Malaysia: Cameron Highlands - Rainbow's End

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June 21st 2008
Published: August 25th 2008
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The last time you left us we were stuck inside a dark Chinatown alley at ten past two in the morning, banging on the door of an inn and trying to dodge mothball-sized raindrops. In our desperation we made such a racket that we probably woke up half of Kuala Lumpur before the guard/night clerk stuck his angry face thru a window with a look that said: "How Dare You! That was the sweetest part of my dream".

The next morning we pondered our next move. Although KL had a nice vibe, we still had more exploring to do in Malaysia. We thought about scooting up to the East Coast baited by stories of world-class diving around remote islands like Sipadan. But rumors of the ruthless tail-end of the monsoon rains ruined that plan. The same logic squashed plans of trekking thru the ancient forests of the Taman Negara Reserve in the Northeast. And so, we decided to push North and after a scenic but nauseating six-hour swivel thru a range of mountains, we arrived in Cameron Highlands. Apart from an impressive panorama of lush, thick foliage, the bracingly-cool wind was instantly noticeable. And it was precisely for the latter that Cameron Highlands blossomed. In times past, the English colonizers, yearning for a respite from KL's heat and humidity, commissioned a station high in the cool hills. They would escape to Cameron Highlands and sip tea on balconies overlooking their tea plantations and flower gardens. And the hill station still did have a bourgeois feel - uncluttered, manicured streets and lawns, perfect design and layout and even a few out-of-place Tudors tucked up against a background of green.

We stayed at one such place - a comfortable chalet atop a hill just 10 minutes away from the bus station. In the communal area we met Alex and Chiara, an adventurous Italian couple. Over a few games of chess (the win-loss ratio will remain secret) we traded stories. They, too, were doing a bit of travelling but with a twist: no flying. Italy to India on a cargo ship, buses, trains, tricycles, the Trans-Siberian Express from China to Moscow, anything - just 'no airplanes'. They suggested we strike out into the mountains and tackle any of the network of hiking trails hidden in the vegetation and that's precisely what we did. Up hills and down thru valleys, past fast-flowing streams and small waterfalls, we trekked. Thru fields of cabbage in the odd farm, to scenic lookout towers, crisscrossing from trail 9 to trail 6 (don't take our word on the trail numbers - we had no map) and on to where the trails vanished altogether and we had to create our own.

The peace and serenity of the mountains was unbelievable and so too were the plants and flowers. A significant portion of our time was spent trying to get unique camera angles on wild orchids, carnivorous plants, ferns and trees. We descended from the heights, cut thru a corn field and landed smack in the middle of the gardens of MARDI - the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. Never mind 'Green Fingers', the gardeners here must have 'Rainbow Fingers' judging by the kaleidoscope of colors on countless varieties of plants and flowers. Exquisitely laid out in attractive compositions and complimented by quaint bridges and water features, the garden had an almost magical feel to it and it instantly became the perfect place to while away the rest of the afternoon.

We spent a few extra days in Cameron Highlands, hiking, relaxing and even hooking up for dinner with 'The Italianos'. On the last day, and purely for financial reasons, we switched to a more (uh hmmm) 'cost-effective' hotel which just happened to be closer to the bus station. The receptionist, the very friendly Suresh Rebba, had a bonfire going in no time and it drew out all the other guests like moths to the flame. A motley crew we made - a few South Africans, a Brit, an Irishman, an Indian and us two - bonding around a bonfire trying to escape the numbing chill of the highland nights. 😊

😊 Alex and Chiara - 'The Italianos' - it was great meeting you.
😊 Suresh Rebba - for your friendliness and bonfire

Additional photos below
Photos: 35, Displayed: 24


25th August 2008

Beautiful photos
The close-up shots of flowers are wonderful. Great work!
25th August 2008

Loving it
Enjoying the tour as usual and wanting to be just like your guys when I grow up...oh wait..i´m already grown arent I...shoot...Peace
25th August 2008

wat een pracht!
Hi Shaan & Vibert! Wat een pracht zeg! Kunnen jullie ook even gaan eten in Maleisië en mij lekker maken? Ik hoorde pas nog dat het eten daar meer dan goddelijk is! Hmmmmmmmmmm....... Loads of love! Annelies
26th August 2008

Nice pics........
Hi Guys, Nice pics.........., I could unfurtunately name only 1 white flower and that is the Anthurium. The flowers r' breathtaking and we can smell them from here. Beautifull colors and nice orquids. Be good and stay safe, we love u all...............Giesla
26th August 2008

The viewpoint!!!! I HAVE BEEN THERE!! oh ja, die doubles op trinidad zijn echt vreselijk lekker he!!!!! groetjes uit Montreal Daan
27th August 2008

Breath-takingly beautiful. I love it. Thanks for taking me there with you 2. Love.
27th August 2008

Too many flowers, guys... ;-)
28th August 2008

That's amazing.
Hey.I love flowers.The photos you took are really beautiful. I am free now.I can do anything I want.Because I have finished all my work.Best wishes.
30th August 2008

Hi Cameron Highlands look like a piece of heaven. You two go on and live your dreams.God bless you both. Dad.
23rd September 2008

Love the flowers!
11th February 2009

lovely photos.........
thanks for sharing. for sure, id be following your blogs. good luck.

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