Hikers Wishes and Tea Lovers Dreams
Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
37Trip End May 10, 2007
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The Cameron Highlands are incredible. Being a tea drinker and an adamant hiker, I have stumbeled upon my mountain paradise. The climate is cool and damp. The air here takes upon the pure fragrance of the essence of nature: sometimes sweet, sometimes musty - flowers, tea, the smell of fresh falling rain, and honeybees - if I could bottle up the pleasant mixture of aromas that surround these highlands, I would put the top selling purfumery out of business.
Like wine lovers go to the wine country, tea lovers come to the Cameron Highlands.
I met Nuria, Joan, and Jordi at the Father's Guesthouse, perched on a mountain top overlooking the town of Tanah Rata, where the vibe among the guests reminds me of my days at summer camp. The Barcelona trio and I have spent the past 4 days hiking, drinking tea, eatting Indian food, and speaking Spanish.
We set out in the mist of the early morning fog for a hike along trail #10. The moss covered forest drew us in with its brilliant array of greens and super spongy soil, the kind which you walk upon and it feels like your feet are sinking downward then springing upward with each step. Trees are so saturated with precipitation that even the bamboo is mushy. Our jaunt in the forest was to last 1.5 hours, which turned into 5, but we insist that we were not lost, merely wandering on an adventure (an exmaple of my serious case of wanderlust). We took a path that made us emerge from the forest into an indigenous mountain village with small, wooden houses. Probably the type of village where they sacrafice white girls to their gods, but it was not as such, and we found the people of the Orang Asli village to be welcoming.
After the hike, Indian naan bread and tandori chicken never tasted so good. The following day we spent time at the Sungei Palas, a BOH tea plantation. We tasted a variety of teas included their golden colored premium blend, their strong, dark southern blend, and another mix which hosted flavors of chocolate, mint and tea, slightly resembling a junior mint candy in liquid form. From our view atop the plantation we watched the workers pick ready leaves and the clouds sway from one peak to the next, until finally the sun emerged and a beautiful blue sky appeared.
The following day we set out early in the morning, with one new addition, a nice Jewish boy named Josh. We started on trail #5 and "hiked" our way up to the summit of the mountain. Now, I say "hike" but what I really mean is "jungle climb" - defined as a steep, slippery, misty, mossy, jungle incline where you are on all fours climbing up the mountain, using vines for help. Incredible! Once we made it to the top we celebrated over water and bananas - cause this day we brought food and water with us, unlike the previous day's jaunt through the jungle.
On the way down, Josh and I took a different trail to see Robinson Falls and were caught in the rain. Thankfully I had brought my ultra light weight North Face raincoat that I paid a fortune for, which I was promised would keep me dry - but now I think I will write the Prada of outdoor gear a letter and tell them otherwise. Safe to say we were soaked to the bone and I still have not recovered from the cold. Thankfully a nice Swiss man game me some dry clothes to wear since all mine are being laundered amd "I don't do my own laundry," and I have bought a pair of socks in town to keep my feet dry and warm.
So, as I cuddle up in the cold mist of my mountaintop guesthouse, wrapped in my silk sleepingbag attempting to be warm, I have memories of my college years in rainy Oregon. Cameron Highlands makes me want to stay on forever, but being wet right now is only something I want to experience on a white sandy beach. So, as my journey nears an end, I will leave this mountain paradise for some beach bliss. I can harldy believe that this case of wanderlust is now less than a double digits worth of days. Next stop, the Perhenthian Islands, off the north eastern coast of Malaysia.