Getting high in Malaysia

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February 5th 2008
Published: February 5th 2008
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February 2-5:

Well it took a while and was a bit rough and nauseating, but we finally got high. The plantations up here are great, you can get a lot of really fresh and ripe goods.

Actually, we're only up at about 3,000 feet, but that's the highest we've been in this country so far. The road up to Tanah Rata was a windy, narrow road up the side of a valley. Every corner was a blind corner and it was amazing we didn't crash into one of the many trucks and buses coming the other way. We were in the very front seats of the bus so we had the best view of what was going on and what all the honking was about. On the way back down, we're definitely taking motion sickness pills!

The temperature up here is awesome! It's like summer in Anchorage, around 75 degrees. It does get a little hotter during the day though, or it feels that way when you're hiking. It's the first place we haven't had AC or a fan in our room and it was actually quite comfortable. We stayed at the Camlodge hotel, a budget place right in the heart of town for only RM35 per night. The owners were very friendly and it was a big jump in quality from our night in Jerantut.

We started off the first night going to the night market in the next town over (Brinchang). We at lots of greasy, yummy, food from several different vendors and by the end of the evening we were stuffed. It started pouring as we headed over to the market and didn't stop all will see from the picture that we were very glad to have rain gear, even though we still got wet because it was raining so hard. You will notice in the picture that I am drinking tea out of a plastic bag. This is the Malay version of a to-go drink (hot or cold). We also picked up some fresh strawberries for breakfast the next morning (this region is known for their fresh produce which thrives in the cooler temps) and I got a long sleeve shirt because for the first time on our trip, I was cold!

The next morning we set off on a hike to the Boh Tea plantation, viewing some waterfalls on the way. The tourist map said this would be about an hour walk, but it took us three and the trail was barely holding up in many spots due to rain, erosion and fallen trees. The only wildlife we spotted was a fleeting view of a snake slithering off into the bushes, but we heard lots of other animals (the usual jungle sounds). The tea plantation was beautiful with crops covering the mountain sides (next picture). Unfortunately, when we finally made it to the cafe, there was a sign stating that the factory was closed and there would be no tours today. So we settled for tea, scones, and ice cream, which served as our lunch since there was no lunch menu. Not wanting to hike all the way back, we found another couple that was in the same predicament and split a taxi back with them. This worked out really well since 15 minutes into the ride, a downpour started, which seemed to be a daily occurance at that time.

The next day, we went for another hike. This time, the map said it would be a 3 hour hike up to the top of a mountain (about 6,000 feet). It took about a half hour to find the trailhead and the first 15 minutes of the trail was so overgrown we almost turned around, but we had nothing better to do so we tromped on. The trail widened out and became a very nice, shaded, breezy trail that eventually became a get-down-on all fours and climb up ladders of large tree roots like a monkey! It was really hard work but only took about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the top. Once there we found a nice picnic spot and filled our bellies with snacks. Still having the whole day ahead of us, we decided to extend our hike a bit and take a longer route back. This proved to be confusing because in usual Malay fashion, there were signs but they didn't seem to be very accurate and neither were the maps. The one trail we were trying to find was on the map but not labeled anywhere, but we thought we were on it...turns out we did an even longer route that wasn't even on the map. No wonder people have gotten lost on these trails! Our four hour journey took us right back to where we started, having gone in a big loop. The trail itself was really cool because we got to see so many different types of forest throughout the hike. It changed several times from a sub-tropical, high canopy to a very mossy, low canopy. Then, toward the end, it became a drier high canopy with lots of pine trees. This area in general looks like it could be in a mountain village in Europe due to the English influence in architecture and the many evergreen trees.

Today we had planned to do a tour of one of the tea plantations but found that the only one offering a tour is quite out of the way. In figuring this out, we missed the early buses out so instead we are updating the blog! Next we will head to Pulau Pangkor, and island off the west coast, via Ipoh and Lumut.


4th March 2008

Drinking out of a plastic baggie
I've encountered the to-go plastic baggie thing too, but mainly with beverages bottled in glass. The glass is too valuable to allow out of the shop so if you want it to go, into the platic baggie the Coca-Cola must go.

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