Published: February 1st 2012February 1st 2012
Six days of duty free beer and evenings in Sunba in Langkawi had taken its toll and it felt like a great opportunity to head off to the Cameron Highlands, in the centre of Peninsular Malaysia.
Having been cleared of dense jungle in the early 1900s to make way for tea plantations and since cleansed of communist rebels by the British Army in the 50s the area has become a top tourist attraction for hikers from Malaysia and afar.
The climate is far cooler than the lowlands and whilst sitting drinking tea in the town of Tanah Rata it has the feel of a European ski resort, minus the snow. The buildings, mostly hotels are several storeys tall in close proximity to one another, nestled in a valley where people walk by in hiking boots, waterproofs and coats.
I was staying in Twin Pines, a budget hotel where I got an attic room for £2 per night. You can’t complain when the price is so low but waking up in the middle of the night in a room with crouching space only and a full body rash from bed bugs isn’t particularly pleasant.
I had met a
French guy on the way over and we hatched a plan to tackle one of the jungle paths up to the highest peak in the Highlands, we would then try and hitch hike back to town. This was not to be.
The ascent was challenging but great fun. The belting rain turned the muddy track into a quagmire and every step had to be thought through. Three hours was spent hauling ourselves over buttress roots, crawling under fallen trees, using exposed roots as hand holds and searching for a foot hold below.
Upon reaching the peak it turned out part of the road had been washed away by a mud slide and in the absence of a vehicular route we would have to walk back to town. It was exhausting, but very rewarding, we passed acres of tea plantation spread over rolling hills shrouded by a thin mist.
We arrived back in Tanah Rata seven hours after setting off, 15 km later, with aching muscles and ravenous appetites. This was the detox required.
Following another night of bed bugs I hiked alone along the trails surrounding the town. For much of the time the trail numbers
didn’t correspond with the map path numbers and after a while I was hopelessly lost, aware that darkness would soon fall I pressed on; disorientated but quite looking forward to having to spend the night in the jungle, thieving tea leaves and hunting for tiger with my bottle opener. It wasn’t to be; after 4 hours I stumbled out into somebody’s vegetable patch and having squashed a couple of cabbages the perturbed farmer appeared and pointed in the direction of town, evidentially not that far way. Idiot Abroad.
With Cameron Highlands checked off it was time to head off to the east coast, where monsoon rains raged and the surf season had begun.
There are more photos below