Sunday, November 29, 2009

Malaysia: Bus trip from Penang to Cameron Highlands

As soon as I arrived at KOMTAR in Penang, I bought a bus ticket to Cameron Highlands for the next day. I wanted to make sure I had a ticket already since I was pressed for time. The only downside of taking a bus was getting to the bus terminal very early in the morning. Instead of riding the bus from Penang (it's quite inconvenient getting to the Penang bus station especially early in the morning), I decided to catch the same bus when it arrived in Butterworth.

Anyway, I would later regret it since there are van services that would pick you up at your hotel and take you straight to Cameron Highlands. No need to go to the bus terminal, it leaves hours earlier, and the trip is faster since the vans are smaller than buses and thus it’s easier for them to move up the mountain roads. But you don't get refunds for bus tickets.

So the next day, I left the hotel at 6 a.m. and from my hotel, I took a local bus to the George Town port area. The ferry service from Penang to Butterworth is just 15 minutes. And the good thing about the port in Butterworth is that the terminal is right beside the bus station. So I arrived quite early for the 8:30 a.m. departure. In fact, I remember the bus left Butterworth at almost 9 a.m. If I took the van at 6 a.m., I would have been there already in Cameron Highlands as the bus made its way there.

The bus ride was quite uneventful. The trip was between five to six hours and the bus really moved slow on the zigzag road. To make the long story short, I arrived in Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands at about 2 p.m.

First order of business was to look for a place to stay. Since I wanted to keep my budget low, I was able to get a non-aircon room for less than RM20 (but no amenities, just a bed and common bathroom). At least it's very cool in Cameron Highlands so like Baguio, no need for air-con rooms.

Since it was too late to join a half-day tour, I decided to walk around and explore Tanah Rata. Transportation between the Cameron Highland towns is quite scarce. So if I wanted to visit Ringlet or Brinchang, I'd have to take a cab. So it's really best to join the half-day or whole-day tours.

For late lunch, I had tandoori chicken. Later in the afternoon, I decided to try out one of the walking trails of Tanah Rata. Since it was getting dark, I chose the nearest waterfall which is Robinson Falls. You get to view it from the top of the trail. It wasn't that impressive though and not that clean neither.

Just like Baguio, food in Cameron Highlands has a strawberry twist. So they had roti with strawberries in one of the shops. Dried strawberries are also available so I snacked on some while walking around. Later in the evening, I had more Indian food!

Since there was nothing much to do in the evening, I was able to rest especially since I wasn't feeling that good, tired from all that constant moving around. The cool mountain weather was definitely a relaxing break.

Twin Pines Guesthouse
+60 (5) 4912169
twinpines@hotmail.com

Part 2: BOH Tea Plantation and more from Cameron Highlands
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