Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Trip to The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

After spending much of the week prior feeling down and sorry for myself (for various reasons), I decided that I would spend another weekend away from Singapore. I decided to book myself a bus ticket up to the Cameron Highlands.

It was going to be a long ride on the bus, but one I was prepared to take. You see, Cameron Highlands was another one of those "places" that I had indicated that I'd "one day" travel to. I used to read travel blogs of Asia and the Cameron Highlands was always one of the destinations on a traveller's itinerary. All i knew was that there were rolling green hills.... of tea.

The bus trip was hard - ten long hours on a bus, from 10pm until 8am. The last 2 hours of the bus ride involved the bus taking sharp turns left and ride, as it wound its way up into the highlands. It was travel sickness inducing, and I was relieved when the bus finally reached its destination. I had only gotten about 4 hours sleep, in total, so I was feeling a little worse for wear. Still, there was little time to spare. I jumped off the bus, booked myself three tours - one for the morning, one for the afternoon and a sunrise tour the next morning, just in time to jump on the bus home at 10am on the Sunday morning. In other words, I really only had 24 hours to spend in the Highlands. A set of tours was my only option.

First off was the nature tour. Cameron Highlands is one of only two true remaining rainforest and jungle areas in Malaysia, given the rapid development that Malaysia has experienced over the last decade. The Cameron Highlands was significant in World War II and the British were based there, with the mountain ranges of Gunung Mentigi being an important fort for the British. However, during World War II, it fell, overwhelmed by the Japanese forces. Once battle was won by the British, they moved on from the Highlands, giving much of the land back to the locals. The Highlands still bear battle scars from the era, and there are constant reminders that there was military presence here - including the thousands of discarded British Army Land Rovers, which were adopted by the local farm owners!

So I jumped on the tour and I was greeted by Mr. Joe (i am sure he was just 'Joe' but everyone called him Mr. Joe). He led us up to Gunung Brinchang, where we proceeded to take photos of the mountain ranges and enjoy the coolness of the Cameron Highlands weather, compared to the sweaty humid environment of the rest of Asia.

The view from the top of the mountain was first concealed by mist, but soon enough, the mist went away and we were able to see right out into the distance.

(below: Me and the mountain)

(below: climbing up the rather suspect viewing tower - didn't feel entirely confident on its structural stability, but gave it a go anyway!)

(below: a photo of me on top of the viewing tower)

Once we finished up at the viewing tower, we were taken on a "Mossy Forest" exploration. This seemed like a good idea, until we entered the forest - and realised that there had been torrential rain the night before. It turned into more of a mud bath than a walk through the forest. I didn't have a problem with it! I love mud! I was also wearing my new embarrassingly white trainers that I had purchased in New York, so they needed some dirt on them. I did, however, feel sorry for the little Chinese ladies who thought we were going on a plant and flower tour - and wore high heels.

(below: Mr. Joe giving us a talk on all things moss-and-forest)

(below: another day, another new plant)

(below: Moss, from the Mossy Forest. Mr. Joe taught us that the natives used to use moss as a way to rehydrate, and proceeded to show us the amount of water moss can hold at one time - fascinating for horti-nerds like me!)

(below: Mr. Joe also showed us those things in the Mossy Forest that we couldn't touch)

(below: Mr. Joe said to not eat these mushrooms, because they are poisonous)

(below: these fungi are poisonous too)

(below: I spotted a famous Malaysian Pitcher Plant - a "carnivorous plant whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap")

(below: a random yellow mushroom!)

(below: lots of fungus means lots of photos of fungus)

1 comment:

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