These few days we will explore the beautiful nature of Malaysia. One place to do this is in the Cameron Highlands, know for it’s tea plantations. We also visit the Mossy Forest, walk the jungle trails from Tanah Rata and have Chinese Steamboat for lunch in Brinchang.
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Local bus to Tapah
From Kuala Selangor we’d like to go to Cameron Highlands by local bus. Cameron Highlands is a nature reserve in central Malaysia, which is known for its tea plantations. Unfortunately it’s harder than we think to go by local bus… Maybe that’s why they recommended us to go back to Kuala Lumpur and take an expensive express bus. Oh well, we like the adventure, and really didn’t want to go back to a place we’ve already seen. Also we’d rather experience the local way of traveling and see some small villages. Eventually, with a lot of help from the locals, we take a free bus to Sekinchan, and another free bus to Teluk Intan. From there it costs us 4 ringgit each to get to Tapah, which is the last stop for today. From here there’s a bus to Cameron Highlands once a day, but it already left. Let’s find a place to sleep!
There are hardly any tourists here, so the few hotels all have vacancy. We end up in the Tong Yoon Hotel, run by a friendly Chinese woman. We fresh up, take a hot shower, wash some clothes and go out for dinner. TripAdvisor even has some usefull advice on where to eatt in this little town! We pick a Western restaurant and have a large piece of chocolate cake as desert. Sometimes we deserve to treat ourselves.
The next morning we look for the express bus office, but little people seem to know about it. At the local bus station, people are not very helpful or friendly. At least, that’s what we think. Maybe it’s just the language barrier. It must be hard to talk with only 2 teeth in your mouth! People don’t go to the dentist here, so to have only 2 teeth is more a standard than an exception. After asking three times, we finally get pointed in the right direction and find out that the bus leaves at noon. Good, then we still have some time to download some movies and music on our phones. After all it’s still a few hours on the bus.
The bus ride is awful. The bus driver thinks he’s in a Formula 1 competition, and that on a hill with many, many sharp turns! The lady next to as has a hard time not to puke. Luckily we’re still alive when we arrive at Cameron Highlands.
R&R Budget Inn
We already booked a hostel online, the R&R Budget Inn. Unfortunately this place is not in our Maps.me app, and has the wrong location in Google Maps so we end up somewhere on the other side of town. When we ask for directions at some monastery, we even get driven back to town in a very luxurious car and get dropped off in front of the hostel. So nice of them! When checking in we meet the two Philippine friends that run the hostel and a tour office together. They both are very friendly and make sure we have everything we need. We even get a cup of white coffee for free every day, and when we see them on the street, they wave enthusiasticly at us, with a big smile on their faces. The hostel in nice and quiet, even though it’s in the middle of the main street, just across the bus station. It’s clean and they even have hot water showers! There’s also free warm and hot drinking water, the WiFi works and we got free towels with the room. Basically, it’s more like a hotel than a hostel, and it was one of the cheapest accommodations we could find!We would recommend this place to everyone. If you want to book, use this booking.com link and you will even get a 15 euro discount! Click here for a photo blog and review on this accommodation.
In the afternoon we go for our first walk. Around the village of Tanah Rata, where most tourists stay during their visit to Cameron Highlands, there’s about 10 jungle trails. Some go over mountains, others to waterfalls or through strawberry fields. You’ll find all the trails in Maps.me, and together with GPS this is all you need to find your way on the trails. We decide to go for trail number 10, because it’s close to town and it’s not that long. It’s already late in the afternoon and we have to be back at 7 pm, because by then it’s pitch-dark on the trails and it can get really dangerous. The trail is beautiful and very well maintained. It’s an easy trail until we are half way. From there it’s very muddy and too slippery to climb up the hill, especially on trainers. Unfortunately we have to go back the same way. It rains a lot in Cameron Highlands, which is why it’s so beautiful and green, but this means you should never leave the house without a raincoat. Also think twice to walk the trails when it’s been raining a lot, because it will be slippery and can be dangerous.
The next day it’s time for trail number 9, to Robinson Falls, and then back to trail 8. Trail 8 makes a nice circle together with trail 7, so that’s where we’ll go. It’s not recommended to do these tracks by yourself, but there’s really nothing to worry about. With our Maps.me app it’s easy to stay on the righ trail. The one thing to worry about is if you can handle these tracks, because it’s a LOT of steep climbs and descends. It took us at least 4 hours to do 8,5 kilometres, of which only 4,5 kilometres is on the trails. The other 4 is the asphalt road that leads to the trails, which is a very easy walk. It is very beautiful though, and you won’t see any other tourists. You can really enjoy the silence, at least that is when the nearby mosque doesn’t decide to sing through the speakers for 2 hours. I guess we were in bad luck… When it starts to rain on the way down, for me all the fun is gone. The trail is just a little bit too hard for me, but at least Riny is having the time of his life. The rest of the day I need to recover from it.
Tea plantations and Mossy Forest
Our last day in Cameron Highlands we rent a scooter to go to the famous tea plantations of Sungai Palas BOH, about 12 kilometres from Tanah Rata. There’s about 3 giant tea plantations in Cameron Highlands, and many small ones. We choose this one because it’s on the way to another sight for today. The plantations are incredibly beautiful. We’ve never seen anything like this. When the sun comes out we get to see the intense green colour even better. It’s a very unique piece of nature. Very structured, because it’s man-made of course, but at the same time it’s very calming, peaceful and natural.
Next stop is the Mossy Forest. Even though we were discourages to go here by scooter, we’re quite happy on this steep road when we overtake another slow car and another group of pedestrians soaked in sweat. The road is actually fine, it only has a few holes in it and it’s nothing like to road we’ve driven on at Nusa Penida, Indonesia! The forest is at the top of a mountain, so it’s a lot cooler here than in the villages. And Cameron Highlands is already a lot cooler than the rest of Malaysia, around 15-25 degrees Celsius, so basically here it’s not cool but cold. Do bring some warm clothes if you go here.
The Mossy Forest is very foggy and wet, which causes the moss to grow everywhere. It’s a mysterious, fairy tale-like landscape because of the fog and it leaves us with some great pictures. The first part of the walk is a boardwalk and the second part is just mud. Wet feet guaranteed, so I pass. Riny’s up for some more pictures, so he takes the risk and tries to get through the mud by stepping on tree logs and stones. After about 30 minutes he finally returns with his feet still dry, but he admits that’s there’s no fun in walking here today.
Chinese ‘Steamboat’ in Brinchang
On the way back we stop in the village of Brinchang for lunch. I heard this is a good place to have cheap, vegetarian, Chinese ‘Steamboat’. You’ll get a simmering pot of stock at your dining table, and cook your own vegetables, mushrooms, mock meats, and so on. It’s quite fun and very delicious. It’s also many times cheaper than the steamboats we saw at restaurants in Tanah Rata. When we finished eating it still hasn’t stopped raining, so we arrive at out hostel all wet. Time to bring back this scooter and warm up a little. This basically takes all afternoon, because it’s not even 15 degrees outside today. In the evening it finally stopped raining and we go out for some Indian food at Singh Chapati Urban Restaurant. One of the best things I ever ate in my life. Wow. Definitely go eat here when you visit Cameron Highlands!
Tomorrow it’s time to go. Next up: Taman Negara National Park.