The early morning bus turned out to be the “super vip” type – a coach which normally takes 50 seats now only had 24 seats – we had never travelled so comfortably in a bus before. After 5 hours we arrived at Tanah Rata in the Cameron highlands and booked into a hostel for two nights. The remainder of the day was spent doing some travel planning, eating and talking to other travellers (which all seemed to be either french or german and who were all walking stereotypes of their cultures – the French without a (supposed) care in the world and all about the food and local communities and the germans all shocked (but happy) at how messy, dirty and inefficient asia was).
Accommodation and food in malaysia is very cheap. You can get a decent double room with bathroom for about 10-12£ and a good, full meal at a food court will cost you 1-2£ per head. In the highlands I discovered the dessert equivalent of the Malaysian cup of tea – the sweet roti (bread)! Unlike the salty roti, this one is drizzled with condensed milk, sugar and butter as it’s cooked and the result is a puffy layered bread slightly caramelised in places and gooey in others. Delicious, although it can’t be consumed together with a Malaysian cup of tea of the resulting sugar injection will kill you.
Giulie eating noddles covered in egg then fried and then covered in vegetables and a "special sauce" (sauces here come in two varieties, soy or special). Not as tasty as sweet roti but still divine!
The day was beautifully cool (an amazing 25 degrees compared to the 35 degrees of the lowland) and the evenings were cold (it went down to 12 degrees). It was bliss and reminded my very much of the climate you get around Nairobi and the highlands of Kenya.
The next day we went for a hike. We started by climbing a peak behind the town we were staying in, which we then descended via a tea plantation round the back. The walk through the tea plantation was very scenic and, minutes after the end of a tropical downpour, we made it to the tea estate where we had a cup of tea and a pair of scones with cream and strawberry jam. Our first taste of western food in a week! We then hiked back to our hostel just in time for a relaxed evening.
The tea plantation just before the heavens opened.
The next morning we left on the early bus to Georgetown on pulau (island) penang on the western coast of malaysia near the border with thailand. The bus unfortunately is “normal” class, which is hard to swallow after our previous “super vip” treatment, but is still a comfortable way to travel. A six hour journey through Malaysia’s lush interior should get us into Georgetown – a European outpost which played a significant role in the trading lines between Europe and the far east – just in time for lunch.