Taman Negara (Malaysia) – Dec 2006

A 5-day trekking adventure to the National Park of Malaysia. ‘Taman’ means garden or park. ‘Negara’ means national. The oldest rainforest estimated to be 130 million years old. Older than the Amazon. Taman Negara is located across three states in Malaysia – Pahang, Kelantan, Trengganu. Our entry was via the Pahang gateway.

Day 1 : Our journey started via rail from Singapore at Tanjong Pagar station at 10am to Jerantut station (left) which took about 9 hours with various stops at railway stations along the northbound route.

Vehicle barrier at certain intersections along the rail route preventing motorists from crossing while the train is along the rail track.

Arrival at hotel Chet Fatt located just 400 metres from the railway station. A backpackers hotel with basic amenities. A one night stay at the hotel before our next phase of entering Taman Negara on Day 2.

A stop along the road-side fruit stall after dinner. `Whacked’ five yummy durians for just S$8.

Day 2 : 7am. Minivan drove us 16km from hotel Chet Fatt to Kuala Tembeling 16km away. Kuala Tembeling is the step off entry point into Taman Negara.

Arrival at Kuala Tembeling. Application for entry permits into Taman Negara, boat tickets, camera permits.

Plaque at Kuala Tembeling recounting its history.

Kuala Tembeling jetty. Longboats at foreground will be the mode of river transport to/fro Taman Negara. The beginning of a two & half hour river boat journey to Taman Negara.

Misty mountain ridges in the early morning.

Villagers with their own mode of river transport.

A team of trekkers on their return river journey to Kuala Tembeling jetty.

Village children playing along the riverbank.

A horn-bill perched high atop a tree.

Fishermen casting their nets.

Floating `restaurant’ – coffeeshops on the opposite bank to Mutiara Hotel.

Arrival at Mutiara Taman Negara resort.

Mutiara Taman Negara resort.

The resort consists of wooden chalet-styled huts catering to couples, family and large groups of trekkers. No buggy available. Walking is the only mode of transport.

‘Wild Boars Crossing’. Wildlfe forms part of the natural environment at this resort.

Signboards helping residents to move within the vast landscape of the resort.

Amid the lush greenery.

Village on the opposite bank of Mutiara Taman Negara. This will be where we would have our meals instead of having it at the resort restaurant.

Little jetty at Mutiara Taman Negara. The boat service will be our mode of transport across the river to the floating restaurants and back.

After our lunch, we went on a short discovery of the village. Mini-trek.

Preliminary recce of the various trails. Entrance to one of the many trails that ranges from a short 200 metres walk to 7 days trek. It’s daytime but the trails remains dark due to the thick tree canopy.

A trail up Bukit Teresek.

Magpie Robins.

Along the Lubok Simpon trail. 100 metres into the trail and it was infested with leeches from the footpath, overhanging branches and leaves.

‘Leslie’ the leech.

Day 3 : Stakeout at a `hide’ at 6.30am.

Sighted a pair of hornbills.

Making our way to hut 104/105 at the extreme edge of the resort to the start-point of our trek.

The beginning of a 5-hour trek starting at 10am. First will be along the Canopy Trail.

Ropes are needed to pull yourself up to climb up the 70 degrees gradient of muddy and slippery slopes along the trail ~ no high heels and skirts please….

A trecherous section of the trail that has built-in wooden steps for trekkers.

The Canopy Trail that has ropes suspending the wooden plank high up into the canopy of the trees.

View of jungle floor from the intersection along the Canopy Trail. The trails rises to about 10 storeys high – about the height of a HDB block.

Down the Canopy Trail and …….

And up the Menam Trail ….. this is climbing madness.

The prize of our trek along the Menam Trail…..sighting of the Great Argus in the afternoon of Day 3. Trekking along the Menam Trail, its call of `kow wow’ became closer as we trekked. At the turn of a trail, we came right in full view of the pheasant bird. It did not give a hint of being in danger and even posed for our cameras. Heard by many, seen by few. We were indeed lucky to have this sighting.

The Great Argus, Argusianus argus is a brown-plumaged pheasant with a small blue head and neck, rufous red upper breast, a black hair-like feathers on crown and nape, and red legs. The male is among the largest of all pheasants, with up to 200cm in length. It has a very long tail feathers. The male’s most spectacular features are its huge, broad and greatly elongated secondary wing feathers decorated with large ocelli. The female is smaller and duller than male, with shorter tail and less ocelli. Young males attain adult plumage in their third years. The Great Argus is distributed in the jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Malay Peninsula in southeast Asia. It feeds on forest floor in early morning and evening. Unusual among Galliformes, the Great Argus has no oil gland and the hen lays only two eggs. Though the Great Argus is not as colorful as other pheasants, its display surely ranks among the most remarkable. The male clears an open spot in the forest and prepares a dancing ground. He announces himself with loud calls to attract females, then he dances before her with his wings spread into two enormous fans, revealing hundred of “eyes” while his real eyes are hidden behind it, staring at her. The scientific name of the Great Argus was given by Carolus Linnaeus in reference to the many eyes-like pattern on its wings. Argus is a hundred eyes giant in Greek mythology. Due to ongoing habitat loss and hunted in some areas, the Great Argus is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.






Scientific classification

A. argus
Binomial name
Argusianus argus

15 minutes evening boat ride up-river from Mutiara Taman Negara to Perdana Village.

Night market at Perdana Village.

Day 4 – The river was choppy due to heavy rainfall. Time to travel up-river to `shoot the rapids’ and to Nusa Camp.

Village boatman.

Orang Asli hut along a section of the riverbank.

`Shooting the rapids’ along Sungei Tembeling. The river rose 14 metres from the previous night heavy downpour. Much of the riverbanks were covered by the river with only the tree-tops visible.

`Swollen’ part of the river. Our boatman was able to avoid such areas along the river to avoid being capsized.

Fallen tree trunks and debris being washed down-river. Much feared was that such huge tree trunks may rammed head-on to our boat as we `shoot the rapids’ upstream.

Trekking to a stream alongside Nusa Camp.

Never under-estimate the force and depth of the stream …….. it can be deceiving.

Our guide `Billy’ managed to get two of our team members across the powerful-force, chest-deep stream. Now talk about getting back to this side of the stream.

A wooden suspension bridge across the stream.

Nusa Camp dining hall overlooking Sungei Tembeling.

Sungei Tembeling . View from the verandah of Nusa Camp.

Village children playing on their sampan.

A team of trekkers on motorised sampan approaching Nusa Camp.

Other `inhabitants’ of Taman Negara.

Verandah at the back of our hut. Right smack in the jungle.

Day 5 : Long walk out of our hut in Taman Negara Mutiara.

Jetty at Taman Negara Mutiara. It was dry when we arrived. After the heavy downpour over the past few days, the water level rose dramatically to once where trekkers use to place their luggages.

“Leave nothing but footprints…. Take nothing but memories”. And as we close a chapter of our travels, we hope you have found it interesting. See you again in our next adventure travels.

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