To understand today’s post, one needs to know that I’ve been having an “identity crisis” for the last couple of days. Five and a half months into the journey, the honeymoon phase is well and truly over. And our time off in Thailand as well as our stay in Kuala Lumpur freed up time to think. Do I really want to go back to sleeping in moldy rooms? Is this still what I want to be doing? Are we doing something wrong? Do we still enjoy it? For a while now, there hasn’t been one of these “WOW” moments on the motorcycle. Yes, we loved KL but this is hardly a place where you need to go on a bike…a regular plane takes you right into the heart of it.
Today, we woke up in the Cameron Highlands. This place has made it onto the cover of the Lonely Planet edition for Malaysia…and we were totally underwhelmed. All I could think of is “Sumatra’s tea plantations are nicer”. Is that what comes with travelling extensively? You’re just filled up with experiences and landscapes and can’t appreciate what is in front of you anymore? Are we even doing the countries justice anymore?
To not be a total, depressed spoilsport, we started on the whole Cameron Highlands thing: First, see a tea plantation from up close. We decided to go for the one that is especially recommended. Still not as nice as Sumatra’s.
The tour through the factory was cool but only took 5 minutes and basically, you don’t need any humans for the whole process. We tried some of Boh’s own tea in the cafe which I liked but even the strawberry cake didn’t get me out of my low. It was too sweet anyway.
By this point, I have probably depressed you enough. To quote Flo who quoted Hugh Laurie: “I realized that I must be depressed when not even exploding monster trucks could excite me”. Is that what was happening?
One the way back from the Boh tea plantation, we stopped at Cameron Bharat’s tea house because it had a nice view. The tea was not as good as Boh’s but the views were nicer.
Defeated, we went back to the hostel. To put our heads into the sand or under a blanket. But we still had a high tea planned for the afternoon so we needed to have lunch in order to make everything happen. Quick lunch in one of the local food stalls before returning to our room. Lunch turned out to be our turning point. I ordered food at this stall run by an older couple who turned out to be deaf-mute. Not only was the food excellent but the couple was amazingly lovely. Interested in where we came from, they kept asking us questions. Neither Flo nor I are able to sign so we improvised gestures or, if everything failed, wrote questions and answers down. As soon as both of them heard that we came from NZ, they opened up completely. Both of their children live in Auckland and they had been to NZ recently to visit them. We were shown pictures of them at Matamata, on the sky tower and in Rotorua. It just made for such an awesome encounter. This is why we are on this trip…not all the tourist attractions. When we left, they even got out one of their own souvenirs from NZ to give to us…which we had to refuse as we have such limited space on the bike. What a sweet gesture though!
To further remind us of the “why”, we watched “Terra Circa”. It is really helpful every once in a while to get inspired again. Reading, listening or watching other travellers is something we highly recommend. Although, just to be clear, we have no aspirations to rough it like those guys. They are insane. 🙂
At 3pm, we went to our high tea at Cameron Highland Resort. And enjoyed it! Yes, it was not as fancy or delicious as the Hippopotamus one (thank you brain for reminding me) but it was a solid high tea with time to try sweet pastries and another pot of Cameron Highland tea.
There was just enough time to finish “Terra Circa” and write some postcards before we headed off to dinner in an Indian restaurant. Most of the Indians in Malaysia who we encounter are from the southern part, as is the food they prepare. For us, this is amazing as southern India is not currently along the route we have planned but this way, we get to experience the food here. My paneer Masala with naan was delicious.
Ending the day on a food high was exactly what it needed. While I finished commenting photos for the latest blog entry, Flo oiled the bike’s chain on his own. And then the bike fell…tbc…