Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Journey to Taman Negara

Leaving Kuala Lumpur in the direction of Jerantut the scenery becomes spectacular: very hilly, with lush, green vegetation directly either side of the roadway. Upon reaching Jerantut, it’s necessary to transfer to Kuala Tembeling jetty for a three-hour boat journey, which actually seems way too short: we wanted the experience to go on and on. The boat is just a small dug-out longtail with a 40hp engine at the rear, the luggage perching precariously in the bows. In a matter of thirty minutes or so, we had reached a tranquil paradise where the multitonal trees of the Taman Negara towered on both sides of the meandering river. We sailed upstream, fighting against the current, and spotted ripples over the shallow areas where large pebbles laid menacingly. Observing a leafy outcrop from the riverbank to our right, we were fortunate to spot a stork-billed kingfisher. It was hard to spot initially, but it’s blue, shiny feathers and it’s red and yellow bill radiated reflection from beneath the forest’s shrubbery. Continuing upstream we were being watched by a terrestrial reptile, in fact, it we noticed that it was a montitor lizard as we got closer to the pebbly on which it was crawling. I don’t think that it’s meant to be the dry season here right now, but there has been no rain since January. Places along the river look like the water levels could go at least two metres higher, and then: crunch! Just like our kayaking in Laos, we’re aground, and won’t budge. There’s nothing for it but to get out and push, so Simon and Axel, our Swedish friend hop out into the river and attempt to get the boat off the rocks. Eventually we’re freed and continue upstream. This river is running worryingly low at some points, and the boatmen seem to know every turn in the river and exactly where the best channels are to be found, so we find ourselves meandering even up otherwise straight stretches of water.

As we reached the floating restaurant where a couple of guides greeted us and directed us to the hostel on site. There’s nothing quite like travelling on a river by small boat; this time around three hours just flew past and wasn’t nearly long enough. Dangling your hand languidly in the hot water of the river as the boat chugs along, taking in the myriad types and sizes of trees and creepers on the riverbank is simply magical.

No comments:

Post a Comment