Friday, April 23, 2010


The Cameron Highlands. Doesn't it sound vaguely Scottish? It's not, of course, it's in the interior of Malaysia and it's lovely. The scenery on the drive here on Wednesday was beautiful - big, rolling mountains, lots of greenery, windy roads, and fog/clouds drifting by. The other day I wished for cooler weather and I've certainly gotten my wish. Being in the mountains, I'd say it's about 10-15 degrees cooler, more so at night. I'd booked my room at Daniel's Lodge ahead of time and wondered to myself if my room would have a fan or A/C; it has neither, and believe me, it's not necessary! Daniel's is cool because it has a very pretty garden atmosphere, a nightly bonfire, super hot and very nice showers, and a movie lounge where you can choose from 1000 movies. 

Anyway, you don't really care about the accommodations, do you? The first day we got to Tanah Rata it was late in the afternoon so we just wandered around town, checking things out. There's really not much to see, so it didn't take long. For day two, Rowan and I decided to do some hiking. We picked up a trail map and set off for Trail 10, an easy-ish trek that was guaranteed to have awesome views. Let me just get it out of the way now and say that we made it back safely, but it was with no thanks to the map! Just getting to the trailhead was difficult and after we reached the peak (with the glorious views we were promised), the trail pretty much disintegrated. It was at that point that I realized that we'd made the number one hiker's mistake - we hadn't told anyone where we were going or when we planned to be back. Oops. We ended up coming out onto a main road, but we had no clue which road it was in relation to the crappy trail map we were looking at. And then it started pouring down rain. Good times! :-) Ultimately, I asked a person in a car which direction Tanah Rata was and he pointed towards where Rowan thought we should walk. Long story longer, the man ended up giving us a ride back into town and would not accept the money we offered him as thanks.

For day two in Tanah Rata, Rowan and I signed up for a tour that would take us to a lot of different sights, the biggest draw (for us) being the famed Rafflesia flower. Never heard of it? It's a parasitic flower meaning that it has no roots, stems, or leaves. It's one of the world's largest flowers, it blooms once every five years for one week only, and we just happened to be here for it. I couldn't have planned it better if I tried! Getting to this rare flower involved a 40km ride north, a stop to pick up a local guide, 5km of some serious off-roading, and (finally) a 20 minute walk through primary tropical rainforest. 

Our trek had us hot and sweaty, so we cooled off at a waterfall (which, for Rowan, meant stripping naked and jumping in; the rest of us just waded and rinsed our arms, legs, and faces) before going to a tea plantation. Apparently, a Scottish guy in 1929 decided that the Cameron Highlands had the perfect climate for tea growing. His family now has 3000 acres of tea plantations, and a tea factory and 200 workers to go with it. Our guide told us about tea harvesting and how the five varieties of tea (green, black, herbal, oolong, and white) all come from the same plant; the process of drying and fermenting are what makes them different. And let me tell you. I could barely focus on what he was saying because I was too busy ogling the scenery. Take a look at the accompanying picture to see what I'm talking about. It was crazy beautiful. The tea factory tour (boring) and lunch at the "tea'ria" (overpriced mediocrity) afterwards were both meh.

Next up was the butterfly garden which was actually pretty cool. Go have a peek at some of the things we saw - tons of butterflies (of course), rhinoceros horned beetles, king grasshoppers, huge stick insects, tortoises, orchids galore, all kinds of stuff. I was pleasantly surprised that it was as neat as it was because I was half expecting it to be kind of cheesy. Cheesiness was definitely in the cards, though, because then we headed to the strawberry farm. I suppose in season it would be cool to go here because it's a pick-your-own farm and there's nothing better than fresh picked organic strawberries. Unfortunately, they are out of season now so the strawberries were hard, white/pinkish, and tart.

It was a long day and, after all of that, I needed a nap when I got back to my room! A shower, some yummy delish Indian food, and a picture uploading marathon wrapped up my day.

Tomorrow an eight hour bus trip will have me dropped in the middle of the jungle and posting will be sparse for the next few days. Fair warning for all of you out there who like to worry when you don't hear from me. :-) Kuala Lumpur is on the agenda after that, though, so I'll be back soon! 

* * * * *
All pics - Railay, Georgetown/Pulau Penang, and Tanah Rata - are now uploaded, including the video of the fire spinners from the Rock & Fire show.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds lovely. Thanks for the heads-up on being out of touch. I'll look at all you pics over the next few days. Love ya! And sorry my post made you cry, too. :-(