Cold, wet and mucky
15.11.2010 - 17.11.2010 18 °C
The town of Tanah Rata within the area of the very un-Malay sounding Cameron Highlands sits at about 1800m above sea level. In five hours of spectacular scenery and nauseatingly winding roads we went from 32 degree heat to 18 degree bloody freezing. Ok so I know you folk back home are currently cursing me at your computer screens and that 18 degrees is considered balmy back home but everything's relative (and yes I do fear what will happen when we eventually have to come home - hot water bottles at the ready please).
Getting off the bus, boots, socks, full trousers and hoodies were immediately put on. It was also raining, and not the usual tropical downpour, it was the Irish kind, the damp dreary drizzle. Initial impressions weren't great. We came all this way to follow the dozens of trails that trek through the surrounding hills, we didn't entirely rejoice at the prospect of doing it in the cold and damp.
Our accommodation did not offer much comfort. The first room we were showed had an unhealthy amount of mould on the mattress so we requested a switch. The second one had a hideous stained old mattress but at least there was no mould!. It was at this point in the trip where myself and Will took a significant leap in our relationship and grew ever closer as a couple. The room was en suite, but by en suite the hostel actually meant they put a toilet in one corner of the room and threw a flimsy shower door around it...with no roof (to the left of the photo below). So you see boys and girls, the acoustics were fantastic and at this point I'll let you figure out the rest.
The first day was a write-off because of the rain, so we wandered into town to discover there was one main street and not much wandering to be done. I had made the mistake of casually mentioning to the hostel owner that we were planning on doing some walks during our stay. This resulted in a startlingly loud knock on our door at 8am the following morning with the loud and joyous announcement that the sun is shining! Hurrah! This wouldn't have been so bad had I not been up until 4am the previous night staring maniacally at the filthy mattress waiting for potential bug atttacks.
We got ourselves up as it was indeed sunny outside and it seemed wise to get out before the rain returned. The surrounding hillside was stunning in the sunshine and we decided on a short tour for the day that included getting up to the peak of Gunang Brinchang (just over 2,000m/6,666ft) - I should probably come clean at this point and say our guide drove us up to the peak in his Land Rover - a short jungle walk, a visit to a local tea plantation, a butterfly farm and a strawberry farm. As a result of it's temperate climate the Cameron Highlands is covered in tea fields and fruit and vegetable farms, I even saw cabbage fields and felt a small pang for home!
After two nights, we decided to book ourselves onto a bus bound for Kuala Lumpur and back to some heat and big city living. Here's hoping it can compete with Bangkok.