The temperature in KL is already miserable by the time we leave at 8 in the morning. As we ascend through the lush hills, the outside temperature starts to resemble the air-conditioned tundra that is common in these types of buses. The mountains are covered in greenery and fog. When we step off the bus in Tanah Rata, it is refreshingly un-miserable.
At the top of the highest peak in the Cameron Highlands, I find a group of teenagers lounging near the lookout point, their minivans sitting on the road ahead. Some of them ask to take selfies with me. I’m covered in mud from the hike, which involves at times pulling oneself up the trail by the tree roots above. Though, it is altogether enjoyable. There isn’t much to see at the lookout point, the tallest peak in the Cameron Highlands not being all that high and the perpetual fog limiting visibility. I snap a few pictures for good measure and head down the road. I’m passed by the minivans of school kids on the way down.
The road leads through farms growing cabbage, strawberries, and everything in-between. A few goats graze on a hillside. Eventually, I make it to the tea plantations, entire hills covered in tea plants. I run into a group of kids driving around seeing the sights for a day. They all take selfies with me in front of a bunch of tea.
I visit Sungai Palas Boh Tea Estate, where there is a large café overlooking the tea fields and a huge shop selling tea. It’s mobbed with groups of tourists, and there really isn’t a whole lot to do there. I snap a few photos (here: http://instagram.com/p/vac6sjMOAK/?modal=true) and keep walking.
On the long road that I am hoping leads to Brinchang – the town north of Tanah Rata – I see a some locals walking the same direction as me. Though this might sound encouraging, I don’t know how long they’ve been walking, or where they’re walking. Eventually, I see people coming from the other direction, and learn that the main road is less than 1K away. As I walk past hydroponic strawberry farms, bee farms, produce stands, and cactus nurseries, several Range Rovers overtake me. When I reach Brinchang, after avoiding getting caught in a downpour, I eat an amazing vegetarian meal for 2MYR ($0.59).
The next day I go on another hike that is supposed to be steep and challenging. This hike is also very muddy, and not really a trail as much as a series of markers stretching up a mountain. Later, when asked about my hike, I charitably remark that the trail is not very well maintained. As I descend down a different trail and pass a rest stop, there is yet another group of school kids. One of them takes a selfie with me, and I continue on down the hill.
The morning I leave, I regret not getting some Roti with egg for breakfast. The food in the Cameron Highlands, as it turns out, is really quite good. I still prefer coffee over tea. And after a long hike, I want a beer.