It's a small world after all!

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Eight Mengiti

Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The journey from the Perhentians to the Cameron highlands was long and a bit painful to be honest. Something we had eaten the day before in the Perhentians hadn't agreed with us and poor Katy was ill for a lot of the journey. I felt so sorry for her as all you want when you're feeling ill is to lie down in your bed, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on a bouncing minibus for 6 hours. Plus as soon as you get near the Cameron highlands you start climbing up the hills and round long winding roads. It felt like a much longer journey than it was but we got there in one piece. 

 Illness aside, the scenery along the way was fantastic, the hills are made up of thick rainforest and the scenery is mostly beautiful. I say mostly because between beautiful sections are areas where a huge number of trees have been cut down. Acres and acres of land, entire hills completely removed of their trees which really ruins the scenery. All along the roads we drove along were dozens of lorries carrying logs coming past us, it seems that logging is big business here but must be having it's toll on the wildlife and scenery. I had heard that there are a lot of people unhappy about the amount of excavation for logging but didn't expect to see it so clearly for myself.

We eventually arrived into the Cameron Highlands to a town called Tanah Rata where we stayed. We got dropped off in town but were looking for a specific guesthouse which, after a quick confusing conversation with tourist information, we found out was up a hill. So we got our bags and started walking up.... not really in the mood for it! A car ahead that was coming down the hill slowed down as it approached us, it looked like they were going to ask directions, I said to Katy "Surely she's not going to ask directions of two people not at all Malaysian carrying backpacks?" But she wasn't stopping to ask directions she was the nicest women in Malaysia, asking us if we were going to the guest house (she works there and was leaving for the day) and whether we'd like a lift in her 4x4. She spoke perfect English and she gave us a little history of the town and some ideas of things to do whilst we were in the Cameron Highlands. Unfortunately her guest house only had dorm rooms available which would normally have been fine for a couple of nights but with both of us feeling a bit dodgy it didn't appeal. I said Katy was unwell so we really would prefer a private room and would have to go somewhere else. 
 "Oh, you're unwell.. I understand, you definitely need your own room then. I know a place that's quite nice we'll go and see them" And she drove us back into town out of her way to take us to a competitor's guest house. We loved her, and the guest house she took us to was also very nice and the owner was great so we immediately liked the people of the Cameron highlands. And to be fair that continued, everyone we met was friendly, helpful and accommodating.

 It's a lot cooler in the Cameron highlands than anywhere else we've been, it's a steady 20-25C all year round so we didn't need a fan in the room! And, even crazier than the lack of a fan we even had hot water in the shower and a blanket on the bed. This was all very novel after 4 weeks sweating in the rest of Thailand & Malaysia... at one point Katy even complained about being cold! After we checked in we did our favourite thing to do when just arriving in a new place, visit the Pharmacy (seriously, we've done a proper tour of the Pharmacy's of South East Asia) and then explored the town a bit. It's a really small place with a few simple shops and restaurants but surrounding the town are the most enormous hotels we've seen anywhere outside of the major cities. They look completely out of place but apparently the Cameron Highlands are a popular get-away for Malaysians escaping the hot city. We went to the night market which featured mountains of noodles, pancakes, fresh fruit stands and still flapping fish including parrot fish which I didn't even know were edible. A lot of the food looked really nice but neither of us could really eat anything so we just looked around and then headed back.

The next day we had the whole day to explore the area and we decided to go for a jungle walk on our own. There are a few trails you can join but we had been warned to be careful because it's not uncommon for people to get lost in the jungle. Ask any backpacker in South East Asia who was the famous man who got lost in the Cameron highlands and they will know it was Jim Thompson, the American Thai silk tycoon who mysteriously went missing whilst trekking. The reason everyone knows is because it's specifically mentioned in the Lonely planet which is where we are all getting all of our information. It's so funny because people will tell you about a place and mention a fact which is word-for-word what it says in the lonely planet. Our guest house owner had said if we wanted to go for a trek to the waterfall we should be fine and gave us some directions for where to join the trail and off we went. All the landmarks he had mentioned came and went, the school, the park, the football ground and next we should see a bridge but the bridge never appeared and instead we walked up a steep hill which led to a hospital
 "He never mentioned a hospital did he?", 
 "Nope, but maybe it's near here?
 With the number of random illnesses of late I was glad to know where the hospital was and considered leaving Katy there. We looked and looked but couldn't find a trail and it turned out we had climbed this massive hill for no reason as the trail was right at the bottom of it, if only he had said the trail entrance was not at all obvious and you have to wonder into someones garden to find it (We weren't the only ones, there were several groups of tourists looking confused outside that hospital). Anyway, we then did find the trail and it was a good walk and the waterfall was beautiful. We felt like proper trekkers in the jungle alone until a young girl came wondering past, seemingly just walking home from school. 

 The next day was our tour  which we were told by the guide would cover about 90% of what there is to do in the Cameron Highlands. The morning of the tour was definitely better than the afternoon as we visited the Boh Tea fields and Tea plantation. The tea fields were simply stunning and we all spent ages taking photos and watching the tea pickers from a distance, I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the highlights of our trip so far just amazing views. After a 30 minute lecture on all things tea related (apparently we all drink tea wrong and should appreciate it more like we do wine) we then went up the highest mountain in the Cameron highlands (2000m) by land-rover. From the top you could get some amazing views and our guide also took us into the mossy rainforest. The rain, temperature and amount of sun allows the moss to grow really well and everything in the forest is soft which is really strange. One of the guys on our tour had spent the day asking the most stupid questions (in the weirdest accent i have ever heard...if you imagine something sounding like a cross between Swedish and Indian you will get the idea). I know teachers tell you there's no such thing as a stupid question but they obviously hadn't met this guy. Usually he just asked a question which had just been explained... the guide would say... 
 "These fields used to be handpicked but now there are machines or at least cutting tools", and he would ask...
 "So do they still only pick by hand here?... 

  And when we were in the mossy forest he asked... 
 " So you don't get much rain here?"... We're in a rainforest, everything is damp and the guide just said it rains at some point every day. The guide just looked around and said... 
 "Actually, it rains quite a lot."

 In the afternoon we had a whistle stop tour of a number of stops including a local market (Must be our 155th market in South East Asia), the Cameron Highlands Time tunnel which was a really interesting little museum, a butterfly farm and the Sam Poh Buddhist temple. We were the only ones on our tour who spoke English fluently so for most of the stops everyone had walked down, looked at the pictures and then went back to the minibus after about 10 minutes, meanwhile we were still reading the signs. We didn't really make any friends on this particular tour, not sure why! haha! The final stop was a strawberry farm where everyone walked straight past any information about how they grow strawberries to the cafe so they could buy strawberry milkshakes, muffins, cakes, pancakes, fondue etc etc. So tasty!

 So between the two days we have seen pretty much everything there is to do in the Cameron Highlands (according to our guest house owner anyway), and it's been a nice break from the sweltering heat. Its also one of the most stunning places I've ever seen, the tea fields are simply incredible. 

 In the evening we went for some drinks with a few other people who are travel ling which was great, it's always nice when you meet like-minded people who are doing similar trips as you can share ideas etc. What was amazing was how many people we all knew in common. The first co-incidence was that one of the girls (Sarah) was from Scarborough and knew a lot of the same people as Katy, but even the other girl (also Sarah) knew some of our friends from her placement in Microsoft. It really is a small world sometimes! 

 Our next destination is the place I've been longing to visit for ages! Kuala Lumpur!!! I can't wait.
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charlene on

Not sure asbout wearing leaf bugs as ornaments but Katy makes a really sweet strawberry :-)
Did you actually manage tolight the fire seanus - couldn't see any flames! xxxx

seanspacifica on

uhh... yeah that fire was roaring a few minutes before. Katy says you wasted your money sending me to scouts because I can't light a proper fire and can't remember any knots. How rude!

Katy on

Thanks Char, I was quite excited about the prospect of a proper strawberry milkshake! Aside from the cafe, the strawberry farm wasn't that interesting... the cafe made up for it though. xx

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