High Tea High Up!

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
Trip End Jul 26, 2004

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Friday 11th June
We had a lie in and a lazy morning on first morning in Melaka because it was so hot. We eventually headed out and Simon got a haircut at an Indian Barbours who also gave him a cut throat shave and cracked his neck twice for 5RM (70p)! It seems so much hotter here than Thailand even though we are only a few hours South so we headed to 7-Eleven for Slush Slurpees and slowly walked to the North of town to Fort Cornwallis. It was built by Francis Light who 'discovered' Melaka. He was born in Woodbridge Suffolk (Hey Sara!) and came here and built the fort in 1786. There was classical music playing throughout the Fort while we walked round, we checked out the canons and the gunpowder rooms.

The Fort was on the top Northern corner of Penang so we could see for miles across to mainland Malaysia and up the Andaman Sea. Although Penang is an island it is only 2km from the mainland and is joined by a bridge so doesn't feel like an island. We wandered round the fort and were given an introductory talk by a guide who looked uncannily like Trevor McDonald! We left the Fort and walked back to our hotel via Little India which was a lovely part of town. There wasn't a great deal else to see in Penang as its quite a commercial centre now in Malaysia and is used more as a stop off for coming into Malaysia from Thailand. We decided to book our onward tickets to the Cameron Highland for tomorrow afternoon, more because of the heat and the Cameron Highlands is 6,600 feet up so a lot cooler. We spent the rest of the day looking round Chinatown and drinking Lassi's.

Saturday 12th June
We woke to another boiling hot day in the 40s which just saps the energy from you. We had another walk through downtown Georgetown which has quite a few tall office blocks and banking institutes. We found a little restaurant rammed with locals so we headed in for lunch. They didn't have a menu they only sold 2 things, chicken and rice or seafood noodles so we ordered one of each. Malay food so far has either been Indian or Thai. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and collected our bags to walk to KOMTAR Penangs main bus station. We caught the 2.45pm bus to the Cameron Highlands for the 6 hour journey.

I was surprised how scenic Malaysia was, the whole six hours we were driving through mountains and forests and the last hour was an uphill windy road into the heart of the Cameron Highlands. We got off the bus and breathed in the cold crisp mountain air and headed to Fathers Guest House which was really nice. We sat on the garden terrace with our fleeces on and drank hot chocolates before heading to bed.

Sunday 13th June
We got up and headed out to the views around us and to a warm but non humid day. We are staying in Tanah Rata which is the main but still small town for the Cameron Highlands. we had a bit of breakfast and then headed down the hill to town. Tanah Rata is a lovely town, it has a nice big park at the bottom of its one main street lined with tea shops and restaurants. The local countryside is full of tea farms, strawberry farms and dairy farms. We took a long walk round towns and then headed for scones with homemade jam and cream and a pot of tea - Wow delicious. We sat in the tea rooms chatting to another couple, Neil and Felicity from England and before we knew it four hours had passed.

We headed off to collect our laundry which was the cheapest we have had so far at 6RM for 5 KG we headed back down to get a Thali for dinner at a little Indian Restaurant. We sat outside in the fresh coll air and decided to stay here for at least another couple of days. We headed back to the guest house and had a hot chocolate and I headed to bed while Simon stayed up till 4.30am to watch England get beat by France.

Monday 14th June
We got up and had breakfast at our guest house before getting up to do one of the hikes. There are 9 trails altogether differnt lengths and levels of difficulty and our guest house had maps for them. We decided on starting on trail 4 and continued on Trail 9. Trail 4 which is pretty easy, was Jim Thompsons favourite route, he was the American who went missing in 1967 while hiking here whose house we visited in Bangkok. We kept a look out for him but didn't see him. Trail 4 was nice it took in a lovely park and then followed the river up into the jungle. We saw a little waterfall and then climbed up a steep hill to a watch tower which we climbed for amazing views of tea plantations and terraced strawberry farms. As it is so hilly the farms are stepped into the hillside. We continued on Trail 9 which took us further up the river.

We came out on a lane 3km North next to a golf course and a beautiful hotel and restaurant called the Old Smokehouse set in an old Tudor House. We came across a Garden Centre with a cafe attached serving high tea. We headed in for some scrummy tuna and cucumber sandwiches, scones with fresh cream and homemade strawberry jam and a huge pot of tea for two. We headed off down the hill and made our way back to Tanah Rata and made our way back to the guest house to chill out.

Later that ecening we went out and met up with Neil and Felicity at a Chinese for dinner. We headed to another place for desserts and hot chocolates and sat chatting till the early hours.

Tuesday 15th June
We headed down to a cafe in town calle The T Cafe and had yet more Tea and Scones, these ones were by far the best of all the others. We booked ourselves onto the Cameron Highlands Countryside tour which took in all that The Cameron Highlands are famous for. We got on our bus and headed off to our first stop which was the Rose Garden, 90% of Malaysias Roses are grown here and there was a whole hillside dedicated to this rose garden which also grew a whole host of other flowers. We climbed to the top for stunning views of all the flowers.

Our next stop was the Sungai Patas Tea Estates home to Boh Tea the oldest plantation in the Highlands. We got to watch how the tea was picked and then processed we also then got to sample the tea with some homemade shortbread (which was the best part of the tour!) We then made our way to a rather dodgy butterfly farm where we saw some huge and some dead butterflies. The live ones were flying overhead. There were also frogs, scorpions, beetles and rabbits. Our next stop was a honey bee farm and we got to taste some honey and watch them extract honey from a honeycomb in a sort of manual washing machine. We then went to a strawberry farm where we got to tast sun dried strawberrys and strawberry juice. After a packed day we got back to our guest house at 7pm and headed out with Rocco and Andy, a couple of guys we had been on the tour with, for an Indian Thali at a banana leaf restaurant.

Wednesday 16th June
We had some breakfast and decided to make a move to Kuala Lumpur today. We got the 10.30 bus which took 5 hours to KL. We got ourselves a guest house in Chinatown and headed straight out for an explore. The night markets were setting up with pirate DVDs and fake designer gear and we took in the atmosphere amongst it. We headed to a street stall which was serving Chicken and Rice which was cooked and served in big clay pots with hot Chinese Tea for 15RM. Its so hot here compared to The Highlands and soon we were knackered so we got a couple of 7-Eleven SLush Slurpees and sat on the roof terrace of our guest house, watching TV with the beautiful Petronas Towers in the background.

Thursday 17th June
We headed out early to see some of KLs sights. It was 11 o'clock and already 40 degrees so we made our way to the National History Museum as it had Air Con. It wasn't that great but it was free and we learnt a little about Malaysias history, like it is the home of the Proton and a couple of Malaysians climbed Everest once!?! We headed out into the heat to Merdeka Square home to Asias tallest flagpole and it is indeed big! We sat here for a little while taking in the beautiful buildings around the square including the High Court which looks like it has been stolen from Venice. We took a walk round the Squares beautiful gardens before giving up on the heat and heading back to the guest house to sit in AC and watch a bit of TV. We headed out to Chinatown on the evening and had the most amazing Roti burger from a street stall for 2RM which we ate on our roof terrace with another 7-Eleven slurpee.

Friday 18th June
We didn't get much sleep for the heat last night so we had a lie in till 10 before heading out for breakfast. We took a walk across town to check out KLs Old Railway Station that was built in 1900 by a British Architect. Its a really nice old building and cool inside so we sat for a rest to write some postcards after our long walk in todays 42 degrees. Again knackered by the heat we headed back to the guest house via some amazing Mosques on the way. Early evening we took a walk to Little India where there were loads of sari and Carpet shops! We got a lovely curry and the best ever Samosa for dinner. We weren't given cutlery so we tucked in with our right hands and its true it tastes better eating with your hands. Its all practice for India! It gets really tricky when you run out of Nan bread.

Saturday 19th June
We got up early and walked the fair hike to the Petronas Towers, the worlds tallest twin towers. They are amazing looking and looked a lot closer than they actually were! We got there at 9.30 and went to get a ticket to go up the Sky Bridge, which is a bridge about half way up that joins the two towers and is the highest you can go. We went to get our ticket and were told the days allocation had gone - it doesn't even open till 10! We asked for a ticket for tomorrow but they only do same-day tickets so we woud have to come back at 8am and queue tomorrow.

We decided it wasn't worth an extra day here as we were leaving tomorrow so we headed up 5 stories for a view and a coffee and Donut from Dunkin Donuts instead! There is a huge shopping mall that takes up the first 6 stories and is rammed with designer stores. There was also a big Marks and Spencers. We spent the rest of the day wandering the huge AC mall and in their bookshop catching up on all the gossip magazines and Simon catching up on Autocar! We also read up on India. We reluctantly headed back out in to the heat and made our way back to the guest house for a cold shower before heading out to Chinatown for another Roti Burger.

Sunday 20th June
We got up late, packed our bags and caught a bus to Melaka. We arrived at 2pm and checked into Shirahs Guest House for 18RM and headed out to check out Melaka. Its an historic town and has a real charm about it. There are lots of little markets dotted around the Historical district in amongst Malaysia oldest Buddhist Temple oldest Mosque. There are lots of little Antique shops selling some wonderful stuff and big squares and courtyards. We wandered round the old building and round Chinatown.

We sat on a little balcony and read the local paper, The Strait Times, the Malaysian/Singapore Daily. Its amazing to read some of the stories as a visitor. he laws here seem so harsh and the punishments harsher. Whipping, Caning and Flogging are amongst the sentences and the Death Penalty is often given out. Two Australians were recently hung for marijuana possesion, they were both in there early twenties. Another story of a local man was sentenced to 3 years in jail and whipping for being found with pornographic material. Ally McBeal was banned because she kissed Lucy Lui and another man was jailed for 30 days for having a bet on the Germany Latvia game! Tomorrow we head to Singapore where it gets harsher as stiff fines are imposed for possesion of chewing gum, as its banned there and you get fined $1000 for not flushing a public toilet!

We headed back to our guest house and headed out to seek a true 'Nyonya' malaysian restaurant. We found one that specialised in nyonya and asked the waitress to bring us a good example as the menu meant nothing to us! The food was lovely, a little spicy and a little like Chinese. We bought an ice cream for dessert and took a long walk round the historical district and Chinatowns night markets before getting an early night.
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