So me and Fiona set off on the 3 hour bus journey to Kuala Tembeling. This is just a small village/jetty location with a couple of good value restaurants and some offices offering places to stay within the national park. The whole journey was 60 Ringitts ($20)
According to the 'Take the Path Less Travelled' website, which is well worth a look: "Most travellers, especially ones on tour packages, are dubbed into believing the only way to reach Kuala Tahan gateway is by chartered boat at Kuala Tembeling. Well, the fact is, you CAN drive into the park yourself. There is a rural road (C163) that takes one straight to Kuala Tahan village side from Kuala Tembeling, where most budget hotels and chalets are found (DIY travellers, pay attention to this!). The road is a good option if you arrive Kuala Tembeling late and there’s no boat available."
As we found out later, a bus can be got to Jerantut and on to Temerloh so no need to do the river trip twice. But the river trip is a good way to get to Taman Nagara. The boats are relatively peaceful compared to some long-tailed boats in other parts of Asia as they use Japanese outboard motors, which makes for a very pleasant journey.
So after lunch we got on the small boat to Kuala Tahan which takes another 3 hours and does get a little uncomfortable as there is a shortage of room for long legs, but the views make up for a little bit of discomfort.
Upon arrival I was a little disorientated and didn't quite know where to go. We knew we didn't want to go with Han on a package type tour, preferring to get off the beaten track and save a bit of money. We were trying to do the trip on $20 to 30 a day and that would never be possible with Han. I had read somewhere that there were cheaper places to stay across the river and it was worth paying the 1 Ringitt to go across the river. However, I was mistaken and the only accommodation across the river was from 60 Ringitt a night each in a Dorm room to 1500 Ringitts. So after meeting some body builder types who had arrived a few hours ago and had set off for a hide about 3 kilometres from the river but had been put off by the 20 leeches each had had to remove from their boots on the short one-way trip and were leaving to catch the bus that evening for anywhere but "this hellhole" without having seen any animals (unless you count leeches).
So back across the river to search for somewhere to stay. The first bungalow place we tried was full, which was a bit worrying, and it was starting to rain heavily. It was near the end of the rainy season and we were in a rainforest, so it wasn't too surprising. The friendly people at the bungalows suggested we go through their gardens and look behind the place, which we did. There was a hotel behind which was from 50 to 90 Ringitts. I waited there while Fiona went looking for a room. While I waited I was told about a chalet with a double and single bed available for 60 Ringitts with fan and cold water shower. When she eventually got back from the other bungalow places which were well away from the centre and a bit manky, we decided to stick with the chalet and talked them into 50 Ringitts a night, and it turned into a good place to stay. Not a great view, of Woodlands car park, but birds and a squirrel in adjacent trees gave us something to look at as we sat on our balcony drinking the vodka Fi had brought with her.
Alcohol is very expensive in Malaysia and even more so at Kuala Tahan and so a bottle of vodka was very useful. There were two places you could get beer there, at Woodlands Resort where it was 10 Ringitts a small can, or across the river where it was 18 Ringitt for a glass of draught Tiger. So not a place for heavy drinkers with long pockets and short arms.