After that brief detour we headed to our intended destination, Taman Negara. After reaching the nearest town it was a three hour ride in a longboat up the river that runs through the jungle to reach a cluster of guesthouses where most hikes start off. We signed up for a two day, one night hike at the cheapest, sketchiest looking place (obviously). The next day we met up with five other hikers and our guide, Yee (pronounced i-eeeeee). We eached packed a daypack: three big water bottles, one sleeping mat, 1/6 of the food, a flashlight, bug repellent, a bathing suit and a change of clothes (optional).
We started at the canopy walk that was strung up high in the trees then continued another hour boat ride, past some indigenous tribes and swimming, waving kids, to start our trek. As we started to walk it started to rain (of course) and it just got heavier from there. Then the leeches came out. We were constantly peeling them off ourselves (and eachother) – mostly ankles but the occasional back, arm, and even one butt sucker! The path turned to mud and we were soon slipping and sliding along the paths, climbing over fallen trees and crossing rivers. After 8km of this the rain let up and we reached a large cave that was almost invisible from the outside. Most of the photos are from Jesse’s iphone as I had to put away my camera.
Our guide Yee was awesome! We all gathered firewood and he started a fire while we set up our beds and washed off the day’s dirt in a nearby river. When we went to make dinner nobody had brought a knife (besides Yee’s machete) but luckily Jesse had brought two (obviously) and saved the day. Yee insisted women should cut the vegetables and the men should tend the fire (which means relaxing!) so I swallowed my pride and did the ‘women’s work.’ It was quite funny since Yee was completely oblivious to their being anything strange about this. We ate rice and stew off of giant leaves and Yee taught us how to make jungle tea and roll cigarettes with banana leaf rolling papers before bed. He also told us about his fiancee and their upcoming marriage. There would be a ceremony and reception in both her city and his town and he was saving up to buy two cows to feed all the guests. Even though we were sharing the cave with a bunch of bats and the odd porcupine we all swept quite well that night.
We rekindled the fire the next morning to make toast and more jungle tea and re-packed our bags for the days hike. It didn’t rain that day and the hike was really enjoyable despite our soggy shoes. We stopped halfway through the day for lunch and played in the river while Yee made us Mr. Noodles with the remaining vegetables (they were already cut so the girls got to play too!) We reached our pick up stop and I was both relieved and disappointed it was over. We both agreed we would do a week (or longer) trek one day when we were better prepared.
Our accommodation for the night from the outside …