Cameron Highlands #1: Tanah Rata


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Asia » Malaysia » Pahang » Cameron Highlands » Tanah Rata
January 15th 2017
Published: April 23rd 2017
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Tanah Rata
It was an early start for me, I was getting picked up from the hostel and taken to the bus station by minivan. I managed to get some breakfast and headed down to get my key deposit and wait for my ride. When I got downstairs, there was no one about and when someone did turn up, it was all a bit if a rush, as they had to go and get someone else who could give me my money back and the minivan driver had turned up and then buggered off. Luckily, he was just waiting in his van around the corner. There were a few other pick-ups and soon we were deposited at the bus station in town. I had tried to book a minivan seat to get to the Cameron Highlands as it is faster, but since I was travelling on the weekend, they were all sold out. We had a bit of a wait at the bus station and then we were off. Unfortunately, we didn't get very far, only to the bigger bus station and then waited there for ages. I was growing very impatient. I hate having my time wasted and was wishing for Japanese transport efficiency. Finally, we left. We drove for maybe a couple of hours, I enjoyed looking at the scenery out of the window as we traveled. Although I've been to Malaysia before, I've never been to this part and can't remember my past bus journeys. I loved how tropically green it looked, with lots of big, lush trees. We had a quick bathroom and coffee break in Ipoh, before continuing on. We weren't that far from the Highlands in distance, but it took another couple of hours as the roads got a lot narrower and more windy, the higher the elevation. Outside was a contrast to what I had seen earlier. The small towns reminded me a lot of Sapa in Vietnam. We dropped some people off in Brinchang before continuing on to Tanah Rata. I'm not sure which one is the main town of the Highlands.

Tanah Rata seemed like a one street town. A nice, helpful man where the bus dropped us off pointed me in the direction of my hostel. It was lunchtime when I arrived so the owner wasn't about. One of the cleaning staff told me to help myself to tea in the kitchen and chill in the living room, my kind of place. While I was chilling another guest turned up and we got chatting, we decided to go for a hike together. After getting checked in, we set off. We had a map and knew which trail we wanted to take, however the map was a bit rudimentary, so we weren't sure if we were really heading in the right direction. We headed back to the main road and turned left. We followed the road, ignoring a few turn offs,until we came to an apartment complex. There was also a young bloke walking a couple of hundred metres in front of us, and we had decided he must know where he was going, so we were following him. I think we did or wanted to do Trail 10, but to be honest my crap memory means I have forgotten the trail number. The trail starts from behind the apartment complex, but there were two paths, neither of which were signposted. We were deliberating, which one to take when the bloke we had been stalking appeared from one, and said it wasn't the trail, but a path into someone's garden, so we all headed up the other one.

The path got a bit steeper as we headed away from civilisation and into the trees. It also got pretty muddy. There had been a lot of rain in the area recently and some of the trails had been closed as a safety precaution. I think we must have hiked for a couple of kilometres (including the bit from town), before we came to the official start of the trail. Finally, a sign we could follow. I think this was the only one we saw on the trail though. We continued through the jungle/forest. It was so nice being in the outdoors again, I had missed hiking so much. After a while, the trail got super steep. It was a right bugger to get up and we were hating it. My hiking companion wanted to give up once we reached the top and come down the same way, thinking this would be the best option. We met a couple of other hikers coming down and they said that we weren't too far from the top. After that really steep section, the rest wasn't too bad and the slope was more gradual.

We could
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Tanah Rata
hear guitar music as we ascended and came across a guy playing guitar. We made it to the top! Not that there was much of a view as it was very cloudy. We could see lots of trees and an electricity pylon, the top if which was engulfed in the fog. It did clear up a bit on one side and I could see the construction work going on in the valley below. We were at the top and had no idea, which way we should go. There were no signs anywhere. I think we used the phone's GPS to try and figure out which direction we should head in. I think we climbed a little higher and then found a trail that was heading down the other side of the mountain. he way down wasn't too tough, but since the trail was wet, I did end up rolling my ankle. Good job it didn't really hurt, I think I was more just shocked. It was definitely a lot quicker going down and we came to the bottom of the mountain/hill and there was some kind of power station or water plant there. We skirted along side it, and came
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out on to a road. Now which way to turn. I think someone else made an executive decision to go in the direction heading downwards. I probably wouldn't have been that smart.

It had started to rain, but was pretty light. We followed the road downwards, after being in the jungle/forest, it seemed a bit strange to now be walking on a tarmacked path. However, the road became more of a wide track again, as there was a lot of construction work going on in the area. I think it was more resorts and hotels that were being built. The rain had started to get heavier, too, so we had picked up our pace a bit. I think the hike took us about 3 and half hours in total, not too bad. I can't remember how long the estimated time to do it in was.

We were almost back in town, when the heavens opened. There was a little shack nearby, so we ran and sheltered under that. We ended up waiting there for quite a while, the rain was coming down really heavily. I actually started to get cold, too. It did lessen a bit, so we
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started walking back into town. We had done some kind of loop on our hike, as we were now at the other end of town to where we had started. I was starving by this point, so we headed to one of the Indian restaurant and helped ourselves to what was on offer. I love these buffets, but I don't think people normally choose as much food as I do. I see it all there and want to try everything, I think most people only try a couple of things. I also had a nice, hot Teh Tarik to warm myself up. Then it was back to the hostel to change into some dry clothes and book my tour for the next day.

Since we'd had a very late lunch, we weren't in the mood for anything big for dinner. We accompanied one of the other girls as she wanted something proper to eat to one of the cafe/restaurants on the main street. It wasn't too cold so we sat outside. Since strawberries are one of the main locally produced things in this area, we decided to get a chocolate fondue, which came with strawberries and marshmallows. I have to say it wasn't the most amazing thing I've ever eaten, it was simply okay. I think my cup of tea was better. After dinner, we had a look around the shops, buying some locally produced tea, and then made our way back to the hostel.


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