We arrived safely on the mainland after an uneventful ferry journey and were whisked off by a taxi who’s drivers bizarre music taste flicked between hard hitting techno and Nsync. We had hoped to make the journey up into the highlands in one day but arrived at our transit stop of Ipoh a little late and decided to overnight there, taking advantage of the huge mall just outside our motel room (situated inside the bus station,) stocking up on muesli for breakfast and feasting on roti john – which if we did everyday would leave us looking distinctly round. On that note, not being one to speak, we have noticed since our arrival here that the populous seem to be noticeably more… well fed… in comparison to the rest of the continent. Wealthier > healthier.
Unfortunately our arrival into the Cameron’s highlands coincided with the school holidays here so it mattered little that the roads were winding as we were rarely moving above 10mph thanks to the abundance of traffic on the roads. We did pass by the beautiful terraced slopes of the tea plantations reminiscent of similar journeys we had made up into the hills of Darjeeling.
We rose early(ish) the next morning to make the most of the surrounding hills and have a trek up to one of the local peaks. There are plenty of trails beginning in and around the town of Tanah Rata where we were staying and we headed for the beginning of trail 10 after recommendations from the locals. It was a nice route starting off in the forest and eventually plateauing out at the top delivering nice although misty views of the surrounding hills and town. Right at the top was plonked a huge electric pilon reminding us you’re never far from civilisation here in western Malaysia unlike other places we’ve been where venturing out just a little lands you in surroundings completely unadulterated by human activity. We got a little lost on the way down, taking an alternative route and finding ourselves in the middle of a large construction site, the workers didn’t seem bothered about us strolling through the middle of their site though and we got back just in time to catch a rather fancy afternoon tea at one of the posh hotels, we had both been craving scones and jam since we heard they were available here and we were not disappointed.
Our intention to visit the tea plantations the next day was foiled in part by the less than reliable local bus service, and in part by the altogether more reliable weather patterns, having waited the best part of two hours at the station the afternoon clouds rolled in followed shortly by thunder and rain. To compensate we bought heavily at the market and ate mountains of fruit salad, preparing for our trip to the capital as the rain fell down heavily around us.
Kuala Lumpur up next.