A month or so ago I stood at the top of a mountain; staring out onto a dazzling range of jungle, farm land and well – the peaks of more mountains. The journey to the top was not for the faint of heart, particularly those easily nauseated by motion, as a rickety bus managed its way along the side of a cliff. Constantly swaying this way and that; the window curtains, on more than one occasion, hung directly between the seat in front of me and my face rather than against the frame as intended.
Needless to say, when I finally arrived at my first stop in the Cameron Highlands (CH) – the Smokehouse Hotel – I was incredibly thankful for the motion coaster to have ended.
The Smokehouse Hotel, built in 1837, is an incredible inn with even more fabulous gardens surrounding the property. It looks out onto a golf course which means there is also not much traffic or obstruction of your views. The staff here are incredibly friendly and informative, as they directed me where to visit and what to do in the area.
I eventually made my way to a night market. This also happened to be my first experience at one ever.
Which; may be odd coming from a Torontonian that has the T&T Festival during the summer and once lived on the west coast of Canada. However I was glad that I was able to experience this market first. For one: it wasn’t as crowded as the markets in KL. KL markets are sardine cans mixed with stinky tofu. However, I love them. I cannot lie. There are so many stalls with delicious food and cheap clothing. [KL-through-rose-coloured-glass-4lyfeeee]
The night market in the Cameron Highlands was filled with lively families and neighbours, shopping for a mixture of treats and groceries to start their fast and to break it in the evening. The produce was incredibly fresh here (Cameron Highlands is known for a mixture of berries and teas), so sampling was a requirement. Eventually I found myself snacking on a sea coconut – which doesn’t even grow in the region!
I am still trying to figure out how to eat it properly…
Through this expedition, I made friends with the cab driver. This connection definitely was a key factor in how enjoyable my next day was.
This was the lifer that drove me around CH!
When I say lifer, I mean it in more than one way. 1) He drew people to him like flies to honey. 2) He had lived in this region all of his life.
Although we could not understand one another all of the time, he was constantly smiling and laughing – and just being incredibly merry. He brought me to all the places he deemed important. Mentioning a few personal connects to the place along the way. Example: his first job was working for BOH Tea Company picking tea leaves. He wasn’t impressed with the new equipment.
Also, without this lovely gentleman, I may have never found the Rose Gardens. For 5 RM (less than a $1.00 CAD), you can climb through an amazing green house and up a mountain. Of course your whole hike is shrouded in lovely bushes and blooming flowers. There is such an array of colour.
Standing at the top of the mountain, breathless, I realized just how far from the sea I was. Ground 0. Sea level: the place where earth and air, meet water. There is something incredibly beautiful about that concept. About climbing and developing away from where you began.
Sea level for me was leaving Toronto and although I feel like I am only walking up the beach now, when I look back I realize I have walked quite a bit more than intended. I am not sure how high the mountain is in front of me – I mean it could be a hill – or when I will reach the sea again, but I am enjoying the journey.