A pearl in the jungle.

I am a city girl, who likes occasional escapades into the outskirts of nature. However, no matter how much I enjoy treading through muddy jungles and getting wet drenched in river water, it is always a comfort to know you have a well-maintained and comfortable accommodation to go back to after all the strenuous activities. A room with a working toilet and – bless their soul – hot water, as well as a primped room in which the housekeepers tend to every day at least once. And perhaps edible food that you can stomach to refill your energy.

I guess I will always be skeptical of accommodations amidst the greater nature until I have gone into the room and done the inspections myself. I suppose a part of me was kind of bracing for the worst just in case, as I have had my fair share of crappy accommodations along the way. My mind was still a blur after disembarking from the five-hour bus ride to Taman Negara National Park. We had lunch at their restaurant, which by the way serves wonderful food surprisingly. Not some sous chef gourmania, but at least good food that could make you believe that you never left the city at all.

Then, we dispersed to our individual rooms to freshen up. Pity me, as I had a room probably like 5 minutes away from the meeting point. Mutiara Taman Negara was built to expand horizontally, you see. But I was quite relieved with what Mutiara Taman Negara had in store for us when I opened the door.

I was given a chalet constructed in delightful Malay-timber, as were the other kinds of rooms available in Mutiara Taman Negara. A chalet with its own little porch to read, smoke and sip tea at while watching the rain fall outside. Inside was a quaint room with two singles, quiet to the core without any televisions or radio – Mutiara Taman Negara’s philosophy in keeping visitors comfortable yet in tune with the natural setting around.

Call me silly, but the first thing I checked out was the bathroom. Flushing toilet? Check. Hot water? Check. Working shower? Check. Toilet paper? Check and folded. Who cares if there is no TV? Who cares if there is nothing in the mini fridge? As long as I can get myself clean from all the gruesome adventure, I am a happy camper.

I guess Taman Negara is not called the world’s oldest and best preserved rainforest for nothing. They have quite a tight system on who enters the jungle and doing what, and also activities that are quite organised for us to choose from too.

One of them would be the Canopy Walkway, a must-do at Taman Negara. Built in 1992, it is known to be the longest canopy walkway in the world, stretching as long as 530 meters on 10 bridges and hovering 50 meters above the forest ground.

I could say it feels like walking on clouds, but that is hard to seep in when it feels like you are about to be thrown off the bridge whenever it sways the slightest. Especially during the third bridge that is 70 meters long, I thought it was going to give way and I was going to fall down into the greeny abyss. But it was not so bad once you have done it and thought about it. All you have to do is hold onto both railings and just walk as naturally as you can.

Another fun one could get into is rapids shooting. Say what, you say? Well, basically, it is something like a Grade 2 or, at best, a Grade 3 whitewater rafting. Only, instead of going with the current, you go against it so you have a higher chance of being capsised and getting wet.

Frankly, I had no idea what the hell it was until I was sitting on the boat floating languidly before hitting a rapid, which instantly made me wet and go, “Fuck, that was awesome.” Heh. The rapids shooting goes along the Tembeling River, and there are 7 major rapids to conquer: Nusa, Dua, Abai, Teras, Panjang and Terenggan. Unfortunately, the weather was bad that day and before we could experience all seven of the rapids, we had to turn around  to go back to the resort.

Along Tembeling River is a Orang Asli tribe called Batek. Currently, there are less than 3,000 of them left and the ones we visited by the river was only 20% of the population. The rest remain residing in the depths of the rainforest. We learned quite a lot about the Batek tribe during the short tour: how they make fire, how they make blowpipes and darts, what kind of food they eat and what are their traditions and beliefs for a funeral… It was quite interesting.

But I just could not get over the fact of how they just sat around and let us photograph them, as if they were some animal in display in the zoo. It kind of bothered me until I found out that they make money from these tours. Apparently, each of them get paid RM5 every time a group of tourists stop by. So, I suppose it is not that bad, seeing that it is a win-win situation. Besides, the village we visited, they were quite well-off for an aboriginal tribe, what with the shirts on their backs and some even owning cell phones. Well, now we know where all the RM5 goes to. Heh.

Our cave exploration was not really fun, and it was quite strenuous for someone like me. Just before we got to Gua Telinga, we had to go through a 1KM jungle trekking, in which for most parts were muddy from the rain the previous night. There were a few times I walked myself into a sticky dead end, and was close to asphyxia by the time we reached the cave.

And it did not really get any better when we went down into the wet and slippery cavern. We had to maneouvre through claustrophobic corners, careful not to slip amongst the rock and break your neck or limbs. The challenge was to find the right point to step on to move forward, and it took a while for me to arrange my limbs correctly so I could move on without twisting myself into a knot. I think for at least twice during the journey, I had huffed and questioned myself why am I putting myself through this torture.

When we emerged, ah, how the fresh air and bright green grass and chirping birds sounded so wonderful. But then of course, that only lasted for a few minutes, because we had to backtracked the 1KM to the jetty. Meh.

Now you know why a good conditioned accommodation is a must?

As the name suggested, Mutiara Taman Negara is truly a pearl hidden in the folds of Mother Nature’s arms. Not only do you get to share space with the abundant flora and fauna, you are also guaranteed a good resting spot by the end of your adventure. All the more reason to put Taman Negara in your next to-do list, don’t you think?

* By the way, ‘mutiara’ means ‘pearl’ in the Malay Language.

++
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort
Kuala Tahan
27000 Jerantut
Pahang Darul Makmur
Malaysia
T: +6 09 266 3500 / +6 09 266 2200
E: cro@mutiarahotels.com
W: http://www.mutiarahotels.com

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One Response to “A pearl in the jungle.”

  1. Junnie Says:

    must.must must give this a try. especially the white water rafting.

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