Treking, Temples and tasty tit bits.

Friday, April 08, 2016
Tanah Rata, Pahang, Malaysia
The day after my drunken escapades and tooth chipping was another non event. Dani was still bad with her chest and still is and my head was in tiny wee pieces along with my tooth. Tanah Rata is a very small quiet town, well more of a road than a town and there isn't much to do other than the treks out of town or hiring a scooter or tour to take you round the hills and tea plantations so the day was spent sorting out my digital life and putting my head back together. I'm not really sure what happened but I think a few cans of 12% dodgy beer, some Thai rum and Fruit Vodka might have had something to do with it. We hadn't drank much in Bali really with it being more expensive and I guess I made up for that a little too much. Dani was in bed for a fair chunk of the day and I sat around editing some video clips and trying to find some decent enough internet to get my blog post together.

Today we managed to get out though despite the fact that Dani isn't really any better and my blister has gone from feeling totally cleared up back to feeling like someone is stabbing my toe with a hot kebab skewer . I couldn't sit around any more though. or I would have disappeared back into the bottle of Thai rum and I only have a certain amount of teeth to get me though the rest of my life. So off on a trek we headed. We had a map from the guesthouse we are staying at and although simple it looked like it would do the trick. I'm a bright enough lad to read a map, I possibly even remember finishing 1st in orienteering at junior school however today I'm fairly confident that my wilderness explorer badge has been well and truly revoked. The trek started off fairly easily, out of Tanah Rata and up a small easily marked trail not too far from the road along to the next town Brinchang. After around an hour we popped out near the Forestry comission which we had marked on our map, about half between the two towns. We had planned on doing a fairly simple trek through the jungle to the next town so after a short break for some water we headed off into denser jungle to pick up the trail that looped round to Brinchang. We clambered and climed over and under tree trunks, scrambled up root lined mud and at times there seemed to be so many options of which way to go . Usually the trail simply split for s hort distance then came back together and we were looking for a definite point where the trail hit a junction. Left to Brinchang around another two hours, right to Gunung Berembun which at around 5,400 ft above sea level was a good 3-4 hrs treking there and the same back. Now the confusion arose when we discovered that the map we were given by the guesthouse with path numbers on it did not match the trail numbers laid out by the forestry comission. I mean who decides to label there map with a diferent numbering convention! So as we scampered off in search of Path 2 on the map all we saw among the dense jungle was the occasional piece of plastic nailed to a tree with the number 6 on it. I figured we were still on the right route so continued on in search of the junction but as the trail continued there was no sign of any left or right option. Water was starting to get low now so we made the decision to head back the way we came and continue to Brinchang via the boring tarmac of the road . I was really disappointed as now that I have got back and check another map we were headed the right way and most likely not too far from where we needed to turn and pick up the trail to Brinchang. On a plus note though it was a nice trek all the same. We didn't see another single soul. Just nature and the sound of the wildlife around us. A fairly exotic looking bird flew past at one point, I'm not sure what exactly but maybe some variety of Kingfisher by the look of it. Either way it was beautiful to see.

The rest of the trek to Brinchang was pleasant enough but I much prefer being off the road and away from the traffic and concrete. Another hour or so later and we wandered into the bizzare alpine looking town of Brinchang complete with it's crazy tall hotels. It's a strange sight indeed. Not something you expect to see in a place like Malaysia, think more the Swiss alps with a lot of Inidan and chinese restaurants. We had picked the trek to Brinchang for two reasons . One it wasn't a massive distance or a strenuous hike and also we wanted to enjoy the food at the night market that they have on a Friday and Saturday night. It was around 2pm and we still had another four hours to kill until the night market fired up and got into full swing. Tum te tum so what to do. We spotted a sign further back for a Buddhist temple that should have been at the end of the jungle trail we missed out on so after grabbing a cuppa and ten minutes rest we headed back down to check it out. It's huge to say the least. I've seen my fair share of temples on my travels and anyone who has travelled Asia before will let you know that you can become 'templed out' after one too many so it takes something special to give you that wow factor. This one unfortunately didn't but I was impressed with the scale. To be fair it appeared to be more of a large monks hotel with a temple built into the front of the grounds. We strolled around a while taking in the usual array of Golden Buddha images and I ended up chatting to a guy from KL who knows the North East of England really well having studied in the UK which was nice . It killed another hour and we ambled back into town to park up for a beer and to wait for the market to start.

It was a quiet Chinese restaurant we plumpled for down a small back road of the town. There beer was pricey so we grabbed a couple of soft drinks and I nipped round the corner to grab another can of the crazy cheap local string brew much top the delight of the table of Chinese on the next table who seemed to be spending the afternoon there slowly getting sloshed. The Chinese are funny and yet great when they drink. They drink beer in shots. Small glasses, raise them down it and onto the next. The bleary eyed guys at the table most definitely approved of my choice of strong alcohol and after raising many a glass in my direction with us all taking a drink it was suddenly time to hit the market. We bid our farewells and trundled up the road in search of well earned and needed food.

Now Brinchang night market is thing of culinary beauty . We sauntered along taking it all before making our choice of what to have. A good indicator as well as your eyes is to see which places have a massive crowd round and are popular with the locals. When you have a miryiad of amazing looking food stalls the locals can afford to be picky and they let you know which of the stalls are selling the best of each type of food. Eventually we settled for a rich dark Lamb kebab with apricot jam, a burger with all the trimings, a whole variety of nibble sticks, cheese filled hot dogs, crab in batter, fish balls, chicken hearts and a few strawberries in jam to keep Dani's sweet tooth happy. Amazing food for a very small price. With another bag of nibble sticks loaded up to enjoy when we got back we haggled our taxi fee and weaved our way back to Tanah Rata and a well earned Vodka at the guesthouse.

I also need to mention a couple of new friends I have made here as well. I've just been reminded after we got back in to sit down with a drink. Wan the indian guy who runs the place here is a really nice bloke. I sat in his office having a good craic on with him and a few of his cronies last night. His place is pretty much the cheapest in town but he also really cares about it as well, it's not some scruffy dive. He keeps it well looked after and helps everyone who arrives as much as possible. Then there is his trusty sidekick J the cat. J is really adorable. He's only had her a few months and she is now a month pregnant but she is one seriously friendly and chilled cat. She will always come to see you, loves the attention and he worships her dearly.

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