Friday, September 9, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 10: Naan, Paratha, and Jungle Trekking in Cameron Highlands - Malaysia

March 10, 2011

We slept really tight to make up for the day long traveling yesterday and to recharge our bodies for the cooler phase of our trip. Our upcoming expeditions would include jungle trekking, visit to tea plantations and strawberry farms, having Chinese steamboat, and attending a traditional Malay wedding!

"Naan, Naan"!
It was around noon when we managed to wake up; too late for the breakfast. So, we decided to instead try Indian restaurants around the main road for the brunch. It is hard to describe the feeling when we saw familiar looking victuals at Indian eateries after enjoying, or at times bearing with, local cuisines for more than a week! Urooba could not resist and started chanting “Naan, Naan…” while looking at a chef rolling live desi breads!!
Indian style doughs for Paratha
Hot Parathas in the making!
The Legend of Jim Thompson
Cameron Highlands is a popular vacation retreat among locals. And why not so, after all it is one of the few hill stations around the peninsula where the temperature remains low.
Highlands are also famous for their picturesque tea plantation – which covers surrounding hills like a green carpet – and dense mossy forests with various jungle treks, out of which some trails are so remote that one may end up following the footsteps of legendary Jim Thompson, an American silk trader who never came back after his post lunch walk!

‘Rafflesia’, the world’s largest flower – with the diameter of as much as one meter – is also found in these thick forests!
Of AC Rooms in Cameron Highlands
Before starting our first jungle trek we peeked back into our hotel room to put on some warm clothing! Yes it gets cold out there, even in the daytime, so much so that if a hotel advertises air-conditioned rooms, you can easily guess that it’s a fraud!

Jungle Trek No. 4
Out of eleven jungle treks, we chose trek # 4 partly because of its aesthetical ending at Parit Fall and mostly because it is the least exhaustive of all! The trek starts from behind Century Pines Resort - a short walk from the main market - and then follows a water stream coming from the mountains. The trail, which passes through thick forests, was just good for Misha’s buggy, except for a few bad patches where I had to act porter!
Jungle Trek 4 starts from behind Century Pines Resort

Take left from Parit Falls sign

It attained elevation gradually and at one turning we could hardly see the water stream, around 100 feet down, through trees and bushes. As there were no fences, it may get dangerous while it rains. So be careful when you plan to traverse around!
The trek starts!
Forest getting thicker
Moving up slowly
The trek continues
Soon we crossed the rustic wooden bridge and entered into a recently developed tourist facility. Initially, we got a bit disappointed with the sign of civilization as we wanted it to be more natural, however, the anticlimax did not prolong and we entered the forest again continuing our walk, this time to end up at a dead-end!
Wooden bridge
Close to the wooden bridge
On the bridge
Actually there were two paths from the tourist facility, the left one was marked with the Malay speaking signboard so we took the right one. Not that we had any biasness against Malay language but we did not want to end up to another tourist facility!

The short canopy walk
Continuing on the chosen path, we crossed the hanging bridge which was a shorter version of trademark canopy walks in tropical rainforests.
From there, it was a steep - stairs type - walk which actually concluded at a dead end, so we backtracked and changed our direction to carefully follow the sound of the falling water. Ultimately, we reached our destination, and so were a couple of other lost tourists with guidebooks and maps in their hands!
Lost trekkers!
Parit Fall
First scene of the fall was inspiring as it suddenly appears after the trek took a turn into the forest. A wooden bridge and a canopy were hanging over the waterfall making it more picturesque. After making a few snaps, we parked the buggy besides the trail and followed the muddy and steep path to the canopy.
First glimpse of the Fall
Canopy hanging over the Fall

Mama! its cool!!

I'm enjoying it!!

Views from the canopy were revealing, however, with a pinch of bad taste; alongside the water stream, villagers dumped their garbage making us wish that we should not have seen that much, Argh!
The bad scene! Literally!!
The Forgotten Trek
There was a hint of two onwards treks from that point. Out of which one was just a loop around the waterfall, as reported by the wandering Austrians, while the entrance of the other one was obstructed. Inspirited by the high moral of the fellow trekkers we decided to continue to the forgotten trek. For that I had to go down to bring up Misha’s pram! Soon after we entered the trek, we realized that the obstruction was purposeful, as the trek was too fragile for happy us. We took the u-turn! That was not unwise as mercury also started plunging sharply, due to engulfing clouds, so was our energy level.  

Child Beggers
We got back to the tourist facility to rejoin to the trail which we took from Century Pines Resort. However, there we found a paved road going up the hill opposite to the beaten trek. A bunch of kids were also hanging around there who started begging for money when we tried to seek their help for direction!
Adventure Gone Bad
We collected our energies to explore something new. The road was so steep that we drained all the oomph by the time we reached the junction linking to the main road, only to find out that we were out of Tanah Rata town on the Brinchang road. That was a bad news, effectively speaking, as we had to walk double the miles than what we would have to had we opted for the tested route!
Brinchang exit of Parit Fall
Malaysia - Truly Asia
Before I could hail a taxi, to pay the price for the unsuccessful adventure, a hi-ace van stopped by us and offered us an unsolicited lift back to the town. If there was a reason for that favour, that must be Misha and her buggy! That made us feel "Malaysia - Truly Asia"! Literally!
Misha is a bit tired after a long trek!
After getting refreshed in our hotel room, we headed to the main market for some window shopping and for some Naan – Chapati – and Pratha! The bazaar is located along the main road of the town and comprises of a range of shops from eateries to souvenir shops.
A peek into Tanah Rata market

Hot chapati

Misha is busy!
When we returned to our hotel to call it a day, we found that the fittings of the attached bathroom had gone seriously bad! To make up for the nuisance, Suja – owner cum manager of the accommodation – offered us a spacious room, with the liberty to move our luggage the next day.

Good night!

Transportation to Cameron Highland
Until recently, the hill station had been connected to the peninsular Malaysia only through the conventional Tapah route. However, new routes have been developed now through Ipoh and Gua Musang hence providing with better connectivity.

Unititi Express Services: recommended

Timetable of Unititi Express

Window poster at Unititi kiosk 
Among other intercity bus companies Unititi Express looked the best of the lot. We booked it for CH-Penang and the exprience was good. Below is their schedule which might have been updated since then:
To KL Sentral/ Bukit Jalil: 08:30 & 13:45 (RM 35)
To Penang/Ipoh/Butterworth: 08:00 (RM 32) & 14:30 (RM 38)
To Singapore: 10:00
Phone: 05-4914181, 4911452
Kinta Omnibus: recommended after Unititi

Kinta Omnibus timetable

Kinta Omnibus timetable
We took Kinta Omnibus for Ipoh-Cameron Highland and the experience was not bad. In Ipoh we took the bus from the local bus station, Medan Kidd, rather than Medan Gopeng, which operates intercity buses. Given the choice, we would have selected Unititi.
To Ipoh: 08:00, 11:00, 15:00, 18:00
To KL: 08:30, 14:00
Phone: 05-4914128
Kurnia Bistari: not recommended

Kurnia Bistari timetable
Kurnia Bistari is another bus company, often referred to in guide books, but the company looked a bit torn down.
To KL: 08:00, 10:30, 13:00 (VIP), 16:30
To Ipoh/Penang: 08:00 (VIP), 14:30
Phone: 05-4911212
Regal Transport: do it at your own risk!

Regal Transport timetable
Regal transport is a local bus compant that connects various towns of Cameron Highlands. We once tried to take this bus but then decided otherwise because of the language barrier and uncertainty of schedule.
Kang Travel's Wall 
Kang’s travel and other tour operators also run minivans to other tourist attractions such as Taman Negara (the rain forests), Kuala Kedah (for Langkawi), Perhentian Island, etc but with varying schedules.
The above is good for reference and planning purpose. For accurate details please contact their offices on the given phone numbers.

There are a plenty of accomodation option around and a no-frill clean double room can easily be bargained for MYR 75-100 (USD 25-30) even in busy days. High end options are also there for those who are looking for a splurge.

We stayed at KRS Pines around Jalan Mentigi, where a host of other reasonably priced guesthouse are also located.

Picturesque Mentigi road near Tanah Rata market

Twin Pines and KRS Pines around Mentigi

KRS Pines: recommended

KRS Pines behind Eight Mentigi

Eight Mentigi details

BB Inn: Another accomodation around Tanah Rata

BB Inn is cheap!

Yet another accomodation around Tanah Rata
Tour Operators
It is recommended to book a tour for visiting around rather than doing it independently as some of the attractions are far from public transportation. However, there is no need to book in advance and shopping around a day or two earlier, once there, will do it easily.

There are four main tour operators in the town – TJ Travels, CS Travels, Kang’s Travel, and Titiwangsa – which compete for various day tours and jungle expeditions. There sales offices are located around the main market and can easily be approached.
A flyer from CS Travels


  1. Thanks Muzzammil for the blog. I would use this for other couch surfers.. my regards to Urooba...

  2. Experience of one make success for all thereafter. Thank muzammil