“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”- John Muir, Father of National Parks.
I don’t hate modern technology and the comforts of modern, civilized city. But, we are getting too dependent on them, it’s unhealthy and borderline addictive. It hit me that I was one of those addicts when I freaked out that Taman Negara Pahang has no wi-fi or 3G! How am I going to get in touch with everyone? What if an important email comes in? Will I miss out on an important news or announcement?
So I took up the challenge for a gadget-free weekend of ‘Digital Detox’. Deprived of the 21st century amenities except for a simple room with mattress and running water, I embarked on a simpler way of life. Electricity and telephone reception was available, but it was unstable. We weren’t deprived of food, but it was a non-fussy ‘kampung’ method of cooking.
I tried not to dwell on what was not available. Instead, I wanted to focus with the fact that I was in one of the oldest rainforest in the world. Surely there is plenty to look around then looking at the screen of my phone. My friend and I walked around the small village, chatted with other visitors and locals while waiting for our night walk.
After dinner, we proceeded with our night walk. Some of the interesting animals and insects we spotted were:
A docile, domesticated tapir comfortably taking a nap despite surrounded by a crowd. According to the guide, the tapir was orphaned since it was a baby so park rangers raised him instead. From time to time, it will appear on the hotel ground.
A trip to the rainforest would not be complete without any jungle trekking. The highlight of the trekking was a canopy walk and the view on Bukit Terisek. It was a very mild hike as most of the path had platforms or stairs, so it’s suitable for family trips or beginners. We went to an Orang Asli (aboriginals) settlement too to learn about their culture and way of life. Since this National Park is protected, it is interesting to note that only a few of the Orang Asli tribes are allowed to hunt and harvest in the jungle as they are still living their traditional, nomadic way of life.
Canopy walk. The suspended bridge was hanging 40-50 meters above the ground.
The hike to the top of Bukit Terisek for a view of Gunung Tahan, the highest point in the Peninsular of Malaysia. It’s about 7 days of hiking and trekking to get to the top from Kuala Tahan.
Our last activity was called “Rapid Shooting”. As the name suggests, the guide will zoom us on the Tembeling River with a lot of splashing, and ending it with a swim in the river. By this point, we realized that there is no point in bringing along our gadgets. We locked them safely back in our room. We did not have any camera to capture the moment, but the fun memories were safely stored in our brains for us to relive it over and over again. While everyone was fumbling with keeping their phones/ cameras dry and busy pressing buttons, we did not have to pose for photos, we weren’t concerned if our gadgets will get wet or fall into the river – We were totally focused on living in the moment! It was very liberating.
In the end, I didn’t manage to totally cure myself from depending too much on the comforts of modern society, and I don’t think I ever will be. But it did made me think about “So what did I miss out on?” The main answer was: Nothing much. People will still proceed as their normal lives would, and the world will continue to spin like it should. Perhaps I should go for another round of ‘Digital Detox’, this time it will be longer than 2 days.
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner