Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taman Negara & the Perhentians

Random ramblings

It’s odd how many of my blogs, to the unknowing reader, are titled in a fashion that could be mistaken for some emerging alternative musical ensemble. It’s not though, it’s just where we’ve been for the past 2 weeks. Whilst we had splendid Internet in Taman Negara you can’t very well blog about what you’re currently doing, as you are currently doing it. Now that we’re in the Perhentian Islands (where I’m writing this part of the blog) we don’t have Internet, splendid or otherwise so you will be waiting until we’re back in KL to sort out our visas before you can read about what we did nearly 2 weeks ago – very confusing isn’t it?

Taman Negara

Taman Negara for all you non-Malaysian speakers means National Park – whilst it isn’t the only National Park in Malaysia it’s the only one bearing this name which speaks for itself. Imagine jungly rainforest punctuated by winding, fish-filled rivers and animals such as monkeys, tigers, elephants, deer and reptiles of all descriptions and you’ve thought of the right place. We were here to stretch our legs a bit more after our warm-ups of the Cameron Highlands. Using the trusty Lonely Planet we planned out some little “familiarity walks” leading up to a whopping (for us) 25km day-hike. Taking a relaxing and nap-inducing 2 hour boat ride we arrived at the picturesque town of Tanah Rata, nestled alongside the confluence of 3 rivers. Arriving at the heat of the day and burdened with more luggage than Alexander the Great (and he had elephants), we were a little dismayed at the steep sand embankment we had to climb and greatly dismayed to discover at the top there was a steeper bitumen road to walk up. Starting to warm up and slightly out of breath we made our way to the first of the accommodation options where we were shown some nice bungalows with Air-con and attached bathrooms for $17. “Sold“ I said, and was puzzled by Miriam’s frown, who thought we should look for a better or cheaper option. After a bit of intense discussion that travelling sometime brings out, I put my foot down and decided that we should look for a better or cheaper option. After about an hour of traipsing around the countryside, up and down staircases, all the while carrying our lead-laden packs we arrived back at the first place, fully satisfied that this was the option for us.

The next day we woke up and moved to a cheaper accommodation option ($8) and for the next 3 days did a number of walks which, whilst walking, were very interesting and whilst reading about them, would send you to sleep. We were very impressed by the wildlife encountered with highlights being gliding lizards, wild pigs, deer, monitor lizards and fresh elephant poo. I’m keen to go back there one day armed with a fishing rod as we also saw plenty of nice fish being landed by the locals. After our 4 days we were a bit tired and sore, looking forward to our next bit of beach-going where we could rest our weary legs.


We were waiting for some money to clear into our main bank account before arriving at the Perhentian Islands so we decided to make a couple of 1-2 night stops up the east coast at Kuantan, Cherating and Kuala Terranganu, the best of these being Cherating where in typical Crouch Potato fashion we did nothing but read books by the beach, so lazy in fact that we didn’t even dip our toe in the water as the tide took the water 200m out. We met a pretty interesting Malaysian guy called Edward who has worked all over the world for an oil company and our discussions covered Immigration policies, surfing, religion, Oz/Malaysian cultural differences and fishing – he even invited us to go fishing at his riverside home but we were leaving the next day. We also met a guy at the hamburger stand where we were getting a cheap tea that had started his own company and has now handed it to his sons to manage while he travels around the world, we chatted for quite a while and we were very embarrassed when he insisted he pay for our dinner!

Perhentian Islands

I’m pretty sure all the photo’s you ever see on travel brochures are taken here – blue, crystal clear water on palm-fringed white sand beaches and easy access coral made this place one of our favorite destinations in Malaysia. We were in a nice chalet with sea views and spent almost every day trying another spot to snorkel from, or just relaxing on the beach or balcony. The variety of fish around the coral reefs was excellent and we didn’t tire of it although I had to cut back on my diving down as I started having a few ear issues (they’re fine now). One day we went on a snorkeling tour and were able to swim with giant sea turtles over 1 metre long and also some small reef sharks. I’ve always been pretty disappointed with other places I’ve been to when snorkeling and this is the first place since the Great Barrier Reef (honeymoon, 2000) that really floated my boat.


We were in KL for 2 nights to confirm our Indian visa and have finally received it with our arrival back in India in about 2 weeks. Before heading off we are going to Melaka for 2 days and then spending a week on Tioman Island – supposedly another great beach/snorkeling location.


  1. Hey, somebodies put on some weight; and it's not Miriam!!!!!

  2. I think the accountant in your marriage is going to struggle with paying $3 for a coffee in Australia when (and if) you return.