Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taman Negara National Park

The official tourist literature goes on and on about this place.
Me? I wasn't quite so impressed.
Nevertheless, a visit to Taman Negara is on a lot of people's to-do list and it is another excursion to get you out of the concrete jungle and into the real thing.
It takes about 8 hours to get to the National Park from Kuala Lumpur.
You will need to stay overnight for a couple of days to make it a worthwhile experience.
There is a coach service that departs the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Jalan Sultan Ismail at about 10am for a 5 hour journey via Jerantut to Kuala Tembeling from where a speedboat will take you on a 2-3 hour kidney-crunching,bone numbing ride to Kuala Tahan-the Park Headquarters.
It can be a fun journey but the boat ride is a bit too long. And hot.
At the park itself the only place to stay is at the Taman Negara Resort, which is predictable in it's mediocrity.
The food is dreadful.
Across the river, a RM5 boat-taxi ride away from the "resort" is a motley collection of ugly floating restaurants, moored in place by huge ropes that are easy to trip over in the dark.
The food here is also dreadful.
It's always a constant surprise to me that so many Malaysians seem to be constantly eating-or talking about eating that they put up with such crappy restaurant food.
And, in true local style there is the litter and rubbish strewn along the riverbank.
But, like so many Malaysian experiences, you don't go there for the food.
People go to Taman Negra to experience the jungle, which is now called "Rain Forest".
Tigers, Elephants, Panthers, Leopards, Monkeys, Tapirs-you won't see any of them.
Unless you are very lucky and are off the beaten track camping in the jungle.
If you want to see animals go to the Singapore Zoo.
The Taman Negara Resort encourages a few wild boar and monitor lizards by putting food out for them and for most people these are the only animals you'll see at the park.
You may see a few water buffalo during the boat trip.
The park headquarters provide useful maps and walking along the trails can be fun and you'll see lots of big trees but the most popular and easiest trails are cleared of any growth and are about 6ft wide.
Theses trails can get very crowded.
And littered.
Much more fun than walking/tripping over in the jungle trails is a speedboat ride shooting the gentle rapids-wet and fun!
Or try a walk along the canopy walkway amongst the tree-tops.
At night, you have a choice of either sitting on the terrace above the river drinking beer or of going to bed early. even if you bring a book, the lighting at night is too dim to read by.
The views of the mountains, rainforest and rivers can be quite spectacular and can refresh/re-charge even the most jaded person who is stuck in the concrete of Kuala Lumpur and if you've never seen rain forest before, you'll find it amazing.

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