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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 83: Taman Negara to the Cameron Highlands

MALAYSIA | Sunday, 27 January 2008 | Views [2158]

Sunday 27th January

The bus to Kuala Tembeling out of Kuala Tahan was due to leave at 08.00, so I arrived at the bus stop at 07.50, as advised by the tour agent the evening before. There was no sign of a bus or tour agent there to meet me, so I waited around for about ten minutes, unsure as to whether I was in the right place or not. I feared that I was supposed to be somewhere else, so I rushed to the tour agents desk aboard one of the floating restaurants, and was told that the bus was due to leave from a guesthouse on the opposite side of the village to where I was staying. So, I set off for there but, again, there was nobody at that place either. There was no other bus out of town that day, so it wasn't looking good.

On returning to the travel desk at the restaurant, I was told to come back to speak to the travel agent at 09.00, and the staff there weren't that willing to provide me with any further information. I was really pissed off, and already planning to return to KL – and skip the trip to the Cameron Highlands – and head on up to Thailand later that day, instead of hanging around in Taman Negara for an extra day.

When the tour agent arrived, she told me that I could still get to the Cameron Highlands, that I would have to go to Kuala Tembeling by longboat, and from there, the bus that I was due to get earlier in the morning would pick me up. So, I got straight on the boat back down the river, getting to Kuala Tembeling at 11.00. I finally got on the mini-bus, and arrived at the Cameron Highlands town of Tanah Rata about 16.00.

The mini-bus dropped off the couple I had been travelling with at 'Father's Guesthouse' and I decided to book myself into the dorm (all of the rooms were full and I couldn't face looking for a room somewhere else). It had also been recommended by a bunch of Irish girls (from County Clare) that I had met in Taman Negara and it looked like a cut above the usual guesthouse. This was the most popular place in town, and it was clear why this was the case: very friendly management, clean rooms, excellent facilities (a large common roon showed movies, a decent restaurant, and cheap internet access); best of all, they were showing the Man United – Spurs FA Cup game later that evening.

After I got myself together, I took a walk into the main street, which was flanked on both sides by many restaurants, tour agents, and shops, so it appeared to have a lot going on. The region serves as the primary producer of fruit and vegetables for Malaysia, and the various tea plantations attract many tourists here. That, and the cooler climate and hilly terrain which allows for good trekking, makes it a very popular place. But, it's still an area that makes its money out of agricutlure.

The evening was a wet, dark affair, reminding me of Derry in the summertime. I had dinner of mixed curry served on a banana leaf, the first curry I had ordered since leaving India two weeks before. It wasn't the best, but it was fairly cheap and the staff at the restaurant were very nice. I returned to the guesthouse to watch the football, a fairly scrappy game which United deserved to win 3-1. Some of the guesthouse staff watched the game, United fans who felt that the support of their club could be measured in the number of replica shirts they had in their wardrobes! Unsurprisingly, this got a few raised eyebrows from a couple of English lads who were also watching the game.

After the game, I turned in for the night. It was the first time on the trip that I had shared a room with other people and the dorm itself was fine. It was clean and the people in it seemed fairly normal, but I didn't get off to sleep that early due to a bunch of French guys drinking and talking crap right outside the window until early in the morning. I managed to drift off in the end but vowed to try and avoid dorms as much as possible in the future – a good nights sleep is worth a couple of quid more to me!

Tags: On the Road


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