Craving a respite from the heat and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, I took a five-hour bus ride northeast to the Cameron Highlands, a small cluster of towns in the hills where relaxation and a taste of nature are the only things on the agenda.
I stayed in a small town called Tanah Rata, the most popular of the highlands towns for tourists. It is a one-road town with a couple of restaurants, shops and an internet cafe. Oh, and a Starbucks of course, massively out of place in this simple area. The people here, as in Thailand, are very friendly. My tour guide, knowing I had spent a birthday dinner alone, took me out to eat Malay and even produced a lovely slice of birthday cake with a candle. I spent that evening sipping beers and swapping travel stories around a campfire with a group of international travelers. The group was eccelectic, the conversation hysterical and the laughter fueled by German brew.
As it is my first time traveling alone and being quite an independent person, I didn’t expect to meet as many people as I have. These friendly folks have welcomed me into fantastic conversation and in some cases provided me some much needed help. There was the English dive instructor Thomas who has been living in southern Thailand and has a Leeds accent so thick in some instances that whole sentences of his were indiscernible. There was the gay Philippine boy, whose laughter was so infectious it would set the whole group rolling. And then there was the couple from Portugal on their honeymoon, who upon arriving in Singapore, piled me into their van and gave me some money to get to my hotel as there were no ATMs to be found.
Now in Singapore, I’m looking forward to another few days of adventure and realaxation before getting back to the real world. Except my version of the real world now is Bangkok, which is still a vast urban expanse of new experiences and possible new friends. Boy … tough life.
Music by Pascal Rogé.