Malaysia Road Trip, Part 2: Cameron Highlands and Kenong Rimba NP

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February 24th 2015
Published: March 8th 2015
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Melaka - Tanah Rata - Kuala Lipis

Boh Tea Plantation IBoh Tea Plantation IBoh Tea Plantation I

The patches of green are the tea bushes. The plantation is located somewhere in the hills about 30 minutes from Tanah Rata.
We left Melaka before 8 am on Sunday morning because we did not want to get caught in the heavy Chinese New Year traffic again since we had a 360 km drive in front of us. Things went smoothly and we passed KL in no time. The last hour towards Tanah Rata in Cameron Highlands, where we were going to stay for two nights, took us along a small, winding road, surrounded by forest. We slowly climbed up to 1,400 metres of altitude and checked into our Bed and Breakfast at around 2 pm. The owner, Jay, was just fantastic. She advised us to go to a tea plantation on the very afternoon because apparently the tea plantations in the area are closed on Mondays. She recommended a jungle walk and a fantastic Indian restaurant to us, and before we left she also told us which road to take to our next stopover. She was just great!

As she had advised, we drove to a tea plantation. The road that lead us there was narrow and whenever there was a car coming down the hill either the other car or we had to stop and move to the side. But
Boh Tea Plantation IIBoh Tea Plantation IIBoh Tea Plantation II

The clouds created a very special and almost mystic atmosphere that day.
finally we arrived at the visitor centre. First of all we took a tour around the factory in which the tea is processed – using machines that the British had brought there in the 1930s. Afterwards we climbed up a hill and enjoyed the view of the plantation. The atmosphere was magic. The hill tops were partly hidden in the clouds and I would not have been surprised if suddenly a bunch of Orks would have appeared on one of the ridges, with Gandalf, Frodo, and elves on horses appearing on the other side. The shape of the tea bushes added to the atmosphere I think. They look like patches of green colour randomly splashed onto the hills. Before we left of course I had to drink some Cameron Highlands tea. When we were back in Tanah Rata we had dinner at the Indian restaurant Jay had recommended and also had a glass of wine and beer in a bar.

The next morning we went for a jungle walk. It was not exactly easy to find the starting point of the walk, although Jay had given us instructions. Also, during the walk we needed to be careful and make
Boh Tea Plantation IIIBoh Tea Plantation IIIBoh Tea Plantation III

The shop and café at Boh Tea Plantation where I tried my first Cameron Highlands tea.
sure we would not miss a turnoff since the tracks are not really well-marked. The (positive) flip side of this, however, was that we were almost on our own. We could enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the forest and the soft ground that turned every step into a real pleasure. First the track went uphill for quite a while, then there were a few steep low grounds we needed to climb into and out again. Once we met a group of tourists where the guy way wearing flip flops and one of the girls was walking bare foot. Interesting. The last part of the walk was really easy, on more or less flat ground. We ended up next to a river and followed the river back into town.

After a quick shower we went to Ye Olde Smokehouse, a hotel and restaurant that dates from colonial times and where you can go for scones and tea. We sat outside in the garden and it really felt like being in Britain. We were sitting on a white chased table on white chased underneath a parasol. The garden around us looked like a British one, and in the background
In the jungle IIn the jungle IIn the jungle I

Following a track not far from Tanah Rata. It was very quiet, barely anyone else out there.
there was the British style half-timbered house. The scones with battered cream and homemade strawberry jam could not have tasted any better and the tea was just perfect. We drove around the area for a bit, considering driving up to Gunung Brinchang, the highest mountain in the area. However, the road there seemed to be in very bad condition, so we turned round and enjoyed a magical sunset before having dinner at the very same Indian restaurant where we had eaten the night before.

The next morning we left for Kuala Lipis, a town that is not far from Taman Negara National Park, 120 km from Tanah Rata. This is one of the less touristy places and we noticed this immediately because there were no road signs giving directions to the city centre or to hotels. It was pure luck that eventually we saw a road sign pointing us to our hotel. We checked in quickly and then went to the tourist information in order to find out how we could get to Kenong Rimba National Park. According to our travel guide this was also a non-touristy one, consequently with not much touristic infrastructure. Our experience confirmed this. Even
In the jungle IIIn the jungle IIIn the jungle II

On our way back to Tanah Rata after our jungle walk.
getting there was difficult. The lady in the tourist office was unable to give us driving directions. Our GPS could not find it. There were no road signs. We drove around town for a while, then asked for directions in a service station. The clerk behind the counter asked his colleague, who in turn asked a customer. The customer hardly spoke any English (sorry, I need to confess that I did not speak any Malay!), and it was difficult to get where he was pointing me to. With a rough idea of the direction we drove off, but then ended up at a police road block. “Damn”, I thought. I had definitely wanted to avoid any encounter with the Malaysian police because I had heard how corrupt they were. However, they smiled and waved us past. Christiane suggested that not we might as well ask them for directions. It then turned out that the guys were super friendly and they seemed pleased that we had asked them. They told us which way to go (which involved turning round again) and ultimately we ended up on the right road, where there was also a road sign showing us the way to
Ye Olde SmokehouseYe Olde SmokehouseYe Olde Smokehouse

The hotel and restaurant in British style where we had scones and tea. You definitely think you are in England!
the park.

When the road sign pointed towards a small turnoff we took it and followed a small road for a few kilometres. Then we arrived at an intersection where there were no more road signs. The road straight ahead looked bad. Moreover, Christiane had not seen the road sign before we had turned into the small road. So we decided to drive back and find the road sign again. When we passed it the sign said “Kenong Rimba NP BY BOAT”. Aha. By boat. That we did not want. So we drove past the turnoff we had taken, hoping for another road sign. When it did not come after about 15 km we asked again and were told to turn round. We took the small turnoff again and drove to the intersection. When we got there luckily a car came our way and we asked for directions again. The guy told us to turn left and drive all the way to a jetty. So we did. The road was so narrow that I just hoped there would be no other cars. We drove past a turnoff, but decided not to take it since we had not driven the
Ye Olde Smokehouse IIYe Olde Smokehouse IIYe Olde Smokehouse II

The garden with its tables and chairs that look like in England.
7 km the guy had told us. However, when the road started getting worse we asked for directions at a farmhouse. And we were told to drive back to the turnoff towards the jetty and then turn towards the jetty. Finally we arrived there. And there we learned that in order to actually access the park you have to take a boat – which of course needs to be pre-arranged. There were a few boats at the jetty, but nobody to take us.

Christiane does not give up easily. On one of the park leaflets there was the telephone number of a park resort. She called and asked the guy on the phone whether he could arrange something for us. Back in Germany he would have told us that this was bad luck and that we should have arranged something in advance. This guy, however, told us that he would try his best to arrange something for us. He called us back ten minutes later and told us that a boat would come to pick us up. A few boats went past, but none picked us up. Another half an hour later he called again to let us know
Kenong Rimba NP IKenong Rimba NP IKenong Rimba NP I

Our spontaneous and completely unplanned boat trip on one of the river arms. The man in the picture had only turned up at the jetty to pick up his daughter from school, but agreed to take us for a little ride!
that it was not possible for him to arrange something for us. However, in the meantime a man with a boat had stopped at the jetty. He was going to pick up his daughter from school. We passed the phone to this guy and so the guy on the phone (whom we had never met) arranged with the guy on the jetty (whom neither the guy on the phone nor we knew) that this guy take us up and down one of the river arms with his boat. We waited for him to come back with his daughter, then the two of them took us for a 90 minute trip up and down a river arm. It was great to have another perspective on the jungle. The day before we had walked, now we were sitting in the boat. However, the craziest thing was how we had gotten into this boat. A guy we do not know and who will in no way profit from it arranges this via phone with a guy he has never met. Very cool!

Getting back to Kuala Lipis was easy. Getting something to eat for dinner was not quite as easy. It was
Kenong Rimba NP IIKenong Rimba NP IIKenong Rimba NP II

There was a cave the river goes through and we went through as well in our boat.
late in the afternoon and most restaurants were closed already. As I already mentioned, Kuala Lipis is not very touristy. Finally we got something to eat and I think we were the news of the day in town, being the only tourists around.

We had another early night since a long drive to the east coast was expecting us the next day. But this will be part three of our trip and thus another story.

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Kenong Rimba NP IIIKenong Rimba NP III
Kenong Rimba NP III

View from the boat towards a tree that grows on top of the cave we went through.

8th March 2015
Boh Tea Plantation I

Your story of finally getting into the park was pretty amazing; how great that your persistence paid off. I think I would have given up after turning around and around so many times. Love that jungle path!
9th March 2015
Boh Tea Plantation I

Re: Congratulations!
Thanks! In fact I would have given up at the point when we were at the jetty and there was nobody there. I would just have sat down there for a while and enjoyed the jungle atmosphere. It was my friend Christiane who called the resort and asked for an arrangement and who was being really persistent. So I definitely need to thank her!
8th March 2015

Thanks for the memories...
I went to high school in Tanah Rata from 1966 to 1968. It's nice to see that the Smokehouse is still there. I'm not sure whether the Indian restaurant you went to is the one I went to every day after school for chapattis and chicken that's a memory!
9th March 2015

Re: Thanks for the memories...
Oh it's such a small world. Do you have a post on your time in Tanah Rata on your blog? Would love to read it. I'm sure a lot has changed since then. The Indian restaurant we went to is called "Singh Chapati" and is not far from the Bird's Nest hotel.
8th March 2015
Boh Tea Plantation II

Mystic plantation
Great photo
9th March 2015
Boh Tea Plantation II

Re: Mystic plantation
Thanks! It only partly captures the atmosphere. Seriously, it was like in the "Lord of the Rings".
9th March 2015

Yes, I posted my time in the Cameron Highlands...
my blogs are in chronological order so look for the one from 8 January 1966 [blog=616117].
10th March 2015

Re: Yes, I posted my time in the Cameron Highlands...
Thank you! Guess I will have to read it all from the beginning, just started with how your parents met and was - once more - totally amazed by all the places you have lived in and seen. So many experiences!

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