Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

On arriving in Malaysia, I had been quite surprised as to how dramatically more developed it was in comparison to Thailand. Yes, there are large areas of Thailand that seem well on their way, however the parts of Malaysia I saw showed little signs of lack of development. Skyscrapers and other impressive buildings gave this impression, along with fully operational roads on which people even seemed to stay in lane - a rare occurrence in Thailand! On Penang, whilst some areas were a little shabby, I thought the same applied. However I noticed a lot of differences in the landscape throughout the journey to the Cameron Highlands. Especially in the more rural places

Alec, Andy, Steve and I left Georgetown around 8am in a cramped, poorly air-conditioned minivan. At first I attempted to sleep as I'd not got to bed until around half 3 and was pretty hungover following several rounds of drinking games with some other guys from our hostel, but it soon became apparent that wasn't going to happen. The roads were bumpy and busy and our driver wasn't exactly taking it easy. After about an hours driving, the landscape was no longer grey and crowded with buildings; instead it was completely green with the odd outcrop of rock here and there. It took us about 4 hours to reach Tanah Ranta, the village in the Cameron Highlands where we were staying. From a recommendation we headed to Father's guest-house: the dorm was hilarious! There must have been almost 20 single beds dotted around in a large, completely open room. It was only 15RM a night (£3) which I thought was incredible. It's probably the strangest dorm I've ever stayed in, but nice all the same.

The temperature was a lot cooler than anywhere I'd been since leaving the UK so it wasn't long before I'd changed into my jeans and a hoody. We headed into town for a look around and some food - I got vegetable fried noodles which I think, aside from the samosas, was probably the best food I'd had since arriving in Malaysia. None of us had much enthusiasm to do much for the rest of the day so we chilled out in the dorm. I would definitely recommend staying in Father's, however, other than for breakfast, I would not advise anyone to eat there. Our meal was awful! It had been pouring down with rain so instead of going back into town we took advantage of the "restaurant" on site which we soon regretted.

The Cameron Highlands are known for two things; Tea and rainforest walks. Our first full day we all decided to find some of the trails through the rainforest. It took us a while to find any of them at first but once we started on one we seemed to jump about on 3 or 4 different paths. The ups were relentless - continuous steep incline made more difficult by the fact that the path was essentially natural steps from the roots of the tree. However as with most intense ups, there was a pretty awesome down...Running and jumping down the trail was great fun, naturally I slipped a couple of times but that's only to be expected! Sadly when were were at the top it was clouded over so we didn't get any amazing views but it was good fun. Our route took us about 3 hours and when we finished we realised we'd a sort of horse shoe and it did actually look like we'd walked quite a way.

Tea Plantation
I'd not been feeling 100% for a while but that afternoon it peaked quite badly. I spent a good few hours in bed with various painkillers and hot drinks to help and after a bit of sleep, I did begin to feel a bit better. The Cameron Highlands is a lovely setting during the day, but it soon becomes apparent that there isn't a lot to do in the evening. After getting food, we spent several hours playing card games: a popular way to pass the time yet after playing the same games over and over again it does become a bit tiresome.

Mossy Forest
The next morning I still didn't feel great but Steve and I had decided to do a half day trip booked through the hostel. We started off by visiting one of the Tea Plantations and I have to admit the view was actually really impressive. As we walked around we saw workers picking the tea: we were told that this was the smallest plantation but it was massive! After this, we were driven to the entrance of the Mossy Forest. Our guide was very informative throughout the trip but especially so when it came to plants and wildlife in the jungle or in the forest. He showed us two different leaves: the first to use should you get muscle cramp and the second the stop the bleeding if you get "leeched". When in the Mossy Forest he pointed out Pitchers to us, they were quite impressive too. The Mossy Forest itself was really mystical almost - the way the trees covered in moss intertwined with each other and the cobwebs, it kind of looked like something out of a mythical film. From there we walked to the viewpoint tower, where, in theory, you get the best views of the Highlands but yet again it was completely clouded so I got a photo of the view tower and that's about it! Next, we were taken to the Tea Factory where we could see the process of the tea leaves being turned into what we drink but to be honest by this time we were more interested in stopping off in the cafe for a brew! The final stop of the tour was the Butterfly Farm - not something I was overly enthused about going to but it was nice to see the difference butterflies and all the other insects and animals that can found in Malaysia.

It was around mid afternoon when we returned to the hostel and again I really wasn't feeling well. I didn't do much other than book my bus to Kuala Lumpur until the guys were going for food. I went with them but only ended up getting a plain chappati as it was about all I could stomach! It was my last night with the lads so I was a bit gutted I felt so rough. They proceeded to play drinking games so I sat and laughed at their misfortune. I did eventually begin to feel more human again so I did have a bit of a laugh with them later on.

This morning I left them and headed down to Kuala Lumpur (KL) ... Lets see what the city has to offer!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kirstie, we stayed at fathers guest house when we were there too, crazy huts! Had a great time in the rainforests and plantations also. Kuala Lumpur is prety cool, the petronas towers are astounding at night and there are some really good markets and restaurants. More expensive there though and has the good and bad sides of a huge city. Keep your eyes open. Tony. x