I usually grip on to the sour points of a place with the subtlety of a Rottweiler with toothache and enjoy ripping the shit out of it. As such, enjoying Taman Negara as much as we did kind of made me feel slightly depressed as I knew my audience, ever the needy bunch, so wished to hear how little Alec & Phoebe have had small disasters happen to them. Sorry.
Trundling along in a boat made quite a nice change from the bombardment of lengthy bus rides we had endured so far… We were on our way to Taman Negara; a rainforest in the middle of the country. Despite seeing tourists with the looks and intelligence of small jungle creatures in Krabi, it would be nice to see the real thing.
We are cheap; a known fact. As such, we decided to walk ourselves around the jungle path over the two days. After paying a strange weaselly Malay man straight from the Greek underworld the costly sum of 20p, we bumbled up a walkway for two hours trying to get to a canopy walkway – a glorified plank between trees. During these two hours in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet we saw… a singular jungle squirrel. For the animal lovers, it’s exactly the same as grey squirrels but lives in the jungle. On the way back however, it seems like my raw animal magnetism was about to come into it’s own ;). Whilst trundling along, I spotted a snake. I alerted Phoebe to this. Phoebe and the snake, after a lengthy second, leapt roughly 3 feet in the air each in surprise at seeing each other. The snake then went into a tree and yawned, obviously making some sort of snake like insult at our expense.
After spending the evening chatting with our host – the Malaysian equivalent of Michael McIntyre – we went on a night walk in the jungle. Rightfully so, we didn’t trust ourselves alone in the forest through fear of spending a night with a rabid jungle squirrel nestling between us. Our guide spent a solid five minutes annoying a long-suffering scorpion while shining a UV light over it and pointed out a load of stick insects to us (half of them i’m convinced were actually sticks).
The next day we ambled out again with no map, no good shoes and no idea. We soon found ourselves off of the raised walkway and into naked jungle – a solitary leech glanced threateningly at Phoebe as she passed. After a few minutes of this we heard these horrific barking sounds echoing through the forest – the barking deer. We were quite content listening to the panicked cries of other animals, not us for once, until a sound cut through the babble – a deep resonant growl. As all good survivalists do, we stood like lemmings for a while hearing the growls repeat themselves until, not unlike a cameo in a Scooby Doo episode, we comedically tiptoed away. We later found out from locals that this was probably a Malayan tiger – when Phoebe and I looked panicked, they assured us it might not have been – “It could have been a Puma or a Leopard…” they would explain with a sympathetic nod. With our nerves well at ease after that, we went out again and saw a Mousedeer; a creature who seemed to have drawn the evolutionary short straw with a face like a shrew and legs like chopsticks. Phoebe, naturally, fell in love with the ridiculous creature and proceeded to tear up after seeing it – I assume its the same sort of instinct that makes her like me.