The bus left at about 11am and would take about 5 hours to reach the highlands.So I purchased a 442 for the journey and caught up on some footy news.The journey was fairly relaxed until we arrived at the base of the highlands, the narrow winding roads lay ahead and the bus driver was soon in his element.Tackling the corners with the ferociousness of Colin McCrae, unfortunately without the rallying technology behind him, we as passengers were sent sliding across our seats every which-way possible.He also tackled acceleration in the same manner as all (or at least the large majority) Asian males do; foot down until the last minute and then very heavy breaking.Even if the road is only clear for 5m, these are the rules of the Asian road.
The temperature was noticeably cooler than anywhere else I'd previously visited in Asia and I looked forward to reaching the town of Tanah Rata for its refreshing air.And if I was lucky maybe even a cool breeze.The constant heat doesn't really affect me anymore, what I now notice is a slight drop in temperature.I can't wait to walk out of Heathrow in December and feel a chill down my spine and the promise of the highlands' coolness was an added bonus.Even if when I use the phrase 'cool' I mean temperatures of below 25 degrees.But I notice it and have realised and have realised that it's fairly rare for me to require a fan in my room, whatever the climate.Admittedly it's the end of the trip but still, to be comfortable in these high temperatures seems odd.
So when I arrived at Tanah Rata I'd already decide to stay at Daniel's Lodge, I'd heard great things about it; it was cheap, friendly and lively in the evenings.I didn't need to call; there was someone at the bus stop waiting for me.So I checked in and wandered around the town.There really wasn't much to it, a 'blink and you'll miss it' town.The sort that wouldn't be to of place in Dorset and thrived off the tourism that the Cameron Highlands brought.All I did was have the best curry I've ever had outside of India and to a meandering stroll back to the guesthouse.(As I was writing this yesterday, I'd attracted two young lads taking the piss out of me Hindi but that's what happens when you try to catch-up with your journal on the edge of the Ganges.)the rest of the day was spent doing very little, booking my trek for the following day and reading.
The evening was a corker, I'd heard about the fire and Malaysia's answer to Bob Dylan coming down with his guitar.Fortunately you could take your own alcohol, so I purchased a bottle of Malay rum for RM10 and headed to the bar outback.I joined four lads from Austria and had a blast with them.The evening was spent taking the piss out of the English, talking footy and playing drinking games.It didn't end 'til gone 3am and we were all pretty battered.Not the best way to relax before a hard trek I the morning.They were leaving in the morning, so we swapped a few stories along with emails.Dare say I'll never see or hear from them again but that seems to be 'the' way to end a night.
The next day was an early start at 8.45am and that meant getting up before 8am so I could get some food and water before we set out.I know, I know 'the early time of 7.30am' I can feel your sympathy!But when you're travelling (like being a student), that time of day is early.The other downside to this day, was that I felt rough and had to stop four times to chuck my guts up along the way.Perhaps the curry wasn't so good after all. But we set off and I was in a group with four others; two lads who happened to go to Sheffield Uni and two girls from Germany (not their fault).It was a cracking hike and we took in the tea plantations (for what the highlands are famous), the jungle, river and waterfall.The guide was fantastic, Uncle Crulla, and knew everything about everything in the jungle.He was 65, a legend amongst the local community and had been trekking/working the jungle since the age of 5.still taking 10km treks everyday, the man is fitness and stamina personified.He would constantly cut things down and explain their values to us, be it medicinal, nutritional or for use in everyday life….he knew it.He would pass things to us to try and a lot of it was disgustingly bitter.He explained that if we were ever lost, we could live of these due to their nutritional make up; salt, water, flesh.He also talked about the famous Brit (can't remember his name) who has been lost inn the jungle for over five years and who is now presumed dead.He cut roots from the ground and within minutes had woven them to produce a bracelet for each one of us.I still wear mine and hope ton have it when I return home.
There were two main highlights to the trek, that of the waterfall and what I saw on the trek back to Tanah Rata.The waterfall wasn't grand in scale but due to the steep gradient of the hill and the small passageway it had, it created a powerful current.We had twenty minutes there, so the three of us (lads) stripped down to our keks and launched in.Well, more waded in due to the temperature of the water; it was freezing!Part of me shrank to the size of a pellet and the other lads were laughing that they were in the same situation.It was great to cool down during the trek and it made a very refreshing break from the humidity of the jungle.The second highlight was that of the hemp field we stumbled across.Rows upon rows of the plant but unfortunately they were all male and thus didn't produce that which it is famous for.I was amongst a lifetime supply of the stuff and all of it had little use but for cloth and tea.I tore of a leaf, in an immaculate condition, to stick into my journal\ but that evening some ass robbed it.
The trek was fantastic and something I'll definitely recommend to others.Yet again the cock-up with my Visa had seemed to add another experience to my trip.Every cloud hey?That evening followed the same line as the prior with a larger crowd this time and the fella dubbed as Malaysia's Bob Dylan by the locals, was superb.Even going as far as to look like Dylan in the face, with his cowboy-esque hat, facial hair and facial creases.I met others form Sheffield and after talking to them decided that we knew the same people.Small world.
The final day was pretty relaxed, ending with a decent game of poker before my trip back to KL the next morning.Another great side to my time in the Cameron Highlands was that of my final bill.I'd spent one night in my own room (due to the bunks being full) for the price of RM20 and two nights in a bunk for RM16.So I should've been paying RM36 but was only asked for the RM16.Slightly dishonest maybe but if you don't ask, you don't get.What they asked for, they received and with a very honest smile and thank you from myself.Before I forget, the dorms are as close to the outside world as you can get.The roof is only 10cm above your head but due to holes, has been lined underneath (just above the bed) with plastic.So each night, you fall asleep to the harmonic squawking and pattering steps from the rats!