Malaysia, travelling and Cameron Highlands
Mar 24, 2005
|Thursday 24th March
Yay our day of escape from Genting Highlands. But before going we had to finish up with one last ride. The flying roller coaster, this was a little weird, you climbed up face first so you are basically standing and leaning against what would ordinarily have been a seat then a metal cage closes behind you. You are then turned from vertical to horizontal so you are in a flying position. And off you go flying around the rollercoaster, the only major loops is a few corkscrews, at which point I had to hold on with my toes so I didn't fall back against the metal cage. Warren managed to fall against the metal cage a few time - not holding on tight enough I think. I give it an ok, worth another try, not very scary.
The coolest thing about Genting Highlands is the gondola ride up and down the mountain. On the way down we could hear hooting - I think it was coming from a troop of monkeys, but could have been birds. From Genting Highlands which is 2 hr north of KL, the only way to Cameron highlands which is 5 hrs north of KL is to travel back to KL and catch a bus up to Cameron Highlands. So back to KL we go. We had a two hour wait in KL so decided to head in to KLCC and try and return my Versace shoes.
The Versace saga
Well after having my new Versace sandals for less then a week, worn only 3 times the sole has started to peel back. Not too happy. I showed the shoes to the staff in the store at which I got the response we can't do anything. After 30mins of arguing, they finally agreed to get them fixed. I think they just wanted to get us out of the store. They also tried to tell me that they were good quality, hmm good quality does not start falling apart after only wearing 3 times. So am not impressed with Versace quality, at this point would have preferred a refund as I think the problem is with they way they have made the shoe so it will happen again.
The bus trip to Cameron Highlands
Lonely planet states that the road to Cameron Highlands is where buses come to die. I think in this instance lonely planet may almost have been right. The road is very windy (someone counted 600 or so curves) and step and seems to go on for ever. It was too windy to sleep as you keep getting thrown around. A couple we met said a guy on their bus was throwing up, and someone counted 600 or so corners. [WC] I didn't know buses could go so fast around corners!! The lateral g-forces were quite impressive.
Upon arrival we were running short on cash - as in we had none so we went to the nearest ATM. The ATM only dispensed $10RM notes ($3.33AU) with a max of $200RM ($66AU). So it cost us $15RM to withdraw only $200RM. We would have gone looking for another but the driver to our accom was waiting for us.
Cameron Highlands is nothing at all like Genting Highlands, except it is quite high up, about 1800m. It's main attractions are outdoor and nature related, quite different to Genting Highland's casinos and theme parks. [history lesson] This is the place where American Jim Thompson famously went missing in 1967. He was famous for founding the Thai silk industry after WWII. He was holidaying in the highlands and left his villa for a pre-dinner stroll, never to be seen again. I recognized his name because he has a famous house in Bangkok that is a bit of a landmark. [end of history lesson]
Friday 25th March
Today we did a half-day tour of Cameron Highlands, to squeeze in all of the non-trekking things to do.
First we went to a flower garden, which was set on a hillside and had amazing views up the top. There were also some flowers there. (see pics).
Next was the tea plantation. Tea plants are a type of camellia, which is pruned every 3 weeks to stop it from growing too large. The men that pick the leaves (a machine cuts the tips off the plants, but it takes two people to operate the machine) are given accommodation and paid per kg. If you are good you can earn $40RM per day. Our jobs are not sounding so bad after all. We went to the factory and saw how they make tea. It involves lots of squeezing, drying, sifting, etc. and the factory smelt like tea. We then drank tea at the shop. It tasted ok. I think the tea they make here (called 'Boh tea') is mainly sold in Malaysia. I haven't seen it on the shelves in NZ or Australia, but then again, I'm not a tea drinker.
Next stop was the best (for us). The butterfly park. Not only did they have butterflies, but all sorts of creepy-crawlies. My favorites where the big beetles and the scorpions (see pics). They also had snakes (see pics) and one of them was trying to escape, tail first out a gap in the door of it's cage. It couldn't get it's head thru though, and Katrina pulled it's tail. (I only played with its tail, which was enough to scare it back in, it was very cute)
Next stop was the honey bee park, which was pretty lame. Nuff said.
Then the strawberry park, which was equally lame. We bought some strawberries though and they were quite sour.
Saturday 25th Mar
We thought we better do a trek before leaving, so we hired a guide and went for a 3 ½ hour trek up the mountain. The jungle was very dense and just for authenticity, it was raining for our walk in the rain forest. Not hard though, and it was quite pleasant because the walk was quite hard work. The paths were very steep in some parts, and it was more like climbing than walking. The forest was quite damp and had lots of ferns and moss. It reminded me of the NZ bush. See pics. The guide was quite informative and very chatty. On the way down we found a low hanging vine that we could swing on. The going was tough especially at 2000m above sea level as the air is a lot thinner then we are used to.