Simon wakes me up around 7am and I head for the shower before I can chicken out and decide to give it a miss as it’s so cold. We have organised a trip this morning called The Mossy Forest and will be picked up at 8.45, so rush to get some breakfast.
The guides name is Kumar and there are another 5 people on the tour with us. We all pile into the back of a Land Rover and head off for our first stop which is at the tea plantation around 20 minutes away. The tea plantations are really amazing and we see tea pickers collecting the top leaves. The plantations are very sloped and pretty and Kumar is an interesting and informative guide who talks us through the history of the plantation and the tea producing process.
From the plantation we drive up to Gunung Brinchang, this is the highest point in the highlands and at around 2000 metres it is really quite cold. There is a viewing platform but the clouds are swirling around and there are only brief photo opportunities when the clouds break.
We head off for the mossy forest. Before we enter the forest Kumar tells us a little about his job as a NGO conservationist and goes on to show us many different types of plants and bushes along the way including citronella, wild ginger and bergamot. He explains the medicinal properties of many plants and shows us some amazing flowers called Monkey Pitchers. We then enter the forest and are taken on a muddy and difficult hour long trek. Despite getting filthy we all loved it and had a great time tramping along. I was a little worried when he explained that bird eating spiders live in this forest and their bodies can be 4 inches across with 3 -4 inch long legs.
Next we stop off at the tea factory, I am surprised that the despite the highlands being a huge producer of tea, some of which is exported internationally, the majority of the work is still done by hand. This includes the sorting and grading of the leaves.
By now it is 2pm and Kumar drops us of at an insect farm, this is very good and there are lots of butterflies, giant stick insects, grasshoppers and many other creepy crawlies to look at.
From here we walk to a nearby strawberry farm. As well as the tea plantations the highlands also produce strawberries and the town of Tanah Rata is really a strawberry town. Everywhere we go sells strawberry t shirts, handbags, fridge magnets, paper weights, balloons etc! As well as strawberry jam, tea, tarts, cheesecake, milkshakes and so on!
We catch the bus back and walk the short distance back “home”. I insist that the kids have a shower and we then settle down to do some science. One of the girls on our trip this morning is a Canadian who has been working as a science teacher in London for the past 4 years and she gives me some tips on specific areas of work to concentrate on which is useful.
We join the other guests in the communal lounge and manage to bag a settee. There is a nightly film showing and the 7pm offering is The Queen. We enjoy laughing at the translation of the subtitles more than the film but have a lovely evening chatting to other travellers.
We will be leaving in the morning and I’m so sad, it is one of the nicest places we have stayed and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering a holiday to Malaysia. The people who run the place have been very friendly and try their utmost to create a homely atmosphere.
We are going back to KL on the 1.45pm VIP bus. The journey should take 3 and a half hours and we have arranged to stay in another hostel. Originally we had booked The Pudu Hostel but spent some time reading recent traveller reviews on Malaysia and Thailand and discovered 6 terrible reviews about the place including one couple who had all their money stolen at festival time. As we are only returning to KL for the Thaipusam festival I’m relieved we have had the opportunity to change where we are staying and hopefully will be ok.