Into the highland jungle

(written by Nancy)

We had another sleep in this morning, followed by some nice but overpriced pancakes at the restaurant downstairs. Dave had one of those pancake cravings again so we took a chance on them in a Malaysian cafe. They were tasty but the stack of three noted on the menu turned out to be one very thin pancake. With a hike planned we needed a bit more food so as a supplement Dave ran across the road and picked up a couple roti canai to fill the void before we set off.

After some back and forth reading the various maps, we chose a jungle hike over a trek up to one of the nearby mountain tops. The afternoon forecast was for rain and the mountain top hikes were 5-6 hours. We didn’t really need a slog back in the rain so we chose a jungle trek that looped up with another one to give us enough of a walk but not too much. Lonely Planet suggested hiring a guide but our tour guide yesterday said that these particular hikes were not so hard to follow, so off we went. We had a little trouble finding the trail head but eventually found the entry point into the jungle.

The walk started pretty easy but it quickly became pretty challenging. The forest here is best described as roots, wet trees, branches and vines going everywhere. I guest that’s why they call it jungle. The track went from slightly up and down to nearly vertical and very narrow – lots of slipping and sliding. We carried on to the junction with the next path – signage wasn’t great and we hadn’t seen anyone else on the tracks so were glad to finally see some evidence that we were still on the track. We took another diversion a bit further on the track to head toward a Buddhist temple that we thought sounded interesting. The last bit of this track turned out to be a hard slog. It took over an hour to cover .98k (about .6 of a mile). It was very steep up and down, over and over. There were several trees down and places where we were hanging onto vines to make progress. Lots of exposed muddy roots to either slip or trip on. It was quite a relief to finally see the temple. All up it was only 5k but both of us felt like we’d been in a battle.

We had a look over the Sam Poh Temple, which is a Chinese temple and is apparently dedicated to a medieval eunuch (quite interesting), then walked the remaining 2k into Brinchang, the town up the road from Tanah Rata. To regain our strength, we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Brinchang. It was nice to see a bit of another town and it was easy to get a taxi back to Tanah Rata (and only 6 MYR). On the way back to Tanah Rata it bucketed rain so hard that I thought we might have to stop driving. We were pretty happy we chose the jungle trek over the mountain climb and celebrated over an espresso at Starbucks. Best of all, I won Starbuck’s “customer of the day” award – via random cash register token. My lucky day.

We did some cleaning back in the room before it was time to eat (again). We ended up going Indian (banana leaf) again, trying a placed mentioned again in Lonely Planet. We stopped at the night market to pick up one of those market peanut butter pancake things for dessert.

Tomorrow we are thinking of trying to get a few k down the road to a tea plantation that we passed on the way here for tea and scones. We think we’ll leave here on Tuesday but have another day to decide that so we’ll see…

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