December 8 2008

After a slow morning we headed further into the  Cameron Highlands to Birchang in search of strawberry farms and the famous tea plantations. After wrestling Francois through the public holiday traffic (Muslim holiday Hajid) we only just saw the turnoff to Sungai Palas and Boh Tea estate. The steep narrow windy road was extremely picturesque and slippery due to the moss and leaves. Extra care was needed and the sounding of Francois’ horn on blind corners proved a cautious measure that paided off on several occasions. At the Boh tea house we were waved on by the security to continue past the parking lot directly up the hill to the café and lookout, this sort of treatment is common for motorcyclists in Malaysia and something that could be learnt in Australia.

Aside – not only do motorcyclists get special treatment but they don’t pay tolls, parking and have the right to park on footpaths if the motorcycle parking (which is everywhere) is fully used. There are of course many more motorcycles here in Malaysia than Australia but the proportion is not as high as in other asian countries.

Pascal Filming

Pascal filming the locals harvesting tea from the undulating tea plantations

After the tea house we went to a strawberry farm and vegetable garden to look at the typical food of the region and how it’s grown. No real surprises except for the Malaysian apple (as it was called by our impromptue Bangladeshi tour guide) the size of an apple but in the shape of a roma tomato with a light green/yellow skin and light orange flesh which tasted more like a mini rock melon than an apple.

December 9 2008

Our alarm sounded at 5:30am intended to get us up and out the door for the sunrise over the highlands from Mt Birchang standing at 2018m. After a couple of false starts and a lot of difficulties in overcoming our laziness we made it out the door to a chilly morning. Halfway up the mountain we took a wrong turn and ended up following the muddy goat trail through tiny small farms until the road deteriorated so much we turned back, convinced that no tourist bus or 4WD would come this way, so back down we went still in pitch black and eager to find the right assending road before sunrise. We finally made it and joined five chinese tourists at the top of the lookout tower where it was a very cold and windy wait for the sunrise. The weather was more reminiscent of Europe than the tropics. It was well worth the cold early wakeup and the morning scenery is breathtaking. It fortunately is one of the few pockets of rainforest that hasn’t been cleared for palm tree or tea plantations.

Sign our petition against Palm Oil plantations that destroy rainforets.

After breakfast we checked out of Father’s Guesthouse and headed to Ipoh via the ‘new’ road which wasn’t marked on our map. It was a piece of motorcycling paradise lined by stunning views and cool tropical mountains the road was wide, in excellent condition and barely any traffic, except for the odd diesel truck or bus. I got covered in soot and when we stopped for lunch I wiped my face and all the black soot from the exhaust of the trucks came off on my hanky, disgusting!

Kuala Kangsar Mosque

The team infront of Kuala Kangsar Mosque in the Royal town

After lunch, we continued on our journey to Kuala Kangsar (the Royal town). We were both really hot and bothered so we crashed at the tourist information centre and enquired about accommodation for the night. A nice guy booked us a double room, but unsure about whether we wanted to stay, we headed out in search of the grand mosque. We took a happy snap of its golden domes and then drove down to the riverside for an afternoon seista. We ended up staying the night and found the town to be a very homely and friendly place to be away from the typical tourist traps of Malaysia.