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The Cameron Highlands (sounds a bit Scottish!)

semi-overcast 20 °C

We were quite glad to be getting the bus to the Cameron Highlands as we'd had enough of Kuala Lumpur, 3 days is definitely plenty of time. The bus station was a whole experience in itself, completely mad and busy with lots of touts running the place. Our bus was late in leaving as the traffic in KL is so bad that the buses queue for ages to simply get into the station. The long, hot and polluted wait was worth it when we got on the coach, it was like traveling first class! The seats were big, comfy and they reclined much better than normal ones. It was surprising to see that they don't try and fit as many people on a possible – there are only 3 seats in each row cos they are so big! The journey was quite pleasant, spent some time on a motorway which was bizarre after all the small windy roads in Indonesia. Then we started on the mountain road to the Cameron Highlands which was very windy and quite steep in places. There were lots of beautiful views all the way up, I can see why Malaysian people make the trip here. Lots of greenery and hills. We could feel the temperature drop as we climber further up.
We finally arrived in Tanah Rata around 6.30pm where we were greeted by someone from our hostel to take us there which was a nice change. Checked into our room which seemed clean and fine. Our Father's Guest House seemed like a nice place to stay – it certainly has a nice atmosphere and places to chill out. We quickly freshened up and then headed into town for some dinner which was an experience. Our dinner was served onto our banana leaf which I (Lisa) didn't cope with too well as I ended up spilling some dahl on my clothes! Not really an experience I want to repeat as it wasn't that brilliant. Went back to our hostel to have a nice cup of tea (it's grown locally) with some dairy milk cashew, (why can you not buy that one in England?!).
Got up quite early the following day as we were going on an Experience Tour of the area. Had a lovely breakfast (nice to have some choice for a change) then headed off in a 4x4 quite promptly. We stopped on the way to pick up some local villagers who knew where we would be able to find the flower we were going in search of. Our driver put a very wide rope on top of the 4x4 just in case we'd need it later. When the German guy in the front (Henning) asked what for he replied “wait and see”!. We all looked at each other slightly worryingly. It turned out that we did actually need the rope. We climbed up a steep, dirt road and the 4x4 behind us got stuck and we had to pull it out. It was quite an experience to say the least. The people in the 4x4 in front of us certainly enjoyed the experience as they looked on and took some photos! We managed a few photos and Phil took a video of it. Basically the wheels kept spinning as the road (if you can call it that) was really muddy and wet as it had been raining badly. We had to give up (after pulling the other 4x4 out twice) and walk as the 4x4s were struggling. It was a struggle to walk as it was very slippery and muddy. Luckily the locals cut some sticks for us to use. Only 6 of the group (there was 20 of us altogether) wanted one when asked at the start but then everyone decided to have one after trying to walk!
The walk through the jungle was certainly worth it. It was quite hard work at times (we decided to go with the group on the longer trek) mostly because the local villager walked at a very fast pace up hill. When Phil and I were at the front we did our best to keep up but it was a struggle at times. This would have been okay except the guy was at least 60! He clearly does the walk a lot and puts the rest of us to shame. The French people who were then in front did the sensible thing of not trying to keep up with him which helped to ease the pace slightly. We finally made it to see some Rafflesia – one of the biggest flowers in the world. P1010023.jpg They are certainly big but I wouldn't describe them as beautiful or the highlight of the trek. They were worth seeing and it was quite interesting to hear about them. It takes two years for them to germinate and when they eventually flower, they only stay in flower for a few days. After seeing a few a different stages we headed back across the river and down to the waterfall to meet the other group who seemed surprised to see us so quickly as they had only just made it back. Phil had a quick swim in the cold water along with a couple of other guys before we headed back to the 4x4s. We chatted to an English girl from Wiltshire for a while who was nice and friendly.

After the scary ride back down the 'road' we quickly visited the traditional village which is dying out in Malaysia due to the fact that the younger generation don't want to stay there when they grow up. Having seen the village I don't really blame them. Phil had a go with a traditional blow pipe, he did quite well.P1010027.jpg After taking a few pictures we headed on to a place for a late lunch which was cheap and okay. Then we headed to a tea plantation to see the tea leaves growing. Unfortunately the factory is closed at the moment so we didn't get to see the whole thing being process but our guide, Francis, was able to tell us about it. Worst thing was we didn't get to have a cup and I really wanted one! P1010035.jpg

We then headed to the Mossy Forest which was definitely worthwhile. It really was like being in a Narnia or Lord of the Rings film! It was really cool and it felt like we were on an adventure. Francis showed us quite a few plants along the way and told us what they could be used for. He also told us how we could survive in the jungle, something which is useful but something that I hope we don't need to put into practice! The trip finished here (they did take us back to our hostel), it was a long day but a very worthwhile tour and experience and one that we both really enjoyed.

Posted by philnlisa 20:14 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking

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