Day 123: A Hitchhikers Guide To The Cameron Highlands

What a riveting day we all had today. It saw us visiting a tea factory, a butterfly farm, a bee farm, and last but certainly not least, a watercress farm! Action packed right!? “What’s next Ben? Watching paint dry?”
Allow me to explain how such activities came about.

• We’d been free of Jamie’s blasted alarm clock for some time now, only to replace it with another, more constant pain. A keen early riser in the form of our crazy Danish friend, Anna! Every night before we go to bed we can expect to hear Anna say this, “ok, what time shall I set the alarm for?” Followed by a ridiculously early hour. Today’s time was 7:45am, and to say we went to bed at 1:45am we gave this response “WHAT!”

• We went for breakfast straight away, and decided to start our day right after at 10am. We were told by friends that they visited the previously mentioned places by hitch hiking. Thinking it would be safe, and obviously we were taught as kids to hop into cars with strangers, we gave it a go.

• Many vehicles passed, with passengers giving us looks of confusion, before one eventually stopped. It was a taxi. Our first ever attempt at hitch hiking, and we end up hailing a taxi. Not to worry, it just meant we had to pay 3 ringgit each to be taken close to our first stop.

• We had to walk 3km along a windy path until we actually reached the amazing, riveting tea factory. I had spent the last 8 years of my life slaving away in a factory, and there I was, early retired, and making a conscious decision to visit another one. The walk was very tranquil, the whole way we were surrounded by the greenest tea leaf fields. The only thing to disturb the peace were the few passing cars, honking their horns on every corner to warn others of their presence.

The tea factory was surprisingly entertaining. We learned a lot about the company, the processing, and it’s many proud achievements, via a 15 minute video. We ended up watching the whole thing, mostly because there were comfy sofas to sit on. We then waited to have a tour around the factory, however, it soon transpired we could do this on our own and didn’t have to wait half an hour like we did. We found this out from an incredibly rude employee, he sarcastically told us he’d show us around. We told him to forget it, and looked for ourselves.

After the boring visit, we decided to leave. The best part of the visit was trying some of their amazing tea in the cafe. Boh Tea was a hugely successful company, winning countless awards from their food safety to their work with the world wildlife foundation. There was even an article from a recent newspaper which showed images of prince William and Kate during a visit they made last September (2012).

• Sarah came up with the idea of attempting to hitch hike once again. This time trying her luck in the nearby car park. We saw a couple other travellers trying the same thing. Both to no avail. It wasn’t until we gave up and sat on a wall, that a passing driver wound down the window and asked if we wanted a lift.

• It was an Australian gentleman and his wife (who was Malaysian). They were heading to the bee farm as well as us, and that’s why they decided to take us. It didn’t take them long to locate the building, even if the sat nav took us the wrong way initially.

• We thanked them for their help, then decided to visit the nearby butterfly farm instead. We had to pay 5 ringgit to get in, it was only a short visit. It didn’t take long to look around the grounds. We started off in the room with all the large and small, exotic butterflies. There were also large stick insects, and a brightly coloured fluffy caterpillar. There were an alarming amount of dead butterflies within the confines of the room, come to think of it there were a lot of dead creatures full stop.

After taking many pictures, we walked outside to see the second and final section of the farm. There were many cages and tanks which were homes for a variety of species. They varied from beetles, to tarantulas, right through to snakes and chipmunks. It was slightly alarming when we saw the carcasses of lizards in the tanks, and a rotten corpse of a mouse in with the snakes. Megan fell in love with the naked rats, and the pair of us took it in turns to hold both a praying mantis and a scorpion.

• Our next stop was a 3 minute walk to the bee farm. This was a short lived visit, and there isn’t too much to write about. There were hives of bees. Inside they were making honey. The end. The best bit was when we saved a drowning bee in the fish pond, Megan and I scooped it out. Aren’t we nice people.

• The visit to the bee farm lasted around 10 minutes. Anna was really keen on seeing the watercress farm. This meant we had to walk a further 5 minutes down the hill to reach it. It looked dead, and we weren’t even sure if we could get to it. Somehow Anna found a way with Megan down the steep muddy trail to take some photos. Sarah and I remained at the top until they returned. It’s watercress, did you really think I’d have something interesting to write here?

• When they returned, then began the hitch hiking scenario once again. Sarah and Megan trailed behind Anna and I as we made our way up the hill, somehow they managed to get a lift first. Thinking they’d stop to pick us up as well, we waited for them to reach us. The car continued pass, with Sarah shouting “sorry” from the window. They later claimed it was because the car was full!

It’s strange to stick your thumb out for a lift, it goes against everything that feels right, and safe. It wasn’t long after that somebody stopped for us, in fact 2 people stopped for us, but it was the second that was heading in our direction. It probably made it easier as a twosome than a foursome anyway, as I doubt a solo driver would stop for four Hitchhikers. Ignoring any warnings that were going off in our heads, we hopped in the back of a strangers car, and we were driven back to our hotel.

Just so mum feels reassured, they were a lovely Indian looking couple who stopped for us. Probably in their mid thirties, they came from Kuala Lumpur, and were on holiday in the Cameron Highlands. We did get their names, but they escape me now.

• Back at the hotel, Anna and I did our best to wind up the other two for ditching us, with Sarah biting the most. We sorted out laundry, then went out for food.

• We chose a restaurant that served venison, and ordered a steam boat so we could cook the food ourselves. This was something we had been told of by the Malaysian woman, during our day out. It’s basically a giant pan of boiling water, served on a camping stove. You get dishes of raw meat, eggs, noodles, vegetables, and you place them in one by one until they’re done.

• It was a tad fiddly, and in the end I ordered the venison with black pepper just so I could eat a nice meal. The venison that arrived, and the venison in our steam boat were both delicious. It was the first time I had tried deer meat, and to my surprise it was extremely tender. So tasty too. We also tried jellyfish with the steam boat. We were all surprised when an employee told us what it was, so we had to eat it out of curiosity. It’s not that great, it tastes like you’d imagine, chewy, salty, and slimy. Needless to say, we all only ate one each.

• After our extravagant meal, we stopped in a shop for snacks, briefly made a game plan for the next day, and returned to the room to watch a movie. That was until Megan short fused our room. The plugs for the tv were the two pronged bathroom ones you’d find back home. The sockets, well, they were your standard 3 pronged English ones. After she asked the hotel boss how you plugged them in, he replied with this deadly answer, “make sure everything is turned off, then get something sharp and force it in!” That was a Darwin Award just waiting to happen.

We talked Megan into it, seeing as she was the one who’d heard the instructions. She managed to fit the plug diagonally, making a nice tight, snug fit, but the second she turned on the power, PFFT blackout. I think she’d affected a couple of rooms, as when we went to look at the fuse box, there were two guys with the same problem. It soon got fixed, and the guys embarrassed us by flicking our light switch upwards, and therefor restoring light to the room. I think Megan had only tripped it, not caused any power outage.

• With electricity back in the room, the 4 of us snuggled up together on a double bed and enjoyed a movie. I’d always fantasised about sharing a bed with 3 women, but every time it’d go a little bit different than that… A pillow fight would ensue, what did you guys think I was talking about? Honestly!

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