(see map) - mike: Taman Negara is comprised of a huge rain forest in central Malaysia. Our home base was the rustic town of Kuala Tahan which sits just across a milk chocolate brown river from the park. The visit got off to a rough start when we discovered the hotel misplaced our reservation. As we scrambled around town trying to find an alternate it seemed the last room had been taken just seconds before our arrival. We became a bit worried as darkness neared.
Based on a lukewarm lead we hired a long narrow canoe and journeyed upriver to a series of huts smack dab in the jungle. Fortunately they had space and we slept protected by a mosquito net and surrounded by the surprisingly loud jungle sounds.
Our breakfast included unlimited rambutan fruit. The spiny exterior is easily pulled apart to reveal a white flesh which tastes like a grape. After eating our fill we set out to the park's canopy walk which consists of traveling on a series of rope bridges strung between trees ~100 feet in the air. This quarter mile journey was a highlight of the visit.
We finished off the day with a several hour sweaty hike. Though there are exotic animals here like rhinos, leopards and elephants, we didn't see anything. Supposedly they are rarely spotted. We met another couple who did a several day trek and were happy to see a day old elephant footprint. The best animal sighting is achieved at night by camping out in rustic tree houses (called hides) built above natural salt licks. We didn't set aside time to do this but it sounded like a cool experience.
Tarzan could go wild here swinging around on vines.
The following day we cruised up river to visit an indigenous tribe. Rustic living to the extreme. The tribe generally stays in one area for around six months due to either food sources (i.e. monkey) being exhausted or a tribe member's death. This area has roughly 80 inhabitants. Over 1000 members are spread in groups across the preserve.
Monkeys, squirrels, and birds are shot with a poison tipped dart from a blowgun. I failed miserably on two attempts to shoot a stuffed animal. The tribesmen can shoot very precisely at 60 feet.