The whole dorm woke at 7.30am, there was a chorus of alarms followed by lots of yawns and muffled moans.
With 8 of us in the dorm and only one bathroom which also had the toilet inside it was not the best. Weird sex noise girl had got ino the bathroom first and was having a shower. I was desperate for a wee but just had to dance on the spot!
Finally by 7.45am we were all ready. Eric and Martha’s bus was coming at 8am and I was being picked up at 8.15am.
Eric and I went to the kitchen and had some tea and toast. At 7.55am there was no sign of Martha. Eric said he would go and knock on her dorm, hopefully she was just skipping breakfast.
First we took a few selfies together as we don’t actually have many pictures of us together.
He said goodbyes suck and I nodded. He kissed me and then gave me a huge bear hug.
I went downstairs with him and said goodbye to Martha. Eric gave me anther quick hug and they went downstairs.
I only had 15 minutes until the jeep was coming o pick me up from the tour. I got my stuff together, and put my wet socks and wet boots on. Yuk.
I wentered downstairs and met Appu who was running the tour. He was panicking as he was running late and needed just 2 people for his jeep. I said I was solo but happy to get in. He found another solo girl, Natalia (German) and we zoomed off in his Land Rover. We went up into the mountains and picked up a couple on their honeymoon (South African) and a family with 2 young kids (Singaporean).
We were dribing fast on the bendy roads and we were having to hold on. The children were unhappy and at one point the little girl who was about 5 slipped off her seat!
We got to the Boh tea plantation and hopped out. It was beautiful. Rows and rows of tea plants with the mountains as the backdrop.
We joined the other jeep of people and Mr C gave us an introduction to tea plantations.
Mr C was a facinating man. He is mid 50’s and is from the Cameron Highlands. Up to 10 years ago he was a poacher, taking rare and protected plants, butterflies and orchids out of the forests and selling them on the black market.
He is now part of the organisation protecting the forests and preventing poachers.
He told us how the army came across them once, but instead of arresting them, he was able to provide medical advice using the plants to them. From then on, he and the army had an understanding. He taught them how to track the enemies through the forest. The enemy used to mark their way by moving plants, and Mr C was able to show them the way as he knew that the plant they had moved won’t grow that high or that it was in the shadow of a tree so would have died. The amount of knowledge he has is mind blowing.
Once we had taken lots of photos at the tea plantation, we got back into the jeeps and went further up mountain.
The tour included entry to the Mossy Forest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world, even older than the Amazon. However, a few months ago the Malaysian Government forbade entry to the Mossy Forest, except for a specific section which they laid down a boardwalk.
They say they have done this to stop tourists from damaging the forest, and from taking plants out of it.
However, Mr C believes they have done it to make money. When the forest was open, people could just walk into it. Now, you have to buy a ticket and therefore they are making a profit from it.
Mr C does not believe this is fair and so when we got out of the jeeps he ushered us quickly through a gap in the fence.
We were all all little confused. We had lost Appu and the family. They were going onto the official boardwalk as this was not suitable for the kids.
Mr C explained that we were going on a trail that he had found years ago with his brother. Illegally.
I was glad I had worn my hiking boots as the trail was steep and slippy in parts.
We would stop occasionally for Mr C to show us a dangerous plant or a rare flower. He had such passion and knowledge about the forest it was amazing.
We reached the top and it was breathtaking. We were so high but this time the sky was clear so we could see down to the world below.
We started to decent and then had to climb through a fallen tree. There were about 12 of us and I was near to the back. Everytime someone got through the tree we could just hear “wow” from them.
I stepped through and it was as if I had entered Lord of the Rings. I expected Treebeard to step out. This was the Mossy Forest.
It was a world of green, everything was covered from the ground to the tops of the trees. The ground was bouncy underfoot. It was something I could never have imagine, it was so natural and organic. I almost felt like we shouldn’t be there, that we were disturbing this wonderful place. It felt so alive, almost like it was breathing.
We spoke with hushed voices, as if speaking loudly would upset the trees, as if we were unwelcome guests trying not to be noticed.
We left the magical opening and it was another 20 minutes of trekking to get back to the gap in the fence. We all had to group together just out of sight and then Appu called a signal and Mr C ushered us out.
I was very pleased to have had the experience to go inside the Mossy Forest, it was truly amazing.
Back in the jeeps and we went down the mountain slightly. We went to the Boh tea factory.
Here we had a cup of fresh tea, it was so clean and pure tasting. They had a whole selection of cakes but I opted for a scone with cream and jam. Although Eric wasn’t with me I felt I needed to have a cream tea in the Highlands.
Disappointingly it wasn’t great. The scone was hot which I found weird and the cream was from a squirty can.
We walked round the tea factory but due to a low harvest it wasn’t actually in use so there wasn’t much to look at.
Next we went to a strawberry farm. Strawberries grown all year round in the Highlands as the climate is perfect for them. However, they are not like English strawberries. They are sweet on first bite but then turn sour on your tongue. It was a bit like a fizzy sweet. Appu explained this was because they were grown in bags at picking height rather than on the ground
He offered us a strawberry juice or milkshake. I went for a juice and it was so good. At the end of each day, any strawberries that they haven’t sold are put into the freezer. Then they are used the next day to make the juice. There is nothing in the juice except blended strawberries, no added ice or sugar. Something to try at home I think.
The tour ended at the strawberry far and Appu asked if we wanted to go back to the hostel or to the start of path 10.
I was feeling tired and didn’t want to go for aother hike so I got dropped off at the hostel. The other jeep went hiking.
When I got back into WiFi I had messages from my family to day my sister had given birth to little Lochlan.
I sent a congratulations text amd got straight onto Moonpig to order a card.
I always knew I would be away for the birth. On the original plan we would have been away too.
I had prepared to feel homesick when this day came, but now that it was here, I didn’t.
I am obviously over the moon for them, and I’m very pleased it was always straight forward c-section. And he is a beautiful little boy who has a very cute squashy nose. However, I don’t feel like I am missing out by being away.
Is that really bad? I came away to deal with my pain and I’m worried all I’ve done is switch it off. I’m numb to the pain but am I also now numb to everything else? I don’t feel homesick, I don’t miss home.
When I think about it, about where I am and what I’m doing, I don’t feel like I am. It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like I am actually here. But I know that I’m not at home, so I just feel a bit lost.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed and in the hostel drinking tea. I popped out to the market and got so fried noodles and chicken satay on sticks. I ate them in the hostel kitchen. The satay was one of the best things I’ve eaten so far. It was axing and I wish I had got more.
I had a few cups of tea and then headed for an early night.
Tomorrow I go to Penang on the 2pm bus.
Solo Sazzle again.