Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Brief Moment in Time - Malaysia Part 2

Cameron Highlands
The bus ride to the Cameron Highlands was long but nice. Well, nice if you like roller coasters, which I do so I was fine with it. The last hour or so of the bus ride consisted of us going up this very windy and thin road up a very lush mountain to our destination, Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. We arrive at the bus station and as soon as we stepped outside I felt something that I had not felt in a very long time, cool weather. It had to be at least 60 degrees and I was loving it!!! After being in the hot sweltering heat for the past few days, the Cameron Highlands was the break I needed. We arrived there with not knowing where we were going to stay and hoping we would find a place, and lucky for us as soon as we got off the bus a guy asked us if we needed a place to stay and had a van to take us to the hostel (it was actually the same hostel we were looking at before and wanted to stay at but thought they were full). We get there to check in and they were full. BUT lucky for us and the 3 others travelers who came with us, they said they would rent out the movie room for us for 10 ringets a night (like $5). They would place mattresses, sheets, pillows, and blankets for us. I was perfectly fine with and Jay was too, so we dropped our bags down and made the movie room our new home for the next 2 days!

We headed down for dinner and ate at this Malaysian place, which was okay. They served chicken in my fried rice and vegetables and Jay was more than happy to eat the meat for me. It is actually nice have a meat eater along with me because he tastes the food that I am skeptical of and lets me know if its meat or not. Thanks Jay! After dinner we went back to this street vendor that had some homemade fried ice cream. This thing was literally the best thing ever! It looked so easy to make too! Basically what they did was roll out 2 or 3 pieces of white bread, placed a scoop of ice cream in it, sprinkles some water on it, rolled it in some nuts or something, fried it, and then cut it into 4 pieces. Sooooo gooooood!!! We went back for another one later that night.

We hit the bed early after dinner because we signed up for this all day tour for the next day that started at 8:30am. The tour included a tour of a local village, a blow dart demonstration, 2.5 hour trekking through the jungle to see the largest flower in the world, a tour of the tea plantation and strawberry farm. The Cameron Highlands are known for their tea and strawberries as there are farms and plantations everywhere around here! Which unfortunately made it a bit of a tourist place which has it pros and cons. Its good because we can expect that people will know English and will be able to get around, but bad because it can get cheap and tacky and isn't always the real deal of what we are looking for. The Cameron Highlands, although beautiful was sadly too touristy and you could tell by the negligence of some of the locals and the tourist towards the environment. We would be in beautiful pristine jungle and out of the corner of my eye I will see a candy bar wrapper or a bottle left behind from the previous tourist. There are also parts of the mountain where the streets are lined with locals selling fruits, vegetables, and their crafts. But if you look beyond the roadside stand you will see a mountain full of trash in which they threw their spoiled goods into.This has been some of the most disheartening sights to see, and unfortunately it has not ended there and something tells me it will only get worse in our travels.

We wake up nice and early and get into this all terrain vehicle with huge tires and a big long horns on the front. There were 6 of us in the van with another 10 following in another vehicle. We drove for about an hour to the village site and was shown the blow dart demonstration at the local village. The villagers still use the blow dart to hunt and was actually a lot easier to shoot than I expected. Only a handful of people wanted to try and of course Jay and I jumped at the chance. Jay was actually the only way to get a bulls eye too! I was personally just happy that I got it on the target. We walked around the village for a bit and came across a cute little baby monkey in a cage. The sad part is that they villagers often eat monkey so most likely we were looking at dinner.

After the village we drive around the corner and went off roading and mudding up this crazy hill for like 10-15 minutes to get to where we wold begin our trekking through the jungle to see the flower. I was absolutely loving the hike. It was just what I needed since I have been unable to run here. It was hot, sweaty, and muddy. Jay and I both praised our Keen shoes as they were the best shoes for the job. After an hour or so hike through the jungle and around some small waterfalls, we finally reach the flower. It really is BIG. It is about .8 meters in diameter and sits on the jungle floor. It only stays bloomed for about 8 days and we caught it in full bloom.  It doesn't have too great of a smell but it had a nice red color with lighter dots around it. The name of the flower is rafflesia, if you google it you can see its images. After everyone rested and viewed the flower we headed back for another hour or so hike to the truck where we went down the muddy road again. 

The next stop was to the tea plantation, which honestly all we really cared about was getting some food. We were not there too long but the tea plantation was absolutely beautiful. The hills surrounding us were filled with tea bushes and it seemed as if it went on for miles and miles. As we were leaving we pulled off the side of the road and one of the guides gave us a brief lesson on the tea in the area, but the coolest part was at the end when we told us how sturdy the bushes were and just fell back onto it. So of course we all followed suite and layed back on the bushes and just gazed up in the the rolling hills of the plantation. It was comical for some, relaxing for others, and for me a bit of both. I enjoyed laid in the tea bush just gazing up at the rollings hills around me full of these green plant. Jay did the same and you can tell he was enjoying it just as much. I truly think he could have laid there all day.

After the tea plantation we went to this butterfly/inscet place, which was kinda cool cause we got to touch the bugs and stuff, but nothing I have not seen or done before. The last stop was the strawberry farm, which was actually boring. You could not do much, so we all got some strawberry like food, very delicious, and then headed back. We got back a lot later than expected because of traffic, but we found out that apparently in Malaysia traffic rules do not matter. Our driver literally started driving on the other side of the road bypassing the cars in traffic making the 2-lane road a 3-lane road for his personal use; and for a vehicle as big as his people were not slow to move out of the way. 

We finally make it back around 7:30pm and I take my first (and last even till now) hot shower. We book our bus ticket with the hostel to our next destination, Penang, and then headed out for dinner. We went for some Chinese food, but we chose the worst place to eat ever. It literally took them over an hour to serve us our food and nothing was right. Jay walked out before the food got there and after I got my meal and say raw egg running through it (not what I ordered) I threw some money down and peaced out and got a sandwich down the street. We didn't have to leave until 3:30pm the next day so we all stayed up late that night, and even though I shared a room with 5 other people with mattresses laid on the floor I got some of the best sleep ever there because I was not sweating through the night for the first time. 

Our next destination was to the island of Penang, Malaysia. We were ready for an island, hopefully a beach, but we should of guessed, just like in Melaka, just because something has water around it does not mean there are beaches.

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