Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Pre-perceptions of my time in the Cameron Highlands: If anyone was to ask me about my intended state of travelling during my time in the Cameron Highlands, I would have said that I imagined I would be on my own… trying to independently navigate a locally-purchased map through the hills and the jungles…tasting Chinese, Malay and Indian food (again on my own)… take a breather en route to the Boh Tea Estate and write for a bit in my diary…all of this, serving as a stopover to my time in Kuala Lumpur, where I would meet my beloved friends from London – Jude and Pippa – and then resume my travels with my other half, Nico.
The beauty of plans… ‘real’ plans… is that they assume another form… they’re organic and, sometimes, take the shape of the exact opposite to what you had initially imagined.
Change of plans: Christian, my new German friend, experienced something similar. We met in Malacca (as I posted earlier) and after three nights there, he intended to go to Kuala Lumpur, whereby he’d finish off his travels and take his return flight back to Germany. He realised my plans were cooler than his, and he decided to cancel his accommodation in KL to join me for some jungle trekking in the Cameron Highlands.
Journey to the Cameron Highlands: We left colonial Malacca from Malacca Sentral at 10:00am on the Mayang Sari bus to Kuala Lumpur. After our 2 hour journey, we arrived in Puduraya bus station and searched for a counter to purchase our tickets for the next leg of our journey. We bought an Untiti ticket for 30 MYR, departing at 13:00 for the Cameron Highlands. 4 ½ hours later – after 2 Chinese Pua rolls, a cold Sprite, and far too many nauseating windy roads – we arrived.
Amazing, Malaysian buses: (Don’t get me wrong. The bus journey – bar the actual route – was amazing. The bus was big; the seats were huge with loads of leg space; comfortable and wide arm rests; air conditioning. Malaysian buses are far more ‘passenger-friendly’ than any European bus I’ve been in – they were amazing!).
Daniel’s Lodge: room booking (mis) management: Upon arrival, Christian and I checked in to Daniel’s Lodge… a place recommended to us by Howard in Ringo’s Foyer. I had booked a private room for myself… and then, when Christian cancelled his KL trip to join me, I had enquired about a private double twin room, and they said they had reserved this room for me and that all would be okay… at reception, the staff member denied this was the case, and said they had reserved two dorm beds for us.
Mixed 22/24-bed dorm: Though I like to perceive myself as open-minded… I must admit, I was incredibly grossed out when I walked into what felt like either a hospital ward… a military camp… or a boarding school. There was one massive room on the 2nd floor… supposedly ‘divided’ into two sections, but – in my point of view – there was one… and each side of the room had a row of beds facing another row of beds. There must have been 22 or 24 in total.
It was a mixed dorm. The floor was carpeted and musty. The room smelt of stale air that probably equated to the bad breathe of about 48 people…(different people over two separate evenings, as the room didn’t appear adequately ventilated).
Again… I was grateful to have somewhere to sleep… and it wasn’t ‘dirty’ per se… it was just… how should I put it, not how I prefer to sleep…especially when I know I can stay in a private room for 2.5 MYR more than the cost of a dorm (.60 Euro cents).
Trying to get to sleep: On came the night…I walked in to the dorm and some had already gone to sleep. The lights were off. I tried to look for my pyjamas in the dark… trying my hardest not to disturb anyone. (I couldn’t do it). Christian then turned the lights on anyway. I got my toothbrush and toothpaste… put my pyjamas in a pile on my bed… went downstairs to brush my teeth, only to find the lights had been turned off again. I couldn’t be bothered. I just went to bed in my clothes.
Christian and I’s half of the dorm room had about 10 or so people. All were male except for me and an English lady that works there. One man was about 2m tall and had his feet hanging off the bed. Another older Asian man first slept sitting on the bed, and later, spoke in his sleep when laying on the bed… the English lady snored… and a man to my left intermittently kept yelling ‘ehhhh!’ as if telling someone off.
Coping with the cold: When speaking to a local before my arrival, he says to me: ‘Be prepared. It’s coooold.’ My response was: ‘Sh-yeah. Cold. You mean, Asia-cold?’
We were freeeezing! I wore a jumper. A wind-breaker. I had my poncho in my bag for the rain. Running shoes. The hostel was sooo coooold. I felt like I needed to lay in bed under the blanket the whole time because I felt as though I couldn’t quite warm up.
I woke up the following morning feeling ….well…cold! I wasn’t very well rested… and I felt itchy… as a) there was no sheet between me and the blanket and b) I had this horrible feeling there were fleas on the bed (it may have been my imagination).
Christian was great. Whilst I took full advantage of the hot…hottest of the hot…water in the shower for 20 minutes… he asked reception whether a private twin double room had become available. It had. Thankfully, for the remaining two nights in Cameron Highlands, I would sleep more comfortably… more privately… more warmly (as the blankets were nicer) and I’d be able to switch the lights on and off as I wished… without the weird, night sounds that some people make in their sleep to disturb me. 🙂