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Our Taman Negara Road Trip

I'm Shan, together with a buddy of mine, Milkha, I set out on a driving trip to Taman Negara, Malaysia. We started our journey from Singapore on the 3rd afternoon of February 2006.

The true beauty of Malaysia will surface once you get pass the busy and smoky, Johor Bahru. Palm plantations flank you on the left and right when driving through hours of long curvy narrow roads. Alertness and quick motor reflexes are a must, you never know when you might need it; swift, two-wheeler speed demons are always on the gamble for a free ticket to hell. Believe me, you don't want to be the one to send them there.

We drove up the old charming highway 3 towards Kota Tinggi. The old highway offered what the new North-South highway can't---character. As we drove through it, we stopped several times at the all prevalent roadside coffee shops, amidst lush trees and scented country air. The shop's wooden structures denote character; built with simple beam foundation and zinc roofs, they reveal their time tested prowess for survival. Each one we stopped at told slightly different tales, but they all had one thing in common---they brought back memories of our childhood---we used to sit at Sarabat stalls in Singapore, and snacked on goreng pisang or nasik-lemak with teh-tarik.

After passing Kota Tinggi, we sailed uneventfully on the tarmac to Mersing, then, Kuantan . At Kuantan, we stopped at yet another coffee shop for Roti Canai and the proverbial, Teh Tarik.

After dinner, we cruised leisurely along Highway 2 for some two hours. It let us to Maran Town. There was nothing special at Maran town so we headed north-west, which eventually brought us to destination, Jerantut town.

Jerantut town would be an unknown if not for the Sri-Emas Hotels. It is Sri-Emas Hotels that organise tours to Taman Negara, and because of Taman Negara 's popularity, Jerantut Town has become a celebrity of sorts. There are two Sri-Emas Hotels---old and new. But even the new one is pretty old by itself. The newer one was where we stayed the night, and it was there that we met Angie, one of the Taman Negara guides. We booked the package tour at the hotel itself, then, went off for supper at the nearby Jerantut Train Station.

The next mornig, as the hotel didn't provide breakfast, we walked half a kilometre to the popular food centre, just after the Jerantut Train Station. We found the food centre too busy and noisy, so we walked back to the more character-filled Jerantut Train Station. We had curry-puffs and tea at the station's corner coffee shop.

Back at the hotel, we had quick showers then lugged our bags a hundred meters to the older Sri Emas Hotel where lunch was served as part of the Taman Negara tour package. After lunch, we hopped into a small van and headed towards Tembeling Jetty.

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