Hallo, acorns eten eikkles!
2/14/11 - 2/19/11
"Screw it, I'm staying one more day."
10 P.M, Friday night - I had already extended my stay in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia twice. Earlier in the day I booked my bus ticket for the next morning, hoping that it would motivate me to finally leave. However on this night, the combination of good friends, a few beers, amazing indian food, and terrible karaoke would be enough to trump the aforementioned bus ticket. I wasn't ready to leave this place, nor was I ready to leave these people.
The Cameron Highlands is the type of place that grabs you. You are surrounded by a seemingly never ending stretch of lush mountains, tea plantations, and strawberry fields. Add to the mix a hostel with a very Summer-Camp type feel, and you have a recipe for enchanting different types of backpackers from all over the world.
The hostel was perched high up on a hill overlooking the small, Indian food laden town below. They were breeding purebred puppies. It was surrounded by flower gardens.
One of the many views
The road into town
My first two days in the Highlands, I only left the hostel when the craving for curry hit me. The rest was spent lounging around, chatting with my hostel mates, and finishing my book that Joey was kind enough give me for my trip (Slaughterhouse Five, I loved it, thanks again Joey!) On my third day, my friend Mike and I decided it was time to stop being lazy, and go on a trek through some of the forests. After walking around for about an hour trying to find the trail, we realized that we had walked about a mile and a half past the trail we were trying to find. Although we never actually found the trail, the search would yield quite the day after all. If only getting lost was always this rewarding.
we were lost
we found this while wandering aimlessly through the tea fields. Go Obezags!
Tea house. OK view.
The next day, after recruiting a few more hostel mates, we set off again for another trail, this time with more success. The trail was beautiful, and just challenging enough for a bunch of somewhat in shape backpackers.
The part of the trek that wasn't too steep to take pictures
Chugging curry before the trek. Duh.
Made it to the top. And rawwr.
After the trek we would relax for a little while, then descend down the other side of the mountain. On the descent we went to a tea plantation which was named after a gentlemen a fair bit of you may recognize...
Long lost cousins???
Another tea plantation, another amazing view
The moon was full that night, and as we lie in the garden gazing up at the sky, Hester would teach me the one foreign phrase that my brain has been able to retain this trip: Hallo, acorns eten eikkles! This has nothing to do with stars, or food, or mountains, or anything that would seem logical at the time. It is Dutch, for "Hello, squirrels eat acorns." As I repeated that, with Hester rolling in laughter in my terrible accent and pronunciation, I sat back, relishing the feeling of complete freedom and carelessness that this adventure has provided. I went to bed Friday evening, fully content with my decision to stay at least one more day.
Saturday Morning, 7:30 A.M. I was awoken by a downtrodden Mike. My satisfaction in my decision to extend my stay was abruptly cut short. He told me that we had gotten back too late the night before to inform the hostel we wanted to stay another night, and they had given up our beds to other people. The euphoria of the previous evening, which consisted of delightful moments like singing a karaoke duet in Malay with Hester, dancing our asses off, and a 2 am discussion of our generations perspectives on religion, quickly faded into the sobering realization that I needed to say goodbye. My bus left in 30 minutes, and a few frantic hugs later I was running to the bus stop. Of course, I missed it, and was ushered into a cab which chased down the bus so that I could catch it at the next stop.
As I sit in Panang now, a bustling island city off the north west coast of Malaysia, I am left with only remnants of the cocktail of emotions that I felt on my way out of the Highlands. As the bus struggled to climb and descend the narrow, undulating roads, I couldn't help but wonder what other amazing experiences were ahead of me. I was sad, I was excited, I was hungover, and I had that slight tingling feeling I get when I really think about the scope of this adventure. All add up to quite a bittersweet moment, which seems to be a recurring theme this trip.
The Highlands were a delightful reminder of why I love to travel. A little more than a month has passed since I left Baltimore, and although I miss the many comforts of home, that feeling is quickly overshadowed by the thrill of discovering so many wonderful new places and people. About 4 weeks down, many more to go. Acorns eten eikkles.