After much talk and hype we finally stepped our foot at the world famous National Park in Pahang. Check out the link to tips and tricks in planning to visit Taman Negara.
There are 11 of us joining this trip. Most of us coming from Kuala Lumpur while two girls came all the way from UTP in Perak. The journey from Kuala Lumpur takes about 3 hours and a half. We arrived at TRV Lodge at 9pm and had dinner straight away. Not long after finishing dinner, I went straight to the room and slept soundly. Level of comfort was okay.
Activities began the next day. My early expectation was that this won’t be more adventurous than Endau Rompin Trip. At the jetty, we took a water taxi to cross the Tembeling River to Mutiara Taman Negara. Mutiara Taman Negara is a 5 star resort situated at the entrance of Taman Negara. So while walking in this resort, we could only be awed by the luxury at this resort as we could not afford it.
At the registration counter I was caught in an upsetting situation. 2 weeks earlier, the person in charge of the package asked for our personal information and I went to great lengths to collect from all participants and sent it to him. At the counter, I was asked to list down all of the names and personal information again on my own while the guide waited at the corner. I felt angry and dumb at the same time and went to the guide to ask for the list that I sent which he did not have in his hands. So, as angry as I was, I tried not to create so much drama and asked everyone to come to the counter to write their own information.
On the other hand, please be aware that the fee to enter Taman Negara is RM5 and if you have camera, you also need to pay for each camera and this includes hand phone. I didn’t see the point of charging camera as the nature is for all to capture. (in the end nobody will check if you use a camera if you don’t register it). Enough with the morning drama, so we walked to the main entrance crossing the resort.
We walked on a board walk and stopped at many places as the guide explains a lot of things about the nature and surrounding. It was not tiring at all due to low amount of energy being used but the knowledge that we gain was superb. There are many trees that were there are used in our daily lives. One interesting tree is tongkat ali and we tried to taste the tree bark and it was so bitter but for some it did not give much taste. There are trees that could be used for survival in the jungle. Some of them is poisonous and could be used to hunt for food. That is what biodiversity is in Taman Negara. You will discover hundreds of species in 1 meter square of soil.
We arrived at a false summit after hiking up off board walk. Here is the tip. If there is stairs and a trail, you should choose trail because it will give you less impact to your knees and you will have the power to control and decide where to step on.The false summit did have view but limited by the trees. This area faces Tembeling River. Our guide told us that he would stay here and let us walk to the peak. He was apparently not interested but well, he had seen this many times. And after 10 minutes of light trekking, we reached the summit that faces Mount Tahan.
After descending, we arrived at the canopy point. The canopy is claimed to be the longest in the world and it was so high up, if you have acrophobia you would want to test it here. Things could get complicated when person in front of you walks too slow and you are trapped in between. What happen if the bridge breaks? Each person is separated by 10m apart but the check point person would just let as many people as they want to be on the bridge at the same time. According to one of them, the highest is 40m above ground. Quite nerve wrecking I would say.
Then, we returned to the entrance of Mutiara Taman Negara and it was scorching hot. We also spent another half of energy to walk back for about 40 minutes. After that, we returned to TRV Lodge and had a great lunch.
We then returned to the jetty for Orang Asli visit. The boat took as at a bank and we sit under a gazebo. Our guide explained about the life Orang Asli quite thoroughly and I was actually impressed. However, do not expect to find Orang Asli wearing leaves here. At this place modernization has taken over the area. They wear normal clothing but still practice the unique life of Orang Asli. The tribe is called Negrito and from the name you could tell by their physical feature and appearance.
After the Orang Asli visit, we went for rapid shooting. From the name, I would assume it was something extreme and challenging but we were just crossing small rapids and were splashed with water here and there. Nothing much but still fun though. I just wished our guide stick to the itinerary to let us play in the water. Instead we were brought back to the jetty and I was left pissed off and disappointed again.
Since the day was still long, after returning to the lodge, we drove to the town center and stopped at a bazaar to buy some snacks for afternoon tea time.
After dinner, we went back to Mutiara Taman Negara for night trail. Surprisingly, we were greeted by a tapir who waited at the resort restaurant for free food. So cute yet so massive. How come a herbivore creature in the wild like this could be that big. (the tapir was reared by the hotel management. According to the people, the tapir bites foreign tourist a lot. So be careful if you meet him).
It was very dark and nocturnal animals were already out hunting. We stopped at few places before stopping at a viewing tower (Tahan Hide). At this tower, we saw two dears grazing for food quietly behind trees (they were far away from us so we could only see shadows and bright eyes reflecting the torch light). Apparently, the deer would come to the field due to the salty spring water. According to the guide, if you are lucky, you could see elephant too (staying overnight at the tower would be the best option). The dears were seen extra cautious due to nocturnal predators like tiger, wolf, etc.
The highlight of the trip would be seeing glow in the dark scorpions. We were not told beforehand about it and he left us guessing about what would appear from the holes on the ground. To see a sensitive creature like scorpion in the dark was amazing. I have seen huge tarantula and brown scorpion before but never seen anything like glow in the dark scorpion. This scorpion has pigment that reflects certain lights. They are also blind and use only sensor to detect movement. If you are a geophysicist you will know this. This is what we do. We use seismic wave to detect hydrocarbon.
We left Taman Negara that night feeling satisfied but hungry. So, we stopped at the town to have some food. Don’t expect any fast food around Kuala Tahan. You also need to be patient because the food won’t be served on time. That night, unfortunately, they had problems with water supply and there was only one restaurant willing to serve us. But it took them 2 hours to prepare food for all eleven of us. Phew, what a night!
The next morning, we drove happily back to Kuala Lumpur. We did stop at Colmar Bukit Tinggi but I won’t touch about it here. (It was bad so I don’t like to talk about something bad)
- Do hike up to the summit and don’t let your guide stops you from doing it
- Do make good research on the activities especially on the cost
- Bring enough water because it could be hot and you will be outdoor most of the time
- Bring head lamp for night walk
- You may bring donations or food for Orang Asli. Ask your guide if it is appropriate
- Don’t skip meals because you are gonna get hungry
- Don’t think that your guide may do everything for you. Be prepared.