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Photo from trip to Taman Negara

By Leanne Yuen

What better way to learn about the wonders of Malaysia than by experiencing it first hand! On 4 August 2008, ELS Petaling Jaya and Just English Sdn Bhd jointly organised a 5-day 4-night exploration camp for 32 students at Taman Negara (National Park). Their nationalities consisted of Yemenis, Koreans and Chinese, and their ages ranged from 12 to 20. Everyone had a wild, wet and wonderful time.

The youth camp offered ELS students exciting opportunities to practise English, make friends from around the world and experience the secrets of Taman Negara – ‘the oldest jungle, the best kept tropical rainforest and a great natural wonder of the world’!

Day One

The enthusiastic youths boarded a bus from Kuala Lumpur at 9.00 a.m. and arrived at Kuala Tahan at 1.00 p.m. After checking into the air-conditioned Agoh Chalet, everyone tucked into their lunch and was eager for their first adventure – the cave exploration at Gua Telinga.

The guide divided the students into three groups and briefed them about wearing life jackets and other safety measures before steering them into three long canoe-like boats to get to Gua Telinga.

Visiting the cave was a wondrous experience with the sight of millions of bats clinging upside down on the cave walls. You could actually reach out and touch them – that’s how close they were! The ELS team was lucky enough to enter the cave as this is not possible during the rainy season when the floor of the cave gets flooded by the river.

In the evening, the group went for a night jungle walk. There were seven look-out towers or ‘hides’ as they are called. This is where people stand and watch as the animals come near the man-made ponds and swamps.

Day Two

After a hearty breakfast, the ELS team was set for botanical jungle trekking – 6km of it! It was a real experience witnessing the tropical flora and fauna and even poisonous creatures like scorpions and huge cave centipedes.

Part of the jungle trekking included a canopy walk which is said to be the longest canopy walkway in the world! It consists of 10 bridges with a span of 1.5 to 2km in total and a height of 500 ft. The bridges are connected from tree to tree! The walkways are narrow and the students were advised to hold on to the sides of the canopy and to walk 5 to 10 metres apart.

The last part of the trek was climbing Teresik Hill. It was very steep but well worth it for the aerial view of Taman Negara.

After lunch, the ELS team was off riding rapids at Jeram Dedari. In three boats, with 12 people in each boat, they sped down the river and through the rapids.

After getting drenched, it was time to dry out at the Orang Asli village. The team learned how to use a blowpipe and make a fire using wood and rotan. As part of community service, the students donated RM5 each to the village head. After that, it was time to get wet again – swimming at a nearby river.

In the evening, team building activities were done with the students, and a briefing was given on the next day’s activities.

Day 3

After checking out of the chalet, the team made its way to the Lata Berkoh base camp which was 8km away – yes, more trekking! The tent equipment, etc was sent by a boat to lighten the students’ load. At the campsite, tents were pitched, food rations and cooking equipment were distributed and all were set for a camp cook out. In the afternoon, the students went for a swim at a waterfall nearby.

Adventure living in the jungle seldom goes without a story. That night one of the students’ tents collapsed in the rain, so they had to dive into the tent next to them to stay dry.

Day 4

The students participated in a fish conservation programme in which people can ‘adopt a fish’. The conservation guide gave each student one small ikan kelah (Malayan masheer) to release into the river and a huge one that was worth over RM1,000 for the group to release. Before the big fish was released, everyone wanted to have their photo taken with it. The conservation guide presented a certificate to each participant for taking part in this fish adoption programme.

Since there was ample time before lunch, the team canoed at the nearby rapids in Lubuk Tenor or the fish sanctuary. They learned how to paddle using the oars, wear a life jacket and how to swim with a life jacket on. This is called ‘water confidence’.

Day 5

Immediately after breakfast, the closing ceremony was conducted. There was certificate giving and picture taking. Then it was time to check out of the chalet. Before heading back home, a video of the elephants was shown at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. Because the students had to return to KL earlier than expected, they did not have time to clean, feed, ride and bath the elephants.

There is so much to see and do at Taman Negara, so if you have not been there, sign up for the next camp!