Saturday, August 12, 2006

Rainforest Ramblings

Back safely. The tigers didn't get us and neither leeches. And we had a great time in Taman Negara.

Because we were short of time we arranged a package and it turned out really well for us. We had an excellent guide, En. Rusli who was knowledgeable and marvellously patient.

We went for a nightwalk where the kids found several species of spider (including a hairy tarantula), stick insects, leaf insects, scorpions, luminous fungi, sambar deer and wild boar.

We scrambled up the horribly steep Bukit Terasek for a magnificent view out over the park (above).

We strolled through the crowns of magnificent rainforest trees on the world's longest canopy walkway. (Wobbling on narrow plank walkways, equivalent to 22 storeys above terra firma. Hairier than the tarantula!)

We walked to gua telinga (ear cave) where the two youngest kids went with their dad to scramble over and under and around slippery rocks in the dark and get covered in bat guano. (I sat this one out with my sister and my eldest niece Lauren!)

We visited the campsite of the indigenous batek people and learned how they make fire and use blowpipes.

We shot the rapids of Sungei Tahan and then went swimming in the clear, sun-warmed river water.

We also went out in the boat at night, enjoying sounds of the forest when the engine was switched off so that we could drift silently downstream in the moonlight. We saw nightjars, flying squirrels and owls by torchlight, spotting first the red gleam of eyes. And my joy was complete on seeing a buffy fish owl perched on a branch in the water.

I'm so happy that the kids got to experience this very special kind of Malaysian magic, a first taste and a safe taste of the incredible wilderness I hope they will want to explore further when they are older.

I do worry though (and here comes the customary bibliobiuli soundoff) that there are now too many tourists, many of them not particularly into nature, but visiting Taman Negara because it happens to be on the tour group itinerary. Many of them were so noisy along the trails that any wildlife (including the birds I would have expected to see and hear) was reluctant to show itself. A shanty town of floating restaurants and budget resorts has grown up on the opposite bank, and the rocks are strewn with rubbish. And whereas access to the park used to be only by river, now there is Dr. M's proud new road, bringing coach loads of civil servants on motivational courses and hoards of paintballers.

8 comments:

Glenda Larke said...

Paintballers? PLease tell me you are joking....

bibliobibuli said...

there were banners up welcoming the paintballers at the place we were staying (rainforest resort on the other side of the river)... they will probably be chasing around outside the national park but even so ... what idiot dreamed that up??

glenda - i really feel concerned that with so much budget acomodation growing up, numbers to the park are becoming uncontrolled ... it isn't a place i'd want to go back to for birdwatching for the moment ... maybe not till the rains come and the tourists dwindle

The Visitor said...

the Mulu National Park in Sarawak also claims to have the Longest Canopy Walk In The World.

so how?

dreamer idiot said...

Wow... sounds really great. I've only been there once and must go there again some time. Yes, I agree too that there are a bit too many tourists there that I hardly saw any animals on the trail at all. :(

lil ms d said...

lovely! been years since i entered a jungle. after reading this, i'm missing my rafting days...

bibliobibuli said...

visitor - i really don't know which is longer, didn't know mulu had one too

dreamer idiot - it's a great place to go, but i enjoy trips like this with malaysian nature society folks because i learn so much ...

ms d - you rafting?

cavingliz said...

Sharon, shame on you for missing Gua Telinga!!!
I agree about the motivational courses, they seem to be everywhere now. I was at Gua Kelam in Perlis last week, this has been turned into a recreation park, and I arrived to find 2 lorry loads of anti drug unit cadets being trained very noisely.
Rgarding the Mulu canopy walkway, it opened in 2005, and is claimed to be the longest tree based walkway! And yes Taman Negara makes the same claim, their walkway is much older. And there have been hoardes of "non-nature tourists" in TN for years, sporting the latest fasions and having no interest in nature.

cavingliz said...

Glenda, I just heard that Mulu Resort is going to start paintballing in an effort to encourage customers.