Back in the Highlands Again

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Cameronian Inn Tanah Rata
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Sunday, January 6, 2013

Left Georgetown on a grey, rainy morning after a night of rain. We had a tiny bit of rain in Koh Lanta, but it has been since mid-Nov since our last real rain! To have rain for so long reminded us of Scotland :) The rain had started out with monsoon-like downpours, but then settled into a constant drizzle. On and off during the drive we went through patches of sun and rain. Everyone is carrying umbrellas as you never know when it's going to come down. The only difference is that we're warm ;)

The road took us higher and higher into 'the highlands' and the temperature started dropping. This is the coolest place in all of Malaysia. To seal the connection, 'the highlands' are called the Cameron highlands! I'll have to see if they sell any Scotch for Brian.

One of the things we did while here was to walk through the mossy forest. Now I thought I had become well acquainted with moss during our time in Scotland, but this moss was unbelievable! The ground was spongy with layers upon under our feet, and several inches thick around all surfaces of the trees. Clouds of it formed overhead defying gravity. So many different textures and types with vines and ferns growing out of it. You can see how this very thing is the foundation of the forest. Most of Malaysia's water comes from the mossy forest. Somehow we managed to arrive on the first clear day in weeks. I could see how this place could have an other-worldy appearance cloaked in mist. I was almost sad of the missed photo opportunity. Like Alice in Wonderland, this wood is full of strange looking pitcher plants and orchids. Brian kept waiting to see an Ewok.

Descending a little bit out of the forest, we saw some quintessential British style Tudor homes  and gardens. The only difference, is the tropical nature of the flowers in the gardens. All around are acres and acres of tea plantations and we toured one that was started by...a Scot! Beautiful rolling hills covered in rows of tea trees set together like pieces of a puzzle. These 880 year old original bushes (good investment) are harvested every 21 days. You can see the rows that are ready as they are a almost iridescent green with the new growth.

  Rolling, fermenting, drying, grading and then drinking with scones, cream and jam – strawberry jam! If I see one more giant strawberry, I don't know what I'll do! I know we all get a little crazy when strawberries come into season, but this is ridiculous. I guess as much as I'm marvelling over the fruits and veg, strawberries are not something common here. In the 'cooler' highlands, it's a different climate. Still warm during the day, but with cooler nights. Good for tea and any other vegetable you can imagine. Having no read seasons (some days wetter than others) they are able to grow year round (even strawberries). Everywhere there are greenhouse covers and plants crammed into patches of land. Other plants not expected were zucchini and lavender. I can only imagine how well things will grow with consistent heat and bright sun (almost too bright, hence the covers). Everything seems to be on steroids. Giant ferns, fruit the size of cannon balls, the world's largest flower, elephants, pythons...Oh, and the bugs are even of mammoth proportions. Stopped by an insect and butterfly area and what we saw was incredible. I think grasshoppers and beetles are big, but this one grasshopper I could see it's eyelashes! The largest bug ever recorded is here: a stick bug over 50 centimetres! There were some very cool camouflage leaf bugs and frogs (hardly photograph as they just look like leaves!). Oh, and Brian's beloved scorpion. This time instead of poking it or eating it, he played with it!!!  He may have done some silly things while in Scotland, but this may top them all!

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