(A bit behind on the blog, so massive update on everything. Also the name of the jungle is Taman Negara, but I wrote temara negara and I’m not going to bother to change it haha.)
So after spending too long in Kuala Lumpur due to an air conditioned room and an no clear idea of where to go next, we headed to the jungle of Temara Negara. Since we try to do things the cheap way (which is oddly enough often the most comfortable way) we took a nice relaxing public bus journey to a nearby town named Jerantut, where, super conveniently (!) an agency named NKS gives you a free lift to their hotel, since it was cheap and NKS also has a monopoly on transportation to the jungle we gladly accepted. Hurray for not wandering around with our packs for a couple hours late at night.
Our number one priority while in Jerantut was to figure out how to avoid leeches in the jungle, so we immediately proceeded to ask any local we could find. All told us to spray cockroach repellent on our feet… which amazingly enough actually works. Ranjani and I never had any leeches on us, probably the only tourists who did jungle trekking who managed to avoid that. Though I did kind of want to get a picture of a leech on me… but not enough to intentionally put one on.
From Jerantut we took a brief bus ride to the river and had a scenic river cruise through the jungle to the little town of Kuala Tahan. On this scenic river cruise we saw zero animals, which would be a familiar theme throughout the rest of our time there. Don’t get me wrong, we saw plenty of bugs and a couple lizards.. but none of the promised tigers, elephants, etc. Probably b/c the jungle in question was teeming with tourists… most of whom were chinese families (I believe malay-chinese) in huge tour groups. Scared all the big animals away and nearly scared us away too.
So after a couple days of sweating horribly and running at the sight of every leech on the ground (there were many), we decided to high tail it out of there. There were some bright sides to Temara Negara, like the river cruise, the floating restaurants, and the view from the top of some mountain, but overall way too many tourists, too hot, and not enough animals.
To rectify the too hot situation we went to Cameron Highlands, which as the name suggests is up in the mountains, thus wonderfully cool. The thing to do in Cameron Highlands is more jungle trekking and seeing the tea plantations. So of course we decided to do the absolute longest and hardest jungle trek we could find. Joined by a French woman we met named Nadia, we moved forward with this epic all day hike. Whoever built the path seemingly made it as inconvenient as possible, since it made sure to go up to the top of every easily avoidable hill by the most direct route possible thus necessitating the frequent use of hands to help climb up and causing us too frequently slip in the wet conditions on the way down.
After hiking through the jungle and then along the road to a tea plantation, we discover that all tea plantations are closed in Mondays. Great. Don’t really know what we missed out on, but at least the views of the plantation were beautiful. Now to somehow get back to our hotel WITHOUT walking back. We ask a couple locals, who tell us where to go for the public bus that comes every 2 hours or so. We wait for the bus for 40 minutes and then miss it (!!!) b/c the lady standing 10 meters away didn’t bother to tell us that we couldn’t sit at the bus stop and expect the bus to stop. Thanks lady for letting us know where we were supposed to stand after the bus passed. So we decided to try hitching… most people just laughed at us, one young man stopped but couldn’t communicate with us so drove off. Hope quickly dwindling we settle into walking all the way back, which means missing the pickup time for our laundry which means not being able to leave at 8am the next morning for Penang! Making us feel slightly better is that it soon becomes apparent that we are actually walking faster than traffic.. due to a festival happening in a nearby town. I made sure to give mean looks to every driver who didn’t pull over for us earlier (Note: Didn’t actually do this). After making it through the traffic jam, we managed to find a taxi for the rest of the way, thus saving our laundry and our feet. Hurray.
We left early the next morning for Georgetown, the biggest city on the island of Penang. Georgetown is an old city that was an important trading post while the British colonials were around. As such it’s filled with old architecture, including some very impressive Chinese buildings. We wandered around Georgetown for a few days, including some resort crashing at nearby Batu Ferringi beach before we decided it was time to move onto Thailand.
Probably got into Thailand the most inconvenient way possible, horribly long bus journey to Ko Samui, but we’ve met some German girls that we are currently hanging with so its been fun! Hard to go wrong hanging out on a beach. In 5 days the full moon party is going to happen and after that we have to make a decision, keep on going up to Bangkok, or backtrack and go to supposedly gorgeous Ko Phi Phi.