TANAH RATA, Malaysia // We have been getting air conditioned rooms and getting very used to crazy heat the past few months in Asia. Rarely is it below 90 degrees during the day, but even worse is the humidity. There is a stickiness and sweatiness that you just never become used to, especially while carrying your 20-30 pound backpack around everywhere.
After Kuala Lumpur and the big city we took a 5 hour bus north to the city of Tanah Rata which is known for the Cameron Highlands. This place is popular with backpackers and travelers due to the unique hiking, which can all be done by yourself and without a guide. Since it is up high in elevation, the temperature is much cooler, and at night it was the first time I actually needed a sweater. There are tea plantations everywhere, but the town had a very interesting vibe that we had not anticipated. It took a while for us to come up with the perfect description, and finally settled on the perfect trifecta // Swiss Alps meets Chinatown meets old run down Atlantic City. This is how the Cameron Highlands felt. It was German or Swiss type architecture everywhere, but everyplace was over 50 years old. The entire population, restaurants, and shops felt mossy.
We bought a map from the hotel and did Jungle Trek #1, which was about 3 miles uphill, and then about 5 miles down a road to a tea plantation. The view had spectacular tea terraces and farms everywhere, and in the sun was lovely, but then it started to rain. The tea plantation was closed on Mondays. Guess what? Today was Monday. There were no cabs anywhere and it started to pour really bad. We were drenched and had no where to go. This is a strange feeling being in the middle of nowhere with no plan to get home. In the United States we have been accustomed to just throw money at our problems to get us to where we want to be. In the middle of Malaysia there was no one to help us and no one to call. Even with money the cabs wouldn't stop since they already had passengers. We finally were able to hitchhiked back into the nearest town from a pickup truck, but this was still 10 kilometers away from our hotel in Brinchang. We waited in a small cafe and had them call a cab for us making it home around 3 hours later.
The next day we did jungle trek #10, which is a climb up to mount Gunung Jasar. Due to the rainy weather all we got was a foggy view with very limited availability. The temperature was a cool 60-70 degrees the entire time we were here in Cameron Highlands and the hiking, exercise, and cold temperature was a nice change of pace from the heat and sweat. But even though it was nice to appreciate a warm shower and a steamboat soup bowl it reminded me how much I have been enjoying the sunshine.