After 2 nights in Melaka we headed back North towards Taman Negara National Park, a couple of hours North East of Kuala Lumpur. All the buses from Melaka to Jerantut, the nearest town to Taman Negara, were fully booked so we took a punt and got on a bus to K.L. From where we were able to get on a bus to Jerantut after waiting for a while on the reserve list hoping that some pre-booked passengers wouldn't turn up.
Jerantut has very little going on, so after one night we made our way to a village on the edge of the National Park by bus followed by a scenic boat trip along the river. On arrival we scurried to shore and into the village to beat our fellow tourists to the most reasonable of the overpriced rooms available, and managed to find a place that wasn't bad (except for being right next to a Mosque and its rather loud 5am call to prayer).
After a short rest we took a boat across the river, passed through a fancy looking resort and explored a little of the National Park. Our last experience of jungle had been in Nepal where the undergrowth was so dense that we had to fight our way through it; this was a completely different kettle of fish. Make no mistake, this was full-on dense jungle with towering trees, twisting vines and all sorts of sounds from unseen animals in every direction, but passing through the jungle was a perfectly constructed and well maintained wooden walkway elevated 6 inches above the floor and about 3 feet wide with occasional signs pointing the way to the various different routes. This meant that exploring the jungle was as easy as walking along a sidewalk.
After about 40 minutes or so we reached part of the river where is was possible to swim. Despite being a hot and humid day the water was freezing so we limited our water activities to paddling shin-deep before lying in the shade for a while and then making our way back to the village before nightfall.
That evening we went on a night safari. This consisted of sitting in the back of a truck whilst a young boy sat on top of the cab and pointed a powerful spotlight into the trees in the hope of seeing wildlife. Apparently in Texas this is known as “Friday night”. Our initial excitement was perked by the early spots of two barn owls and a leopard cat (which looked suspiciously like a cat cat to me).
However that was where the wildlife sightings ended, and our interest slowly turned from scanning the darkness for movement to chatting amongst ourselves. It was a pretty disappointing experience.
The following day we crossed the river again, albeit with a little more difficulty this time as the overnight rain had caused the water-level to rise with the result of making it difficult to access the floating restaurants along the river from which we could get a boat to take us to the other side. This time we headed to the canopy walkway; Taman Negara is home to the longest canopy walkway in the world at 450m long. It basically consists of multiple aluminium ladders covered with planks of wood and suspended between the trees up to 40m above the ground. It was quite good fun to walk along the very narrow and wobbly walkway and enjoy being amongst the jungle canopy. We had hoped to see some wildlife while we were up there, but we had no such luck this time. Even so, it was a fun experience and came to an end far too quickly.
After the walkway we made our way up to a lookout point where we enjoyed a nice view over the jungle as we recovered from the climb before returning to the village.
Taman Negara is a pretty nice National Park with really impressive jungle. However, with its posh resorts and well constructed paths it was just a little tame for my liking. I'm sure that we would have enjoyed one of the 2-3 day treks that go deeper into the jungle and offer a better chance of seeing some exciting wildlife, however we unfortunately didn't have time to do so as we were due to fly to Indonesia just a couple of days later. So we headed back to Jerantut for another night and squeezed in a trip to Pizza Hut at Monique's request before heading back to K.L.