To the Highlands

Feeling peaceful. 

This morning I didn’t have the greatest of starts. 

Our bus was at 11am, which meant we planned to leave at 9.15am in order to get there in time.

My alarm was set for 8.45am which gave me 30 minutes to pack my stuff and get ready. 

At 8.42am, Eric shook me awake and said in a panic when was I getting up. I looked at the clock and snapped that my alarm was set. I then turned over and even though I only had 3 minutes, went back to sleep!

I begrudgingly got up when my alarm went off and packed up my stuff which didn’t take long. I was ready by 9.05am and I was in a foul mood. 

I hadn’t slept well and being woken like that was not nice. I felt tired, burnt and grumpy!

Eric could sense the mood and didn’t say anything until we had ordered the taxi at reception. “Right on time” and then he apologised for waking me up, explaining he thought I’d take longer to get packed up. It made me feel a bit less grumpy. 

The taxi came, and it only took 15 minutes to get to the jetty. 

We had to wait for a little while for the boat as we were early. 

The boat was much busier than the journey we had over to Pangkor. It turns out it was a bank holiday and the last day of the school holidays so lots of Malaysians were coming back from their holidays to the mainland. 

We got a seat downstairs, inside. It was like a cinema but with no screen. It was packed with a large family group who had lots of children and were shouting and messy around. 

I made a face at Eric and he laughed, saying at least we weren’t hungover. 

We both put our headphones in and drowned them out. 

The boat journey was quite rocky and I’m glad it wasn’t any longer than 30 minutes. 

We let all the family group get off first and then made our way out. We just had to cross the road and the car park and we were at the bus station. 

We got to the ticket desk, who waved us away as we had a an e-ticket so didn’t need a printed one. 

We had just 15 minutes until the bus left. We wanted to get some snacks and a drink as it was 3 hours until we stopped. 

Just next to the shop, Kieron, Kylie and the kids were eating KFC! We went up to them and they said surprise! They were getting the same bus as us, but only to Ipoh which was where we had to change buses. 

We got snacks and I watched all the bags as everyone went for a final wee. 

The bus left on time. We had allocated seats and so were opposite ends of the bus to them which was a shame. Although, Hunter was pretty grumpy too so he was crying for a lot of the journey so maybe being away was better for my mood! 

We didn’t speak again, both of us just listening to music, and reading/blogging. 

After 2 hours we stopped, and everyone got up and started to get off the bus, including the bus driver. We had another hour to go, where were we?

Kylie asked the driver and said we were in Ipoh already. Final destination of the bus. 

We got off, confused but happy it was an hour shorter. However, our next bus wasn’t until 5pm so we now had a 4 hour wait in the bus station. 

Kylie suggested we see if we could move it to be earlier or offered us to join them at their hotel for a bit instead of sitting in the bus station. 

We asked at the ticket office but she said all buses were full today due to the bank holiday. 

We got Uber’s to their hotel, ours took slightly longer to arrive and we got so hot waiting in the sun for it. 

We got to their hotel and the receptionist called up to their room to check she could give out the room number and then directed us to the 8th floor. 

We knocked and Kylie opened the door. It was a nice hotel room, with Hunter sprawled out in the middle of the bed asleep. 

Kieron and Scarlett had gone to find the pool and have an explore. 

Kylie offered us tea and Eric used an electric kettle for the first time! They aren’t a thing in America apparently and he didn’t know how they worked. 

Kylie filmed it, but once the video finished I noticed it wasn’t turned on at the plug so it was a complete fail!

Kieron and Scarlett returned and we sat in the hotel room drinking tea and chatting for the last hour together. 

We settled a debate about pool rules which Eric and I had been arguing over since we met. I was right. 

It got to 4pm and we had to leave to get back to the bus station. 

We all hugged and said how great it was to have met. They are staying in Ipoh for a week and then heading to the Cameron Highlands by which time we will have gone. 

Back at the bus station it was crazy. There were so many people and so many buses. We were 30 minutes early and when we asked the attendant which bus he dismissed us and said too early. 

We got some snacks and took turns to go to the toilet and it was then about time. 

A different attendant pointed us to the bus and we got on, along with quite a few other people. It wasn’t full but it was more popular than the other buses we have been on. I say bus, but it’s actually a coach with air con and reclining seats. I had always imagined the 6 hour bus journeys across Asian countries to be in the open local buses but so far they have been very comfortable. 

We had 2 and a half hours from Ipoh to get to the highlands. It was actually more like 4 hours in the end and the last hour was so bendy. 

We had completely changed climate and landscape. Huge fern and grass covered banks on either side of us as we weaved around and up and down. Mountains in the distance were now upon us and towered high above. 

Large areas of land were covered with plastic sheeting, which were all strawberry farms.

We passed tea plantations with the tea plants all in perfect lines and stretching for acres. 

The air was cooler, even on the bus you could feel it. We had dropped a good 10 degrees and everyone reached up to turn off the air con. 

It started spitting and then within a second it turned into torrential rain. There was water running in rivers from the banks and over the road. Within a few moments there was a layer of water on the ground. The bus didn’t slow down, we carried on whizzing round the corners and it was a little scary. 

And then just like that, the rain stopped. 20 minutes of intense downpour and then nothing. The sun came back out and the world was shining and glimmering green. 

We arrived in our little town of Tanah Rata, the main town up in the highlands. The bus station was only a 5 minute walk to the hostel so we set off with our bags. 

The main road has shops and restaurants on one side and then a market on the other. The market smelled amazing and there was a man cooking satay chicken which made my mouth water. 

We got to the hostel, Orchid Haven and climbed the 3 flights of stairs to reception. 

There was a small sitting area with sofas and a coffee table, with an orchid garden on one side. The kitchen had a low floor table and free tea and coffee. 

We were taken into our dorm and Eric took the top bunk – very gentlemanly! We plonked our stuff down and then went back upstairs to have a tea. 

We realised we were both really hungry so we headed out. The market had already closed which was a shame but we had an amazing meal of tandoori chicken and naan bread which were straight out the tandoori oven. 

We walked along the road to see what was on offer, lots of reflexology places, a few souvenir shops and restaurants similar to where we ate. 

It’s a very cute town and I love that it is surrounded by green mountains. 

Back at the hostel, we got into bed early as we were both tired from the travelling and also a bit chilly! Each bed had a huge blanket which was so soft and cosy. It was so nice after only having a sheet or nothing for so long. 

Just as I settled down to sleep, there was a flash of lightening and a huge clap of thunder. The storm went on for ages, in the end I put my headphones in to block out the thunder claps. 

I woke about 4am to a strange noise. It sounded like someone was having sex! I needed a wee but didn’t want to disturb whoever was having fun. It was coming from the bed opposite me but I could see there wasn’t anything going on. The girl was fast asleep and alone. It seemed she either had a very unfortunate snore or she was having a good dream!

I got up and used the bathroom. Back in bed I could get back to sleep. I ended up reading the news and social media for over an hour before I drifted off again. 

People in the dorm were up and about at 7.30am to go on tours. We hadn’t booked anything and so I rolled over and went back to sleep. 

We both got up about 11am and went upstairs to see if anyone was going hiking. We met Lottie (German) who said she was going about 1pm if we wanted to join. 

We went for lunch, I had banana and honey pancakes which were so fluffy and came with ice cream!

We got back to the hostel and got into shorts, tshirt and our hiking boots. We packed a bag each with water, chocolate bar, suncream and rain coat. Ready!

We met upstairs where Lottie was joined by Jessie (USA), Martha (Dutch) and Olga (Russian). They hadn’t eaten as they had just gone on the tour so we went and watched them eat!

We set off on the hike about 2pm in the end. There are set paths through the rainforest and up the mountains. We went up path 8 and then down 7.

Path 8 was so steep, more often than not we were having to use our hands as well to hold onto roots or trees as we climbed. 

Lottie and Martha were experienced hikers with long legs so they were speeding ahead. Jessie and I kept a good pace and were not far behind. Olga had never been on a hike and after an hour she was really struggling. Eric was staying back with her and helping with her footing and lending a hand when she needed it. 

We were never out of each other’s view for long and we waited for olga when needed. 

We were deep in the rainforest and the views were stunning. Surrounded by trees, ferns and plants that had been there for hundreds of years. Everything woven together, trees that had fallen long ago were now covered and had been consumed by the forest. 

We were climbing up rocks, over trees and down slippy roots. It took so much concentration making sure my foot was in a safe place every step


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