Taking almost everything into consideration and planning the short trip to the junction and border crossing with a lot of additional time, reaching the train at 7:00 PM becomes only possible because of very helpful Malaysian people. Leaving Ron’s place in Singapore we cannot find the station for buses going back to Johor Bahru, the first Malaysian city after crossing the Singapore border. We want to take the jungle train heading north-east to Jerantut, not far away from Taman Negara National Park, our next destination. Getting more and more confused and running out of time we are lucky to meet these people and a nice Malaysian guy guides us to the right bus stop. In Johor Bahru we jump onto the wrong bus and at the end there are only some minutes left to find the ticket counter at the junction. Again we get some help and we make it in time.
The jungle train runs over night and unfortunately that’s why we don’t see so much of the beautiful nature its passing, but the sleeper compartments are very comfortable and quite clean and we are going to have a good sleep. It’s around 4:15 AM in the morning when we arrive in Jerantut, a small city, where we are going to change to a local bus to Kuala Tahan, gateway into the Rainforest. The forest is around 130 million years old and therefore the oldest one in the world.
After leaving the bus in the small village Kuala Tahan we follow an internet recommendation and check in to Durian Chalet, where we get a small bungalow with bathroom surrounded by a wonderful garden. Even here we are right inside nature, birds singing, a wild pick passing by and lizards are all around. Mosquitos are somewhat annoying but with repellent and mosquito net for the night time we are quite prepared. After check in we take a first walk. Around two kilometers are well prepared for walking inside the jungle and big lizards are crossing our way. After getting more information and a map at the park office we plan our further stay.
The next days we explore the area and we don’t need to go very deep into the jungle to find elephant poo and footprints and get close to bats inside a cave while passing huge trees and an impressive diversity of plants and flowers. Every sound is attracting us and sometimes we know, there is something out there, but we cannot see it. I am sure it does see us! After some day trips we decide to do an overnight trek on our own. Inside the jungle are so called Bumbuns. These are shelters with basic beds to stay there. We need to inform the park office and pay a little fee but nothing more. Prepared with a lot of water, food and things we think we’ll maybe need we start in the early morning after having breakfast. The trek is becoming quite tough: the map is not correct at all, distances are longer than they are called to be and the way along the river is up and down all the time, sometimes when its steep you need to pull yourself up with ropes and like an steeplechase over and under falling trees.
We are sweating like hell and after 5 hours we decide to take a break although we didn’t reach the place we wanted to be at this point of time. What was expected to be a village turns out to be just one closed house, nobody is around. We get confused again searching for the way to the Bumbun. Luckily we meet a guided trekking group and the local guide explains us how to find the shelter. He also promises to organise a pick up boat for the next morning, because it’s seems impossible for me to make all the way back the next day. After 2,5 more kilometer we reach Bumbun Kumpang. Unbelievable, but we did it! The park office told us that there will be water at the Bumbun, but there is none. So first its priority to solve this problem. We use our filter to drink the water from a nearby water hole. It’s still green and taste strange after filtering but should be okay and there is no other possibility. Next we need to change clothes, because our smell seems to attract bees and after having our evening snack we observe the area and listen to the sounds of the jungle. Amazing experience!
Later that evening another group is taking shelter here, so unfortunately we are not alone. At the end we are very exhausted after this 14 km trek through the forest and fall asleep quite early. After 9 hours of sleep we wake up the next day and the others are already leaving. There’s no need to hurry but we don’t want to be late for the pick up so we pack our stuff and leave the place. On our way back we pass an abandoned village and we meet a group of men and young boys on their way deeper into the jungle. It’s seems that they’re natives from the villages inside Taman Negara. Just men no women, it looks like they go for hunting or any kind of ritual. Arriving at the pick up place there is a lot of time left to cook and enjoy our morning coffee and eat some cookies. We don’t expect the boat to be on time but it’s getting more and more late and no boat is coming for us. There is no phone signal inside the park, so we don’t have a possibility to do a call. Luckily again a boat with natives is passing and one guy can speak English. After explaining our situation they agree to take us with them to back to Kuala Tahan. Children were put into other parts of the boat and there is some free space for us, but I worry that the boat is overloaded now and might get capsized. What about the small children? I am sure, they cannot swim. But it seems okay and the boats man is starting the engine. The kids are something in between excited and scared about us, it seems they haven’t seen so many expats until now.
Back in Kuala Tahan, we go for some food first and have a chilly day at the chalet before we leave Taman Negara the next day.
It has been an amazing week. We saw a lot of wildlife, snakes, monkeys, big lizards, pheasants, wild picks, squirrels and we really enjoyed being close to nature again. Would love to come back one time for some more jungle trekking…and looking forward to Borneo’s forests.