A minibus pulls up at the hostel, the driver gets out and asks whether we are going to Cameron Highlands. We confirmed and climbed aboard the unusually empty minibus. What a fantastic trip we had just the three of us and the minibus driver. We stopped at Father’s Guesthouse which sits overlooking the town of Tanah Rata, the administrative centre of Cameron Highlands. Already we felt the relief from the heat as the Cameron Highlands is one of the highest points in Malaysia which means the temperature drops significantly. I loved it as I had been in this humid heat ever since Saigon back in April and it was time to get some nice refreshing cool air. The dormitory in Father’s Guesthouse was massive and took up the whole ground floor.
Our stomachs were grumbling a little so we headed down the hill to get some Indian food which Barbara and I had been wanting all week. As we sat there ordering we were joined by the minibus driver that had brought us from Penang. He’s quite an interesting fellow as he sat there declaring himself as a great short term lover to Barbara and Maggie. Awkward!!
|The bridge which Maggie did not fall through|
The Cameron Highlands has some magnificent scenery and is home to the biggest single bloom and smelliest flower in the world. Being stubborn and not wanting to throw money at an organised tour Maggie, Barbara and I were going to get a taxi and make the walk ourselves but the manager at our guesthouse sincerely warned us against that as there is no way we would be able to do it by ourselves. Within the next thirty minutes a rather beaten 4 x 4 arrived ready to take us and a couple of others to see the flower. It was definitely the right call as the initial drive along the main smooth highway ended as we turned off and headed up on a rough dirt road which had us all shaking and being thrown side to side. The battering journey ended once the track became too inhospitable for the vehicle. It was time for a trek. The humidity in the jungle was high and a layer of sweat enveloped my body.
The flower is called Rafflesia Arnoldii and is commonly referred to as the Corpse Flower as the smell it produces is akin to decaying flesh. The manager of Father’s Guesthouse was quite right, we would never have found this flower on our own as the hike took us along a path to begin with but then off the beaten track through the bushes and over fallen trees to find one single flower in bloom. I didn’t find it smelly at all, but that is maybe because I have been travelling for a while and my sense of smell has dramatically decreased.
On the way back to Tanah Rata we stopped at a village full of recovering cannibals who had just recently stopped eating humans. They did however have a selection of monkeys which were to be eaten later. One small monkey had taken a liking to Maggie and clung onto her finger through the cage. We finished by learning how to effectively use a blow pipe. I think years of playing woodwind had helped me reach the target. We then stopped for a bite to eat whilst watching a wedding party go past with their fantastic display of celebration.
|Our driver, Barbara and Maggie in the plantation|
|Time to work....|
|Can't forget our steamboat meal!!|