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Hello, Ciao,안녕하세요, Hallo, Hola, Selamat tengahari! My name is Rachael and I am a travel enthusiast. Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken my brother, sister and I on good ol' American road trips. It's safe to say that was where my interest in new places, people and experiences was ignited. As my parents always encouraged my siblings and I to explore and ask questions, I developed a sincere curiosity for new adventures. In addition to seeing much of the United States with my favorite travel companions (my family), I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Rome, Italy, as well as a semester in Seoul, South Korea during my college career. Now, I am honored to be taking part in a Fulbright ETA Scholarship to Malaysia for a year! My family's favorite motto is "Life is all about the journey, not the destination." I invite you to join along in my journey of cultural exchange and mutual understanding in Malaysia! After all, the more, the merrier.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chesley's Malaysian Adventure: Taman Negara

The canopy walk of Taman Negara!
We arrived in Taman Negara National Park late that same evening. We stayed at Rainforest Resort, which was located in a small, Islamic village called Kuala Tahan Taman Negara is the largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia, and it is famous for its lush rainforests, animals, birds and rare insects. We enjoyed an interesting, yet tough, jungle trek through the rainforest where we encountered wild hogs, many monkeys, interesting herbs and even some insects. Our guide was very informative and he never once hesitated to scale a tree and climb up the tree to show us rainforest wonders! At one point in our jungle trek, we even walked across one of the longest canopy walks in the world. As we walked across, the bridge slightly swayed from side to side, and below we could see the rich flora and fauna at the summit of the rainforest.

All nice and cozy in the back of the 4x4!

At night, we enjoyed a 4x4 night jungle safari. During this tour, we were able to see nocturnal plants and animals, and we saw several snakes, nocturnal insects and birds. As we drove through the bumpy jungle trail, the extremely dark atmosphere surrounded us. It was the most blackness I have ever experienced. So, when the 4x4 stopped working, and the drivers stopped the vehicle in the pitch black of the jungle, our stomachs churned a little. “Apa?” I asked the drivers. “We take a rest,” they responded. My family and I were stranded in a dark jungle with two tour guides we knew nothing about, and we had no indication of where we were. We waited and waited. About thirty minutes later, the tour guides started the 4x4 and we set out of the jungle. When we safely arrived back at Rainforest Resort, my mom and sister took a deep breath. “Wow,” we thought to ourselves.

One of the few floating restaurants located in the village.
One of my family’s favorite memories from Taman Negara was the floating restaurants. These restaurants lined the river that connected Kuala Tahan to Taman Negara. They were wooden restaurants that sat on the river like docks. As we sat and ate, the restaurant would bob up and down with the ripples in the water. It was quite different than anything we had ever experienced. One night, the power even went out, so we ate in the dark and bobbed up and down with the water below the flooring. At the restaurants, we ate nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables), mee hoon (a thin noodle with spicy sauce) and teh tarik (an ice tea with condensed milk). In general, when it came to eating in Malaysia, my family was extremely surprised by the infinite amount of ants that accompanied us for every meal, especially at breakfast. One morning, we sat eating toast and jam at our resort and ants literally took over our table settings, as they scurried through the ripples of the fabric tablecloths. At this point, I was familiar with the frequency of eating with ants, but for my family, it was a very uncomfortable eating environment.

Taman Negara was an interesting opportunity for my family and I to compare and contrast the landscapes we have seen and hiked through in the States with those of the Malaysian rainforest. After two days in Taman Negara admiring the rainforest landscape in intense heat, we headed to a new kind of Malaysian environment in Cameron Highlands.

Rainforest Resort, Kuala Tahan. Our lodge for our stay at Taman Negara.
Our resort had gorgeous scenery, such as this bridge that brought us to the dining area.
In order to access Taman Negara, we needed to cross the river with
a canoe.

The 4x4 night safari was incredibly dark. However, the guide
had a flashlight that allowed us find nocturnal creatures lurking in the darkness!

Even though the 4x4 tour was a bit scary, we smiled!

Our guide demonstrated to us how to use an herb found in the rainforest to create
an aloe rub. 
Our guide, on numerous occasion, climbed and scaled trees to show us interesting things!
Our guide through the jungle trek taught us a great deal about the environment, as well as the herbs!
In fact, he did not take one sip of water throughout our entire adventure!
Family photo opportunity in front an enormous tree in the rainforest!

The canopy walk gave way to some views full of flora and fauna.

The jungle trek was incredibly steep, and not to mention, hot hot hot!

For stretches of the trek, we had to use a rope to guide us through the
thick brush and steep trail.

The village of Kuala Tahan, where we stayed to explore Taman Negara.

The scenery of the rainforest of Taman Negara, Malaysia.

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