Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (March 1-6, 2017)

As I start planning for a return trip to Malaysia in June, I got to thinking about the mountain of pictures and stories I need to share about the last few months of travel. I think I fell in love with Malaysia in the Cameron Highlands.

March 1, Day 22: After a mishap with missing my bus to the Cameron Highlands, speeding in a taxi across town to catch up with the bus, and then a three hour nauseating ride through the lovely mountains of Malaysia, I arrived to the fresh air and green rolling hills of Tanah Rata. I had been messaging a couchsurfer to meet up for dinner, and Jubayed kindly showed me his restaurant. Jubayed is a friendly guy from Bangladesh living in Tanah Rata with dreams of opening up his own restaurant in Banglash some day. After a beer, we planned for the next day to motorbike around the area.

March 2, Day 23: After hitchhiking from my Airbnb in Brinchang back into Tanah Rata, I met up with Jubayed and jumped on the back of his motorbike. Snapchat-22434926And we were off to our first destination of Robinson Falls. Look at how excited we were!

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On our hike there we abruptly turned a corner and interrupted a orang asli (indigenous man) showering in the forest. We hiked ahead quickly to this amazing view:

 

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And this cool photo meant for a postcard:

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After the falls we motorbiked to the Bharat tea plantation and admired the views over a cup of fresh tea.

Snapchat-1529135874Jubayed suggested we hike around the plantation. We got adventurous and climbed up the muddy steep sides of the green hills to the top – what a view!

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A few minutes after this picture was snapped I slipped on the climb down and embraced the muddy butt the rest of the day.

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Tea leaves for miles.IMG_20170302_113138_1

After tea and lunch, we ventured on to a temple atop a mountain.IMG_20170302_161814

And a flower farm!IMG_20170302_170032IMG_20170302_170519IMG_20170302_170942

Then some dinner at a local spot Jubayed suggested. Maggi goreng hits the spot.IMG_20170302_202447

What a great day with a great guide! Thank you Jubayed for the wonderful company.

March 3, Day 24: Another day, another tea plantation to explore. I joined in a jeep tour to BOH plantation and got another eyeful of rolling green hills.IMG_20170303_092002IMG_20170303_092129IMG_20170303_092444IMG_20170303_092515_1IMG_20170303_092718IMG_20170303_092734IMG_20170303_092755IMG_20170303_094909

After the tea plantation we rode up to the Mossy Forest. It’s as ominous and beautiful as the name suggests. Once you enter the forest, you’re surrounded by mist and everything is covered in moss. IMG_20170303_103430IMG_20170303_103952IMG_20170303_104943IMG_20170303_105241

Then on to the butterfly farm, which was pretty underwhelming.IMG_20170303_125415IMG_20170303_130806_1IMG_20170303_130839

I spent the rest of the day searching for a sewing kit, sewing my ripped pants, and planning my next few days. I was chatting with another couchsurfer, Matt, about meeting up in the Highlands, and he told me about a surf in Kampung Raja, about 20 minutes away, that he was at and was loving. Although I felt like I had seen all there was to see in the Highlands, I decided one more night wouldn’t hurt.

March 4, Day 25: I got up early and hoped the Saturday traffic out of Brinchang would yield someone willing to pick up a lone hitchhiker (note: there are no buses or taxis in Brinchang. I promise you ma, this is the only way to get around!). Only a few minutes of standing around at the side of the road landed me in the backseat with this incredibly sweet 6 year old and her elementary school parents. I learned how to count to 10 in Malay from her, and was kindly dropped off at the Westwood Highlands hostel in Kampung Raja.

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Little did I know I was about to have the BEST TRAVEL DAY OF MY LIFE!

Okay, that’s a pretty big statement, but it was a wild day. As soon as I walked into the hostel, Matt was there to meet me and introduce me to three Lithuanian friends traveling together. Lina, Tadas, and Martynas were only a few days into their grand adventure in Asia, much like Matt and I. The five of us set off to explore the area, knowing we would probably have to split up in order to hitchhike. I mean, who can really pick up 5 adults at once?

SO MANY. That’s who. Our first hitch came in the form of a pick-up truck and a bunch of curious new friends.

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Our next hitch to the tea plantation was a miracle of sorts – out of nowhere, a swarm of motorbikes started passing by. Lina and I jokingly asked for a ride, and then suddenly all 5 of us were catching rides with a group of bikers from Malacca. IMG_20170304_120828

So many selfies. Everyone was excited.IMG_20170304_120850

They were literally posing us in photos. After too many charades of ‘here, put on my helmet and get on my motorbike and we’ll take pictures of you’, Lina and I decided it was getting about time to leave our biker gang friends.IMG_20170304_122956

Just a group of backpackers giddy about tea plantations!IMG_20170304_123947

Off to the mossy forest, again. Still so cool from 6,666 ft above.IMG_20170304_135856

It’s not about the destination, but the journey. This day had me smiling for many weeks. This is the world’s best hitchhiking crew right here, the DREAM TEAM. IMG_20170304_140126

For some reason the motorbike group had us making this sign? Glad we got this captured in a picture.IMG_20170304_140225

A quick little hike through the mossy forest after eating roti on the side of the road.

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Oh Tadas, how did you not get muddy at all?!IMG_20170304_144422

Matt found a smelly pitcher plant with a snack inside.

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Adventurous Lithuanians.IMG_20170304_144555

After the forest we started our hike down, sad to be without any free rides in the back of trucks. But then we saw this little guy.IMG_20170304_153045IMG_20170304_153127

DREAM TEAM DREAM TEAM DREAM TEAM!

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And finally we got another hitch! All the way to a place with a plate of this. Delicious, although the name escapes me.IMG_20170304_160903

We got back to the flower farm/hostel by sundown, and guess who I found? TONI! Toni and I had met a few nights before in Penang at a couchsurfing meetup. To see him again was one of the warmest feelings. After a day of hiking around, drinking a few beers (okay maybe 7) and trading stories was the best end to the day.IMG_20170304_195634

March 5, Day 26: Sadly, Lina, Tadas, and Martynas left for Penang and the Westwood Highland group got a little smaller. I spent the day doing some data viz work and enjoyed dinner with the remaining crew. IMG_20170305_214933

March 6, Day 27: My last day in the Cameron Highlands was a slow morning of flower packing with all of the other couchsurfers and work-aways.IMG_20170306_094249

Eli and Jonas had been with Westwood Highlands working for a few days.

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Again, another wild travel story to come about the sweet gal pictured here! Hannah showed up on my first night at the hostel and we parted ways with no knowledge of the other’s travel plans… little did we know we would run into each other again soon 🙂 IMG_20170306_094341

I said goodbye to the flower farm and started by journey to the supposedly charming town of Ipoh (more on that later and how Lonely Planet lies). The brother of the owner of Westwood Highlands dropped me at the side of the road and reassured me I would have no problem finding a ride. An hour later, Limam from Mauritania picked me up and provided me with the funniest, most interesting ride to Ipoh, in trade for my company and travel stories. I hope we meet again.

Next up, Ipoh!

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