When Nature calls

by Karen Scammell

This story is part of our 'Unforgettable hotel nights' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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It was the middle of monsoon season deep in the rainforest of the Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia. We had been lucky enough to enjoy wonderful sunshine and great views of grazing cattle, basking monitor lizards, and wandering monkeys during our three hour boat ride to the hotel, but walking back from the restaurant to our room that evening the heavens opened and it was like nothing we had ever experienced in England.

The rain pounded on our chalet roof and drowned out even the sound of the air-con, but as we slowly drifted to sleep it eased off and gave way to the most amazing sounds of the jungle. The cicada and other insects make such a loud, high-pitched sound for their size, but it seemed magical and hypnotic and was amazing to fall asleep to, knowing that the next day we would be able to go and explore the home of such amazing creatures.

In the nights that followed we went on night walks and managed to put images to the sounds we heard as we fell asleep each night. The forest teems with nocturnal insects, reptiles and amphibians that manage to hide themselves from view so well during the heat of the day. Some were so bizarre-looking, they seemed like aliens from another world giving us just a small glimpse into their secretive and strange lives.

Unfortunately, the way we were woken up was not as wonderful as the way the jungle had slowly sung us to sleep on that first night. At 4am somebody was knocking heavily on our door and I could hear shouting outside. Thinking that there was an emergency or a fire, I ran to the door and opened it to be met with a member of staff who then just smiled and turned to walk away! I stopped him and asked him what he had been doing and he told me that it was a morning wakeup call that we had ordered.

After correcting him, we drifted back to sleep for a while.... only to be woken up again (albeit at a more agreeable time!) by dull thuds and pattering on the roof. After stepping out of the door in my pyjamas for the second time that morning, I could make out the cheeky chattering and howling of a troop of friendly macaques that had been picking fruit from the trees by the chalet and dropping it on the roof. It more than made up for the bodged wakeup call, and we had the best breakfast ever sitting on the veranda outside sharing fruit with the monkeys, reliving our amazing first night and dreaming of the great nights that were ahead.

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