2 August 2009
A good 7 months ago, my itchy feet have brought me to this beautiful place in Malaysia called Cameron Highlands. This happened just exactly a week into 2009, so this makes it practically my very first travel for the year.
Cameron Highlands is the smallest district in the Malaysian state of Pahang. The place is located in the northernmost tip of the state and is considered as one of the wonders of Malaysia.
The trip started at the Golden Mile Complex somewhere along Beach Road here in Singapore. This is usually where most buses going to Malaysia departs. Since the bus leaves at 10 PM, I just took a leave from work that Friday. I left the apartment at around 8:30 PM and half an hour later we had our boarding pass with an hour to spare before departure time. I figured we could use that time to get ourselves something to eat since I did not have dinner that night; unfortunately all the surrounding eateries were already closed for the day. No choice but to get artificial food (i.e. convenience store food).
The bus of 5 Star Travel was more than I expected. It was a double decker bus that was only half-filled and it has a huge seat that can recline to almost flat. It really looked like it was a business class seat of an airplane. There was also individual video screen, which plays various movies; the entertainment was not SQ quality, but it should suffice. Around 2 hours after we cleared past immigration of both Singapore and Malaysia, I was already in slumber land.
It was around 7:30 in the morning when we reached our destination, Brinchang. This is one of the 8 towns in Cameron Highlands. It was very cold that morning when we stepped out of the bus and it was only then that I realized that I did not bring any long pants at all. Cold and hungry, we immediately went around to look for a place to get a hot meal and a hot cup of coffee as it was uncomfortably cold that morning (I was told later on that it was one of the coldest morning they had in recent weeks with a temperature of 12 degrees centigrade).
After a simple yet filling breakfast of hot noodles coupled with hot coffee, we immediately bought ourselves a half-day guided tour around Cameron Highlands. The temperature was already bearable so we walked around for a few minutes, nothing much to see though as the shops were still closed.
The tour started at around 9 AM, we were first brought to one of the many tea plantations in the area; it was a marvelous sight, just as it was when I first saw it in the photos several years ago. As far as your eyes can see, it was all green. Our Indian guide, Kumar, gave us a detailed lecture of how the tea plantation came into existence as well as the various processes on how tea is made.
The next stop was Gunung Brinchang; at 2,032 meters high, it is the 2nd tallest peak in Cameron Highlands. There is a tower on top, which allows people to climb up and have a glimpse the area from a bird’s eye perspective. Adventurous as we are, we climbed all the way up. It was a pleasant sight and the air was very fresh. We climbed down after a few snaps from the camera.
The mossy forest was the next destination, aptly called as such because of the tremendous amount of moss and lichen enveloping the entire area. Another tour guide gave us a short lecture about the mossy forest and led us into a brief but educational hike. The grounds beneath your feet do not feel hard when traverse the mossy forest rather it feels as if you are walking in hard foam similar to those found in children’s playground.
The last stop for the tour was the Sungei Palas Visitor Center of Boh Tea. There was another guided tour where you can really observe as to how the tea leaves are actually processed. As with every good tour, it always ends in a souvenir shop. We bought bags of tea, lots of them for friends and family. There was also a café where one can order hot drinks and dessert. The view from the café was great as it was overlooking the tea plantation, truly a great place to hang-out.
We asked to be dropped off in a nearby town called Tanah Rata as this the place that we wanted to stay for the night. Immediately we started to look for an accommodation; luckily we immediately found a room with private toilet in a hostel called Twin Pines.
The rest of the day was spent hiking around town and in nearby forest trails, we did not head out very far as we were not in proper hiking gears then. A brief stop in a Starbucks outlet and instantly, a collection was started. I bought 2 sets of mini city mugs, which was on sale at that time. Finally we went into the tourism office and bought ourselves a tour to watch the sunrise, pick-up time for this activity was 4:30 in the morning.
On that night, we had a hearty meal at T Café. A cup of hot coffee was also ordered to warm us in that chilly January night. We had the opportunity that night to meet the owner Therese, such a warm and friendly woman. After paying, we headed back into our hostel and called it an early night.
A few hours later, the alarm went off and we got up to prepare ourselves for the sunrise tour. We took our bags with us as the bus that will take us back to Singapore will leave at 9 AM.
We headed up into the mountains and with a cup of hot drinks in our hands, we tried to position ourselves comfortably while waiting for the sun to come up. It turned out that the sun was uncooperative that morning, sadly we were not able to witness a good sunrise. All was not lost though, on our way down we were able to witness fogs rolling down the tea plantation; such a awesome sight.
This trip ended at exactly 9 AM that particular Sunday, 1 full day is definitely not enough to enjoy all that Cameron Highland has to offer but it was all we have to spare at that time. I will definitely be back, hopefully at around the same time in 2010.