The sun had barely stretched its first beam of lights and lifted its rounded belly off the eastern horizon when we woke up to pack for our first trip to the National Park located at Pahang just a few weekends ago. Correction: We DID pack our bags the night before but you know how a mother with three kids would never pack enough?
So while I was still deciding if I should wear the black Dorothy Perkins leggings or my old faithful Gap jeans for the jungle trekking, Daddy Joe had already shoved us out of the front door grabbing both pants and my rattan basket filled with snacks in one hand, while cradling Baby B who was still fast asleep on the other hand and drove us Northeast bound for a wonderful 3D2N trip of discovering the hidden marvels at Taman Negara, one of Malaysia’s oldest and most pristine rainforests that boasts of lush tropical greenery as well as a variety of animals and insects.
With my brother’s family joining in the school holiday trip, the entire scenic self-drive road trip was filled with endless cheery chatters and silly jokes shared between five wonderful tweens / teens, four grownups and of course a babbling toddler. After a four-hour drive, we reach the Kuala Tahan jetty when all of the kids could not contain their excitement anymore when we told them that we would be going for a boat ride.
The boat ride lasted only for a minute because it was merely to cross the river to the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort which was just across the jetty but still, the half-dozen city kids were thrilled!
We have booked two adjoining chalets overlooking the green forest at Mutiara Taman Negara. There was a little deck at the back of the chalet and we discovered wild boars track which was a little like a thrilling Indiana Jones moment for the kids. There was some shrieking, some oohs and aahs but mostly, with their wild imaginations of the possible danger, they quickly ran back into the chalet before one could even say Run!
In the evening before we headed for our dinner at the Seri Mutiara Restaurant by the resort, we saw a group of wild boars appeared out of nowhere in front of our chalets. We were quite worried that they would charge at the kids who were frightened of the boars getting so up close and personal with them, but they were fairly peaceful and stopped at just sniffing around near the porch.
We had a good laugh during the dinner when we finally discovered that they had possibly come because Daddy Joe had unknowingly packed Baby B’s soiled nappy in a plastic bag and left it at the front door which he planned to take along to throw into the giant rubbish bin at the lobby. No wonder the plastic bag with the soiled nappies were gone! (On the hindsight, if the wild boars had really gobbled up the content of the soiled nappies, well… at least they were fresh and organic, weren’t they! :P)
The next day we were up for the real deal in the green. We completed a two-and-a-half-hour jungle trekking and discovered many magnificent tree species and wonderful tracks and traces of animals which made the entire experience the perfect geography lesson for the kids.
This National Park is also home to many wonderful home grown herbal medicines. Somewhere between hiking and paying attention to our trekking guide’s detailed explanation about the different plants we spotted, I thought the trip has made a good biologist out of my kids who now understood that the ginger flower was used to cure fever and that there was a type of leaf with antibacterial action that the locals used to stop bleeding and cured all types of pain.
Now if height is not your cup of thing, you might find it daunting that there is a canopy walk that stretches 400 metres in length and is suspended about 30 metres from ground. To us, it was the highlight and the ultimate experience of the trip as some of us conquered our fear of heights and did our walk in the sky. It was also exhilarating to soak in the bird eye view of the entire forest and felt in awe with God’s creation all at once!
We also took to the river for an exciting thrills and spills time as the boat that we were in went past six mini rapids causing quite a delightful splash and cooling sensation!
To beat the heat, we ended the day with a really cold dip in a river called Sungai Tahan.
At this trip we found ourselves relax just by being away from the city, and it was good to let the green-loving giant in each of us awake amidst acres of lush jungle greenery. We learned a great deal about tropical forest and most of all, created a fond memory of being one with nature for the kids and grownups alike.