It was Wednesday morning, and our last full day in Taman Negara. On our agenda for the day- only one thing- a visit to the Orang Asli tribe, people indigenous to the land. We had a leisurely morning beginning at the Family Restaurant. We began our day with French toast and honey and some eggs and toast. Then we headed next door to Wan Floating Restaurant to book our return tickets for the next day. After all of that was taken care of, we caught a jetty across the river for 1 ringgit each and ventured out to explore the park on our own.
When we got to the other side, we climbed the stairs and took pictures next to the park sign before wandering through Mutiara resort to the walkway beginning. The resort had been absolutely torn apart by flooding and damages. Everything was roped off and under construction. What a pity- I’m sure it had been a gorgeous place to stay!
As we wandered along, we stopped in the park’s visitors center and looked at a map of Teresik Trail along with some information about what kinds of plants and animals we might encounter. Along the walls, there were skulls of animals that resided in the park and some plaques explaining the history of the forest. We spent a few minutes here taking in information, but were anxious to hit the trails ourselves to see what we would encounter.
We set out, paying special attention to the flora and fauna around us. We really didn’t have much of a chance to leisurely enjoy our surroundings on our other two tours- on the canopy tour we were hiking like madmen and the night tour didn’t have much we could see for obvious reasons. There were beautiful flowers, brightly colored insects and birds tucked away high up in branches.
We walked quietly along, hoping for an encounter with some monkeys or some other cool animals. The first major animal we saw was a monitor lizard. Trent saw it first and pointed it out to me. Just below us on the forest floor was this very large lizard that we first encountered in the Philippines. We silently watched him for a while, fascinated by his size and his long, flicking tongue. We snapped several photos and continued on.
We saw other interesting things along the way- big nail marks and scratches on trees, very large droppings, and huge trees. We saw squirrels chasing each other up trees.
Not too long after, we ran into a group of people, likely on a tour, that had stopped and were watching something. We stopped alongside them and saw several monkeys playing around in the surrounding trees. I love monkeys! I had secretly hoped that we would see some (not that we hadn’t already seen several groups of them on this trip) but was trying not to get my hopes up too high. Most of the group continued on, but we stayed along with another couple, snapping pictures and just watching these fascinating creatures. We got to talking and found out that they are also teachers in China- teaching at an international school just outside of Shanghai. Ironically, Stephanie and James were going to be in Qingdao in a few weeks for an MUN conference. What a small world! We stood there and talked with them until long after the monkeys had disappeared and then continued on our separate ways.
As we were leaving, we caught sight of another, much smaller monitor lizard, and snapped his picture before he scurried off into the woods.
We only ventured a little bit further, as the walkway was sectioned off and we could not proceed any further. We wandered back to the deer blind we had sat in the night before and watched for a few minutes, not seeing anything (most life in the rainforest is nocturnal). Then we wandered out into the field. For some reason, it was almost magical. There were beautiful butterflies dancing around each other, dragonflies darting about, and a stillness that was captivating. We were surrounded by greenery and the sun was shining down on us, shimmering off of the small puddles in the field.
When we realized what time it was, we had to head back. I couldn’t believe we’d spent nearly 4 hours exploring on our own! I could have spent all day there! But our next tour awaited us, and our stomachs were also telling us that it was time to return. We turned around and headed back the same way we had come, hopped on the jetty and went back to the other side, eager for some lunch and our next adventure!