Day 40, Sunday, 05 Feb, Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands.
Up earlyish for an omelette and coffee breakfast and to get ready for my adventure tour. There are a load of tour companies in Tanah Rata and I just picked the one next to my dump of a hotel, Kangs Tours. Kangs are pretty big in the backpack scene in town, running the last remaining big hostel as well as an inn and the tours, this meant there was a large bunch of people on the tour and a good mix of young and not quite so young, so people to talk too – yay, it seems like it has been a while.
I thought my tour had 4wding but it didn’t, which was probably OK as it seemed to be a very short 4wd trip and the vehicles came back clean, considering it was wet in the jungle I have no idea where they went. Anyways, back to my day. We non-4wders piled into a reasonably comfortable van and were driven for about an hour and half (as you would expect with no info on where we were going or how long it would take !) We eventually stopped on the side of the road and waited for the 4wds unlike the rest of Malaysia, I would say the temp was around 18/19 degrees even in the sun. I had my trail shoes and was gagging to go run !
I hooked up with a couple of young Belgian guys, one of them had a tiki tattoo on his leg so I went and asked him about it and introduced myself as a kiwi. We chatted for most of the early part of the walk up a 4wd track, I was really hoping this wasn’t going to be the two hour jungle trek as it was like walking along Long Rd in the Waitaks, so not particularly interesting or challenging. We soon got into a bit of nice single track, in parts it was a bit like how I remember Gibbons Track with a free flowing stream running down it ! that was really the only mud though.
The forest surrounding here is heavily infested with bamboo and wild ginger (not referring to the girl in the photo) and the bamboo is massive with huge trunks and very tall, there was still a good amount of native forest to see.
After about an hour of walking we got to the fun part with some rocky, rooty trail and a couple of cool log bridges, needless to say it took a while to get the whole group through! The water is reasonably “clean”, just looks like coffee due to the colour of the sooil washed into it.
The rafflesia is not a flower, it is a fungus, the biggest in the world (maybe ?) they are unique to SE Asia, are quite rare and intensely studied. They take 6-7 months to bloom from a bud and only bloom for a few days, as they die they emit a pungent stench, akin to rotting flesh apparently, which attracts insects to it, than then take the pollen and spread it.On the walk we saw two rafflesia, this one was four days old and was on the verge of dying, it had to start to smell.
From there we walked back down to the vehicles about an hour away, the day was warming up a bit but was still comparatively cool, If only Borneo had been this temperature!
After a drink and shoe washing stop we walked over to the local village, the tour included “an aboriginal village” – this turned out to be ten or so concrete houses with no one about and was a complete waste of time ! But we did get a demonstration and brief talk on the blow pipe. Some of us had a go but most of the group didn’t. Weird…
The ride back to Tanah Rata hit the traffic from yesterday though it was a lot worse and took us almost two half hours to get through. Still I had nothing better to do.
After a shower and a wee lie down I wandered back to Sri Brinchang, my favourite eating place in town and had a most delicious paneer masala and naan for dinner. I had discovered at breakie that they had w-fi so I posted an older blog post I had prepared earlier over a beer.
Back to the hotel early and watched “Fast and furious 5” which was as bad as it sounds but did keep me entertained till I turned the light off and failed to sleep again.
It was a pretty good day, but I am really missing company at meal times now. Hopefully once I am in the Phillies in a few days I can settle into a hostel for a time and hang, it has been almost two weeks since Jerome and I parted company.