Monday, May 19th to 23rd
Today we left Phuket; had to get up early to make the long drive back up to the airport. Flew Air Malaysia and all went well, including departing on time, something we never experienced with the other two airlines we’ve flown with so far.
We flew into Kuala Lumpur. As we were driving in, we noted that it was very clean with modern homes, buildings, toll ways – very good infrastructure. We checked into the JW Marriott Hotel. This was totally on Doug’s Marriott account; all that traveled paid off big time. We got three free nights here. This is a five star hotel, which we’ve never stayed in. We had a junior suite which was amazing and lots of upgrades and freebies, due to Doug’s Platinum status. It began to rain quite hard after we checked in so we opted to stay inside, went to member’s get together on the 24th floor for drinks and gourmet appies – made that our dinner. In preparation for our tour the next day, the thoughtful staff prepared a care package for any leeches we might encounter.
We were picked up after breakfast by the tour company taking us to the national park for a three day two night stay. We were bussed about three hours and then put on a boat to travel 69 kms which took another three hours up the Tembeling River. We saw some hawklets, a group of water buffalo in the water and a water monitor lizard walking along the shoreline.
Taman Negara National Park is a 130 million year old rain forest in north eastern mainland Malaysia. There has never been any logging here and there are over 70 species of palm in the park as well as half the world’s species of ginger.
We arrived at a floating restaurant and walked up to the resort we had booked. Nothing fancy but clean and had AC.
We walked back down to floating restaurant for the included dinner and a film about the park. Nothing exciting about dinner. After dinner we joined a night walk in the jungle. We saw spiders, giant ants, a tapir, lizards, stick insects, a bird eating spider, lizards and millipedes. Luckily (for Fran) we encountered no leeches which this park is well known for. Doug was hoping to get some (probably on Fran!) The next morning we hiked up a mountain (very sweaty) then did the Canopy Jungle Walk which is touted as the longest canopy in the world but we had the misfortune of doing it on a Wednesday, which meant half was closed for maintenance. It was cool though and there were two lookout spots en route which had great views of the jungle. That afternoon we took a short boat through some rapids to a local tribal village. The Chief showed us how they make poison darts for their blow gun. Doug got to try a blow gun and came close to the target. The chief also showed us how to make fire without an ignition source and he did it in under a minute! We enjoyed this part of the village visit but felt very uncomfortable when everyone was let free to roam the village including wandering in people’s huts – we just went to the beach and waited for departure, rather than invade the peoples’ homes.
The final day was mostly a travel day to get back to the Marriott to languish in luxury for a couple more days of sightseeing. The highlight of which was the PETRONAS Towers tour. The weather cooperated after starting out with very low visibility. We were on the first tour of the day. We benefited from having fewer tourists on our visit – not crowded at all and easy to get views/pictures. We went up to the sky bridge where you get about fifteen minutes to wander. The bridge actually has two levels: one for tourists and one for people working in the buildings to gut between them (mostly in case of emergency). Next we were taken up to the 86th floor for 360° views.
We then walked back to the hotel to drop of the umbrellas (it had threatened rain when we headed out) and checkout the IT mall – exclusively IT stuff with lots of competition – we were able to get a new underwater camera to replace the one that got a leak, with everything needed thrown in. We proceeded for drinks at the Skybar, which is on a hotel rooftop beside a pool. Was quite empty as most people want to go at night and we got our pick of seats, with a great view of the PETRONAS Towers. Enjoyed imagining what the contestants on Amazing Race went through when they visited the Sky bar and had to mix drinks. We ended the day at the Marriott members club, being spoiled and overfed.