24.10.2011 - 03.11.2011 32 °C
For our remaining few days on Borneo, we mainly just chilled out. Took in a few air conditioned shopping malls, sat on the beach at Sapi Island, generally enjoying the hospitality of Kota Kinabalu.
Then, we flew back to Kuala Lumpur and checked into Grocer's Hostel in Chinatown. We tried to go up to the Skybridge between the Petronas Towers, but the observation deck was closed for renovations, so we wandered over to the Menara KL instead. Although the tower isn't quite as tall as the Petronas Towers, its viewing platform is higher, and you get a nice view of the Petronas Towers!
Had a really good tropical thunderstorm that night, which we watched from the roof garden at Grocer's.
Then we decided to hop on a bus and go up to the Cameron Highlands. A much more temperate and drizzly climate up in Tanah Rata makes ideal growing for strawberries and tea, which we saw on our whistle-stop countryside tour arranged for us by our hostel, Kang's. We saw a Buddhist Temple that had big gold statues in it but we didn't really know what was going on. The Rose Garden was kind of a garden centre perched high up on a hill overlooking the tea plantations and had interesting statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, amongst other things. The Strawberry Farm, where we had really good strawberries and milkshake that tasted of strawberries and not chemicals, confirmed Claire's belief that Strawberries grow in plastic bags. She is very adamant about this.
Then, we took the narrow windy mountain road up to the BOH Tea Plantation, where we saw some of the tea leaves being processed in the factory and had a quick whizz around the museum there. Tried out their 'Teacino' in the cafe, which was kind of like a cappucino, but made of tea. Very nice! The final two stops on the tour were a bee farm, which was just a few boxes of bees, which presumably were making honey, and a butterfly and insect farm.
One of the local delicacies of the Cameron Highlands is the Steamboat. You get a huge pile of about 20 different raw foods, and a gas burner with a pot of Tom Yam soup, in which you immerse the food to cook it. We could identify on our plate chicken, beef, tofu, fish, cuttlefish, greens, whole eggs, noodles, and prawns.
Mostly, whilst in Tanah Rata, we just hung out at Kang's Travellers Lodge with the other backpackers - Winter, Liam, and Jo deserve special mention for regaling us with their tales of backpacking around Asia. We must go and visit the hostel they plan to set up in Cambodia in a few years' time.
Finally, we got a minivan back down to Kuala Lumpur, popped back into Grocer's to collect all the clothes Claire had forgotten to pack, and took a metro train across the city to the other bus station, which is brand new and very shiny and big and clever. We like bus stations like they make them in Malaysia. From here we travelled to Melaka, which seems to have been a good place to visit in the 16th Century, but has kind of declined in the intervening years. Most of the touristy things they have here are closed. For 'Renovation'. We did go into part of the Naval Museum which is inside a replica Portuguese ship, but was a bit smelly and full of schoolchildren. Melaka's Chinatown is very nice and has some cool restaurants and bars. We wandered into a small shophouse that had been renovated by the tourist board to showcase the traditional style of shophouse, which was very interesting and well presented by the steward.
Tomorrow, we head to Singapore!