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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Taman Negara: Day 2: Meeting the Orang Asli

An Orang Asli 'lean-to'
An Orang Asli 'lean-to', used for shelter when it rains... which is most of the time in the rainforests of Taman Negara

It was two days into my six-day solo trek through the ancient rainforests of Taman Negara that I came across the Orang Asli. Orang means 'man' in its generic sense – hence 'orang-utan', or 'man of the jungle' – and the Orang Asli are the original inhabitants of the jungle. Evidence of their existence was obvious from the number of temporary shelters dotted around the place, mainly lean-tos with woven-leaf roofs that could be lowered above a sleeping body to keep out anything except horizontal rain, an unlikely occurrence in the jungle.

1 Sarongs with their ends sewn together to form a kind of cylinder, into which you step and pull the garment over your shoulders; I hadn't seen this design since Tana Toraja in Sulawesi.