Taman Negara and Cameron Highlands

Our journey into the jungle started with a small van ride to the river. From there, we got all of our tickets and photo permits before getting onto our small boat for the three hour ride up to the entrance of the National Park. About ten seconds after getting into the boat, the two Swiss girls sitting behind us shrieked, ran off the boat, and huddled together on the dock. Naturally Keri and I popped up and turned to see what was going on only to find a fist-sized spider crawling towards our seat. Luckily it went under the boards we were sitting on and disappeared. It took their boyfriends about three minutes to coax them back into the boat, but eventually we were on our way. For the whole three hour ride we were on spider alert and were a little jumpy. About 20 minutes into the ride, I felt something hit the board I was sitting on, which cause me to pop up to my feet, sending the Swiss girls into panic mode. They spent the remainder of the ride sitting on top of the backrest. Keri looked at me as if I was dreaming up these board movements until she felt one thirty minutes later. We still don’t know what, if anything, was under the boards, but it seemed very possible that some small animal was there since there were many spaces between the boards for animals to crawl through. Once we arrived, the Swiss girls hurried off the boat just as the spider made a reappearance. It was perfect timing.

As we waited for our return ride to be sorted and our water taxi to arrive, we grouped up with two Swedish girls for the day. After crossing the river, we ate lunch at the park’s restaurant and then began our hike towards the canopy walk. The canopy walk was pretty long. About midway, we saw a flying squirrel land on one of the walkways. The man stationed at the next tree told us were lucky to see one. On the way back from the canopy walk, we came across a wild pig eating next to the path. After a short break, we chose another short trail, but didn’t make it too far because the raised walkway ended and we didn’t want to get lost in the forest and miss our ride back to Jerantut. So instead we monkey watched and had a drink before crossing the river back to the town.

We decided that one day at the rainforest was enough, so we left for the Cameron Highlands a day early. The van had just enough space for us, so we crammed into the back, next to the luggage. Three hours later we were in Cameron Highlands. Thursday morning we were picked up by a jeep with horns on the front and taken off into the tea fields. The driver dropped us off on the roadside so we could walk along the fields and take some pictures. Later we went to one of the highest view points in the highlands and took a short walk through the mossy forest. We finished the tour with a visit to the tea factory and butterfly farm. After returning to the town, we waited for Rachel, our tree house contact, to pick us up.

Rachel drove us for a half hour down a dirt pathway through a bunch of mountainside farms. After parking, we walked up the mountain and past a few tree houses to “house” 4. At Terra’s Tree House, they have a small organic farm as well as a nature path. There is a common area with a kitchen and seating that overlooks the farm. All meals are made from the veggies and fruit that are grown on the farms owned by the owners of the tree houses. The first night, Rachel and the other guests made dinner and we had a small fire. That night Keri and I were really tired so we fell asleep quickly. At 4:30, I woke to sounds of footsteps. At first I thought it was a small animal on the roof or outside on the deck. The more I listened, the louder it seemed, so I grabbed the flashlight to find an animal the size if a small dog on my bag. Keri was awake at this point, and the only thing I could say was, “oh shit.” Keri, still waking up, said, “it’s a cat.” Then I pointed out that it most definitely wasn’t a cat and we might have screamed a bit. This spooked the animal (which we think is a weasel), and a he ran up the side of the wall. We couldn’t tell if he had escaped under the roof, so of course we were convinced that he hadn’t and was hiding out on the loft. Sitting with our backs against the wall, we tried to work up the courage to climb the ladder to see if he was up there. Instead, Keri opened the door a bit so that if he was still in the tree house, he had a way to leave. We spent the next 45 minutes trying to fall back asleep, with the flashlight on. As we laid there, we heard loud footsteps coming up the path. We thought Rachel heard us and came to check on us…but after yelling “hello” there was no response. The next morning we told Rachel of our visitor. She was disappointed that we didn’t take a picture.

During the day, we had the whole place to ourselves as Rachel had taken the other guest back to town and had to wait for the new guests to arrive.
Keri and I spent the morning reading and making lunch. Then we decided to hike the trail around the property. The path lead us down a muddy opening on the other side if the mountain. We had to use the roots and trees to rappel down, otherwise we would have spent half the time on our butts. By the time Rachel returned, we had cleaned up from our muddy adventure and we started to make soup for dinner. After dinner we went back to the tree house early to watch some tv we had downloaded on my iPod (we were able to charge our devices four hours each night using a generator). This morning, Rachel made pancakes for breakfast and some lemongrass drink. I sat on the end of the deck and watched monkeys eating in the garden and jumping from tree to tree. After breakfast, Rachel drove us back into town so we could buy our tickets to Penang. After a couple days of cool weather, I think we’re ready to get back into our shorts and t-shirts!

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