My bus ride into the Cameron Highlands would have been alarming for a flatlander.
Perhaps the premier hill station of Malaysia, the Highlands are an escape from the thick tropical heat of the Malaysian latitudes. It generally stays above 10C, below 25C and rain a lot. A nice place to escape and relax. They also have nice tea fields, agriculture and hiking.
I had come to the Highlands in Old School style, doing nothing more than basic research and buying a bus ticket in. The word was that there were plenty of hostels. After my exciting bus ride terminated in Tanah Rata, I chatted up a couple of Australian boys and followed them to their hostel. It was full. But, the next one down the road wasn't- I got the last bunk.
This hostel has a special funk about it, but it ended up being one of my favorites. All the doors and windows were stuck open, allowing the not-so-greatest hits of the 80s to fill the air in and around the hostel. Nothing like Silent Whisper playing softly while you sit just out of the jungle rain. It turned out to be a proper radio station, as their were commercial slots filled with public service announcements ranging from the bizarre to the practical.
It's certainly an experience to hear the dangers of Dengue Fever as a mosquito lands on your arms.
This delightful one-story palace was also the place I met my two longest travel partners: Johannes and Franziska
While Franziska and I only hung out for the evening, we met up a couple weeks later further north. Stay tuned.
Johannes, or simply Hannes, was a German filmmaker (camera) on walkabout like myself, although he was sticking to Malaysia. He and I quickly bonded over our easy desire to experience new things unobnoxiously. He's my evil twin in some ways, most of all in looks. People consistently mistook us for brothers.
But maybe us white people just all look the same.
We went hiking the second day I was there.
Being the jungle, there were some terrifying bug experiences. Both were cool. Millipedes are slow, unlike the horrible centipede, but some secrete cyanide goo as defense. The leaches that attacked me luckily had no such mechanism, but they do appear to have learned to drop from trees. One fell down my shirt.
After a couple kilometers through the hilly jungle, we crossed a river and some farms, coming to a road. A local farmer offered us a ride for an insane price, so we hiked a bit farther to the highway and stuck our thumbs out. A white construction truck pulled up just as it began to rain again, offering us a ride back to Tanah Rata.
We ate dinner and retired to our hostel for the final evening, satisfied in our adventure and the soft 80s rock slipping in through the halls.