So our trip to the Cameron Highlands started rather ominously when our hotel emailed to tell us that the last two hours of our four hour bus journey was up a winding road and to have a safe journey. In truth we hadn't read much about the Highlands other than the weather is cool because it's 2,000 metres above sea level and they have numerous strawberry farms and tea plantations which was enough to persuade us to take a 6 hour detour from our original plan.
It turns out the hotel wasn't lying... The journey was pretty awful with hairpins up the cliffside which were not made for large buses! None the less our bus driver nonchalantly got us there safe and sound although we did almost take out a few cars and motorbikes in the process!!
Journey aside, the Highlands are beautiful. This is the first place we have been in nearly two months where it wasn't sweltering, so much so that we could actually wear a sweater and trousers. It reminded us of how much we missed the rubbish British weather sometimes (but not that much!)
Our first evening we decided to get an Indian which was fantastic and cheap and immediately gave us a better impression than we had in Kuala Lumpur.
The town we stayed in was called Yamaha Rata and was pretty small with colonial style buildings and randomly an HSBC branch but little else. The real reason for going to the Highlands was to visit the world's highest rainforest and a famous tea plantation.
We booked onto a half day tour and our guide Appu met us early in the morning. It's fair to say being a travel sick person on this tour would not have been the brightest idea. Appu, whilst a great guy had an old Land Rover jeep and drove like an absolute maniac up and down the bumpy and windy roads. To disguise his driving ability he told us we were getting 'free massages' such were the pot holes in the road and the speed at which we drove over them!
We first visited a viewpoint and saw how tea is now harvested using modern technology. Then Appu told us that he would take us to an area which has recently been closed off but in order to get into the forest we would have to wait until there were no cars and then run into the forest without making a sound. We thought he was joking as it was not on the itinerary... He wasn't... However inside it was amazing despite Appu telling us that there were more than 20 species of snakes in the forest... Fortunately for us however there were no leeches or mosquitos!
The moss, flowers and the sense of really being in a rainforest was amazing and it was easily the highlight of our trip to the Highlands.
After this we visited a tea plantation where we saw a factory making tea and we also tried a couple of the locally produced teas... They tasted the same as every other tea but hey it was still nice to take in the views.
Finally we visited a small strawberry farm where we had a strawberry smoothie which was gorgeous.
Finally, and in the nick of time, we got back to our accommodation, packed our belongings and prepared ourselves for the 2 hour trip back down the windy roads and then the 3 extra hours to Penang.
As we were about to leave we were relieved to hear that the way down was not as windy as the way up... However Appu then proceeded to let us know that this was more dangerous than the other route as bus drivers like to speed down the mountain as if it was a race. Our accommodation also told us it was like a roller coaster and not to eat too much before we went down. As with other experiences along the way, people tend to exaggerate and the journey down was very pleasant indeed.