• Buda Buda ba, Buda ba! This sound repeated over and over this morning. It was coming from my phone. The alarm clock which was set to wake us up at 7:00am, continued to go off at 7:15, 7:30, 7:40, and 8:30am. I don’t know why the snooze button exists, it’s asking for trouble. It was also the first time I’d ever used it.
• Anna, like usual, was the one to say we should get up, if we wanted any hope of reaching the canopy before it closed at midday.
• I was very comfortable in bed, refusing to get up for anyone. In the end, I was bullied into getting ready. 5 minutes later I was set to go. I had to wait around 30-40 minutes for the girls. We went down to the family restaurant on the waterfront for breakfast, but had to wolf it down when it arrived at 10am.
• A lot of faffing later, we were set to go. The receptionist at our hostel told us we wouldn’t make it in time by foot (as the time was 10:30am) because it would take a good 45 minutes to reach the treetop canopy. We cut out the leg work by hiring a boat to take us immediately there instead. 5 minutes later we reached the steps that would take us to the top of the trees. These stairs covered a lot of forest, and seemed to go on for ever! It took around 300 steps before we reached the overhead walkway.
• It cost 5 ringgit each to experience life like the monkeys do. One by one we walked along the precarious walkways. We had to maintain a good 4 metre distance from each other as we went. Any closer and we could have upset the balance, and fallen a long way down. The experience was alright, it was nice to walk through the treetops, and take lots of pictures, but we didn’t see any animals at all. The whole thing was ruined when we reached the 3rd platform. There was lots of red and white tape blocking another section of the canopy. It had a sign hanging from it which read “closed for maintenance”. Nobody told us about it when we bought the ticket though! This meant we had to cut the experience short, and walk across the final canopy to the exit. I thought the walk was going to be far more exciting than that, and a lot longer. Sadly, from looking at posters of it, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
• Our next task was to trek through the jungle and locate the viewpoint. As we scaled the man made walkway, we located the other exit from the canopy. It didn’t go on much farther from where we got off, which meant it wasn’t as great a loss as we all first thought.
• During our walk we saw plenty of insects. There were large ants, which looked as though someone had held a magnifying glass up to a regular one. We met some other travellers on the way that told us the difference between worker and soldier ants. The workers had smaller heads, and the soldiers had heads the size of their abdomens. They also packed a nasty bite. A bit farther on we spotted a soldier ant, they were about the size of a house spider back home.
Speaking of which, we saw large spiders. Two to be exact. Both times I nearly walked into their webs. Sarah and Anna didn’t like them much, and decided to scurry past in fear each time. We also saw butterflies, beetles and leeches. Ah, you’ve gotta love the jungle.
• We made regular stops to ensure everyone was ok. Sarah and I only had half a litre of water to last us the 7 hours we’d be out for. Luckily the others had some and were kind enough to share. It was my fault, I should have bought a litre for myself, but when you’re carrying the bag you don’t want it to be too heavy now do you! Fortunately, the jungle wasn’t very hot, and we were sheltered by the large trees. So you’ll be pleased to know, no heat stroke occurred all day.
• The first viewpoint was very picturesque. We could see for miles. The large green trees in the distance, the murky brown river running along the bottom, tiny hidden huts, all of which were framed by the rocks and trees in front of us. It made the 1.2km walk all the more worth it. We were told by a couple that had beaten us there, the next viewpoint a little further on was just as nice. It showed the other side of the jungle.
• 500 metres later we arrived. It was just as beautiful as the last. When we took photos of the group in front of the amazing backdrop, they ended up looking superimposed. We took another 10-15 minute break, and discovered we had climbed to a higher height than when we visited the telecom tower in KL.
• The 5 of us set off once again, only this time there were no stairs to worry about. It was all off road now. Immediately, I nearly walked into a big spider web. Good job I didn’t, as it’s occupier was ready and waiting for an easy meal. The hill was very steep, and at points muddy. Half way down was when we saw the second spider, this one was bigger and meaner.
• When we finally reached the bottom we were confronted by multiple arrow signs. One pointed to the hides that Meg and Jenna wanted to visit, the other lead to the exit. The hides were small, or big buildings that kept you from view of the wildlife, and allowed you to observe them so long as you remained quiet.
• Initially we were going to join the girls at the hide, as it was only 1km away. This meant it would be deep enough into the forest to see some great animals. Seeing how the exit was 2km in the other direction, we didn’t fancy walking 3 more kilometres. Had it been flat and straight, maybe then we’d have considered it, but the jungle paths were tiresome and tricky. Our 2km walk took us just over an hour and a half, to 2 hours to complete. During which we had to climb over fallen trees, scale slippery muddy paths, manoeuvre past bogs, and avoid the occasional leech. Never had we been so happy to reach an exit before. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we also heard some rustling in the bushes close to the end. Upon further inspection we noticed it was a tapir. Apparently it is very rare to see them as they are extremely timid creatures. We could only see its white and grey hide, and at one point Anna could make out its face, but it was still great to be so close to one nonetheless.
• It took a while to figure out how we got a boat back across the river to our hostel. After locating an empty cabin, we realised we were in the wrong area. We retraced our steps until we found a resort. This was the correct place for river crossing. We paid the driver 1 ringgit each, and in return he drove us all of 10 metres. Back on solid land we needed 2 things: food and water.
• Back to family restaurant for a litre of water each, followed by a cooked meal. Afterwards, we returned to the hostel for all of an hour, before returning to the jungle to locate a closer hide. One which was only 800 metres away.
• We had to book a bus journey off the island for the next day first. That was sorted without any problems, then the guy got one of his friends to chauffeur us across.
• We couldn’t believe our luck when we arrived, there was a tapir eating leaves from a tree. For those of you that don’t know what a tapir is, it looks like a cross between an elephant and a hippo. The reason this one was brave enough to come close to the resort, was because it was tamed, and use to humans from a young age. When it was done eating it climbed the hill and came out into the open, passing right by us. I really wanted to touch it, but I saw a sign that said watch from a distance, 1 foot away was good enough for me. It was quite the celebrity, causing everyone to come outside and watch it walk through the resort.
Our luck didn’t stop there either, after seeing the tapir, we witnessed a family of wild boar, some big fish, and the bravest deer I had ever seen. It didn’t run away, or bat an eyelid at our presence. Even when Sarah moved closer to take pictures. We could have called it a day there and then, but thought it would be best to see our trip through.
• 800 metres was a lovely distance, compared to the 7 or 8 hours we’d walked early that day. I’m sure we must have covered well over 10km. It was a really nice walk because none of it was off road. There was a long boardwalk that took us all the way to the tall hide. Along the wooden path we saw lots of ants making a ruckus on the floor. Upon further inspection we noticed it wasn’t ants, it was termites. They were tearing away at all the dead leaves, thousands of them chewing in unison. The hide resembled a watchtower more than anything, and probably doubled as a bird watchers delight.
We grew bored quite quickly, and after 40 minutes we only observed a giant squirrel. They’re much like any squirrel you’d see in a park, only a lot bigger, and have sandy coloured fur. There was some commotion on the roof the whole time, hopping we’d see something large, we ran from one side to the other in an attempt to get a better view. In the end we discovered the noise was coming from a gecko on the ceiling, it was running back and forth to catch insects. We only figured that out when we shone a torch above our heads!
• Slowly we made our way back to the resort, it was very dark by then and the jungle had an intensely loud soundtrack. It was coming from the large insect orchestra, with the loudest songs coming from the cricket choir. Sarah was a very brave girl leading the way, she knew Anna was also scared of spiders, so kept it together when she spotted a large huntsman on the boardwalk. It didn’t end there, as she went on to locate a further two large Arachnids within the 800 metres.
There were more insects than any other living creature in the evening, I was really hoping to see a Slow Lorris after witnessing the unfortunate ones in Phuket. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, in their place we saw fireflies, lizards, and a centipede. Anna spotted that one worming its way around a tree.
• It was 8:30pm when we reached the resort. There were teams of people arriving for the night trek. From the level of noise they were making, I’d be highly surprised if they saw a tree, let alone any nocturnal animals. The 3 of us hopped back on a boat to cross the river. We had some food at a different restaurant (how controversial) then returned to the hostel.
• Jenna and Meg wouldn’t be returning that night, as they decided early on that they wanted to spend the night in a hide. This meant while we packed our bags in advance, and had everything ready for the bus at 10am, the others would have to get up early and walk back in the dark. I had a nice cold shower, then returned to the room to have nightmares about creepy crawlies. It didn’t help that one of the 4 beds had ants on it, Anna found a tick on hers, and the undoubtable fact that all the beds probably had some form of pest on them. Never had the saying “night, night, don’t let the bed bugs bite” be so true!