Tanah Rata, Malaysia
4° 28' N 101° 22' E
Nov 19, 2006 09:07
Distance 158km

Text written in: English (UK)

Small money, big high!

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to get the bus to the Cameron Highlands, a journey of around 6 hours. First we had to make our way down to the big bus terminal about 8km outside Georgetown, so we had to leave the guesthouse around 8:20 or so. We arrived in Tanah Rata around 4 or so, as predicted, and were met at the busstop by our pickup from the guesthouse. He was a really friendly Indian chap called Paul, and he showed us our room and all around the hostel. We opted for the shared bathroom option, at 30RM - about E6.60 or so for the 2 of us for the night.

The difference in climate here is amazing - it's around 1600m above sea level, and is used for a lot of crop growing and tea plantations. There is a huge amount of jungle here too, although there are not so many large animals around since development really took off in the 60s. Suffice to say that we were cold last night, having to dig the fleeces and long trousers out of the bags! Crazy - just 2 days ago we were sweating in Georgetown.

We booked a tour for today, starting at 9am - a "Mossy Forest Walk" tour it was billed as. First we drove to the top of the highest mountain in the area, at 2022m, and had a nice look at the scenery. Then we commenced our Jungle Trek - the tour guides were a mind (well 2 minds I guess) of information, and told us all about the different plants we saw along the way, including the medicinal uses, traditional uses, and also any side effects of the plants. A fern tree for example can be used to create a foul smelling, toxic alcohol, which was used in India quite a bit in the past, its known locally as the 'small money, big high' plant! Then we plunged into the jungle, and indeed "plunge" we really did - there was mud everywhere, at times up above ankle level. Anne-Marie and I had decided to wear our Teva Sandals instead of runners, as we saw some remnants of yesterdays trip in the guesthouse, and it wasn't a pretty sight - we didn't fancy washing our runners and trying to dry them before we moved on. Anyway along the way we saw loads of Pitcher Plants, and many other medicinal plants and ferns. Nothing in the way of wildlife really unfortunately, but even still it was a super tour.

After an hour or so we were back in the landrovers and heading down to a Tea plantation, where they told us about how they process the tea, from harvesting it to making it into a drinkable substance. We could have tried a few different products, but they were not exactly cheap, so we decided to wash our dirty feet in the bathrooms instead!

Personally I think that Malaysia blows Thailand out of the water. The people are so much friendlier, helpful, and most importantly they don't seem to be trying to rip us off, which they do in Thailand. Example, I asked a food vendor how much something was, I didn't fully hear him so I said "Fifty?", he said "No, Forty" - could have just has easily said "Yes". Also the food is absolutely fantastic - we have not had a bad meal yet, and the street food and local restaurants are so cheap and tasty. And to think we nearly missed Malaysia alltogether. I'm so glad that we decided to come here after we left New Zealand early. It'd have been so much easier to go and lie on a beach in Koh Tao and dive for the 4 weeks.

We're trying to get into the rainforest in the east of the country, but the transfers from here are expensive - almost 20 euro (compared to 5 euro to get from Georgetown to here). So we're in two minds. Maybe we'll go to KL and try and get a cheaper transfer from there. Who knows?
All the best!

Photos / videos of "Small money, big high!":

Giant bug in the guesthouse. A Cicada apparently. Scenery in the highlands Scenery in the highlands Trekking through the jungle Scenery in the highlands Pitcher Plant Scenery in the highlands Kumar, our guide, explaining the pitcher plants Pitcher Plant Dirty dirty feet! More Scenery Pitcher Plant Strange formation Some tea-making machinery Tea plantation Tea plantation Tea plantation Leaf Frog Leaf Insect Rhinosoros beetle Chameleon Butterfly Lizard Butterfly Cooking our dessert!