Tanah Rata, the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Jan 31, 2008
|We arrived in Tanah Rata just as the torrential downpour was starting, which is a daily occurance high up in the mountains. It is a fantastic, laid back, and cool (both in temperment and temperature). We are staying at Father's Guest House, which is an excellent place to unwind, take in the hikes through the tea plantations, read, and catch up on internet.
We will be sure to write about our adventures here in the Highlands. One includes a very wet hike from two days ago. Nick's favorite quote of the day? "Well we can't possibly get any wetter now could we"? Stay tuned!
Hiking the Trails Nick writing
The Cameron Highlands are criss-crossed by numerous hiking trails, leading up to some of the higher points in the jungle-clad hills. We did a few hikes during out time there, and enjoyed walking through the giant trees hung with moss and vines, wrapped in cool mist, and listening to the bird and frog calls while dodging giant millepedes. (I explained to Kyla that millepedes at harmless, slow, and eat dead leaves, while it's centepedes she can be quite rightly squeamish about. I don't like centepedes either, and some can have quite nasty bites - there weren't any that we saw, though. After she warmed slightly to the giant millepedes, she was able to critique their job at eating the dead leaves on the forest floor, which were ankle deep in some places.)
The first hike took us up Trail number 10. We had read in a guidebook that it was occasionally difficult to follow the trail, so we weren't too worried when the path that a Malaysian woman sent us up turned out to be almost impassible in places. After about a half-hour of wandering, though, we met up with the real Trail 10, which was exactly where we thought it was supposed to be before the "helpful" woman directed us in a different direction. We weren't her biggest fans at that point - earlier, she had also honked her car horn while behind us on the driveway leading up to the hill, scaring both of us.
Trail 10 climbed steadily up, and we had to scramble over huge tree roots which almost formed an organic staircase. We met a guide coming down, who wondered why we were hiking up - "Rain is coming soon" he said, but we all laughed it off when I responded "that's OK, we don't mind a bit of rain! It's such a pleasant trail."
We should have listened to the man.
An hour later saw us at the top of one of the highest hills in the region. Gorgeous views of the tea plantations, and neat swallows who silently darted about our heads, eating bugs. All we had to do, the map said, was hike down a joined Trail 10 and 11, until 11 splits off and takes us back to town. Simple.
Mist started moving in as we descended, and it was thicker than anything I had ever walked through. We both thought it was neat walking in an actual cloud. We came upon a turn-off marked with red spray paint, where a tiny trail descended through trees on our right. The main trail kept going straight. "Great", we thought, "this is where trail 11 veers off, while Trail 10 keeps going. We go down!"
We got to the bottom of the little trail to find what appeared to be a rutted old logging road, cut into the side of the hill. We guessed left, and followed it for 20 minutes, but it ended in a clearing, the path blocked off by felled trees. We turned back, figuring that we had just chosen the wrong direction on the logging road.
Did you notice lots of foreshadowing in the previous paragraphs? Lots of hints that we were morons for walking out this afternoon? Possible dark clouds, metaphoricly and literally, on our horizon?
That's when the rain erupted from the cloud we had been walking through. We tried to huddle under a bush at the side of the rutted road, and at first, we thought it was kind of fun. We even tried taking some artistic photos of plants around us, covered in water droplets.
Then the rain got heavier. Then the bush we were under got saturated with water, and started dripped all over us. Then the drips turned into streams. We noticed around then that the old forest road served another purpose - during rain storms, it turned into a river, with water pouring down the track in a torrent. "How long do these storms last?" Kyla asked. I thought it was supposed to be about an hour. "We are getting wet under this bush," Kyla noted. "How about we take a walk up the path, and see if we can find some trees to shelter under? How much wetter can we get?"
A lot wetter, we were to find out.
It continued to pour, the river ran over our feet, the path kept going nowhere, and we were soaked right through. It would have been the same if we had just jumped fully clothed into a pool. There were no big trees to shelter under, and it became evident that the logging path was definitely not Trail 11. We kept going up and up, switching back and forth, sometimes heading in the right direction, sometimes not. It wasn't that worrying, since we had about three hours left of light, and it had only taken us an hour and a half to get up. The logging path kept taking us back toward our original trail 10, which I thought was a good thing, even though it would mean backtracking a bit.
Or backtracking almost the entire damn way. The old road took us back to the top of the hill. And the rain kept pouring down. Our shoes squelched water at every step. Every item of our clothes was soaked through. Trail 10 led back down, but we had to scramble down over the root staircase that we had followed on our way up, this time in the middle of a stream.
We finally got to the bottom, just as the rain was slackening off. Kyla took the opportunity to wring out about a quart of water from each sock, and we trudged our way home. The sun started to make an appearance, and we began to have happy thoughts of the huge plates of food we would reward ourselves with, the hot shower we would have, and the warm clothes we would bundle up in when we got back to the guesthouse.
That was when I remembered I had done some handwash that morning, and hung the laundry to dry outside in the courtyard of the guesthouse. The courtyard that was open to the air, and that had just finished being soaked by the same rain that soaked us.
Everything did dry, though. Eventually. Some clothes took a day. Some took two. Our boots took five days to be thoroughly dry, and one of our journals was still damp over a week later. But we survived, and we definitely rewarded our perserverance with dessert that night.