get to the summit. The first 45min was all on a wooden walkway and I then realized that I probably started the circle in the unusual direction because I reached the swimming hall first. There were a few children in the water with their parents but first of all, I forgot to bring my bathing suit and second, the brown red water didn’t look too appealing to me. It was very clear but just such an odd color.

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I walked on, unknowingly that I would not see any more people for quite a while. At an intersection I took the path to Jenut Muda because it looked closer (it was extremely hot and hard to walk already) and because the wood path only continued in this direction.

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I thought that it might be smarter to stay on the safe path. However, sometimes it was impossible to stay on it and then suddenly it stopped altogether. I must have been walking for an hour at least and therefore I thought I should be on the peak soon. It got quite steep too. Therefore, I decided to go on through the forest. There was an obvious and official path but I still felt somewhat uneasy, walking through the jungle all by myself.

Sometimes it wasn't possible to stay on the walkway

Sometimes it wasn’t possible to stay on the walkway

Luckily, I didn’t see any scary animals. Only a few bigger lizards, butterflies and colorful birds. Spider webs but woohoo, no spiders 🙂 After about 30 more minutes, I finally reached a wooden walkway and it announced 800m to Bukit Terisek. I was very glad to see a father and his son walking towards me. I asked them whether the view was worth the walk up here and they said probably yes, but they didn’t make it because the son had trouble breathing. But at least they could tell me that from now on, I’d meet many more people because all the groups are walking up these stairs. And so I crossed about 50 people in different groups, all looking at me with pity, knowing how hard the way up was. Under normal climate conditions, this would probably have been a walk a 70 year old could do. But in this heat it’s just exhausting. I finally made it up there and enjoyed an ovomaltine bar under the shade of a tree with a quite stunning view over the valley.

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I then realized that there was a second look out point and that I’d have to walk another 5 minutes to get to it. Luckily, the group I crossed the river with this morning now reached the summit too. The guide encouraged them to walk to the second point and his speech luckily also infected me. Surprisingly, the two kids from the Netherlands (probably around 6 and 8) were still running and full of energy. They didn’t seem to feel the heat. The second view point was even nicer than the other one and I was glad I came here. That’s where I’d have arrived if I had done the big circle through the forest.

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Now, I had to walk back the same way until the point where my forest path met the wooden walkway and from there continue on to the canopy walk. Now, it was me who was encouraging the overheated and exhausted people on the way up. A nice surprise awaited me at the canopy walkway because the nice German couple I met on the bus to the national park and two guys who slept in the same dorm at Father’s Guest house reached the entrance to the walk at the same time as me. We were the only people there and there was no sight of the long queue everyone warned us about. They had been in the park since 9am and it actually took them so long to do the big circle walk. They said that the part near the view point was extremely steep and they wouldn’t do it again. But, on the other hand, they saw a snake, which must have been quite exciting. We were lucky anyway, that the forest was dry and we didn’t meet any leeches. I only saw dead ones.

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We did the canopy walk together (5 RM). I think it’s a must do when you go to Taman Negara, just for the fun and the adventure of being so high up in the trees (40m and the bridges move a lot when you walk on them, so nothing for people who are afraid of heights). Unfortunately, they were doing maintenance work on part of the walkway and so we had to leave it at an exit somewhere in the middle. By that time, our stomachs told us to get something to eat, so we walked back to the start of the paths.

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After another delicious sandwich at the resort, we took the boat back to our side of the river. I planned on simply drinking tea and updating my blog but when I got back to the Masheer chalets, the family was there eating the Hari Raya food. They started talking to me and made me try all kinds of cookies, rice and meat. The cookies looked colorful mostly tasted the same but the cooked food was very good! They said I could come back and eat more even if they weren’t there but once I was hungry enough for dinner, I didn’t want to exploit their hospitality and therefore walked to the one open food stall with seating area again. It had rained heavily while I was in the bungalow and I realized how lucky we were that the paths were so dry today. When I was on the way to get my dinner, I hardly needed an umbrella anymore.
I was actually looking forward to rice now but they ran out of it two people ahead of me so it was brown noodles instead. Which was alright also. I sat at a table with a couple from France and two girls from Germany. At informal places it’s very easy to get in contact with people:)

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When I walked back, I saw some of the jeeps for the night safari. They were overly packed with people and I couldn’t imagine that it was safe to sit on the roof of a jeep without really being strapped to it.
I pre-packed my backpack once more – by the way, Taman Negara is the first time I was really glad not to have a suitcase. But I think at all the other locations I’d have been fine with a trolley suitcase too. A new travel day full of incertitude because of Hari Raya would come soon.

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