Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Mar 10, 2005
|On Wednesday morning we took an 'Ekpres' bus from Penang to the town of Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. It was a long bus ride (@ 6 hours) but we all managed to survive in one piece although we were pretty tired from all the traveling especially on the windy mountain roads. The Cameron Highlands are located in the middle of Malaysia and Tanah Rate is nestled high in the hills so the weather is cool and a nice change from the sweltering heat of the coast. We walked around the tiny quaint town and had an early dinner before heading back to our guesthouse for the evening.
Bright and early on Thursday an old green Range Rover picked us up at our hotel to whisk us away on a tour of the highlands. Also on the tour with us was a nice girl from Texas who is currently working in Asia as a Nun in a touring production of the Sound of Music and an older Japanese man whose answer to every question was 'Very Good'. Our first stop was along a windy road where we got a panoramic view of the BOH tea plantation. It was a beautiful morning weatherwise and the scenery was gorgeous. Next we headed the the tea factory for a brief tour and of course, a cup of tea. The tea plantation was real similar to the one we had visited in Sri Lanka except in Malaysia the Indonesians pick the tea instead of the Tamils and they use machinery instead of their hands.
After we were all tea'd out but full of energy from the caffine fix we drove to one of the highest points in Malaysia (6,666 ft) and went for a mini trek through the jungle to examine the local flora which included some pretty orchids and exotic picture plants. Unforunately there were no monkeys and fortunately there were no snakes either.
We then traveled to the local buterfly and insect garden. The guy who showed us around the garden was really, really into snakes, bugs, and plants. His favorite thing to do was to pick up a bug and stick it somewhere on my chest. I got to hold a millipede, a stickbug and a scorpion while Ben and my Dad stood out of reach and laughed at me. My mom decided to abandon the tour as soon as she saw the snakes and bugs come out and I can't blame her for that decision. She did lend a hand when it came to identifying all the flowers in the garden and at the end of the visit the bug and plant guy wrote down some of the names so he could remember them in the future. It was an enjoyable morning for all of us. After a big lunch (we certainly are not starving) we spent the afternoon relaxing in the garden of our hotel and my parents both got quite a lot of sun. My poor Dad got too much and had some blisters on his head.
That night we had a funny dinner experience. On a recommendation from a fellow guest at our hotel we ordered a Steamboat from a local restaurant which is a sort of cook your own soup concoction involving seafood and other types of meats and vegetables. We had had a similar meal in Halong Bay, Vietnam called a Hot pot but keep in mind we were now miles from the beach and any seafood. When 6 plates of unidentifed raw seafood and meat arrived we all a bit put off and didn't know where to begin. Needless to say we didn't eat a lot of the steamboat and were much happier when we managed to escape from the table. I guess I will be staying away from Steamboats from now on.
THE TOURIST'S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, look down on us as your humble and obedient tourist servants,
Who are doomed to travel this earth taking photographs,
mailing postcards, carrying armfuls of souvenirs
and walking around in drip-dry underwear.
We beseech thee O Lord to see that our plane is not hijacked,
our luggage is not lost and that our
overweight baggage goes unnoticed...
And that the customs officials be always understanding.
Give us this day divine guidance in the selection of our hotels
that we may find our reservations honored,
Our rooms made up and hot water running from the taps.
We pray that you will make the telephone work
and that the operator will speak our own language
and that there is no mail waiting for us from our children
forcing us to cancel the rest of our holiday.
Lead us to good inexpensive restaurants where the food is superb,
The waiters friendly and Chateaux wines are included in the price of the meal.
And let the coffee be not too strong to drink.
Give us wisdom to tip correctly in currencies that we do not understand.
Forgive us for under tipping out of ignorance and over tipping out of fear.
Grant us the strength to visit the historic sites, the mosques,
the cathedrals, the palaces, l7th century villages, the museums and ancient buildings listed in our guide books as a MUST and if, per chance we skip an outing or two to take a nap after the huge hotel lunch,
Have mercy on us for our flesh is weak.
Dear Lord, protect our wives from bargains they do not want
and cannot afford;
Lead them not into temptation for
they know not what they are doing or buying.
Almighty Father, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women
And comparing them with us.
Save our husbands from making fools of themselves in nightclubs and bars,
And above all, please DO NOT forgive them their sins,
For they know EXACTLY what they do.
And when our trip is over,
Grant us the favor of finding someone who will look at our home movies,
Listen to our stories and look at our photographs.
This we ask in the name of Conrad Hilton, Thomas Cook & American Express.