Tea for two

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Where I stayed
Daniels Lodge

Flag of Malaysia  , Pahang,
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I was so glad to be leaving the capital and heading up into the Cameron Highlands, we caught a VIP coach (that means it has frilly curtains) up up and away, and the thing with gaining elevation is it gets cooler so Justin was very happy. The coach drove up really twist roads as we gained height and at times I did wonder if we were going to go over the edge...but we didn't. As we climbed the scenery got greener and greener, it was like a breath of fresh air, in fact it actually was after two days in Kuala Lumpur’s smoggy streets.  The hostel was recommended by a fellow traveller (Daniels Lodge) and it was great, so laid back and it cost 3 pound a night for a shared dorm and after my 4.30am get up it was just what I needed.  We walked around this very small town and it took about ten minutes then we chilled out at the hostel after unpacking our jumpers from the depths of our bags.  That first night was an interesting one, most of the night I kept waking up to Bottom Burps and just though it was Justin, so in the morning I made comment on it, to which he replied "Oh that wasn’t me, it’s the old Chinese  guy in the corner" Great a serial trumper next to me,  that’s all I need!

The Cameron Highlands are very popular for trekking and with most of Malaysia’s tea plantations here there was plenty to do and see.  We booked to do a jungle tour the following day which would take us around the largest Tea Plantation amongst other things. 

After my neighbours early morning flatulence call we jumped up and got ready to be collected at 8am, Our chauffer awaited a 4x4 black jeep with bull horns attached to the front, very king of the road!  The guide looked like an Indian bandit, he had a huge moustache and a cowboy hat on, a little scary if I’m honest.  There were eight of us on the day trip and it started off in the jungle, The Beast (4x4) took us up a really muddy track into the jungle where we trekked for a short while he took us to see the world’s largest flower The Rafflesia, the largest one was one and a half meter wide but the one we saw was a lot smaller.  Once it has flowered and died it takes 23 years for another to grow in that same spot so they have conservation project in place to make sure they are protected.  On our way back to the beast we stopped at a beautiful waterfall where some of us dipped our feet in the water, then as we were walking back I put my foot in it, literally the whole foot in a clay mud puddle, mud everywhere, all over my trousers and with a matching brown clay boot....great!

He then took us to a typical village to meet some local’s, they showed us how they hunt for food by using a blow pipe, then we all had a go at blowing a dart at the target board they had made.  It was quite sad to see how they live, their houses are made of tin and the children were just running about playing in rubbish.  The government are building the all new brick homes with solar power however they have stipulated that the small community must become Muslims as a result, the children have all been offered schooling but the parents don’t see how it will benefit they because of their lifestyle and where they live, a real shame that they don’t get a chance to better themselves or want a better lifestyle for their kids.  We then drove for a lunch stop at an Indian Restaurant where we all tasted some really great food and I washed the mud off my boot using a toilet brush in the toilet.  With my new clean boot we visited the highlight of the day The Boa Tea Plantation, as we drove up to plantation there was a sea of bright green fields everywhere, we passed through a small village where all the tea pickers live, mostly Indian. Firstly a short tour of the production, I say short because the whole process of drying and compressing the tea is very quick.  I asked if there were any jobs going for tasters but no such luck.  After the tour we bought a mug of tea and conducted our own tasting, I have to say it was the best cuppa I have had in 7 months. 

We the stopped at a butterfly and insect farm, we thought this would be no good but we paid and went in anyway and it was really quite interesting, amongst all the beautiful butterflies we saw lots of creepy crawlies.  One of the guys David noticed that the glass cabinet of scorpions was locked by a simple padlock and the key was just sitting next to the lock, the more we looked about most of the cages were all the same, tarantulas, snakes and giant toads.  We made a joke that we should release them all and run off but of course even I wouldn’t be that stupid, so we left that job for a small child to do. Last but not least the strawberry farm, where we were told by the guide if we find any ripened strawberries we could pick and eat them as long as the owner doesn’t see, so we all ran off like naughty children looking to steal something, but he was too clever for that, they had all been picked that morning.  I’m sure he had a laugh watching a bunch of Out for nowts trying to get a freebie though.  I did buy a box and they tasted so good, they were quickly taken off me when Justin realised if he didn’t act quickly he would lose out.

We were dropped back at the hostel about 6pm after a full day exploring all that The Cameron Highlands had to offer, as beautiful as it is up there it is a shame that so much farming is taking over the rainforest, our guide has lived there his whole life and with farming and landslides the rainforest is decreasing so quickly and the government are doing very little to stop more land being sold into vegetable farming.  He was right everywhere we looked there was one farm or another; it really did spoil part of the landscape, the government see the money and get greedy, he was very frustrated about this and that became very apparent on the tour.  It left me thinking our government in the UK could be a lot worse that they are.

That evening we sat on the sofa outside and watched a film in our winter clothing, what a treat.
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