Welcome to the Jungle!
Trip Start Nov 20, 2013
139Trip End Ongoing
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Shortly after meeting with Colin, we packed everything up (our clothes were finally dry enough to pack) and were out on the main streets looking for a taxi to take us to the bus stop. A couple taxis drove by us with stickers stating they are metered taxis and no haggling is allowed, but when we asked them to use the meter, the drivers said they wouldn't. So, we decided to walk to the bus stop. It was hot, humid, and we were sweaty, but we made it and got on a bus quickly. Cameron Highlands is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. There are interesting things to see and do and the temperature is much more mild than other areas of Malaysia since it's high up in the mountains.
Jason and I decided on doing two half day tours with the same company. Yesterday, we went hiking in the jungle in search of the world's largest flower called Rafflesia. This flower can only be seen here, Borneo, and Sumatra. They start out quite small and once they are easy to open, they do so one petal at a time, almost one each day. Once all of the petals are open, the flower blooms for just about 5-7 days before dying. Since they are so short lived, the tour companies depend on the local aboriginal people to help them spot these magnificent flowers. We had an aboriginal man join our group as a second guide so he knew exactly where to go. We really enjoyed the hike, especially since it's been over a month since we've done a really good hike, but this one was a little more challenging than we thought it would be.
At the end of the hike, we watched a Blow Pipe Hunting demonstration. This is the traditional hunting tool used by the aboriginal people to hunt monkeys and snakes in the jungle. Today the hunting is done for fun and no longer for survival. The blow pipe is literally that; a large pipe where the dart goes and the hunter blows it out. The darts they use are wooden and don't feel that strong, but the hunters shape the tip with a knife and also put poison on the tips. Our tour ended with a nice lunch of Indian food and us being exhausted. We headed back to the hostel and each had a shower and a nice nap.
In the evening, we met up with a couple we met on the hike this morning (Matthias and Sarah from Germany) and took a taxi to the nearby town of Brinchang to visit their night market. This night market isn't as big as the one we went to in Cheras, but it's still very big and it's nightly. The four of us thought the set up and take down of this market might not be worth it each day, but this evening it was busy since there's a school holiday this week, bringing many people to the Cameron Highlands to escape the heat. Like always, Jason and I tried different foods and I bought some strawberries for breakfast.
Along with cooler temperatures, jungle trekking, and Rafflesia flowers, Cameron Highlands is known for its many tea plantations and strawberry farms. This morning our tour started by visiting the Boh tea plantation and taking lots of pictures of the beautiful views of the tea garden. Malaysia only produces black tea, but we learned that black, green, and white teas all come from the same tea bush and it's just the way they are processed that makes the difference. Boh employs 300-400 farmers from various countries. They come here to work for small wages, but are given homes to live in, allowing them to send money back to their families at home.
After viewing the beautiful plantations, which are well manicured to enable the farmers to easily lookout for snakes or bees, we headed to the highest point in Cameron Highlands, Gunung Brinchang. It's 6666ft above sea level, so being at the top did give us some nice views, but they weren't the most impressive we've seen. From here, we went to the nearby mossy forest and took a short walk around the cool, green forest before heading to the Boh tea factory and cafe. We were able to tour the factory and watch the process of the tea being made and see a video giving more detail about the company and the products. I tried some vanilla tea, which was good, but didn't taste any different from other vanilla teas I've had in the past.
Our next stop on the tour was to the Butterfly and Insect Museum. It was fun to walk through the pretty gardens with butterflies flying freely all around us. The colours of the butterflies and flowers alike were so vivid and gorgeous. Although the other insects and other animals didn't interest me as much, it was still fun to see some of the snakes, turtles, and frogs. The array of animals chosen for this museum were interesting, as there were turkeys near scorpions, squirrels near lizards, and snakes near beetles.
The last stop on today's tour was to a strawberry farm. After eating the tasteless strawberries for breakfast that I had bought at the night market last night, I wasn't overly excited to taste more strawberries. We were less than impressed of the industrial kind of farm we were brought to. I couldn't even begin to compare this "farm" to the sites of berry picking we saw in New Zealand. We only stayed here for a short while before getting dropped off back at the hostel. From here, Jason and I thought about doing a short trek to see a waterfall nearby, but it was raining really hard, so instead we had a nice lunch/dinner and headed back to relax at the hostel. Although today's tour was not the best, we still enjoyed parts of it and had a great time yesterday. Excited to be heading to hot and humid Penang tomorrow, we did enjoy the cooler temperatures of the highlands over the past few days.