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Entries about highlands

Last day in the Cameron Highlands....and more rain

rain 19 °C
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Last night we had one of the worst night sleeps since leaving the UK. We were constantly woke up by dogs barking, car and motorbike engines and people shouting. We heard a few noises on our first night here, as there as several local neighbours to the guesthouse this is to be expected but nothing like last night. The dogs were the worst, constantly barking, it seemed like each one was trying to be louder than the last. Needless to say we slept in this morning as we were just so tired.

When we finally dragged ourselves out of the guesthouse we went for breakfast. We wanted to try something new so we had Thosia. This is a large rice flour pancake that comes with curried dips similar to a Roti. We enjoyed it, but we both agreed that we prefer Roti. Thankfully the restaurant had nice strong coffee which gave us a much needed boost.

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After breakfast we decided to go on one of the many jungle treks that are scattered throughout the highlands. We chose to walk to Robinson Falls, a waterfall that was within an hours walk but was also supposed to be one of the best. The first fifteen minutes of the walk was spent finding the jungle path, which was located off a side street from the main road. We then had to cross a bridge and follow a cobbled path for the first 100 metres or so before we were on a proper jungle trail. We should mention that just ike yesterday it has been raining pretty much all day, so alot of the path was slippery. We carried on however, getting our money's worth out of our rain macs.

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We could here the waterfall almost immediately, the first part you see are similar to rapids, where the river starts to quicken downhill towards the falls. We carried on walking along the trail through quite thick jungle, until we came to the the waterfall. It was loud but was not as big as we were expecting. At this point the trail split in two, to the left dense jungle and about a 90 minute walk to a Chinese temple, to the right a steep decline, following the water that eventually lead to a power station. Not bothered about a power station we chose to go left, but we were not willing to walk 90 minutes to the Chinese Temple either as that would have meant at least two and half hour walk back to the beginning of the trail we were on. We carried on for another twenty minutes or so to see if there was another view of the falls but the trail started to deteriorate quickly and once Liam slipped we knew it was time to turn around. Our jungle trek had lasted around two hours by the time we got back to the main road.

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Two things are grown in abundance in the Cameron Highlands. tea and strawberries. That led us to think that scones and tea would be great. We set off knowing of a place that we had seen earlier that claims to make homemade scones and jam, unfortunately when we arrived they didn't have any scones and would not be making anymore until later. Fed up of walking around in the rain by this point, we went back to our guesthouse to dry off.

For our last meal in the Highlands we went for curry as were disappointed by the Chinese we had last night. Liam had tandoori with naan and dips, and Chelsea had a mutton curry with rice and naan. Both were excellent. Chelsea also met a new friend, an Indian man that worked at a rival Indian restaurant, he stood proudly wearing his Manchester United cap and was constatly staring at her, he talked to her everytime we walked past. It was still early once we had eaten to so we went to a cafe that we visited on our first night here and had a drink rather than go back and sit in the guesthouse we had seen too much of already.

We both have enjoyed the Cameron Highlands but are a little disappointed by Tanah Rata, the town we have stayed in. We love the scenery and enjoyed the trek in the jungle and our day yesterday in the tea plantation, but the town has been underwhelming compared to the rest of our trip so far. We do not like how commercialised the area is and the fact that it has been raining for almost three days has not helped. We have booked ourselves on a bus tomorrow morning at 9am that will take us straight to Georgetown, Penang where will spend Christmas. We are both looking forward to that.

Posted by Chelsandliam 04:26 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia cameron highlands Comments (6)

A Day of Tea and Rain in the Cameron Highlands

rain 18 °C
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Today we woke up to the sound of heavy rain, by the time we got up and ready it had passed so we rushed to catch the local bus that comes every two hours to the Sungai Palas Boh tea estate, as we had read it is the best one and the easiest to do on your own rather than as part of a tour. The bus journey itself was an experience. There was the most random compilation of songs blaring from the speakers the whole way, from the YMCA to 'Wait a minute Mr Postman'. It was surreal and we couldnt stop smiling everytime a new song came on. It did however make the usually difficult job of explaining where we were going to the Malay conductor that bit harder. The bus dropped us off on the main road and there were some roadside shops and vegetable stalls where we decided to have some breakfast at before walking the 'short journey' to the plantation, the sign said 2km. We both had Nasi Lemak, a coconut rice dish which seemed to have some sort of fish curry on the side and a frie egg. It is a traditional Malaysian breakfast and although it doesn't sound that appealing it was really nice.

We then set off on the walk to the plantation and it soon became apparent that it wasn't just a short walk but as we climbed the views over the hills of bright green tea were beautiful. In amongst it you could see the tea pickers with there baskets on there backs. The road was narrow and a lot of cars were zooming past and we seemed to be the only fools to walk it up. It started to rain heavy about half way and we had to put our rain macs on (and finally get some use out of the umbrella we bought in KL) but the whole route provided lovely scenery. The clouds were low and there was a mist over the top off the hills. Once we got closer the tea grows on either side of the road so we were walking through it. Up close it grows in rows in little bushes so there is a maze of little paths that the pickers walk on.

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At the bottom of the valley just before the plantation there is a small village, with houses, a few shops and a temple which were surprised by. The plantation itself was extremely busy and we now know where all the cars whizzing past us were going... for a brew in the tea shop. Chelsea managed to get us a good seat while Liam queued for a drink. The tea shop sits on a hill in a glass box with a veranda that overlooks all the valley and hills of tea so the view is worth the walk. The place was crazy busy with tourists and children which slightly ruined it as it was extremely noisy but we have since found out it is school holidays so that is why.

We both shared a pot of 'Bukit Cheeding' garden tea which was described as similar to a strong breakfast tea and it was yummy. The tea strainer made us laugh though as it was a big plastic thing like a sieve. We had a piece of cake with our brew and sat for a while admiring the view and listening to children scream and cry.

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Once we couldn't stand it anymore we left and went for a walk around the factory where they process the tea leaves. The whole place smelt like really strong tea and thousands of leaves were being crushed, sorted and bagged. We were actually suprised by the size of the factory, it was really small which makes us think that it just a tourist area and the main factory must be somewhere else.

We then decided to make our way back. It started to rain heavy again so we tried in vain to get a taxi, but they were all full, we even tried to hitch hike back to the main road but no-one was interested and many of the cars were full with families. We just decided to walk the '2k' back to the main road and get a taxi from there. Luckily after around ten minutes the rain eased and we actually enjoyed the walk. Once at the main road we managed to get a taxi to bring us back to the town we are staying in.

We went out for tea late which was a mistake as the street stalls had started to run out of things, we had chicken and rice which wasn't the best meal we have had but it was cheap and filled us up. After a stroll we went for a hot drink again. Liam had a Coffee Tarik (the sweet coffee we secretly love) and Chelsea had a cup of Cameron tea.

Tomorrow we are planning to have a relaxing day, maybe a walk to a waterfall and to book a bus to Penang for thursday.

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia cameron highlands Comments (3)

Our Hilltop Retreat, the Cameron Highlands

sunny 19 °C
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Not alot has happened today, we spent most of our day on the bus from KL to the Cameron Highlands. We checked out of our guesthouse at KL with no issues and actually managed to find the bus we needed and to get on without a hitch (alhough we did pay more than we thought). By 10:45 we were on our way. The only negative was that we were not sat next to each other on the bus, the seats were arranged in rows of 2's and then single file and our tickets were for the single file seats.

The bus journey was long, four and half hours it took to go around 200km. This was partly due to a stop at a petrol station and another pit stop for a toilet break but mainly it was due to the accent into the hills. We were climbing for around an hour and half. Snaking our way through thick jungle, on one side solid vegetation on the other a sheer drop, at times it appeared we came perilously close to the edge. There were lots of areas where the hills had fallen away due to landslides and there was a lot of people working on the roads reinforcing the banks. The giant bus we were on did not seem deisgned for the twisting road leading up the hill, the driver was constantly blaring his horn, around blind bends, to alert drivers coming the other way as he took up the entire road.

Once we got nearer to our detination the jungle had several clearings with small villages, streams and the occasional waterfall. The few houses along the way were traditional, sat on stilts with wood and sheet metal roofs. After about an hour of driving into the hills we turned a bend and came across our first tea plantation. The whole valley and rolling hills were covered in rows upon rows of tea, it was a postcard view.

By the time we finally arrived at our destination, the town of Tanah Rata, it was quater past three. We stepped off the bus and was immedietly suprised, there was no humidity, it was actually rather cool. Grateful for a break from the heat we went searching for a place to stay. The first place we called at we had seen on the internet in KL and was our first choice, unfortunately they only had a RM55 room left (£11 a night) and this was more than we wanted to spend. The second place we called to had a room for RM40, which we were happy to pay but after viewing the room and washroom we decided to move on as it was in need of a deep clean. The third place was very nice but because of this it was fully booked, the fourth was again too expensive. On our fifth attempt we managed to find what we wanted. Within budget, RM4O, and clean, there are hot showers and good WIFI. The staff also seem very friendly, they have expalined some of the sights and they also provide a laundry service that we have taken them up on.

When we were finally settled we had a shower and went out for something to eat as we were straving. Liam had read about a great Indian that provides spicy food in giant portions so it was a no brainer. We had a selection of different Indian things to eat, rice, chicken curry, vegitable curry, daal, some fried banana crisps, some dips and a popadom. We then took a stroll through town, it is quite toursity as alot of Malaysians come to the hills for weekend breaks but it is still relaxing and very picturesque. Some of the houses and hotels would not look out of place in the Alps. We sat in a cafe had a hot drink and decided what to do with our two full days here.

Tomorrow we are going to be visiting a tea plantation, apparently it offers free tours around the factory and grounds and then we can sit a drink tea whilst over looking the fields and hills. The day after we plan to do a small trek to a waterfall as we have read it is impressive, and then see what we feel like for the rest of the day,

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia cameron highlands Comments (3)

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