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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Taman Negara: Walking the Rainforest

Here are a few walking highlights from the place that orang-utans, tigers and elephants call home: the Malaysian rainforest of Taman Negara.

Humidity

Mark in the rainforest
It may not look too bad now, but when I took this photo, I was drenched from head to foot from the humidity

You hear about the humidity in the tropics, but unless you've been deep into the jungle, you haven't got a clue. The common perception is that humidity makes you sweat, but that's not strictly true; humidity makes you condense.

Rain

This isn't a whinge; trekking into the rain forest and moaning about the weather would be like visiting a big city and moaning about the crowds, but the rain in tropical jungle definitely deserves a mention.

Leeches

A leech attached to Mark's finger
I got rather attached to the leeches of Taman Negara, quite literally

As I have said many times before, every park has its resident pest, be it the dingo, the rat, the monkey or the sandfly, but in Taman Negara it's the leech.

A leech attached to Mark's shin
Another leech enjoying some succulent blood, this time from my shin

Ants

Ants are no big deal, right? We see them every day, milling around the garden, clearing up the detritus of nature and recycling it endlessly. Who could be scared of ants?

Mozzies

I include the lovable mozzie in this list simply because I have to get in an anti-mosquito dig at every opportunity. Not only are the tropical mozzies plague-like in their proportions, they have the added bonus of possibly being malarial. To be honest, the chances of getting malaria in Peninsular Malaysia are incredibly slim, but where there's a chance, there's a chance, and it's just another challenge to rise to.

Spiders

I don't mention spiders because they're nasty, spindly and poisonous, and make lots of people scream and run a mile. Personally I'm more spooked by cockroaches than spiders, if only because it takes a hell of a lot more to kill a cockroach than a spider; no, spiders are included here because of their webs.

Kilometre Markers

A jungle signpost at Kuala Perkai
A jungle signpost at the fishing lodge, Kuala Perkai

These are a good thing, unless they lie. Then they are a bad thing. A very, very bad thing.

Fallen Trees

The rainforest near Kuala Perkai
Where there are trees, there are fallen trees

Trees die, fall, rot and turn into topsoil; that's the essence of the jungle, the way it constantly recycles its nutrients, and it's the reason that fungi and insects play such an important role in the cycle of life here. But fallen trees can really get on your nerves if you're not into eating dead wood.

Rivers and Streams

An essential part of any ecosystem, streams are not only a wet experience, they're muddy too. Stepping cleanly through a stream isn't an option; on each bank the mud oozes over your ankles, threatening to suck you in further if you're not quick enough.


1 A handy tip I picked up in Shark Bay. Take 70 per cent baby oil and 30 per cent Dettol, mix and smear on your body for the ultimate insect repellent. The sandflies stick to the baby oil and die, and the mozzies simply hate the smell of disinfectant. It worked a treat for me in Australia and New Zealand, and it beats paying a fortune for normal sprays. It's more effective, too.