May I Have Another Scone, Please?

Trip Start Apr 27, 2006
Trip End Apr 01, 2008

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Where I stayed
Daniel's Lodge

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It was a pleasant four-hour bus north to this area of Malaysia called the Cameron Highlands.  It sits at 5000 feet bove sea level and is allegedly a popular weekend destination for Malaysians because the temperatures are much cooler.  Really pleasant, actually - no A/C needed for the first time since the volcano trip.  I missed the weekend, though, by a day because of my Singapore delay.  So be it.

The Cameron Highlands are a collection of three or so towns and inbetween resort hotels.  I stayed in the main town - Tanah Rata - surrounded by tea plantations, strawberry farms, and honey farms, an area trying hard to cling to the Colonial British heritage and cater to the English tourist.  The architecture is English, there are tea houses serving high tea and scones, and there are even more Inidan curry restaurants than usual.  That said, as one wag said to me, "Stick with the Muslim or Hindu restaurants over the Chinese - that way you find a monkey toe in your meal."  This is not much of an exageration; the Chinese will eat anything and any part of anything.

I got into my hostel - Daniel's Lodge, which has been around for 11 years and apparently suffered a bad writeup in the second-to-last Lonely Planet (see pic), and won't take the sign down until Lonely Planet identifies the author who said they had bedbugs and an unhelpful staff.  They think it was paid for by the "dirty" hostel owner down the road.  It seemed fine to me, a little shabby but so what, and business is apparently back up since the new edition came out.  I hadn't thought about it, but LP can make or break someone in the hostel world; it dominates Rough Guide, Footprint, or Moon in the backpacker's guidebook market. As for Daniel's, the staff was helpful, they offered laundry, 900 free DVDs to watch, a book exchange, the room was clean, and a funky social bar.  And, since there weren't many people here, I got a room for four to myself.

After getting in on Sunday, I did some computer stuff, wandered the town (four whole blocks or so), checked out the night market, and watched the Australian Open final at a bar with a Dutch couple who had just spent 60 days in Bali.  Yikes!  I had a smoked porkchop at a German restaurant, and ended up at the hostel "Jungle Bar."  Even though the place is half empty, it seemed like everyone from the hostel was there (plus some) and I has a nice conversation with two Germans, and called it a night at 11:00 p.m. because I wanted to play golf on Monday.

Yup, there is an eighteen hole, 6100 yard-course here that appeared to go through some sinteresting scenery and have some vistas, and they rented clubs for a total package including green fees of around $25, but it rained off and on Monday.  Doh!  Instead, I went down the street to Ye Olde Smokehouse, an English country manor serving tea and scones.  They also had martinis and cigars.  I went with the latter, but I fashion myself a poor imitation of a colonial English tea plantation baron.

Monday night, I finally had "steamboat."  It is basically Chinese shabu shabu or fondue, but everywhere else I have seen it served required a minimum of two people not here.  Awesome.  I had it in a tom yam spicy soup based, hooked up to a propane tank to keep the soup boiling, and then 22 items to add as you wished: 9 types of greens, two types of noodles, prawns, mussels, squid, cuttlefish, another fish, chicken, beef, a whole egg, fish balls, crab stick, and tofu.  Fully stuffed, I went to the Jungle bar and picked peoples brains about a workable Thailand route, given what I want to see, my available time, and the large distances involved.  I think I got a rough plan out of it.

That's pretty much it.  Nothing terribly exciting, although I can say I would come back.  The temperature was refreshingly pleasaant, as were the people, and walking around through the lush jungle is cool, although they have no large mammals here for some reason.  Early this morning (Tuesday), I left for:

George Town, Malaysia
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