Monthly Archives: March 2015

Taman Negara: Canopy Walk

We woke up around 7:45, eager and ready to begin our day. First things on the agenda for the day: eat breakfast and get ready for our canopy walk tour. Taman Negara has the largest, most extensive canopy walkway in the world. It sits 45 meters above the forest floor and extends through the canopy for 510 meters around the forest. Even though neither Trent nor I are particularly fond of heights, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the forest from this vantage point.

We wandered down to Wan Floating Restaurant for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and coffee and a vegetable omelet. Once our appetites were satisfied, we met the others in our group and boarded the small boat that would take us to the entrance of the canopy walkway. Our guide Ibrahim began to debrief us on what today’s tour would hold: first we would hike through different parts of the forest to two different vantage points and then we would finish our tour with the canopy walkway. He also informed us that we would only be able to walk half of the walkway because of a large crack in one of the foundational trees supporting the walkway. We believe that this was caused by the recent flood there that happened in January. Although we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to walk the entire length of suspended walkway, we were thankful that they were concerned with safety and were addressing and fixing the problem.

Canopy walkway sign

canopy walkway from the ground

We set out up many steps and began the hot, sweaty hike. My legs were already screaming as they were sore from a run a few days prior, but I was excited about this adventure and once my adrenaline kicked in, I was fine. As we walked and explored, Ibrahim told us many different things about the jungle. He showed us HUGE worker ants (these ants were nearly as long as my thumb!), lizard holes, how they make paint with clay, and pointed out many different plants and animals.
big ants

clay paint

He showed us a small hive of bees that builds their home from people’s sweat. It sounds gross, but he says it makes the honey sweeter. The resin can also be burned for long periods of time and in fact gives off a very sweet scent, which is why it is used to make incense.

sweat bees

We looked at jungle ginger- which is good to put on stings and insect bites. He explained to us the different types of liana (the big hanging vines found in the rainforest). He even invited me to demonstrate the Tarzan move on one of them (Tarzan has much more impressive moves than I did). Interesting fact- there are two different kinds of liana- rough and smooth. People who live in the forest use liana to drink water as it hollow and catches and stores fresh water inside (but you have to be able to tell the difference between the two). The rough liana turns the water bitter and will make your stomach ache; the smooth one which will not.


Ibrahim also taught us how to signal for help if we were to get lost in the jungle (this has happened in the past when people have gone exploring without a guide). First, you find a large tree with a very wide base and super tall roots. Then you take a large stick and hit the roots three times. It makes a very loud, hollow sound that resonates throughout the forest. We also saw butterflies, lizards, bats, and some huge cockroaches!






We reached the first viewpoint which looked outside of the actual park across the Teresek River. We snapped a few photos and stopped for a few minutes to rest. Hiking in that kind of humidity really tires you out!

viewpoint 1

Then we came to the second viewpoint which overlooked Malaysia’s tallest mountain, but it was too cloudy to see it. This view overlooked the park, which extends over 4,343 square kilometers!

viewpoint2 trent


Finally we came to the last part of our tour- the canopy walkway. We were told the rules of the ropes and then we climbed up the stairs to where we would begin. You are not allowed at any time to stop in the middle of the walkways, and it is important to maintain that only a few people are on each walkway or platform at once. This ensures that the weight is evenly distributed and that the trees that support the walkway are never under too much pressure. Since the walkway is only suspended by ropes, the distance also keeps us from swaying all over the place. I let Trent go first so I could snap a few photos of him as he set out across the connected walkways. At each platform we would switch who went first and who manned the camera. It was pretty cool to be up so high, although it was terrifying to look down!

Trent first
me canopy

A canopy

together canopy

a stairs

T walkway

T at the end

We found the canopy walkway to be equally terrifying and exhilarating. Because of how hard we had to focus on trying not to sway, it was hard to fully enjoy the views around us. I would have loved to stop to really look around and snap some photos but the rules strictly prohibit this. I understand the reasons behind it (safety, keeping things flowing), but still, it would have been nice to actually be able to take in the sights around us from that height. We saw firsthand what our guide had told us about how they carefully constructed the canopy walkway without damaging any trees in the process. The entire walkway is held in place by ropes secured around the trees, not a single nail was put in the trees. Really, it was quite impressive!


When we finished with the walkway, we headed back down to the boat that would take us back to home base. We arrived famished! Hiking wore us out! We ate lunch at Mama Chop’s Floating Restaurant and had vegetable curry and chili chicken, both of which were very good. Then we went back to our hotel, showered, changed and took a long, satisfying nap!

back to the boat

mama cho


view from the restaurant

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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


Getting to Taman Negara

During our time in Malaysia, Trent and I spent a few days visiting some very close friends (a blog to come on that too) and then we headed to the oldest rainforest in the world: Taman Negara. We set out early in the morning on an eventful journey that would last us most of the day. Beginning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capitol city, we headed out by teksi to the China Pacific Hotel where we would board a bus that would take us to this esteemed rainforest. Fail #1- the teksi took us to the wrong Chinese hotel… China Oriental, not China Pacific. One is located near the Patronas Towers, while the other (the one we needed) was in Chinatown.

Mandarin Pacific

Thankfully the hotel workers were helpful and got us another Teksi to the correct hotel. Upon arrival, we booked and paid for our trip, and then waited patiently for our departure. As the others arrived, we set out in a comfortable, air-conditioned van. Three hours and a lot of windy road later, we had arrived in the small town Jerantut, where we would take lunch and then get on another boat into Taman Negara. First we finished registering for activities to do when we arrived and then we received our boat tickets. Then we had a nice lunch next door, Kung Pao chicken and Sweet and Sour chicken, both of which were very tasty. We still had some time to kill, so we wandered around this brightly colored, cute town. We wandered down to a mosque, took some pictures by the railroad tracks, and walked down to a park where we swung in the shade before heading back to the restaurant.




cool trees


About an hour after setting out to explore, we left on another bus that would take us to the jeti station. This was a short ride, only about 20-25 minutes. When we arrived, we had more time to kill while our driver got all of our park permits and submitted all the necessary paperwork to the proper authorities. We bought a few snacks and lingered around, anxious to get to Taman Negara. We tried this fruit that neither of us had seen before, a rose apple. It had a very light taste, with a crispness similar to that of an apple. It was pretty good.


Finally, we boarded a tiny, low boat and set out on a three hour tour (sing it with me, Gilligan’s Island fans…).


on the boat

As we set out, we noticed a lot of damaged trees that had been knocked down along the shoreline on both sides of the river. Debris was lodged in the trees or hanging from logs lodged in the river. It certainly appeared that there had been a recent flood. Only later would we find out that there had been a massive flood, the biggest they had ever seen, only about a month before we arrived.

trees down

flood damage

flood damage2

flood damage3

flood damage4

As we went along, we saw a few groups of wild monkeys scampering out of water-side trees and lots of birds. We even saw some sort of large, dead animal lying bloated in a shallow part of the water. We weren’t sure what it was… maybe a wild pig or something. As we glided down the river, we waved to plenty of fisherman and other locals out and about.


dead animal


The ride was really enjoyable- the breeze kept us nice and cool, we were shaded by the covered boat, and watching the gorgeous scenery kept us occupied.


We arrived around 5:30pm and we were exhausted from a full day’s travels. We were super thankful that we had booked our night walk for the following night when we would (hopefully) have more energy. There was a lot of damage even to the town where we were staying. After we arrived, we headed down the river a few minutes and up a super steep hill to check into our hotel, Teresek View Motel. It is a nice, quaint hotel that we really enjoyed.

arriving at the town


Before heading to bed, we wandered back down the hill and ate our dinner at Wan Floating Restaurant, which served as our home base of operations. That first night we ate one of our favorite meals to date- Pataya Fried Rice. We tried this dish at subsequent restaurants during our trip and it was never as good as it was as Wan. This cafe also shows an informational video about Taman Negara every night at 8:00, so we stayed to watch the video and learn some cool facts about the rainforest where we would be venturing the following day. Then we headed back up the hill and headed to bed, ready for our canopy walk the next morning!

Pataya fried rice

floating restaurant

Read more about our canopy walk in the next post…

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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Kinatmani, Bali

Set amidst the backdrop of Bali, Indonesia lies Mt. Batur, one of Bali’s active volcanoes. During our second day of sight-seeing, Trent and I had lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking this gorgeous landform. Arrayed in hues of deep green, blue, and black, the volcano stands proudly next to the freshwater lake Batur that lies glistening at its side. Welcome to Kintamani, Bali, a lovely town with a killer view.


It was suggested to us early on, that if we were going to go to Bali, one of the things that we should do is climb this volcano. Neither Trent nor I had ever climbed a volcano before; mountains, yes, volcanoes, no. So we put it on our list of possible expeditions and began to look into it. Since our time in Bali would be short, we decided (as usual) to pack as much activity into our trip as we possibly could.
Our day began with our tour guides picking us up from our hotel. After watching a traditional Balinese dance and visiting all sorts of cool artistic, sacred and natural places (coffee plantations, rice terraces, temples, painters…), we headed out for this epic adventure. Our day tour was long and full- 11 hours of sightseeing and traveling, and to top it all off, I really didn’t feel well. We arrived back at our hotel around 9:00pm and had planned to hit the road right away. We had been told that Kintamani was about 2 hours away from where we were staying in Seminyak. We asked the staff at our hostel to find us a ride, and we discovered that a taxi was going to cost us an arm and a leg (about 60+ USD), so one of our workers called her brother to see if he would be willing to drive us. He was, and he would only charge us 600,000 rupia instead of the 700,000+ that a taxi would cost. The only catch… he lived an hour away. After much debate, we figured we might as well wait for her brother and catch a ride with him.
He arrived with his girlfriend/wife in tow and we hit the road. I tried to sleep while we were in the car knowing that sleep would be scarce and that we would be hiking soon, but the road was very windy and it was nearly impossible to sleep. After about 2 and a half hours, we were in Kintamani… but we had trouble finding our hotel. At this point it was nearly 12:30am… the tour to hike the volcano was going to pick us up at 3:30am. We weren’t going to get much sleep! When we finally found the place, everything was dark and locked up. We rang the bell, called the office, and made as much noise as humanly possible. It was much colder here and we had all of our luggage- sleeping outside under the covered restaurant wasn’t ideal, but it looked to be our only option. We tried to get our ride to leave us so that they could get back home, but in true Balinese form, they had to make sure we were okay and situated before they left. Thankfully they hung around, because I guess we finally made enough noise to rouse the owner and his wife (and at least one cranky neighbor…oops!). He came out and they translated for us that we had already booked and paid for the night at their hotel, could we please get our room? He groggily fished out a key for us and we dragged our tired selves to our beds. The hotel was nice enough, very simple, but efficient. The only problem we had was that after a full day of sightseeing, our phones and my camera were all on their last leg of power. The hotel didn’t have a single converter so we couldn’t plug in any of our electronics. This meant we would have to be frugal with pictures as we climbed the volcano (Noooooooooo….this is something that I am definitely NOT good at!). We climbed into bed just as the clock hit 1:30am and decided to try to sleep for the hour and a half before we’d have to get back up and ready to climb.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Cursed alarm! 3:00am came way too soon. We got dressed and layered up because we had been told that it gets very cold at the top of the volcano in the morning. Then we went outside to meet our ride. We didn’t wait for long before the car came to pick us up. We climbed in alongside an Aussie couple, Laura and Steve, and drove the 10-15 minutes to the foot of Mt. Batur.

the group

It was here that we met our guide, Wayan. This is the third Wayan we had met on our short trip. We learned that Wayan is the name that they give all of the firstborn boys in Bali. He equipped us with flashlights and we hit the road. My stomach was still feeling pretty unsettled but I prayed for grace as we began our ascent. Everything was pitch black except for the starlight above us and the flashes of lightning that momentarily lit up the sky. We began to climb in silence, with only the bobbing flashlights to follow. The trek began through sand and then turned much steeper as we began climbing the actual mountain. As we climbed, we were serenaded by crickets’ songs and peals of thunder. Up ahead and behind us, and all along the volcano, we could see small bobbing orbs of light, illuminating the way to the top. The climb itself was exhausting (maybe more so because I was sick). We took short, frequent breaks to catch our breaths, and then continued our trek. Sunrise was supposed to happen around 6:20am, so we had a little over 2 hours to get up to the viewing platform. Our group powered through it and arrived ahead of schedule. By this point, my stomach was really hurting and I wasn’t feeling so good. While we rested, Wayan went to cook us breakfast- eggs hard boiled in the volcano itself (apparently it makes a good oven), and warm banana sandwiches (different, but not too bad). I ate what I could stomach and tried to drink plenty of water.



There were some young boys at the top, maybe 10 or 11 years old, who also climbed the mountain in the morning, except each with a haversack full of Coke and Sprite to sell. They weren’t the light, plastic bottles either, these were the heavy duty, glass ones. Trent bought me a sprite, hoping it would calm my stomach, and drank a Coke for himself (I know… those are probably the worst things we could drink after climbing and sweating so much). I choked mine down and went off to the bushes to try and take care of some business. I made my way back and as we waited, more people filtered in and we all sat down, hoping for an epic sunrise. Unfortunately for us, it was cloudy and rainy our entire time on Bali. The clouds made for an unimpressive sunrise, but it didn’t matter because the view of the lake and the city from the top was amazing.



looking back

It got even better when a bunch of monkeys meandered over. Now we had encountered some monkeys the day before that were unfriendly and aggressive to say the least, so we proceeded with caution with these ones. But it turns out that these monkeys were very gentle and friendly. Apparently the guides feed them often and know that they are pretty safe to be around. First they showed one person how to feed the monkeys, and pretty soon everybody was trying it. So Trent and I jumped on that bandwagon, seeing as monkeys are one of my favorite animals. We fed the monkeys pieces of banana and hard boiled egg and enjoyed watching them frolic around the area.



Mt. Batur

Eventually, Wayan rounded us up to go see the crater(s). The first one was the largest one. It was made by the volcano’s first eruption and it was HUGE. As we were looking at the craters, more monkeys happened on by. Trent had saved some extra eggs and had more to feed these guys. He ended up having several different monkeys on him (not all at the same time) and I got a turn too. It was pretty awesome.

t feeding the monkey

t monkey

A- monkey

Then Wayan took us to see the other craters on the volcano. He told us much of the volcano’s history. During the first eruption, the volcano killed 200 people in a town below. All that survived was one lonely temple on the outskirts of the lava flow- they now call this temple the “Lucky Temple.” Other than those people, there have only been a few other fatalities- a German couple who went hiking without a guide ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time because of an eruption, and one stupid lady fell into the crater after going foolishly close. She fell over 200m to her death. Then our small group trekked across the mountain to see a series of other craters left by previous eruptions, the most recent being in 2000. Wayan dug some shallow holes in the ground and we could see the steam and feel the heat rising off of them.

biggest crater

crater smoke



hiking between craters

trent and I

By the time we started back down the mountain, it was well after 8:00am. We had another 2 hour descent ahead of us and my stomach was screaming at me. Unfortunately, it made for a less enjoyable walk. We stopped to dump the sand out of our hiking boots and then started down. Most of the terrain wasn’t too steep, but when we hit the road (which was a different way than we had come up), it was super steep. Wayan started walking backwards and then we all followed, then he started snaking back and forth and again, we all followed. It was a comical parade of crazies descending down the mountain that morning. We all laughed about it.


Finally we made it to the bottom, and to a BATHROOM! Hallelujah! Being stomach sick on vacation is bad enough, but when you are climbing a volcano, it is even worse! We chatted with Laura while we waited for our ride back and found out that she just got engaged… like JUST got engaged. Steve had somehow stolen her away and popped the question on the top of the volcano at sunrise. How romantic, right? So we rejoiced with them and then chatted for the short ride back to our hotel. When we got there we ate a quick breakfast (I just tried to choke down some fruit) and then showered and tried to sleep for another hour or so before we had to check out of our hotel. On to our next adventure… Amed.

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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized