A trip to Cameron Highlands isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a grueling five-hour (if you’re lucky) bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. If you’re wavering on whether you should visit, I really urge you to do so despite the arduous journey.
To make it through the bus ride, my advice would be to sleep through as much of it as you can. This will help you avoid getting carsick, especially when you actually start weaving your way through the hills. In fact, one of the few times I felt sick was on a sailboat out to the Great Barrier Reef. But, this bus ride to Cameron Highlands was even worse.
I was extremely happy when we finally got into Tanah Rata, the administrative center for the region. I walked to my first-choice hostel, even though I hadn’t booked anything before leaving KL. Unfortunately, all the dorms were full and the only thing they had left was a single room for RM40. I thought this was outrageous (although all things are relative I suppose because if you convert this into U.S. or Australian dollars, it’s tremendously cheap).
I walked to another hostel and got an attic room for RM15. Now this is more like it. Since it was an attic room, the roof sloped (quite severely in fact), but at least I’d be alone in the room and didn’t have to worry about my belongings. However, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is no joke, and I soon regretted this decision. When night fell, all the bed bugs came out to play and I spent the night with the light on killing those suckers.
But, I digress. After checking in and leaving my bags, I went into town and had lunch at the Hill Station Cafe. I ordered Maggi noodles with spicy chicken. The noodles are comparable to fried saimin back in Hawaii. It was really good, and I enjoyed myself at an alfresco table.
After lunch I had the entire afternoon to myself so I decided to take a walk to the neighboring town of Brinchang. It’s about three miles up the hill from Tanah Rata and most people told me to get a bus or cab, but I decided to walk. I’d been catching the LRT around in KL for the past week so this would be a good chance to start walking again. I looked at the map and followed what I hoped would be a shortcut (if I stayed on the main road, it was gonna be closer to five miles).
I passed modern-looking houses built in the Malay style of architecture. I stopped to look at All Souls’ Church, constructed in the 1950s for the Church of England. Small streams trickled through the area, but they weren’t very pretty because of all the red dirt discoloring the water. There was even a Hindu temple on the edge of Brinchang with intricate carvings to look at.
Even though I regretted not changing into my hiking boots, the walk was enjoyable and the cool temperatures up in the Highlands were refreshing after the sweltering heat of KL. Now that I was here, I really liked how natural Cameron Highlands was, especially compared to the city. It seemed like a hidden retreat from the world and a nice way to explore a different part of Malaysia.