Trip Start May 06, 2006
81Trip End Mar 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
On Friday I moved on. Ahh, the beautiful hills with greenery, fresh air and rain! I found internet access as the town isn't quite as dead as I'd been expecting. It's very quiet and very small but it's nicer that way - no globalisation here!
The bus journey here was very pleasant and with it only being 3 seats wide (as Gem and Jimmy had advised!) there was plenty of room to stretch out. Four hours felt like nothing but the windy roads definitely got to me and I thought I might have to use my crisp bag as my sick bag! Luckily I was fine and we arrived in a brilliant rain storm!
I was shown all around my guesthouse (Father's Guesthouse btw) and then to my room. I'm in a 20 bed dorm (that's right, 20!) which is great for social purposes but crap for sleeping! The first person I met proceeded to tell me how he'd moved rooms due to bed bugs so that made for a night of my convincing myself I was being eaten all over! Of course there were none and I woke up unmarked!
It's a lot cooler up here (I may even go so far as to say it's cold!) - I've even had to wear a jumper and raincoat which is a nice change! Of course my practical packing in KL before I'd planned to come here frustrated me a little and I now have to repack all over again!! Freezing at night but it's bearable and I stole some more blankets when people checked out last night so it's okay!
The place is really nice and there're loads of people here. Movies, internet, sofas and amazing food all help to make it even better! They also do some tours... one of which we decided to spread over yesterday and today. The first part was a tour of the Orang Asli villages (got to do it in the end!) and the second was a tea plantation tour. I'll start with the medium part of yesterday and then warn you all before moving on to the slightly hair raising part!!
Our tour guide (or "friend" as he kept telling us he was!), Kumar, was a little quirky, slightly crazy and very funny! (his comment "we don't drink the coffee for the taste, just for the flavour" left us all laughing with him not knowing why!). He took us a few places and was extremely knowledgeable about the Orang Asli people and the whole area in general.
When we were about half an hour away from the village (it took about 2 hours in total!) we were going up one of the many dirt roads in our 4x4 when we heard a hissing noise. A snake you may think? No! It was a stone in the tyre and it was rapidly deflating - much to our drivers annoyance. We all got out and looked to see that there was a huge stone in the tyre and... there was no spare available! Joy! Everyone who had phones got them out but we were so high up there was no signal... instead he said we would "wait until someone drove by". Luckily it wasn't quite as remote as it seemed and someone must've regretted their decision to stop us in the middle of nowhere as another jeep came around the corner which just happened to have a spare tyre on the top!! It was all changed and we thought we'd be heading back 'cos it was slightly smaller than the original one but he'd "promised the village we'd be there" so on we went!
We arrived at the village and had a very good time. We shot their poisonous arrows (pictures to follow!), took pictures of the kids looking out of the windows of their huts (very cute!) and had some tapioca (the actual plant though, not the pudding!), played their instruments and bought things made by them (a lot cheaper than anywhere else where they whack up the prices!). It was a very interesting afternoon and we waved goodbye to the kids and got on our way... again, we thought home!
Warning: The following is not one for the faint hearted so stop reading now if that applies to you (mum, you might wanna skip to the next set of lines here!!)
We went over a very sketchy bridge and past a school that the government had built for the village children (a very nice school by the way!). There were then three paths we could've taken.... two quite normal and one we were all shocked we took. About two seconds later the driver realised his mistake as the jeep started to slide down the vertical hill of mud (only about 2 metres high but high enough!)! We all managed to clamber out one by one and the jeep was very close to tipping. We got the metal tow rope out and tied it to the tree for stability and he tried to drive it back up the slope. It just kicked out a load of mud and slid down a little further. Two of us tried to help by pushing it from behind (still not sure why no-one else bothered by the way!) but there was nothing we could do and the thing just smacked down on it's side, drive still inside.
We rushed to see if he was okay to find he was knocked out. He came to after what felt like forever (but was really just a few seconds!) but couldn't get up. I thought he'd broken his neck or something 'cos where we were trying to push it we could see how he fell inside it. One of the other girls clambered in the back to try and help him out, ignoring our yells to just get the engine turned off first. After about a minute the car started to self-accelerate and fill with smoke and the exhaust fumes were going very grey... we yelled at her to get out and all had to run from the car thinking it was going to explode, driver still inside. It burnt itself out and we went back to help the driver who was almost out already - clearly thinking the same thing we were.
He stumbled off holding his head to try and get help. We were slightly worried he was more hurt and was obviously in shock. We tried to talk to the village kids but of course none of them spoke English. The father and daughter of the Dutch family we were with started to stress out big time but the rest of us were more worried about the driver than anything!
After appearing and disappearing many times he came back after about an hour with a lift back for us and a tractor to get his car turned the right way. We all got in a much safer car and took a much safer ride home! We got dropped at the Dutch people's gorgeous hotel and stayed for a much needed drink! We got a taxi back from there and were greeted by a very worried receptionist! They paid for the taxi and also for our first beer of the evening so we didn't bother asking for a refund! The story had, of course, been elaborated by the time it had got to her and she'd been told we were in the car and everything when it fell so thought she'd be seeing broken bones and all sorts!
We found out today that the driver was okay - he'd gone to hospital and had a bad bump to the head and had 3 fractured ribs. He took today off work and is going back tomorrow (we think he should have more but nothing we can do about that!).
Experience. We put it all down to experience and soon realised it could've been a whole lot worse!
For part 2 of the tour we got up very early this morning. We were supposed to have the same driver as yesterday... we'd checked and knew that this wasn't the case and so headed on the tea tour. We went to the highest point of the highlands, took an hours jungle trek and took a tour of the tea factory. Another very interesting day but this time, thankfully, less eventful!
We had the option to walk some more but decided we just wanted to get back and chill out for a while. I had originally planned to do a hike this afternoon but no-one wanted to and I didn't fancy going it alone as the trails aren't supposed to be the best ones to follow! If I stay another night then I might do one tomorrow!
I have no real idea of my next plan... I have two options. I'm either going to the tiny island or straight to Penang. The island is a bit of a pain to get to and I'd have to leave very early. It's also very quiet which I can't decide is a good thing or a bad one! The other option is to go straight to Penang which is busier but apparently the beaches aren't as nice!!
All this is to prepare for my next project on the 7th August which I can now tell you all about!! After much help from my mum, Auntie Carol and her friends, Karen and Alan, I have set up another animal project to go to! I missed the lions so much that I needed something else! This time I'll be working at a temple helping to look after adult tigers who have been taken to the monks because they have been injured. I'll be staying on a tile floor just west of Bangkok!! To save me explaining all the info please go to www.tigertemple.org or www.tigertemple.co.uk where you can find out everything (if you select the English version!) I'll be doing! I'm very excited and can't wait to get there now! I'll probably be there for about a month or so but am not expecting to have much contact with the outside world so, once there, you may not hear from me for a while!
Right, I'm going to go and find some more good food and try to find a box to send home to tea I bought today! Hope everyone is well and I've been told that nan is now printing these for grandad to read so... hi grandad! Hope you're enjoying my adventures as much as I am!