The jungle - Cameron Highlands
03.09.2016 - 24.09.2016 32 °C
We leave the stability of Kuala Lumpur and board our bus to the Cameron Highlands for our 4 days with the Asli Tribe, might I say with a lot of trepidation!!!
Ask the driver to drop you off at Ringlet I was told, so I did and he nodded to say that he would. Well we arrive at Ringlet where Gee is supposed to pick us up and the driver refuses point blank to stop the bus and drop us off (he is in a bad mood one thinks) so we head to Taha Rata.
On arrival at Taha Rata (the largest town in the Cameron Highlands) very touristy - we ring Gee to see if he will come to pick us up. He advises us to get some lunch and one hour he will come and pick us up outside Starbucks so we head to Starbucks.
I should mention here that on many occasions the bus drivers do drop people at Ringlet - it was just not our day!!
Well the Starbucks in Taha Rata we find very disorganised - we order coffee and pasta each (of 4 pasta choices, they only have one) well it will have to be that one then four times. We are asked to wait outside where the seating area is - the coffees and pastas come intermittently - well we have to wait for each one to go in the microwave after all. To top it all off my pasta comes last (10 minutes to go before the hour is up) and it's still half frozen - the joys!!! I send it back to be re cooked whilst Gees wife waits for us in the pick up.
We are heading to 4 days in the remote rain forest in the Bertrim Valley - so we have to head to the shop for some crisps, nuts and soft drinks before we leave. If you stay here I would recommend you do the same.
All stocked up we head off to Ringlet where we meet Gee and he takes us onto the tribal village. Well off the beaten track, past lots and lots of market gardens (they grow all sorts here in the Cameron Highlands - well known for Crysanthemums).
We arrive at the camp (The Rain Forest Inn) if you are interested in having the same experience. It is a new venture operated by the Asli Tribe (John is the founder) it is in its 3rd year of operation - best to go before it grows too big is my advice.
We head up the woodland path towards the Asli houses and we are shown to our rooms ( we have a room in the 5 room Asli hut) this is the first one that was built - there are several more newer ones now - all have a similar spec but the newer ones are more suitable for families (3 huts in total).
Our room has a double bed totally encased by a mosquito net - I immediately spy a huge spider in the ceiling and point it out - so funny a little guy comes with a brush to get rid of it - it's too high and no way he would reach so I am brave and say it's ok to leave it where it is. (Thankfully after my 4 day stay it was still there). The rooms are small and only three of the 5 are occupied the other two are used for luggage storage) However, we keep our luggage closed at all times as we do not want to be taking home any unwanted friends!!!
By now it's early evening and we go to the waterfall for a refreshing shower (back to nature it's just wonderful). I must note here that there is a very basic shower block with one toilet, one toilet which also has a shower in it and a separate shower - so there are a few more modern touches although even these are very basic).
We have ordered native dinner for each night and breakfast - our first evening dinner arrives (we have been watching the natives cook it for us on the open fire) it is so impressive how everything is cooked in banana leaves inside bamboo over the fire.
Well our first meal is chicken (done 2 different ways) chicken breast (much like chicken tikka) and two halves of chicken plus we also have rice boiled in banana leaf, fish and lots of different veggies from the forest and river bank done in coconut milk plus sweet potatoes. It is all very healthy and delicious washed down with lots and lots of tea (it's always time for tea - lots and lots of tea).
As it gets dark we make sure we have lots of insect repellent on each of us (it worked as none of us were bitten the whole time in the jungle). We chat, drink gin and watch all the wonderful night time creatures - thought it would bother me but it does not I am braver than I imagined).
As we are heading off early in the morning with Gee for a tour of the highlands we all head off to bed early around 9 pm - it is very hot and humid but we all manage to get off to sleep eventually with the gentle sound of the waterfall to lull us off to sleep.
We wake early and have to fight with the critters for the shower - thankfully when I get there all the critters have gone. It's eggs for breakfast then we are off on our journey to explore the surroundings. Firstly we visit the highest point, what a view of the forests, tea plantations - you can see for miles around. After coming down from the old rusty look out tower Gee heads off and tells us to walk down to the entrance to the Mossy Forest. The walk is great we see humming birds and lots of wonderful flora and fauna. The orchids are amazing. When we get to the missy forest we go along the walk way and explore all the different flora and fauna it's amazing. After this we head down to the tea plantation where Gee drops us off and as he heads off down to the tea factory and cafe he leaves us to wander through the tea plantation to the bottom of the hill - an amazing adventure and experience. Do not know how these guys pick tea all day for so little money it seems such hard work.
At the bottom we all have tea and cake/pie which is very nice. (It is BOH tea). We then head into Taha Rata where we have a chicken tikka set from a local cafe which is very nice (and at less than £2 each for chicken tikka, naan, Dahl and dip) where can you go wrong. Wish it was that cheap and delicious at home. After visiting another tea plantation we head home back to camp.
We arrive late afternoon, just the right time to head down to the waterfall for a refreshing shower as the sun starts to go down - it is so surreal.
We have dinner again which is chicken and fish again - although some of the veggies are different tonight, but still as delicious. After the sun goes down we have more tea, more gin, discuss the day relaxing and then head off to bed. Tonight is less humid so it is easier to sleep.
The next morning we are given pancake and roti with dips to try for breakfast (it's tasty but I prefer a fried egg and toasted bread). Today we are going to spend relaxing around the camp. After breakfast we relax in the hammocks and enjoy the sunshine. It is great exploring the camp, hunting out the different fruits (passion fruit, lychees, pineapples etc) as well as the array of different flowers - and butterflies, dragon flies etc.
I head off on my own down to the waterfall, it is so peaceful as I sit in the stream reading my book, dragon flies and butterflies fly by and a fish nibbles my toe, it's amazing so away from it all - the simple life.
Dinner is served early evening same chicken and fish but another selection of vegetables which are all delicious. Wow the time has gone so quickly thus is our third and last night, we are feeling sad to leave it has been such an amazing experience.
Please, if you are reading this blog and are thinking of visiting the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, do not head off to the normal tourist hotel - go for the better experience and stay with the Asli tribe at the Rain Forest Inn - you will not regret it as it is the best ever experience. You will also be helping the Asli tribe improve their facilities (there is a new toilet block under construction) but they need people to stay so that they have money coming in to make the improvements. However, do not leave it too long and John/Gee do not make too many improvements as it will then take away from the truly tribal village experience and feel.
I great time was had by all