Rafflesia Hunting in the Cameron Highlands
Trip Start Nov 15, 2011
47Trip End Ongoing
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Our guesthouse reintroduced us into the life of dorm living with thin walls and lots of noise. Babies could be heard crying at all hours and conversations and arguments in all sorts of languages simply overlapped each other. Very little goes unheard. Our hosts are very gracious and helpful souls, one is brown asian and the other yellow asian, and they run a clean house.
We were picked up around nine in the morning in a Land Rover with a set of bull's horns attached to the front bumper. Another omen. Along with our guide, there were 7 others - a Finnish couple in their early 60s, and 3 young males from Holland. It did not take us long to realize we had met these same Dutch lads in Panama last November on the San Blas Islands. They remembered us more readily than we remembered them. Middle aged adventure seekers willing to spend time alone on deserted islands tend to stand out I guess.
Our first inkling that this was NOT going to be a joy ride was when our guide took the Land Rover and gunned it up the side of the mountain through a red mud covered trail, endlessly spinning the tires and jockeying the wheel back and forth. At one point, he simply got out and filled in a giant pot hole with some of the endless tons of red clay flowing down the mountain side. Little did we know that that was what we would have to climb through for the next five hours!!
I will not go into the details of the of hike
The pics do the best to describe the Rafflesia. One must remember there was no guarantee we would find one on this trek. The unopened blooms are like black bowling balls and the plant grows from runners that travel for dozens of metres along the jungle floor
We also had two Malaysian hikers pass us and talk quietly to our guide before heading on. Only afterwards did we find out they had spotted two tigers in the jungle and were making plans to go hunting after six in the evening when the tourists would be gone.
By the time we got back to the truck, we were covered with mud, exhausted and ready to call it a day. However, it was only a bit after three and our guide had other plans. First we stopped at a local village where they demonstrated the use of a Blow Dart gun. The gun we used is effective up to 30 metres away and the poison can kill an elephant. They have other guns, larger, that can shoot over 150 metres in distance. We then stopped for a short lunch, (and, thank God for a beer) and then headed to the BOH Tea Refinery and Plantation for a tour. This is mammoth in size with the hills covered with tea leaf bushes for as far as the eye can see
Anyway we have survived. Woke up Saturday morning still picking thorns out of my hand, but we have booked a bus for Georgetown on the island of Penang leaving Monday morning. It should be dryer, hotter, and we are both looking forward to lying on a beach and being near the ocean again. And I also hear the beer is cheaper.