Malaysia: Taman Negara National Park
The highlight of my first trip to Malaysia in 1992 was going to the Taman Negara National Park in the central part of Malaysia. If you are interested in nature, you should go there. It's huge! The park covers 4,343 square kilometers of tropical rainforest. That's about the same size as Fukuoka Prefecture! There are no roads into the jungle, so I went by boat up the river into the center of the national park. It took three hours. The views of the jungle on either side of the river were fantastic.
When I got to the park headquarters I rented a tent and other camping equipment and camped with a few other people in an open space surrounded by jungle. We stayed there for three nights trying to sleep through the night sounds in the jungle. If you think Japanese summer nights are noisy (because of cicadas and so on), you should hear the noise in the jungle. It's so full of life.
In the daytime I went walking alone along paths into the jungle. There are elephants and tigers living in the park. I didn't see any big animals but it was very exciting to know that I might meet them! It was also exciting to see all the big trees, dense vegetation and so many insects, tree frogs, lizards and other creatures. I had been told that it was important not to leave the path but one time I wanted to take a picture of a lizard so I walked away from the path into the jungle, following the lizard. I was only about 100m from the path but it took me so long to find it again! I almost became lost because the jungle was so thick and dark.
It was very very hot and humid in the rainforest. My clothes were permanently soaked in sweat, which was a little uncomfortable. And I couldn't walk very far because I quickly became tired in the heat. One day I decided to cool down by swimming in the river. But the river was very muddy and brown so I couldn't see what was under the water. It was very scary not knowing whether there was some kind of dangerous creature in the water! And I was alone so that made me nervous.
I love nature and so I had a really good time exploring in the rainforest by myself, taking photographs of lots of plants and insects. However, one of the best aspects of staying in the jungle was making friends with the other people who were camping there. If I remember correctly, there were three men from Switzerland, a couple from America, another woman from America, and a man from Germany. The American woman was traveling around Asia alone and the German man had been traveling around the world for three years!! He was very funny and had so many wonderful stories of the adventures he had had, especially in Africa. We all sat together in the evenings and talked about our various experiences. The memory of that time will always stay with me.
Copyright: Nigel Stott (2007)