Day 39, Saturday, 04 Feb, Ipoh – Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands.
I didn’t rush out of bed, not due to the beer and whisky but because I didn’t need to be anyway particularly early for a change and I wasn’t going make the other cave temples in time to get the bus. I went back to my favourite global restaurant, McDonalds for some breakfast and to use the wi-fi to try and book some accommodation in Tanah Rata and back in KL on the 6th. I managed to get a room in the place I stayed in (and got my money stolen) last time I was in KL. I chose the place as it is close to the start of the Thaipusam parade, so easy to get to. According to the internet there are no free beds in the Cameron Highlands….
With that info in mind I checked out of my hotel and took a scorchingly hot twenty minute walk to the local bus station to catch a bus to the express bus station about ten km away. I was told by information I needed to get bus 66 which was “due”, I saw bus 94 had where I wanted to go on its list of destinations so asked if I should get that as time was kinda pressing on a bit, I had allowed an hour for this exercise, I was told no – bus 66 and it was due. Fifteen minutes later I ended catching a cab, the traffic was bad so I was glad I did I think bus 66 would have got me there too late. As I arrived in my cab (at 10 times the price) bus 94 was pulling out of the express bus terminal… At least I made my express bus!
Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands is about 95km from Ipoh and the ride is scheduled for 3 hours, which seems ludicrous considering we were at the start of the Highlands in just over an hour. The road winds up through some serious hills, but is in very good condition and felt perfectly safe so we were making good time. However…. there is always a however in my posts ! There is one road through the Highlands and a LOT of traffic, mixed with a lot of street markets, small towns, strawberry farms and the Malay habit of parking a car where ever they feel like it (double, triple, whatever) the last 27km took almost 2 hours..
For the most part the journey was quite scenic, with plenty of jungle covered hills.
The Highlands are famous for their tea plantations and strawberry farms, but all sorts of fruit and vege are grown here and once we hit the central highlands the view was blighted by plastic glasshouses everywhere.
I came here thinking I would visit one of the tea plantations but in the end decided that was way too boring so I booked myself on an “Adventure” tour for tomorrow – bush trek, including a rafflesia (more on them tomorrow) and a blowpipe demonstration.
We arrived in Tanah Rata just before 3.00 PM and it was a quick mission for the five other tourists and myself to find a bed as soon as possible. All the hostels and guest houses were chocker, so I ended up in another fleapit hotel for a lot more money than it was worth, but it had a bed – pretty much all it had really.
Tanah Rata is the most boring place I have been ! it is one street lined with shops and hotels, there is no “bar” and only a few cafes that sell expensive beer with cheap (but good) food, my hotel has no internet. I was bored by 4.00 so had an early dinner of dhal and naan bread. By 7 I was bored again so had second dinner of rice and veges. I was in bed by 8, started watching a movie on the laptop and ended up watching Arsenal hammer Blackburn live on ESPN. My hotel room has a TV but ESPN is the only channel in English, thank God I like football.