Relief from the Heat in Cameron Highlands

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boh tea plantation

Relief from the Heat in Cameron Highlands

Penang was hot and humid. As I was sitting in the van on my way south to the Cameron Highlands I was looking forward to the much cooler temperatures I anticipated at 5000 ft in elevation. At the same time I was reflecting on how different the country of Malaysia is from the other countries I have visited thus far in Southeast Asia. I was sitting in the back row of a 10 seater van  with the whole bench to myself since there were only two other passengers in the whole van. The van was coasting over smooth highways that were in similar condition to the German Autobahn that I drove on in October, and the ac was keeping me nice and cool as we were ascending the mountains. I wasn’t expecting it, but Malaysia was very modernized compared to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

Once we got off the highway I could see that, despite being steep and twisty, the roads were still in very good shape. I was just wishing I was behind the wheel of that 2015 Audi TT again.

The scenery was breathtaking and changing quickly. We drove through a couple small farming towns, and past tea plantations and strawberry farms. The first big town we got to in the Cameron Highlands is called Brinchang. There were a few options to stay here, but most of the budget accommodation was in the next town south, Tanah Rata. This is where I chose to stop for now. The temperature was in the high 60s that afternoon after some rain. It was so refreshing. I checked into a nice guesthouse called Twin Pines. Set in a lush garden, it looked very nice, but once I got inside I realized it was old, dirty, and smelly. Oh well, the price was right, it had a nice atmosphere and it was centrally located.

twin pines tanah rata

That night I went to eat at a nice Indian restaurant called AA Curry house and had mutton masala and fresh naan. It was a great meal and I actually ended up coming back for dinner again later in my stay. Afterwards I went back to the guesthouse to plan out a hike for the next day and went to bed early.

Climbing up Gunung Beremben

At just over 6000 feet I was promised some spectacular views from the top of Gunung Beremben. I set off around 11 am for what I expected to be about a 4 hour hike to the top and back down. I was having second thoughts after the downpours that morning, but I decided to keep hiking until the trails got too muddy and turn around. I had a couple light showers on the way up but nothing major and the trails weren’t even that wet with the thick jungle canopy surrounding me. I didn’t see any wildlife besides a few birds, but I knew there were plenty of animals close by.

cameron highlands jungle

path 5 tanah rata

Overall it was a really interesting hike in a landscape that I have never seen before, but since the weather was overcast and foggy with showers on and off all day, I didn’t have a view at the top. In fact if I hadn’t just climbed strait uphill for the past hour I wouldn’t have even know I was at the top of a mountain.

Hiking Through the Tea Plantations of Cameron Highlands

The next morning after another nice night in the cool temperatures of the highlands, I woke to mostly clear skies. Today I was planning a slightly longer hike to the top of Gunung Jasar (5500 ft) on a well worn trail popular with people of all levels of fitness and hiking experience. It was definitely an easier climb, but I was still surprised to see some people who had no business climbing a mountain and looked like they were about to have a heart attack. Even at less than half the height of the Colorado Rockies, I was feeling a slight oxygen deprivation. People don’t realize how serious the effects of this can be.

After finally getting the views of the Cameron Highlands I was hoping for the day before on the slightly higher Gunung Beremben, I went in search of the virtually unknown path that would take me down the other side of the mountain into Boh Tea Plantation. The first couple miles were very hard to follow, but thanks to the very detailed offline map app I use called maps.me I didn’t get off track once. About halfway down the mountain I walked through farm after farm. It was really cool to see these farms, growing lettuce and flowers built right into the hillside with views of the tea plantation beyond. From this point on it was pretty much a strait shot down sections of paved road alternating with well worn dirt paths.

gunung jasar

View of Tanah Rata from the top of Gunung Jasar.

Cameron Highlands

Right before entering Boh Tea Plantation I walked through a local Orang Asli village. The people were so friendly here, if not a little surprised to see a westerner walking through their village. A group a locals sitting outside playing guitar invited me to have lunch with them. They didn’t speak much English, but they were trying to offer me a free lunch. They were so generous and cooked some delicious mee goreng. The conversation was very strained, but they were very interested in where I was from, even though they either didn’t understand me or had never heard of the US. This was definitely an unforgettable experience and I am very grateful to the friendly locals for inviting me to their home for lunch.

orang asli village cameron highlands

A short walk down the hill was the Boh Tea Plantation. After walking through the beautiful rolling hills covered in tea plants, I stopped for a strawberry flavored tea. I am more of a coffee drinker, but this was some nice tea and just really cool to drink it among the plants that it came from. I got to the main road and hitchhiked back into town for one last night in refreshing climate of the Cameron Highlands.

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Brooks

Brooks

I am traveling the world focusing on adventure and photography.

4 Comments

  • Cara

    OMG BROOKS!!! You’re blowing my mind with what you do! You eat mutton, then take the unmarked path back to civilization and eat food cooked by the natives!!! What did they make for lunch? You’re eating foods you’ve never eaten before, on a regular basis!!! That’s so brave too :) You are such a brave adventure seeker! I love it. You’re like Lewis & Clark & Thor Heyerdahl!!! You’re so cool!!! Enjoy!!!

    February 4, 2016 at 10:38 am
  • Kaely

    Haha I love that you had lunch with the locals! Such an unforgettable experience!

    February 4, 2016 at 11:26 am
  • timothy aikman

    this is your best post yet, I felt like I was right behind you on the bath, well maybe not right behind, but you get it! less the food, this is really what I envisioned your trip to be. I was thinking that you should put together a little visual presentation of who you are and where you’re from just for situations like this.

    February 4, 2016 at 1:41 pm
  • Angela

    Such an amazing day! Invited in by locals, walking the path of a non-tourist and witnessing such beauty. I’m jealous :)

    March 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

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