14 days, 7 beds, 3 countries

Trip Start Jul 11, 2010
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Sunday, December 19, 2010

After Penang we took a 5 hour bus journey up to the Cameron Highlands 5,000 meters above sea level in the tea mountains of Malaysia, a real escape to nature which we we really looking forward to even if it was only a whistle stop tour of a day and a half.  The first thing that hit us after the winding roads and beautiful scenery was the massive drop in temperature, we were now feeling thankful for the fleeces that we had been lugging around hot and sticky Thailand every day cursing them for taking up too much room in our rucksacks!  The Cameron Highlands is famous for it's tea plantations, strawberry fields, fresh vegetables, the biggest flower in the world which can be seen after a 3 hour trek, plants, animals - all things natural. 

We decided to book a half day country side trip for the next day to see a local temple, rose garden, strawberry plantation, tea fields, butterfly farm and market.  We woke up bright and early the next morning ready for our trip, our guide Mary was a font of all knowledge when it came to the Cameron Highlands as she had been born there and lived there all her life and could answer any question you could ask and you could tell she loved where she lived.  The highlights of the tour were the beautiful rose garden, small winding steps taking you further and further up the mountain with the most beautiful flowers and plants along each level, staff proudly showing you the local flowers - one of electric blue which has the nickname of 'butterfly plant' as two of the flowers placed side by side look like a vivid butterfly and another nicknamed 'ladies shoes' as put side by side the flowers look like a pair of higheel shoes! The view from the top of the garden across the mountains was amazing, just the right way to start the day. 

The next part of the trip the butterfly farm was not only a butterfly farm but housed all sorts of insects, snakes, spiders (!!!), lizards and even a few rabbits, Mary took no hesitation in going to the box which holds the biggest species of beetle in the world and stroking it's back whilst enthusiastically waving it in our faces saying 'it's ok it won't jump on you'.  I wasn't brave enough to hold it but Rob did and even managed to put a smile on his face long enough for a photo.  Mary then went through the same with some very unusual insects; leaf insect, orchid insect, dry leaf insect, a beetle which when stroked (which I did) felt like suede and then she opened up the scorpion box and we watched five fall to the floor which she picked up and flung back into the box apart from one big one which she said 'who wants to hold it', we all took a few steps backwards and one brave man held it on his hand and the on his shirt only remembering to ask if it would sting when it was firmly stuck on!  After that we took a quick look at the tarantulas, the lizards, snakes (thankfully all in boxes) before going into the butterfly garden to see some of the most colourful and massive butterflies we'd ever seen flying around the plants and our heads - we were told that all of these animals could be find in the local forest of the Cameron Highlands - we were really thankful we hadn't booked the forest trek now, a tarantula is just about bearable in a box but that is close enough !

The next place we visited was the tea fields of the 'Boh' tea factory, the tea fields were 80 years old and had been started by a Scottish man who saw the great potential of the landscape and had gone to China to see how to develop the land into tea fields and learn how to process the tea ready to drink.  After visiting China, he chose the name 'Boh' after one of the mountains he visited and also meaning precious in Chinese.  The view was breathtaking, rows and rows of fresh green tea plants as far as the eye could see about waist height and the faint smell of the tea leaves being carried with the breeze, the fields in Cameron Highlands produce only black English tea which is sent to India and China - a very high grade of tea because of the drainage and temperatures up in the mountains, we were also told to never drink tea bags as it's always the sweepings from the factory floor never the good stuff that you get with loose tea leaves!

We got dropped off back at our hotel around lunchtime just as the heavens opened up, we took a good rest that afternoon, we would be moving on again in the morning to the heat, noise and hustle bustle of Kuala Lumpur - it would definitely be time to put the fleeces back into the rucksacks ans start cursing them again.

The next morning we set off the Kuala Lumpur by public bus, we had been expecting and prepared ourselves for a hot, sweaty, cramped and probably dirty bus but our expectations were exceeded when we ended up on a coach with recliner seats, air con and even a DVD player!  The journey took about 4 hours in total and was over in no time at all, the journeys by road we have found to be a good time to have a snooze, listen to music, read, watch the landscape go by and take in all you have just experienced the time goes pretty quick and the comfortable seats helped a lot!  We arrived at Kuala Lumpur around 2.30 in the afternoon; traffic, skyscrapers, noisy market stall holders trying to sell you a watch and a bag, dodging cars to cross the roads - we were definitely back in the city.

We spent two days in Kuala Lumpur in total and stayed in the middle of China town, we have found so far on this trip that we like to walk most places, wandering down a street that looks interesting and getting lost - getting lost is part of he fun and we prefer to see everyday life than just stick to the tourist areas.  Whilst in Kuala Lumpur we went to Central Market which has been going since 1888 and houses a little India, China town and Malay street full of lots of little souvenirs, beautiful Indian pashminas and saris, traditional Malaysian wooden carved souvenirs, traditional wau kites, antiques.....the list goes on and you could proabaly spnd a whole day just here if you wanted.  After that we took a walk in the warm rain though Maderka square where we saw the flagpole flying the Malaysian flag symbolising the Malaysian Independence from Britain in 1957, we then carried on to the park and visited the orchid garden which is free entry, there we saw beautiful orchids and plants with a view of the skyscrapers of the city in the background - we were surrounded by nature in the calm but within walking distance of the hustle and bustle of city life.  We then carried on and took a walk up to the city monument before making our way over to the famous Petronas twin towers; huge, powerful skyscrapers which are the tallest in Asia, metal and glass structures joined together about half way up by one small floating corridor, a marvel to see such an imposing and defining part of the city skyline.  The towers house the most unbelievable collection of shops, Prada, Gucci, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo etc each shop display no prices to anything on sale - if you need to ask, you shouldn't be in there!

So that was our experience of the Malaysian capital, although we hadn't seen much, we had good a good flavour of the place and had enjoyed visiting, the contrast between the old city and parts of the city that reminded us of historical Penang and the new city with the skyscrapers, bars and clubs was interesting to see although some parts seemed to lack the character we like but we'd expected that from the developing capital.

The next morning we were moving on again to Melaka, our last stop in Malaysia before going across the border to Singapore.  We had less than a day here and the last 10 days was catching up on us quickly so instead of exploring the town we decided to have a restful day.  Our restful day turned into a full day shopping bonanza, we had popped in to what we though was a small shopping centre for a drink and bite to eat only to find that it was a huge tardis like shopping mall that we must have spent 4 hours wandering about in the artificial light spending money in!  If we'd had more energy we would have seen more but maybe we'll have to come back to Melaka one day to do it full justice apparently there is a lot of history and interesting part to see.

So here we are now in Singapore, we took a 4 hour bus journey across the border to this clean, modern, chewing gum free Island nation of Singapore and said goodbye to Malaysia or should I say selamat tinggal!

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DAD on

HELLO AGAIN CAN & ROB, Once again an interesting 'Blog' and great pictures. I hope you get to see a bit of Singapore before flying off to the Phils, it's a place that I've always liked. Pity you won't be able to spend more time in Manila or you could see Jim. I'm sure that everyone receiving your 'Blogs' looks forward to them coming, as we all sit here in frozen, 'broken' Britain. I hope Chantal can make it home on thursday as par for the course, trains North are not running at present. Carry on enjoying yourselves and a Merry Christmas and interesting 2011 to you both.

Mom / Teresa on

Hi Can and Rob

How lucky are you? Beautiful scenery... so green ... so lush! And those flowers just lovely! You are so lucky too to have left before all these chaos with flights! It really is horrendous! Hope you managed to get in touch with your Auntie Ging via Stef in facebook to let her know your ETA in Davao. Will ring Phils either on Christmas day or when Chan is over in Liverpool on 27th (weather permitting). Keep enjoying your hols. Hope you are not homesick yet! But with this weather .. I doubt it! Take care. Love and hugs xxxx

tony horspool on

Hi Rob & Can, Your blog full of good reading as normal and pics are great. Weather here is crap as you know, all ok in colchester and enfield, have a lovely xmas . Love Dad and Smokey xxx

sophie on

Hope you have a great time in Sydney over xmas you too! keep the updates coming, it seems to be going so quick from where i'm sitting, is it for you?? xxxx

sophie on

Ha ha I meant Singapore!!!! Such a div, but had been readin someones facebook update re xmas in Sydney and still had it in my head!!!! More wine.... xxxxx

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