Cameron Highlands, Darky day
Cameron Highlands Travel Blog› entry 6 of 9 › view all entries
'Darky day' for me relates to a story, how apocryphal I don't know about the customs of Janeâ€™s village, Truro. As Alex tells it in Truro they still have a day where people dress up as minstrels and in a non-offensive way act as darkies. The significance of this story is that it is a reflection of how little else happened in the Cameron Highlands.
The Cameron Highlands is a peaceful, hilly, lush sort of place with decent weather. Appropriate weather it seems for growing pretty much anything, the anything of choice appears to be Tea. Its not hard to find a picturesque image on the web on endless hills covered in Tea when investigating the Cameron Highlands, and I have thus added some photo's of such Tea plantations. I did not take these photo's because at the time I did not see the point so much in taking photo's of endless greenness.
It seems the common place places to go in this area are to a Tea plantation, to Butterfly parks, Elephant rides, the Mossy forest and on various treks. Given that this is the kingdom of the Tea leaf it definitely seems fitting to go to the tea plantation. If you do this its likely you will get to spend some time in the fields, or rather looking down on the Tea fields from a road, this is sensible due to the fact that although it is often suggested that there are thousands of sun kissed ladies clipping tea plants, and this may be the case, it is also the case that there are monsterous looking machines also clipping the tea. Machines that looks very much capable of decapitating a carefree tourist in the Tea fields.
In addition to the time spend in the tea fields, which I am not going to pull any punches on and declare is actually quite boring, a trip to the plantation visitors centre is very likely.
The next day controversy rang out in the tour group as two factions emerged, the hikers and the butterfly lovers! In more succinct terms there was a small group that wished to hike up a hill to get some exercise and another group that would raise an eyebrow in concern at the idea of exercise, the second group would go to the Butterfly park. I can not really comment on the Butterfly park as I did not visit it, but it comes recommended by some people. A hike however, if you have the energy for it is great, about a dozen of us decided to go and find the worlds largest flower!
To find the worlds largest flower takes about three hours of uphill hike, there is no path as such but there are narrow patches of land with little vegetation on that are roughly in a sequence and make up a path. At some points the path has giant trees that have fallen over which you can climb over or under, at some points there are 15 foot deep crevices where water has washed away soil, at some points the path is very narrow with branches of thorns that stick out and make it unlikely that you will not get caught at some point. And at some points the path disappears completely, this is the best bit, its easy to imagine yourself as Indiana Jones scrambling through the moist vegetation. The ground undulates up and down and its impossible to gather your footing without holding onto the surrounding vegetation. In the later staes of the hike a small group of us where trekking through the thick vegitation down a steep ledge, each person gathering bundles of the vegetation firmly in hand while establishing a footing before moving on a little by little.
The vegetation is similar to Bamboo shafts, and on one level make for a good sturdy grip, their downfall was quickly illustrated when I lost my footing wherein I dragged the 'bamboo' branches from a perpendicular angle to the horizon to the same angle as the slope hitting the people in front of me with branches and laying down the branches as additional hazards on the assault course for people behind me. Those moments of falling over and scrambling for my footing knocking people down in front of me and causing a panic for those behind me were exhilarating, I can't help but feel so much more alive when I am not comfortably protected from every danger.
Eventually the flower was found, you will see from the photo its not the prettiest thing, it is however large, about the size of a bidet. A fact Tom felt was required to chronicle by having a photo of him pretending to take a dump in the flower, so here we are, elevation 1700 meters, after three hours exercise, a discovery of something special and to cap it off we have a comedy photo to boot. Excellent.
This was a much needed re-bonding for me and Tom as I was still smarting from his sneaky tactics during the climb, first thing to appreciate is we had a light hearted bet on seeing who would be the first to the top of the trek. This also coincided with Tom trying to crack onto the very pretty German girl of big luggage fame. The German girl had brought with her an extremely large suitcase and an even larger female friend, think East German athlete after being caught doping and started eating.
Tom, to his credit offered to carry the petite German girls rucksack, who was clearly struggling, with the snappy one liner 'no its ok, what sort of gentleman would I be to let you struggle', this has left the German girls friend looking at me wondering what sort of Gentleman I am not to offer to carry her bag, and me thinking what sort of Gentleman I would be by my actions (or in-action), in demonstrating that only pretty slim girls get their bag carried! So now I find myself carrying a much heavier bag than Tom for a girl that Simon would commonly refer to as a 'Wagon', while he is gaining favour with the blonde and racing me up the hill.
At the bottom of the hill we had the opportunity to sit in the rapids of a river. A great way to relax but fun also as the force of the rapids pushes you around all over the place.
You can also go Elephant trekking in the Cameron Highlands, the place i went to is easily organised within the hotel the day before you fancy going, you simply pay your money on reception and wake up and wait outside when it is time to go. The Elephant trekking route I went on is through a rubber plantation, climbing on the elephants is pretty scary at first but the animals are so solid its hard not to relax even when not secured in the seat.
My most vivid memory of the experience is of what to my eyes looked like quite rough treatment of the elephants by the driver, if that is the correct term. The driver was a woman of no more than five foot that sat on the Elephants head, the direction required was clearly well know to the elephant so a driver was probably not required to go in the right direction but more to go at the correct place and stop when a photo call was required.
Now the driving apparatus for an elephant appears to be sharp looking ice pick device. The ice pick will be jammed in the sharp end in the skin flap of the left ear if the elephant is to go left or on the right ear if the elephant should go right. It looks painful but the elephant never flinched. The fact these are tough animals was further illustrated when the driver hit the elephant full bore with the flat side of the ice pick to kill a mosquito on the elephant skin. A strike that led me to sneakily start liberaly spraying the elephant and me with DEET. DEET is rank but better that than the driver hitting the elephant or me because of a single rogue insect.