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Monday, 27 October 2008

Cameron Highlands

25th October – 27th October

It took a whole day to travel from KL to the Cameron Highlands. We hoped to catch the 10.30am bus and be in the highlands by mid afternoon. Unfortunately for us it was the bank holiday weekend of Deepavali and the whole of KL had the same idea! There was no chance of leaving before noon so we secured some seats on a 1.30 bus and passed a few hours in nearby Nandos (not all bad then!). More unfortunately still, the scheduled departure time came and went and after an hour we were told the service was cancelled – no explanation given. We were rebooked onto the 4.30 bus and sat around some more!

In a suspended state of British Colonial calm, altitude-loving tea fields dress the undulating hills in an emerald coloured corduroy scattered with strawberry and honey bee farms. The Cameron Highlands sit at up to 1800m above sea level giving a break from the tropical climate of the west coast.

Anyway, after an extremely frustrating day we finally arrived at Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. It was pitch black by now and we saw nothing of the climb from sea level to 1800 metres – perhaps a good thing! It was certainly a surprise to awake the next day to a landscape of rolling lush green hills. We avoided the many agency touts for guided tours and fixed ourselves up with a scooter to hop between attractions. This turned out to be the best decision ever as the bank holiday traffic set in and motorists sat in jams the length of the highlands whilst we whizzed by with big smirks on our faces!

We spent time at the Boh Tea plantation and the Big Red Strawberry farm during the morning, making ourselves sick on strawberry desserts. We hiked up the Gunung Brinchang summit to check out the view (well… rode to the carpark at the top and climbed the last few metres!). We also stopped at the Sam Poh temple, the Highlands Bee Farm, endured and repaired a puncture and arrived at a tea shop in time for afternoon tea! Tea and scones were order of the day for most people, but neither of us drink tea and the brownie and strawberry cheesecake looked so much nicer!

After so much gorging on puddings we set out to for something more wholesome for dinner. Sam really wanted to try a ‘Steamboat’ which involved being served a variety of uncooked meats, fish and vegetables with a boiling stockpot of spicy broth in which to cook the ingredients. Dumplings, sauces and a number of utensils are also provided which turned a nice meal out into a complicated fiasco of boiling pans and sweating brows. Ady lost the plot and Sam almost almost dunked Adys head in the boiling broth – Ady liked to cook al dente while Sam liked to cook the food to death! The less said about it the better, but we won’t be having steamboat again!

On returning to our guest house, the Twin Pines, a bonfire had been lit and marshmallows were being toasted. Sam partook in this, while Ady ran to the toilet, feeling the effects of undercooked chicken from the steamboat already!

An early start for the 8am bus to Georgetown was the second bus fiasco involving our favourite Malaysian bus company, Kurnia Bistari. The bus didn’t leave until 9.10am and didn’t take us all the way to Georgetown in the end…

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