18 Again

Trip Start Jun 09, 2003
Trip End Jun 02, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, March 7, 2005

I got up and headed over to the bus station to book my ticket to the Cameron Highlands. The bus station was very hot, very dark, very smelly and very very busy. I pushed my way through the crowds into the small area where the booking counters are. I pushed through to find the counter I wanted. Thankfully there was only one person at the counter (compared to around 10 at all the other counters). This person, Debbie, was rather upset as all her friends had got on the earlier bus, but there had been no tickets left. She was now trying, unsuccessfully to get on the 11.00am bus, the guy had no idea what she was talking about. This was not good news as this was the bus I was trying to get. I suggested we head across the road where there were some independent ticket sellers. On finally getting seats on the bus, Debbie realised to her dismay that she'd lost all her money. I paid for her ticket and went back to her hotel with her to help her look. This turned out to be a rather frustrating experience in that she just seemed to faff around for about an hour - doing I don't know what, but somehow I managed to get caught up in the faffing. I eventually managed to escape, with 20 minutes to pack my bags, put stuff in storage and get to the bus. I got back to Debbie's in 20 minutes and she decided she wanted to go and report the theft (by this time she'd also noticed her mobile phone had gone missing). It was only 15 minutes until our bus left. Thankfully the police weren't in, but she decided to go back to the counter and see if perhaps her money was there. Cue what could have been quite an entertaining event, had it not been for the fact our bus was leaving in little over 10 minutes. The guy once again couldn't understand so she roped in the assistance of 2 poor backpackers standing in the queue behind her (who she had in fact pushed in front of). The three of them had no further luck, so they decided to enlist the help of a chinese woman standing behind them. The guy behind the counter was malaysian, needless to say this helped the situation none whatsoever. By this point it was 10.55 and we had to walk to the end of the street to get our bus, I was hopping from one foot to the other getting quite irate. She eventually gave up and we ran for the bus, where we were severely told off for not being there on time in front of the packed bus. I gratefully took one of the last 2 seats on the bus. Debbie spent the next hour and a half speaking very loudly to her mum in the UK about the theft (on one of another 2 mobile phones she had). It was 3am in the morning in the UK and I don't think Debbie's mum was quite with it. I spent the remainder of the bus journey pretending I didn't know Debbie.

Got to Tanah Rata a few hours later. By this time the battery on Debbie's borrowed phone had died, so she comandeered the phone of the poor guy in front of us in the bus to call her friends. After going round all the hostels in town only to find they were all full, I eventually found a lovely little room in a lovely little guesthouse. I accepted Debbie's invitation to join her and her friends for cream tea (a Cameron Highland speciality). So off we went and I met Rosie, Caitie, Daisy and Anna. After a lovely cream tea I said farewell to my new friends and headed back to my guesthouse. After not sleeping too well in KL for 3 nights I was grateful that the temperature was a lot cooler here and I promptly fell asleep. I woke up around 8 and decided to get something to eat before going to bed properly. On my way into town who should I bump into but Debbie. She asked if I wanted to join her and the others for dinner and then some drinks. Pushing all thoughts aside of my comfy bed awaiting me, I decided why not. I was introduced to another friend Shelley and the 7 of us went to experience steam boat. A chinese speciality where you get a bowl of boiling soup and lots of uncooked food. You just pile all the food into the soup and wait til it cooks and then eat it. Sounds like a good concept, but unfortunately we couldn't work out what anything was (lots of weird seafood stuff) and after a while it all just became a big mucky mess. Dinner out of the way we went to meet the rest of the gang.

I should just point out at this point that when I first started travelling I worried that I might only meet drunken 18 year olds on a gap year. Fortunately up until this point I had managed to avoid this phenomenom. Unfortunately Debbie and all her friends were 18 and on a gap year. Mmmmmmm. Turned out it wasn't half as bad as I imagined. There were 14 of them altogether (all working in Malaysia during the week and travelling at weekends). 11 girls and 3 boys, although for some reason (they claimed they lost a bet, but I wasn't convinced) the boys were dressed as girls and wearing makeup. We played a great drinking game called Pyramid of Death, had some fun with some card tricks and then headed to the pub. For some reason Rosie and I sat outside on the pavement chatting, before long everyone had joined us on the pavement with their drinks. 15 of us sitting on the pavement outside a perfectly good pub raised a lot of eyebrows among the locals. They just stopped and stared. At around 1am, when the others moved inside, I decided to show my age and call it a night and said farewell to everyone.

The following morning my alarm went off at 7.00am. So much for catching up on sleep. I walked up the hill to where the girls were staying. They had invited me to join them on a jungle trek. Unfortunately when the truck turned up to pick us up there wasn't enough room for me, but Shelley very kindly said she would sit on the floor. I told her it wasn't a problem, I didn't mind, but everyone insisted that as I was now part of the gang I had to go with them. So in I jumped. It was a bit of a squash and the truck didn't seem to have much power. Not to mention that we had to stop every hundred metres or so so Debbie could throw up. She'd drunk too much the previous evening. We eventually made it up to the tea plantation where our guide told us all about making tea. Apparently all tea leaves, in all the world, are all exactly the same. The deciding factor on the type and taste of tea is all down to the climate and the quality of the soil. After this we were driven down to the tea factory where we watched them turn the leaves into tea. The machinery was the same machinery that was used when the factory opened decades before. Inside the factory it smelt like wet grass. We all enjoyed a cup of tea and it was back in the truck for our trip to the jungle. It was a steep windy road and none of us felt too good. We had to stop a number of times for poor Debbie, and at some points we didn't think the truck was going to make it up the hill. But it did and we headed off into the jungle (the jungle in Malaysia is some of the oldest jungle in the world at 130 million years old). Most of the girls were wearing flip flops. I came out from the walk covered from head to toe in mud. We had to clamber up hill sides, over and under tree roots and through muddy, marshy bits, how they did it in flip flops I'll never know, but the walk was fantastic. After this we headed to the top of the hill, the highest point in the Cameron Highlands to see the view. Unfortunately all we had a view of was cloud, cloud and more cloud. We eventually gave up on the fact that the cloud would ever lift and headed back down. We stopped off on the way at a butterfly farm. There were also lots of disgusting bugs and insects that I tried not to pay too much attention to. From here it was back to Tanah Rata and farewell to Daisy, Anna, Shelley and Debbie. Rosie, Caitie and I went for lunch and did some shopping before saying farewell. I went straight to bed, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
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