Have I gone the wrong way... ended up in Scotland?

Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
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Trip End Jun 15, 2005


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Friday, September 10, 2004

Saturday 11th September 2004
Bus to Cameron Highlands - took 8 hours instead of the 5-6 promised, with one part on a decrepid bus that stopped every mile to pick up/drop off locals

Arrived to pouring rain, and very cold!! Cameron Highlands is at 1500 metres (and no, no altitude sickness..yet), and thus whilst very tropical jungle on the way up, you could almost be in Switzerland at the top - building style, scenery (OK, no snow), mountainous. Arriving in T-shirt and shorts was not the best idea - definetly the coldest I've been, but my standards have been raised - the average temperature here is around 17-20C, so god help me when I get back to the UK (perhaps I'l just not come back....)

Sunday 12th September 2004
Malaysian tourist trap day - went on half day tour to get my orientation in the Cameron Highlands, which was OK at best - really a tour of some shops! - Honey Bee Farm...and shop, Butterfly Farm...and shop, Tea Farm...and shop, Chinese Temple...OK, no shop.

Clearly popular with Malay's (loads of them) and very good at boring the occasional westerner. At least the weather is at least warmer, when the suns out - back to T-shirts at least!

Guesthouse is not the best in the world, decor wise, but is very good socially - meet some great people, and the staff are great, including 3 puppies! Ghan, the chef (think thats how you spell it) keeps giving you free tastes of food and trying to improve his english on me!

Monday 13th September 2004
Jungle trek day, with two girls from Ireland, and one Korean girl. Guide starts off well by telling the Irish girls their fat - which of course went down well. Taken first of all to see the biggest tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands - basically huge valley covered with tea trees - great views, and get to see the Bangladeshi tea pickers(who get paid a pittance), who I'm sure were enthralled with me snapping away on my camera.

Onto the actual jungle trek - with brand new path, cut as we went - luckily, i didnt have to do the cutting (we'd have got about 5 yards), and quite hard work - most of it vertical, and very slippy. 2-3 hours of climbing the mountain, with a break for my chilli rice and chicken purchased earlier from a local restaurant - amazing how good food tastes when your in the middle of the jungle!

Pick up truck kept stuttering, and on the return journey was the same - problem was that it was Japanese (they apparently make cars, trucks, everything these days), and not the most common car of the Cameron Highlands, the Land Rover, 1960/70's vintage - they are absolutley everywhere here - all patched up, and all showing their age.



Clearly our pick up wanted to get closer to the Land Rovers, as we sped through the narrow lanes, in the rain, one was coming the other direction - spectacular skid, in slow motion (at least thats how it appeared), and expected spectacular crash....just avoided as we scraped down the side of the Land Rover - whose driver was not impressed!

Onto waterfall, pretty, but not as good as in Thailand, and, as the water was freezing, decided against swimming, and then return - on the way the pick up breaks down, but he eventually gets it going, spluttering all the way back.

Major dilemma now - do I go down to Kuala Lumpar, or across to the Perhentian Islands? - Cant make my mind up and keep getting conflicting advice - see, you dont realise the problems I have to deal with!

Tuesday 14th September 2004
Decided to climb the highest mountain in the Cameron Highlands today, at 2000m (precisely?), with a Scottish oil rig worker, Neil, and a German guy who we met at the bottom. At 2000m, its only 300m below Val Thorens...will altitude sickness return?

Thankfully, No! hard climb through the jungle, with some nice vertical bits, where I was literally climbing up trees, and took about 3 hours to the top (with plenty of breaks!), but my fitness must have improved since Chaing Mai (dont know how, beer isn't renouned as an aid to fitness), and then walk down country lanes, with excellent views of the tea plantations and the countryside.



Dinner was special dinner served by Ghan, to pretty much everybody staying, coconut rice, pork, and lots of things that tasted nice but had no idea what they were

Wednesday 15th September 2004
Agreed with Ghan last night he would sort out my bus ticket to the Perhentian Islands - could easily have done myself but he so wanted to help! Perhentians have one the vote - so many recommendations, and anyway, I can go to KL next. Bus takes you to Koto Bahru, right on the top of the east coast of the Malay peninsula, where, they now have bird flu..wonderful.

Surprised at the price Ghan quoted me - three times what I was expecting - surely he wasnt going to rip me off? - I just had to check at the bus station, and the price was correct, with not even a small commission for him, I had simply misheard somebody else...and felt incredibly guilty that I checked up on this nice guy.

Shorter walk today - there are 10 main jungle walks around, with No 1 yesterday, tried No 4 today - less strenuous, but still very pretty, bar the plastic bottles and rubbish collecting alongside the waterfall - I get the feeling from locals not tourists.

On this empty jungle path, strangely bump into Malay guy who I watched the football with the other night and cannot escape him for 20 minutes whilst he went on about how much money there is in English football (the exact same conversation we had whilst watching!)

Bus down to Ipoh, suddenly its hot again, kill time for 2.5 hours in this nothing town, then catch night bus to the Perhentians
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