When I first heard about the Cameron Highlands, I knew I had to visit them on my way through Malaysia. Not because of the name we share, but because of the hiking trails and the cool mountain temperature that ranges between a glorious 16-23 degrees.
On march 14th, I casually made my way to the BTS station in KL and booked a short 4 hour bus to Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands. The bus cost 32RM and left shortly after 1pm. The road became narrow and windy as the full sized travel bus made its way deep into the mountains. Disembarking from the bus in the late afternoon, I could feel the cool, freshness of the air. I liked it!
The towns of Tanah Rata and Birmchang have a lot of sights and attractions: Tea Plantations, Flower Gardens, local markets, Temples and Fun Hostels. Take a look at my other article on the Cameron Highlands to learn more!
The Forest Trails!
First step, I bought myself a map for 3MR and started hitting the trails. There are eleven or twelve official trails that run deep into the surrounding mountains around Tanah Rata and Birmchang. The starting points can be damn near impossible to find without assistance from the locals, fair warning!
I started off on trail 7, a nice steady inclined trail leading to a look-off that merges with trails 3 and 8. At a medium pace, the trail was quite challenging even with the lovely canopy overhead to keep cool. At the peak, I stumbled into a busy group of hikkers taking photos and celebrating!
PDK – Community Rehabilitation Program
The group was PDK, an organisation whose inception was spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department to assist Malaysians with disabilities. Among the group were very determined trekkers of varying ages with physical or mental disabilities. I was very impressed with both the trekkers and the supporting organisation and joined them down trails 3 and 6 for the following two hours all the way back to basecamp where we shared afternoon tea.
Empowerment Towards Accessibilities for People with Disabilities
Climbing Gunang Birmchang & The Mossy Forest
The main trail n#1 climbs to the top of Gunang (Mountain) Birmchang. After hitch hiking in slow traffic across Birmchang, I started my assent into the forest. The path was clear but rugged, a foreshadow of what lies ahead.
The highland rainforest was so dense, the canopy overhead sheltered me completely from the unwanted sun above. As I climbed higher and higher, I felt the hot valley air giveaway to cool mountain temperatures and mist.
The slow rising path quickly turned into a small trail of ever present roots systems and fallen tree trunks. It was an aggressive climb, requiring both hands at times and a steady foot. As I reached the top, the hard work was well rewarded… Not only did I meet some kind German Women of similar age, but also the view! The sights from atop a nearby tower were magnificent!
After a long moment of admiration, I made my way down the road to the entrance to the Mossy Forest. This small boardwalk through the mountain top forest is a pleasant place to sit and relax. The mist from the rolling clouds sweeps through air, the cool vapor can be seen and felt.
Robinson Waterfall Trekk
On my last full day in Tanah Rata I sought a leisurely trekking to the Robinson Waterfall. Trails 9 & 9A lead out of town into the neighoring hillside and loop back around. I arrived at the start of the trail with the afternoon sun already at my back.
This trail is very easy, with stone walkways and steps along the way from the dam that marks the beginning of the trail to the hydro station down the hill. Somehow, I got lost along the way at some wooden residential huts deep in the forest an found myself on the outside banks of a cabbage farm.
The farm was filthy, plastic strips and garbage littered the countryside road. PVC pipes were tossed into the roadside grass and crops were tied onto wooden stakes in neat rows. This is normal for south east Asia, however the reality of this sight was hard to absorb but reality nonetheless. Food in Malaysia is surprisingly cheap greatly due to implementing such technological advancement with little overhead in regulation.
On my return journey, I made my way through the hydro dam and back up to the base of the waterfall. Here I found the perfect place to relax and catch my breath to the thundering sound of crashing water, in the cool misty air. I spent the next hour here writing and falling in and out of a late afternoon daze.
The Cameron Highlands are a beautiful picturesque mountain range with DIY trails and colourful plantations. The natural beauty of the landscape and the fun but challenging climbs in the cool temperature makes it a wonderful place to visit for both local Malays and foreigners. I can see myself returning here again one day.