The Cameron Highlands are a short 2-3 hour bus ride east from Ipoh and into very welcome cooler temperatures. So cool in fact, that the feeling of the cool breeze while hiking in the area made me long for my unbelievably comfortable sleeping bag and tent. One of my favorite things in the world is to sleep outside and feel the wind. Sometimes in Hunter, with a perfectly good bed inside, I’ll sleep on the porch. I used to try to convince Rob to sleep with me on the porch of our 19th floors high rise in Dallas so we could feel the wind, but I never quite succeeded on that one.
When the bus approached the area, Rob and I both thought that the town seemed larger and more touristy than we expected. Fortunately, we booked a place a street back from the main thoroughfare in Tanah Rata. The French family that rafted with us a couple of days before recommended a hotel they stayed in and we were glad they did! It was very reasonably priced, clean, quiet and comfortable. Trying to keep our accommodation expenses low, we opted for a room with a shared bathroom. Before traveling this summer, taking a hotel room with a common bathroom was a foreign idea to me, but it’s a common option in Asia and if the facilities are well kept it’s an excellent way to minimize your costs. Traveling in Nepal, nearly all the teahouses have common bathrooms so almost any bathroom after that seems clean! I took a hike up to the summit of one the mountains that evening to try and see the sunset, but it was too cloudy to get much color. We were rewarded with great views the following day when we rented a 125cc scooter and explored the area, having a fun touristy day. We both love having the freedom of a bike and it’s an almost instant recipe for a fantastic day. Helmets on, Gizmo in the pack and a beautiful sun shining day we were ready to experience the beauty of the Cameron Highlands.
After stopping for fresh strawberry waffles at one of many local Strawberry Farms we went to the Mossy Forest. Here, you are guided through the beautiful mossy, lichen jungle landscape on a boardwalk so as to preserve the natural surroundings. After climbing a lookout tower for 360 views we continued the journey by hiking a path that was technically closed. It’s being closed seemed more like a suggestion to us so we climbed over roots and stepped in mud for an hour to further be saturated in the beauty of the area. The entrance to the forest is near a tea plantation and seemed to be the next natural stop for us. The surrounding plantations are absolutely gorgeous. Very different from the rice paddies we have been accustomed to viewing this summer. We enjoyed a nice little break after hiking over a pot of BOH Gold Tea and a slice of strawberry tea cheesecake.
Since I can never get enough fresh flowers in my life Rose Valley was our next destination. It’s not so much a valley as a massive ongoing greenhouse with more flowers than I imagined. Certainly exceeded expectations with an abundance of orchids, roses, lilies, bleeding hearts, giant hibiscus and other flowers we had never seen before! We covered every inch of this massive flower heaven and left smiling. I was talking about how great the experience was all day!
As we sat down to Indian food for dinner, I looked across the tables sitting along the sidewalk and there was Christoph, the Frenchman we hiked with towards the end of the Annapurna Circuit. Small world! He joined us and we all recounted what we have been up to since we last saw one another.
The following day we relaxed, played cards and didn’t do a whole lot of anything except laundry, pack to leave the next morning for the Perhentian Islands and eat more Indian food. I am obsessed with it lately and can’t get enough naan, paneer, roti canai, curry…you name it. There will certainly be Indian aromas emanating from our kitchen when we return home.