On our day 2 of Cameron Highlands we went hiking through the jungle reaching the top of the scenic Gunung Brinchang, we penetrated inside the fairyland of the enchanted mossy forest, and got lost and hungry in the endless labyrinth of the BOH tea plantations. An adventure day full of good vibes and magnificent landscapes as far as our eyes could see.
Charlie and the trail no.1
We met Charlie from USA in the morning of our day two in Cameroon Highlands, in our hitchhiked car outside Tanah Rata on the road to Brinchang. He was picked up by the same car few hundred meters earlier. He was going to do the same hike on the popular trail number 1, just like us, so he cheerfully decided we should go together.
Chatting, walking, hiking, chatting, shortness of breath, sliding, pause, climbing again, sun, pleasant, foggy, sweaty, cold, dark, foggy again, but among all, as a constant the excited trills of Charlie behind us, hiking JUNGLE for the first time, in his solo trip around the world. We were barely blood cells traveling upwards in a vast network of tropical muddy roots stretching out as far as the circulatory system of the human body, heading towards the 2000m high crown of the Brinchang Mountain. Half way through the trail we met a very knowledgeable and funny hiker from Kurdistan (Iraq) and he showed us his favorite view points on the way. He was like an energy boost and before we noticed, all four of us already reached the top of the mountain. Our informal guide said goodbye but Charlie remained with us on the next quest of the day, the mossy forest and the visit to the main BOH Tea Plantations and Factory.
The mysterious Mossy Forest and the BOH Tea Plantations
Heading down the paved road with jeeps of young squeezed selfie scavengers coming from the top of the mountain, was somehow odd. Turns out they paid money to miss the most authentic and exiting part of their day trip: the HIKE, and they even didn't question it! Soon we arrived to the magnificent mossy forest, one of the main attractions of all tours. The access, free for all, is by stairs from the main road, leading to dry and comfy wooden platforms, so is adapted for all ages.
It was a dense and gray foggy day, and suddenly few unexpected rays of light penetrated the forest, making it look magical. The big trunks were splitting in contorted and heavy branches, framing the wooden platform and its visitors in a fairy tale landscape. Moss was covering every inch of wood, and twisted shapes of gray were firing our imagination further inside this enchanted forest, where no visitor would adventure. It was magnificent!
Next, we continued on the road further down towards the most famous BOH tea estates, and little by little the sun reveled its smile just to match the scenic landscape and our new arising feelings. We were pleased to enjoy just by ourselves the endless carpets of tea covering the rolling hills with their electric green stripes. We over passed workers settlements, entertained ourselves with the worker's kids enthusiastic to try every bit of their English skills, and admired the worker's torso silhouette inside the dense fields of tea.
We were hungry but happy, and then a little bit more hungry than happy since the road seemed to never end... Charlie was an ever enthusiastic over exited American pumping all over the place with good vibes and fighting the threatening grumpiness of hunger with his best possible attitude.
It was a long way on foot to the BOH tea headquarters but their history display was even longer. We were shocked to see the tea estates packed with cars and local tourists coming from nowhere buzzing all over the place and enjoying their Hari Raya Haji Holiday. The queue at the BOH tea cafeteria was dozens of meters long: we had no chance for food there. First lesson learned: always carry more food than you think you need!
On the way back searching for a shorter alternative path, we found a dirty road, cutting through the tea plantations, a promising escape to the nearest Malaysian warungs in Brinchang.
Lost in the Tea Labyrinth
Walking confidently for more than 1 hour with no more directions or information than the certainty that the road has to lead somewhere, soon we were to find out a second lesson: just because it is a dirty road, this doesn't mean it is a shortcut. The road decided to end suddenly in the middle of nowhere inviting us to contemplate for the first time the 360 degrees of never ending rolling hills of green. The time has stopped. We became aware of the solemn silence floating around us and for some seconds we breathed it all in. The hills were standing there since the beginning of Time in perfect silence, being sacred, being PEACE itself. For a moment we felt deeply grateful.
Our reverie finished all too soon. Our angry stomachs forced us to realize we were too hungry, tired and lost and demanded us to find a way out of the majestic BOH tea labyrinth.
Davide's GPS and the ridiculous "never give up spirit"
Sooo....”what's next?” I asked amused. Charlie was jumping up and down expressing the “dramatic” situation we were in, while Davide was already silently accessing his GPS. Didn't pass more than few second until each of us pointed in a different direction. Who to follow?
I had to team up with Charlie, to form Team Reckless since it is less depressing hoping to find a way while going forward than returning defeated back to where we started 1 hour ago. With the GPS not finding our location, Davide had a ground and leg breaking idea: to cross a valley and a supposed river to the next hill where some house roof was spotted between the trees. That house was more likely a worker's house, something similar with what he saw just behind the BOH tea headquarters. Me and Charlie didn't get the distances and “how we went all in a circle theory”, so we were not impressed.
With no allies, Davide changed plan and took his time to convince us that is best to just go back from where we came, and check the GPS for suggestions along the way. The decision was not satisfying, but mature enough not to say “no”. Every hundred meters Davide would stop to check for the GPS hilarious suggestions, and we would waste time fantasizing how we would cross the jungle with no trail, so in the end we just continued until we almost arrived to the paved road again. When there were just 100m left, we found a shortcut through the tea plantations that would save us some 50m, so in the end that was our only “strategic” satisfaction. We laughed out loud with exhaustion on the side of the road, and the first car with seats available stopped and brought us happily back to civilization, that was actually just 3 km away. In the car Davide's mind and mouth were still rolling one after the other strategic possible escapes, analyzing missing factors and putting all parts of his puzzle back together. I guess he wasn't that happy we returned in civilization but Victory doesn't have to be on time, right?!
Check out Cameron Highlands Part 1, and read about our experience in Tanah Rata, where we slept and which hiking trail you should avoid.