Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cameron Highlands Tea Plantations

Cameron Highlands Malaysia hilltop view

The bus lugged its way up the road beside the lush green mountainside to Tanah Rata, the biggest township in the Cameron Highlands, and it was scary because the road was so incredibly narrow I thought the bus would teeter over into the valley below. The town was small, with shops lining one main street, but like everything else, it is probably different now. The inn where we stayed for a week just outside the town was homey, but at night we had to be vigilant and watch out for cobras that came out from the surrounding jungle to cool themselves on the driveway. A few nights later I saw a few.

There were a few Canadians there from Ottawa - Sally and Jennifer, and Paul from Denmark was loads of fun.

One night Aimee came into the room and said 'Mom, you have to come and meet these people.' So I got up and went into another cabin and there they were, all dressed up in their cigarette selling outfits - the Marlboro Gang. We became great friends and I backtracked to Ipoh in order to spend some time with them. They traveled all over Malaysia promoting the smokes. They were super. Jamie, Allen, and Pauli.

Aimee and I went out for dinner one night with all of them following which we went to the Rainbow Center where we saw all sorts of insects and butterflies.

Ipoh Malaysia friends

The food at the nightmarkets in Malaysia is awesome. The population of Malaysia is Hindu, Malay and Chinese, so you can find quite a mix of delicacies. This is some of the food at the nightmarket in Tanah Rata.

nightmarket in Ipoh Malaysia

One day I got invited to visit a tea planation with John, an old Canadian geezer staying at the inn, although he was really only about 52 or so. I think he was drunk because he almost got us killed weaving and stopping while driving his small scooter on the road. I finally said 'whoa, lemme off this thing, cowboy.' We were close enough to walk to the plantation and we had a tour through the place. Adjacent to the factory loads of people were picking leaves in the rows upon rows of tea plants. I felt sorry for them out there, what a tedious job in the hot sun. By the time the tour was over, John had had a few cups of coffee so we were ready to drive back. John, wherever you are now - 'there's 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer......' CHEERS!

Cameron Highlands up in the mountains

As it was getting close to Christmas and we were having so much fun, we decided to stay and celebrate the holidays with all the fabulous people we had met that included - Wilhaus from Holland, Sally and Jennifer, and then Paul from Denmark and another Dutch girl who was hitchhiking all over the country. She was inspirational, and I decided to hitch back up to Ipoh to see the Marboro Gang rather than take the bus. There had been too many bus crashes.

The temperature was dropping and at night it was quite chilly. Aimee and I went shopping for little things for the others, and I went shopping for her. I bought her a little teddy because she'd had to leave her 'serious' teddy at home because I told her she might lose it, and that would have been the end of the world for both of us. Aimee was so excited about Santa and finally on Christmas Eve he appeared.

It was obvious to Aimee that it wasn't really Santa, just a brown substitute, and when she pulled his beard down away from his face, she laughed when she saw it was the son of the owner of the inn. We had great fun that night, the whiskey and the wine and the beer flowed, the food was fantastic and the celebrants all had a good time until the early hours of the morning. I went off to put Aimee to bed and fell asleep, and as a result I missed saying goodbye to Wilhelm. Goodbye Wilhem, wherever you are now!