Hillside Hiking at Malay!
CAMERON HIGHLANDS, MALAYSIA.
I was on a bus from the Perhentian Islands on Malaysia’s eastern coast, not sure if I was ready to abandon the lazy beach life I had “endured’ for the past seven days. Hammocks, diving, crashing waves and all night beach parties were being traded in for the lush cool climate of the interior of this wonderful country. Stepping off the bus I was hit with a blast of chilly air. I was suddenly reminded of how far away I was from the beach and confused as to why I had left.
I began searching for accommodation the same way I had for the past six months, wondering up and down the streets, inspecting what I thought may be decent enough places to crash, until finally settling on a little well known spot down an alley way called Kangs Travellers Lodge. I settled into my bunk and took it easy that afternoon, grabbing a few bites and mingling the best I could with other hostel folks.
I woke up the next morning determined to explore what was supposed to be a plethora of natural beauty. I set off alone looking for some hiking trails and eventually stumbled upon what looked like a promising little nature walk. It wasn’t very busy and for the most part I was alone on the trail with only the strange jungle noises to keep me company. I passed a raging water fall and some monkeys in the trees, some very large slugs and some fallen trees. A little disheartened by the results so far I eventually turned around and started to progress back to the hostel, regroup!
That evening I was determined to find one of the legendary tea plantations I have heard so much about from books and fellow travelers. Looking on the maps it seemed as if any proper plantations were well over 14km away and being the cheap ass backpacker that I was I refused to pay for any form of public transportation.
By luck, I struck up a conversation with an older lady at the hostel whom had been to the Highlands many times and declared it one of her most favourite places in the world. We started talking about some of the plantations and she told me a about a trail that cuts through the forest and saves me nearly 7km on my journey! She showed me a map and where to start and I couldn’t wait to finally go off on an adventure again!
That morning I packed my bag with snacks and water, brought my rain jacket and slipped on my trusty hiking boots. That damn chilly weather was back and my Canadian roots were telling me to stop being such a wuss as it was only 10c and not the usual -20c in winter back home. I walked out of the hostel and within ten minutes was lost and could not find the trail head. I reassured myself that this was just part of the fun and that I would not get lost again..haha.. 😆 if only that was true. Oh look..there it is..
I entered the trail and started my incredible journey towards the legendary tea plantation. I passed a few seniors on their morning walk and a lady with a small dog under her arm, but that did not detract from the seriousness of this awesome adventure. About an hour into the hike I passed two young women who claimed they had to turn back from a fallen tree blocking the trail. “Challenge accepted” Another 40 minutes and I came face to face with this log of doom. With careful foot placement and a few back flips I cleared the blockade and continued on my journey.
Reveling in my early triumph of the log of doom I was convinced that nothing was going to get into my way on this mission..but then of course the trail literally broke off into two different directions. THE LADY NEVER TOLD ME THAT!! looking left and then right, reminiscing of my early days taking exams in college I flipped a coin and hoped it was the right answer! I started to walk down the passageway on the right, feeling good about my decision.
A couple more hours pass and the trees are starting to thin out and sunshine is breaking through the dense canopy. I notice some irrigation tubes running along the trail now and wonder if I must be close or not… I see a clearing up ahead and think FINALLY! I am at the tea plantation. I hurry along, excited to finally reach my goal. Stepping out from the bush, brushing off the dirt and mud I walk directly into a large field. “Where is the tea?” I say to myself, looking around there are plenty of farm workers..all just as stunned to see me pop out of the bush as I am to see them. What I stumbled upon was not a tea plantation, in fact I wasn’t even close to it. What I did find was a very large cabbage farm. That’s right, cabbage. Green cabbage. 🙄 Well I exited the farm, not forgetting to ask for directions to the tea plantation and thinking that I probably should of gone left instead of right when I flipped that coin. 😛
Walking along the road was a lot less interesting than the jungle but a bit more comforting since I thought it would be easier to not get lost again. Luckily the farm was not to far away and I finally walked through the entrance. Of course that luck quickly shattered as some very strong tropical thunderstorms rolled in and immediately started pummeling me with intense rain. A local who was driving up took pity on me and offered me a ride to the main house. I thanked the helpful man and hopped out of the truck and knew then that nothing else stood between me and my cup of tea.
I sat down, looked over the menu and ordered a large pot of black tea with some sandwhiches. I savoured every sip and bite of this delicious treat as the thunderous rain storm raged overhead. I thought back to the intense but fun adventure to get all the way out here and came to the sudden realization…how the heck am I going to get back!?
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