Late as usual, we were picked up for our transfer to the bus station for our journey to the Cameron Highlands. As we arrived at the station no one really had any idea where the bus would depart (abfahren) and our minivan driver didn’t seem to care about our confused (verwirrt) looks. Dropped us off, job done. As we parked in front of a bus which seemed to be one of a sort that could take us to our destination, we asked a very trustworthy (vertrauenswürdig) looking man, who we assumed (annehmen/vermuten) was the driver. “Cameron Highlands?” we asked, and he responded with a very clear “No” and pointed to the other side of the station. “This can’t be right”, I thought, as there was a sign saying “Cameron Highlands” in the front window of the bus. We decided to ask our minivan driver, who had by now started a private disco with flashing lights and loud music inside his minivan. He pointed (zeiden) towards the bus we’d just been told to not step in and it was at the same time, that one of our fellow travellers found out, that the trustworthy looking man was just a passenger (Passagier) going to Ipoh, not realising, that Ipoh is a stop along the way to the Cameron Highlands! Thanks for that! Could have just said he doesn’t know…
The 6-hour bus journey went quickly (especially because – big surprise – I was asleep!) and we soon arrived at our destination: Tanah Rata. On the way up we exchanged (austauschen) confused looks several times. “This doesn’t look like I’d imagined it”, Tom said repeatedly. The Cameron Highlands clearly are a huge attraction for anybody travelling to Malaysia and in the last 15 years many hotels have sprung up. It was nothing like we expected, as we had an image of charming little towns, similar to those we’d seen on our trip to Ireland earlier in the year.
Nonetheless (nichtsdestotrotz)it certainly wasn’t that bad! Our accommodation for the 4 nights to come, Gerard’s Place, is located on a hill, a few minutes walk from the town centre. Walking into our shared three bedroom apartment, we were presented with a stunning view over the green hills from the living room window, like we needed a reassurance (Bestätigung) that we’d come to the right place.
Our host, Jay, is a very open minded and friendly person, always happy to help out any time. She told us all about the different trails that we could walk and several day tours we could do.
We quickly decided to make our time count and booked ourselves onto the half day Mossy Forest tour for the next day, which would also include a visit to the famous and iconic tea plantations (Teeplantage) of the Cameron Highlands.
After Jay left, we also met our new flatmates (Mitbewohner), Steve and Trisha, a lovely English couple, who live in Yorkshire. We had a chat over a cup of tea (such an English thing to do!), talking about everything, from travelling, to Trump and finally about the difficulties (Schwierigkeiten) of learning the German language (Steve used to work in Austria for several years and also half a year in Hamburg).
The following morning we were picked up at 9am by our tour guide, Satya. Satya, an Indian-Malay, born and raised in the Cameron Highlands, speaks very good English and has a dark sense of humour. As he also works as a nature photographer, he is very well travelled and was immensely (ungemein) knowledgeable (kenntnisreich/sachkundig) about the various plants (Pflanzen) in the area.
He took us up a very bumpy (holprig) road to the BOH tea plantations, explaining how tea is harvested (ernten) and revealing (offenbaren/enthüllen/aufdecken) that every type of tea actually comes from the same plant (the only difference is how the leaf is processed). (Jede Teesorte stammt von ein und der selben Pflanze, der einzige Unterschied ist, wie die Pflanze, bzw. die Blätter später verarbeitet werden.)
After we took many photos of the beautiful green hills (Steve’s comparison to a bed quilt (Steppdecke) fitted quite well, we thought), Satya took us up to Mount Brinchang, the highest point in the Cameron Highlands and one of the highest points in Malaysia at 6666ft (2032m). There we climbed a rusty (roosting) metal tower to get a 360° view over the surrounding hills.
Satya then took us to the edge (Rand) of the Mossy Forest, an important ecological site, explaining how the springy (federnd) 1 metre thick forest floor provides (liefern/bereitstellen) the whole Cameron Highlands area with drinking water as well as showing us some of the varied plant life inside. VERY interesting and impressive! As the forest floor isn’t solid (fest) enough for the many visitors per day, there is a board walk guiding through it.
After a walk around the BOH tea factory and learning about how the tea leaves are processed, we had a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake in the BOH Tea Café (Tom didn’t acknowledge (anerkennen) my lovely tea as proper tea, as it was a passionfruit tea, or infusion tea as Satya had said). Following Jay’s recommendation, on our way home we asked Satya to drop us off at the neighbouring town; Brinchang. From there we walked the 2km home, very pleased with our informative day with Satya.
The next day we were up for a LOT of walking, or better said climbing. In the morning we had met Jay and told her about the trails we were planning to walk. She commented that our plan was very ambitious but I just answered with “We’re still young. We can do it!” Little did I know…
As per these diagrams (http://www.cameronhighlandsinfo.com/jungle_trekking/): we walked up trail 4, 6 and 3 to the top of Gunung Berembun mountain and then took trail 7 back down. In total it was a distance of about 5 km to the top, but it took us 3 hours to get there. So you can imagine the climb.
Very motivated, we started walking and were already out of breath (außer Puste) by the beginning of trail 6. Great start, as we were in for 2 more hours of climbing up. I repeatedly (mehrfach/konstant) asked myself why I’m doing this to myself voluntarily (freiwillig), as there wasn’t really any nature to enjoy, due to having to look down all the time, to not trip over any roots (Wurzeln). I’ve definitely seen many different shades of mud (Matsch) though. At 3/4 of the way, I started humming (summen) songs to myself to stop thinking about the rest of the climb. Trail 3 was a VERY steep climb, many times I was nearly doing the splits (Spagat), making it impossible (unmöglich) for me to climb up. Tom then had to pull me up (hochziehen). We were really quite happy (and soaked through (durchgeweicht) with a mix of sweat (Schweiß), rain and insect repellant), when we made it to the top, it was just a bit disappointing (enttäuschend) to see that the view wasn’t really worth it.
Jay had told us that trail 8 is the steepest (steil, am steilsten) of all the trails, so we decided to take trail 7 back down, hoping it to be a lot easier. I don’t know, how bad trail 8 is, but trail 7 is pretty much the same as trail 3 – very steep. Just downhill. After about 3/4 of the way the path started to become overgrown (überwachsen) with plants and we started to question if we took a wrong turning (Abbiegung) somewhere. Also, the path was really muddy (matschig), as it has been raining in the recent afternoons, which made it really slippery (rutschig) and hard to walk, as you weren’t able to see where you’re going. Fearless, we made our way (I definitely didn’t want to walk all the way up again to take a different trail down!), trying not to fall down, which wasn’t all too successful (erfolgreich). We got to a very steep path (I, smart as I am, let Tom go in front of me, to see where NOT to step) and Tom slipped, trying to hold on to me. He managed to regain grip (er konnte sich wieder fangen) and we continued on our way. However, the very next step I took made me slip (ausrutschen) and fall down, nearly taking Tom down as well. Great stuff. Now completely covered in mud (roller Match), we moved along, until Tom followed my example and hit the ground. We eventually made it home safe (not without Tom falling down another 2 times!) and I think we’d earned (verdienen) that hot shower as well as the scones we picked up from Lord’s Café in Tanah Rata town (another Jay recommendation!)!
For our final day in the Cameron Highlands, we decided to just stick to one trail: trail no.10. Only problem was though, that it was chucking it down quite heavily. We started out with a very positive attitude though and as Mama would say; “it’s only water, we’re not made out of sugar!” So, we put our sexy raincoats on and hit the trail. I’m not sure what exactly I expected, but definitely not climbing up for hours AGAIN. Despite telling Tom that I wasn’t really having a lot of fun, due to the heavy rain and because I was getting a bit sweaty under my raincoat, he kept us moving towards the top (Tom: “I did say many times that we could turn around!”). Again, many shades of mud for me to see. The only thing that kept me going were the Shapes crisps in my backpack that were going to get eaten at the top! In hindsight, it wasn’t all that bad ;). After finding our way back down the route and onto the main road back to Tanah Rata, we found that the road was closed. There didn’t seem to be any major work going on so we decided to walk down the road for a while which was fine until we came to a group of three men working. They started smiling as we approached and we soon found out what they found so funny – there was a two metre wide trench (Graben) across the road! After joking that we’d jump (springen) across, they got some planks of wood (Holzbrett) and made us a – very wobbly (wackelig) and unstable (unstabil) – bridge to cross the gap. Safely across, we continued walking down into Tanah Rata and home.
For the next morning we had booked a bus to Kuala Lumpur.