24.03.2013 - 27.03.2013
Making our way to the Cameron Highlands took the better part of the day, with a long hot layover in the scuzzy bus station of Ipoh.The town of Tanah Rata is not particularly picturesque, despite it lovely surroundings. They are building like crazy, and putting up huge high rise hotels and apartment buildings in between several obviously abandoned and half built edifices. There doesn't seem to be any restraint on where, how much, and how high, they can build. The streets are packed with vacationing Malays, as well as a fair number of western tourists. Despite this, it is still small enough to have a relatively relaxed atmosphere, and is full of good restaurants.
We were fortunate to be in town to witness a Hindu celebration, with dancers decked out in full regalia, drummers, musicians, floats, and fruit and sweets given out to all.
Photo by Bill Wertz
This Caliban like figure was riding high in a float and blessing babies
And the moon made it pure magic.
For the past couple of days we have been happily encamped at Father's Guest House, which is a low key place largely for western backpacking types. Father, aka Gerard, picked us up from the nearby bus station. The staff here is the opposite of the Anjungan, friendly, and helpful.
As it was for the Brits ,who established this town as a tea growing hill station, the climate is positively bracing compared to the rest of lowland Malaysia. A very nice change for us northerners. Every day so far we have had some sun, mist, and late afternoon thunderstorms. We have gone on some enjoyable hikes on the extensive network of trails. In between, we have had some memorable meals, especially the Malaysian version of hot pot.
Yesterday was by far the most challenging walk, with a gain of at least 2000 steep and muddy vertical feet to the top.
A little disappointing and anti-climatic, the summit had several building and an assortment of cell towers.
We walked back down on a narrow road on the other side, past verdant tea fields and strawberry farms.
The views across the steep fields were stunning, especially the sunlit rows of tea bushes against the black sky of an approaching thunderstorm.
And the tea workers kept picking and planting until the last moments before the storm.
We took shelter in a small Hindu temple not far from these houses, just as the rains hit.
After a half hour or so we continued on through the mist, and ended up in the dead end of the Boh Tea Plantation, after having been directed down the wrong road. It was getting late, and we were a long way from town. Luckily, a Straits Chinese man offered to take one of us back to his hotel. The car was too full for him to take all of us , but 20 minutes later he returned for Bill, Nanette and I. We were then able to call a cab to take us back to Fathers. An altogether enjoyable day, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
The Malays have been a mixed bunch in terms of friendliness. Some, like the previous gentlemen, have gone out of their way for us, but others do not want to be bothered even to make contact. We have heard it has something to do with their work ethic, which seems to be lacking.
Another day, another hike, and we ended up in Tan's Camellia garden quite by accident.
Photo by Nanette
I, of course, took this one.
Yes, this is a pina, also in Camellia's garden
Tomorrow we return to KL once again, where we will fly to Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, for the final leg of our journey.