So the bus to the Highlands took about 4 and a half hours with the final hour consisting of ascending up the winding road to the highlands. The bus would have to beep every time it went around a tight corner to let oncoming traffic know it was coming. The road offered some stunning views though of waterfalls and jungle plus as we approached our destination, amazing tea plantations. We arrived in Tanah Rata about 2.30pm and spent the rest of the day just chilling out exploring the village. It was a refreshing change to be out of the hustle and bustle of a large city plus the altitude allowed for a much more comfortable temperature. After settling in at the hostel we headed for a bite to eat in the local food market which cost all of 8.5 ringgit (£1.50) for some noodles and a watermelon drink which was very refreshing. We decided to book a tour for the following day to make the most of our time in the highlands seeing as it was only a short and sweet visit. The tour cost 80 ringgit (around £16). That evening we had a quick beer at the towns bus station (Very classy I know) which was the only place we could get Wi-Fi as apparently a storm had knocked over the communication tower for most of the village. The beer was called legend however it was far from legendary and I won’t be rushing to drink another one.
The following day we awoke at 7am for the tour which started at 8.15. We were picked up by a local guide in a big old 4-4 jeep whereby we all crammed in the back. We then left the village and headed for the Mossy forest. The journey up to the forest which sits 6666 ft above sea level was definitely an experience. The road was bumpy and pretty narrow; however the driver does the route almost every day so was pretty experienced, and the truck although not looking the part certainly got the job done. On the final approach to the forest, there was a sign in the road saying it was closed however this was swiftly ignored by our driver who powered on through. He said it was closed for non-tour groups but I’m still a little sceptical. Yet when we arrived at the forest there were plenty of other tour groups there so maybe he wasn’t lying. The Mossy forest as I said was very high up and also very damp, hence all the moss I guess. It is apparently the 4th oldest forest in the world and the trail through the forest was fairly hard going due to the altitude. Unfortunately, the views from the forest were pretty shocking due to the mist and cloud that had formed due to the weather. Apparently on a clear day, it is possible to see the strait of Malaysia, unfortunately, the only view we got was of some guy who decided he needed to wear a blazer to wander the forest. After exploring the forest for a little while we headed back down the road to a viewpoint overlooking the BOH tea plantations. The views were amazing this time and unspoilt by the weather. After the brief stop to take some photos we headed to the BOH Sungai Palas Tea Garden, here we undertook a tour of the plantation and learned all about the tea making process. I also learnt that the BOH tea company invented the word Umph to describe their tea. Here we stopped to sample the tea in the tea plantation where I also had a scone with jam and cream plus once again admired the views of the tea plantation.
The afternoon part of the tour wasn’t as good as the morning but still gave us a quick whistle-stop tour of the area. After a stop for some lunch, we then visited the following attractions, a strawberry farm, butterfly garden, a time museum, a Buddhist temple and finally a short hike to a waterfall. Now seeing as we are Tiptree boys the strawberry farm didn’t really impress us too much although the strawberries we did pick and eat were fairly tasty. The butterfly garden was pretty bad and also doubled up as an insect zoo type thing. Most of the butterflies were just hanging to the ceiling or wall and some were even dead. The animals and insects were all pretty odd too. The time museum was really just some underground tunnel filled with lots of bits of junk but did contain some interesting artefacts and information although I don’t think any of us were that bothered to spend too much time there learning about different things. The Buddhist temple was pretty cool but there wasn’t really much going on here and I’m sure we shall see more impressive temples on the trip. Finally, the hike to the waterfall was pretty good and we even saw some wild monkeys again. The waterfall itself wasn’t overly impressive and it was also saddening to see the volume of plastic waste in the water. The same has to also be said for the amount of plastic littered throughout the tea plantations. It’s pretty shocking to see that somewhere even as remote as the highlands is still plagued by the plastic waste issue and really highlights the need for more to be done and for people to be far more considerate of the environment.
After the days exploring we were all pretty tired so grabbed a bite to eat at a Chinese restaurant in town then headed to bed. The following day (now Wednesday the 7th) we awoke early to catch our bus back to KL. The journey back was much quicker and only took just over 3 hours. Once back in KL we headed to the Batu caves, which are old Hindu caves on the outskirts of the city. After conquering the 272 steps to reach the 400 million year old caves we were once again pretty underwhelmed. The view looking up at the caves was pretty impressive but once inside it wasn’t all that amazing. I don’t think it helped that at this point I also felt rather groggy. We headed back down from the caves and to a local McDonald to use the Wi-Fi to book a Grab taxi back to the hostel. Here at McDonald’s we even got table service which was pretty strange.
Once back at the hostel we all had a few hours nap before heading out to a street market to get some food, once we had eaten at the street market we then headed for the Petronas Towers to watch the light show at the fountain just outside the towers. Although it was good it wasn’t as impressive as the light shows in Singapore although those will be very hard to beat. By this point I was very groggy and needed my bed so I headed off to sleep the night away while Connor, Ollie and Fred head up to the hostel bar to partake in some karaoke, they finally stumbled in at 3am this morning. I’m pretty gutted I missed out, but I definitely needed the sleep and I hope after a good night’s sleep tonight I should feel myself again.
We are now currently on the plane having departed from KL airport and are now making our way to Bangkok. We shall be staying here until Monday when we will head north into the country.