We’ve had a beautiful (and exhausting) two days in the Cameron Highlands. It’s actually really cold here, which is a nice change from 30+ degrees, however we’re not overly prepared for cold weather so we do get pretty chilly.
Yesterday afternoon we asked our hotel owner if he could advise of a nice easy trek for us to do, as we’d stayed up all night watching the football and didn’t want anything too strenuous on a couple of hours sleep. He showed us a fairly short route, which looked fine, and had a view point at the top (this should have been a warning sign but we were too tired to pick up on it). So we set off on our trek. It started off as a lovely jungle trek, with an easily identifiable path, but then proceeded to get steeper and steeper, with big steps outlined by tree roots. It became so steep that I was having to use my whole body to heave myself up each muddy step, although the tree roots were actually very helpful so that’s something. Perhaps due to a combination of sleep deprivation, high altitude and humidity, I became absolutely exhausted and we almost gave up and turned around. However, instead, we sat on the jungle floor and took a long water break before persisting on to the top, and it turns out we were much closer than we thought at this point so I’m so glad we didn’t give up.
The views were definitely worth the climb; we could see over the entirety of Tanah Rata, and all the mountains which surrounded us. We sat at the top (which was an electricity pilon) for a long time enjoying the views, recovering and gathering ourselves in preparation for the descent.
Today, we had a tour booked to take us around some of the sites further from the town. We were picked up at the ungodly hour of 8:40 and taken up to our first stop; a tea plantation. We’ve visited tea plantations before, but this time was made absolutely fascinsting by our guide, who explained to us how tea is actually produced from the plants. Did you know that all kinds of tea come from the same one plant? That whether it’s green, white, yellow, black or oolong tea is then determined by the drying and processing methods? That higher altitudes grow better quality tea leaves? Or that only the shoot and top two leaves of every stalk are used to make tea (and each of those makes a different quality tea)? It really was fascinating.
Our second stop of the day was the mossy forest; this forest sits at 2000m above sea level, and is called a “cloud forest” in other parts of the world due to it’s situation in line with the clouds. The forest is one of the oldest in the world, at 200+ million years old, however this has only been estimated recently via carbon dating. Before that, it was impossible to know the ages of the trees as there are no seasons here, so the tree trunks don’t have rings to count. It is also the only type of forest in the world capable of harvesting water from clouds. Trees are coated in moss from the base of the trunk right up to the canopy (hence the name), which absorb moisture from the clouds to drain down into the soil and feed the plants. It was absolutely freezing in the forest; around 13 degrees during the day, but it drops to around 4 degrees at night.
Our third and final stop was the tea factory of the company whose plantation we had visited earlier in the day (“Boh” tea company). The entire factory smelled absolutely divine, and we were able to watch processes taking place which have been the same, using the same machinery, since the plantation and factory opened in 1929 (by none other than a Scottish family). We then went into the factory cafe and tried their premium label black tea, which was incredibly smooth and flavourful.
The whole tour was fascinsting, and our guide spoke excellent English and was extremely knowledgeable which really does make all the difference.