11th - 18th March
11.03.2009 - 18.03.2009 30 °C
Our journey between Koh Lipe in Thailand and Taman Negara national park in Malaysia was a bit of a mission to say the least. It started with a long tail boat from Sunrise Beach to a speedboat that got us to Pak Bara on the mainland. We then got a minibus to Hat Yai where we booked a night bus to Kuala Lumpur for that evening. We had some time to kill so we walked around Hat Yai a little and had one last bowl of Thai noodle soup and some beers before getting on the bus.
Our bus was meant to arrive at 5am which was far from ideal. However, things got a whole lot worse when we were woken up by a woman who cheerfully told us that the bus was early and we were already in KL. This may have been good news for her but we weren't too pleased at being dumped in the middle of KL at 3am (at the side of a main road - there was no bus terminal in sight). Fortunately we quickly found a 24 hour cafe which happened to be showing live Champions League football. We watched Man U getting cheered on by a bunch of locals as they knocked out Inter Milan then got a taxi to a bus station to continue our journey.
We got there at about 6am and had a four hour wait until we could get a bus to Jerantut which took about three and a half hours and arrived at lunchtime. Jerantut is a fairly nondescript town which is only visited by tourists as it is the gateway to Taman Negara. We ended up spending a night there and were happy to do so. As long as we had showers and a bed we didn't care where we were!
Feeling a bit more refreshed the next morning we were up early to get a bus the short distance to Tembeling Jetty and then a boat that took us up a river and into the national park itself. The boat ride was slow paced and quite enjoyable as there was lots of lush rainforest scenery to take in.
When we got to Kuala Tahan, the village at Taman Negara, we found a nice hut at the edge of the jungle and chilled out there for the rest of the day, glad that our mission was finally over.
Whilst we were at Taman Negara we did a fair bit of walking around various paths that meandered through the jungle and up to the peaks of a few hills.
We also walked across the 'world's longest canopy walkway'. The walkway is actually split into a number of sections that are separated by platforms high up in the trees which must cast some doubt on the claim to be the longest in the world. It may have a good chance of being the world's wobbliest canopy walkway though. Either way it is a really good activity and an excellent way to see the jungle from a different vantage point.
After the canopy walkway, and trek up Busik Terressick, we sat down at a picnic bench to eat our lunch which was all quite normal until a monkey jumped on the table and ran away with Ellie's sandwich. Shortly after this, his mates, who came slightly behind him joined in the fun and ran away with anything they could get their hands on, including our loaf of bread.
On another day we went on a walk through a cave called Gua Telinga which is well known for the number of bats lurking inside. We really enjoyed this although it did get a little scary at points as the bats would fly only centimetres from our heads. Some of the parts of the cave that we had to crawl / scramble through were very narrow and we could only just manage to squeeze ourselves to the other side. This was particularly true in Mike's case.
In the evenings there isn't much to do so we would eat at the floating restaurants and take it fairly easy after that. On the Saturday after our dinner we got to watch Man U v Liverpool as one of the restaurants were able to show the game after some fiddling around with a satellite dish which is precariously perched on a stool on the riverbank.
Our journey from Taman Negara to Singapore wasn't as eventful as the one from Koh Lipe but it did have its moments. We got a bus to Jerantut in the evening then had to wait until for our train at 2am, passing the time with another couple, James and Orla, in the foyer of a hotel and the hawkers market where there are some outdoor restaurants. We turned up at the train station at 1.30am to find it to be very busy which was quite strange as we expected to only see a handful of people at that time.
All of us then managed to get onto the wrong train (which arrived, without any sort of announcement, at the only platform of the station at the time of our train) and caused a bit of a scene by telling people that they were in our seats! The train started moving and after a few minutes we realised that it was destined for the opposite end of the country. Luckily at this point the train was only turning around so it came back to Jerantut. We were then able to get off, cross the tracks (literally), haul ourselves and our bags back up to the platform and wait until our train turned up.
We got to Singapore the following morning and spent two days and a night there mostly sorting out various things in preparation for India. We also walked round the city, which we are now quite familar with, and saw more of the sites and even had a British chippy as a treat. We went to Clark Quay which we hadn't been to previously and were given a free sample of a Singapore Sling. Not quite the same as having the real deal in Raffles Hotel but that was never on our agenda anyway!