Monday, March 02, 2009

Take Nothing but Photographs, Leave Nothing but Footprints : National Park, Malaysia

I went to Malaysia's National Park, Taman Negara, in Pahang over the weekend with my mum, aunt and 19 of mum's colleagues from the company Sports Club. Four of us went in one car - Mum and I, Aunty Lina and Mum's colleague Syamilah. This is my second trip there, and it was just as awesome as the first.

We left on Friday morning and took a leisurely drive East into Pahang state. We turned off into Bentong town to rest and found a sign leading to the Chamang waterfalls. An 8km drive along bendy roads eventually brought us there. The waterfalls were a magnificent sight! Here are the photos:

View of the waterfalls from the car parkView of the waterfalls from the car park

Pulai tree towering above usPulai tree towering above us

The furious waterfalls, emitting a refreshing sprayThe furious waterfalls, emitting a refreshing spray

Danger markers in yellow stone. People have drowned in these falls before.Danger markers in yellow stone. People have drowned in these falls before.

The view downstreamThe view downstream

A rock shaped like a toadA rock shaped like a toad

Mum and I floated around in the pool further downstream from the falls, which was awesome because it was a hot day and the water was icy cold. After an hour or so, we got out and looked for a bathroom to change. We spotted a small brick building and were approaching it when a local guy came out and asked where we were going. We told him we wanted the toilet, and he told us it was 20 cents per person.

Well, we only had our towel and clothes and no money, so we said we'd pay later. What a crappy bathroom it was! The ceiling was leaking, the toilets didn't look remotely clean and there was no shelf to hang our clothes. It was so awful, we decided to change with the doors open because the doors were too gross to touch! Good thing there was a shady tree and a wall to block the view.

Soon enough, we were back on the road, hungry and looking for a place to eat. I remembered that Reyhan and Denise had told me about a famous ice-cream shop in Bentong, so I started looking out for it. We stopped in front of a shop selling ice cream, but it wasn't the right one. I phoned Reyhan to ask for the name of the shop and for directions, but couldn't make out exactly what he meant, so we decided not to waste any time and to just continue the journey.

We drove by a row of shops and suddenly, Syamilah spotted the ice cream shop, Kow Po! I took a quick left and parked at a gas station. Luckily for us, there was also a restaurant on the same row, so we decided to have lunch and ice cream later.

Delicious Kow Po Peanut Ice CreamMy favourite part of every meal - dessert! This is the famous Kow Po ice cream in Bentong. Clockwise from left: a scoop of chocolate and one of peanut-flavoured ice cream, Ice Kachang, and just plain peanut ice cream.

Inside the ice cream shopInside the ice cream shop

Mr and Mrs Tan Kow PoMr and Mrs Tan Kow Po, who believe in cleanliness first for their ice cream shop

Outside the Kow Po ice cream shopOutside the Kow Po ice cream shop. Now you know the sign to look for when you pass Bentong!

After the yummy ice cream, we made our way to Taman Negara, a two-hour drive away. We stayed at the Woodland Resort, which is on the 'mainland' side of the Tembeling River.

The twin-sharing dormitoryThe twin-sharing dormitory

The twin-sharing dormitoryOops, a little blurry, but you get the idea

Twin-sharing bathroomDecent bathroom but water pressure is low

Mum, Aunty Lina and I shared the triple-sharing chalet. It's a little small, but that wasn't an issue because we're not in the room much. The triple-share has a fridge, which the dorms do not. Good thing too, as we had chocolates which needed chilling!

Triple Sharing ChaletThe triple-sharing chalet

TV and fridge in the chalet

Floating Restaurant, Tembeling RiverDusk at Tembeling River, with a boat and floating restaurant in the distance.

Jetty and entrance to Mutiara Taman NegaraThe Jetty and main entrance to Mutiara Taman Negara

Mutiara is the only resort in the National Park. If you're planning to stay at Mutiara, be prepared to lug your bags up the steps. The lights toward the left is the resort's dining area.

Boat to Cross to Taman NegaraThe boat to cross the river and enter the National Park. 1 Ringgit per head.

Once we reached Woodland and unpacked, we got ready to walk to the river for dinner at one of the floating restaurants. The food was simple Malay-style cooking, but special mention goes to the fish, which was so fresh I almost expected it to jump out of the bowl and splash back into the river!

After dinner, we went for a night jungle walk, where a guide showed us lots of little night-time critters such as stick insects, spiders, ants one-inch long, grasshoppers, moths and fireflies. We walked to a hide in the jungle which overlooked a man-made salt lick.

The hide is a two-storey hut which people use as a lookout point to spy on wild animals, and a salt lick is a salt deposit which these animals find and lick in order to get their nutrients. In the pitch black of night, the most you usually see is a pair of eyes reflecting the light of your torch but that night, we were lucky enough to see a deer come out of the foliage. We also saw a gecko on the ceiling of the hide which was, I swear, as big as a kitten *shiver*. If one of THOSE fell on me...

I went back to the chalet that night pretty happy with the adventure.

We had an early start the next morning, walking out of our chalet to this view:

Morning MistMorning mist behind the Resort

Morning Mist and Rubber TreesOur chalet, palm trees on the chalet property, and further back, mist over rubber trees.

After breakfast, we grabbed our bags and headed over the river and through the Mutiara resort into the day's adventure - a 4.5 hour trek through the jungle.

Entrance to Jungle and Canopy WalkThe entrance to the jungle.

Here I am on the Canopy Walk, 25 metres above ground.

At 400 metres in length, it is the longest Canopy Walk in the world. There was a half-chopped tree along the way below me, and sitting pretty on it was a giant iguana happily sunning himself. I couldn't take a photo of it though, because I needed both hands to grab onto the ropes.

After the trek, we had lunch and then took a boatride upriver to Lata Berkoh. There's a really nice part of the river which is great to swim in, complete with natural water massage. After sweating off the pounds from the morning's jungle trek, the dip in the river was just awesome. The boat back was great as well because it began to rain and the wind and water in our faces was a nice new experience.

That evening, some of us had dinner at the Mutiara Resort where I tucked into a buffet of mussels, lamb, pasta and chocolatey desserts. Mum bought our tour guide, Aliff, dinner because he was a really nice guy - very knowledgeable, patient with us city people huffing and puffing up hill and down dale and was quite obviously passionate about his job. He even had a nickname for me, the cheeky guy. He called me Laila throughout the trip and teased me a lot. I guess it was because I was such a retard at the outdoor thing.

The next morning, we went rapid shooting - riding in a boat over choppy waters and getting smacked in the face by pillars of water. We also stopped at a little cove and splashed about in the water, before heading home to shower, change and check out.

One-inch BugA bug about an inch in length buzzing around on the ground in front of our chalet.

Two chalets side-by-side

Action by the riverAction by the river.

Local Kids crossing riverLocal kids taking the river-crossing boat.

I paid 385 Ringgit for the two-night stay at the National Park plus all activities. If you'd like to experience Taman Negara for yourself, these are the rates:

Triple-sharing room at Woodland Resort : RM192 per room per night, incl. breakfast for three.
Aliff told me that our activities cost about RM100 per person:
  • Night jungle walk
  • Daytime jungle trek up Bukit Tembeling
  • Canopy Walk (this costs RM5)
  • Kelah fish sanctuary and Lata Berkoh waterfalls
  • Rapid shooting
We had relatively cheap tea at the floating restaurant, and arranged our own lunch on the last day. We were quite surpised to pay RM75 for lunch for four though : a fish dish using a whole fish, chilli prawns, mixed vegetables, omelette and rice, plus four fruit juices. There are about 3 floating restaurants, one burger stall which seems to only open at night and a little shop on land
to choose from. Our buffet dinner at the Mutiara Resort cost RM65++ per person. I imagine you'll have to make a reservation if you'd like to dine there, though.

I'll update this post later with Badrul's contact details. He's the manager of the Woodland Resort. Or check out Mutiara Taman Negara's site if you'd like something more cosy and classy.

If you'd like Aliff as your tour guide, don't forget to mention that Laila recommended him ;)
His details:
Name: Mohamad Aliff bin Abdullah
Mobile: +6017 966 9221


HuonHengChai said...

Nice! Will look for a trip there sometime :)

Sonia Zuzartee said...

HuonHengChai: Great! Word of advice: if you don't exercise regularly, do some before the trip to warm up. If not, be prepared for 2-3 days of muscle pain and stiffness after the trip.
Let me know how it goes!

HuonHengChai said...

don't worry about me, I hike very often to waterfalls, hills and such. Gonna be in Endau Rompin later.:p
Visit my blog for some of my "mis"adventures :)

Sonia Zuzartee said...

Will do :)

zelot66 said...

Nice photos. Thought of going there too.

Sonia Zuzartee said...

zelot66: Thanks. You should definitely go. Good experience.

Anonymous said...

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So unlike Pharroh, but an effective corruptor which allowed the gods to justify 40 years of warmongering under Joshua. This caused another host of problems to befall the Jews as well.
The gods used them as "minor partners" with the Italians in the destruction of Planet Earth through "Western Civilization", leading us to where we are today.

Even as peasant farmers we could be lulled::Good weather, bountiful harvests, etc. This is what old-world preachers were good for.
This stereotypical preacher had classic preaching styles:::Loud, damnation-fueled teachings. Contrast to today, preachers who are lulling the Damned into cruise control. The old-world style was important to snap people out of complacency. Unfortunately, in today's enviornment people consider this style insulting, and they lose a precious message designed for the favored of yesterday.

The Republicans got tired of being fingered for the corrupt trash they are and this time around timed the crisis so it would fall into the Democrat's lap with the bailout scandal. Republican donors/friends enjoyed enrichment at the expense of the taxpayer, as we saw with the S&L Scandal in the 80s, but this time they dodged the scorn associated and tried to unload it on the opposing party.
The real estate scandal was different, but fools who do what they are told greased the wheels of this crisis. Now they have the information they need, been foreclosed on and evicted, and are left holding an empty bag labeled "immortality".
The gods played both sides of this event, and those to whom they sold the real estate scam to in the 90s profiteered in the 2000s when the sub-prime machine flew into full gear during the peak of the market in 05-07. But we are all judged for our behavior, real or clone host, and despite perception of priveledge those who participated will suffer poetic justice, unless they have slipped into Damnation and are no longer eligible for punishment.
The gods position their theater like this for a reason::::This alienates the masses who flock to the party of evil liberalism while using the Republicans to prepare for god's will with governmental insolvency and the destruction of the true "evil empire".

The United States is a dumping ground for the disfavored. THis was how it was used during European immigration, this is how it is used today.
The Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami of 3/11/11 was actuslly a good sign for the people. Alarming because it came decades after their most recent admitted atrocities during WWII, at least they will experience corrective punishment, whereas the United States won't be as lucky.
Russia too enjoyed corrective punishment for the 1980 invasion of Afghanistan.
THere is something about this country. Interferring/injuring the Afghan people incurrs he god's wrath. It cost the SOviets their protection of communism. Now the gods have leveled the playing field among the last few white peoples who still enjoyed it on their way to a homogeneous global enviornment. If I am right about the United States we won't be as lucky. When we go down it will be for good, and there will be no recovery.
Yes, the clone host fake politicians have been planning for this for decades. Ronald Reagan turned a $1 trillion Federal debt into $6 trillion at the end of his Administration. Much like W in Iraq, this served to terminate the favor of a group of people. Reagan just didn't have to do it with violence as W did, but he did do it against white people, which says something.
I believe in killing, non-reincarnation:::The only way Planet Earth will achieve sustainability is if we "take out the trash" and the gods allow the most disfavored among us to be eliminated. The bouy is sinking, social decay is becoming ruinous and unless it begins to rise to the surface the gods will get their way and life will end on Planet Earth.