Taman Negara

by hamishandkat

The rainforest in Malaysia’s Taman Negara national park is really old… Like REALLY old. Like 120 million years old.  Immune to the effects of all the ice ages, it is an awesome moist and steamy time.

After a three hour boat ride up the river, and once checked into our accommodation we organised a couple of beds in the Bambun Kumang hide… Basically a hut on stilts with 12 bunks to spend the night trying to spot any elephants, tigers, jungle cats, wild pigs, different birds, monkeys etc etc.

The 12km walk took about five hours – several leeches, the best of which got my through the mesh on my shoes… When i pulled it off blood bubbled up through the mesh like something from a horror film and a nice little river crossing.  The hide itself is pretty basic, but the bugs and critters were nowhere near as bad as i expected.  We had a lack of animals when we were there, although Kat did see an Argus Pheasant, and we met some really nice people that were staying there.

The following day we returned along the riverbank trail which apparently is 100m further but has a bit more up and down as the gullies of tributaries meet the river.  In the lead position, coming around one bend in the trail I happened upon a largish wild boar.  Without any defences to speak of, I pivoted on one foot to find a suitable stick to ward off any potential attack.

I had noticed the day before that although Taman Negara is ancient, most of the trees there aren’t that big… Some of the buttress roots were biggish, but not as big as I would have expected.  While I searched for my anti-pig device, I realised why – the moist conditions on the forest floor, combined with the amount of termites and insects around means everything decomposes super quickly.  That is to say, any stick I picked up and whacked against the nearest rock or tree fell apart in the form of mushy, ant infested woodchips.

Solid stick found, I went back along the path and made a few noises and whacked my stick against things and the piggly-wiggly happily made his way off into the bushes.  Ha! I thought.

Ten minutes later, I hear a scream from Kat and turned to see the porker coming at a fairly rapid pace down the embankment on the side of the stream we were crossing by means of two logs spanning the water.  Quickly making our way across, we looked back to see the boar testing out his trotters on the slippery log before turning around and rooting about in the mud.  ‘Your plans are foiled again fatty’ I mocked.

Another ten minutes down the track and again, I hear a scream and see Kat running, with the pig galloping, in what could be described as aggressively, towards her.  Again, I was in defence mode… Whacked my stick against a tree, then picked up the resulting mushy bits and threw them at him.  Until now the thought of projectiles hadn’t crossed my reduced-to-neanderthal-thought mind but did seem effective, so ground to ground missiles it was.  The pig seemed somewhat nonchalant about the attack he had been making, but again was in retreat. ‘And stay out!’

Climbing again out of a stream crossing, we would meet again.  I lay silently in wait, armed with the newly discovered ‘rocks’ as well as my old, slightly shortened, woodjina stick.  As he came up our side of the bank, I fired from my strategically superior elevated position, with a few near misses but no hits.  The noise of the new additions to my arsenal must have had a better effect, as this would be the last we saw of him.  It’s a shame that my hands were full and that Kat was running, as a photo of said swine would be perfect here.

On returning to the national park headquarters we de-leeched, rehydrated via some 100Plus (carbonated isotonic deliciousness) and walked back to our accommodation with that weird, limpy, toes-in-shuffle that you do after a reasonable hike.

Carrying a blue foam mat on the outside of my bag goes against everything I stand for when it comes to outdoor gear.