"I must be crazy to have woken up so early on a supposedly relaxing trip to the highlands in Malaysia"; the aforementioned was the exact thought that ran through my brain as i struggled to pull myself out of bed.
Reason for waking up at such ungodly hour - we had signed up for the sunrise spectacular tour by Titiwangsa! Click here to find out if we are lucky.
Final look at the scenery from the balcony of our superior room at Copthorne Hotel before we checked out. At this point, I did regret not staying for an extra night but judging from the dark clouds, the impending rain would likely keep us indoors.
The light breakfast provided during the tour didn't appeal to either of us and we proceeded to the Restoran Yao Yat for its canto style wanton mee after storing our bags with the luggage counter at Copthorne Hotel!
Took a picture of this map at the hotel's lobby while waiting for the Konsortium (or its partner) coach to arrive - not drawn to scale is acceptable but to have the location of Copthorne Hotel placed wrongly on the map isn't.
Time was 11 am and we had been kept waiting for an hour. Pick up was supposed at 10 am and instruction stated that we should arrive 30 minutes before then. By then, i had called up Konsortium in Singapore and was requested to wait for a return call while the gentleman checked with the driver. I of course suspected that the coach was also held up at Brinchang (as we were in Day One) where a tour agent would hop onto the bus and persuade passengers on the coach to sign up for their tour packages!
The bus arrived at about 11.38 am and me being me, i asked the passengers who just dropped off if they had gone through the "marketing". Answer was affirmative although they also did comment that there was a jam up the mountain.
I am totally understanding if there is a jam which couldn't be helped. However, the additional talk isn't necessary when you are already late to pick up your customers; it's unprofessional and irresponsible! By the time we left Copthorne Hotel, it was close to noon; an utter waste of 2 hours.
Venting my frustration aside, i am still looking forward to my next trip to Cameron Highlands and i think i would either stay at a hotel in Brinchang or maybe the above Nova Hotel which appeared to have a direct link to Cameron Square and was conveniently located to a number of attractions. Whatever the case, i am swearing off Konsortium.
Jam right outside Cameron Square. As it was the Deepavali weekend, it's expected to have thongs of non-Hindu visitors driving up to the highlands to spend the holiday.
Thriving market at Tringkap! As coaches from Singapore don't have a designate drop-off / pickup point at one of Cameron Highlands' smallest towns, i bet most of us have never been to this market.
The Rose Valley right behind - taking the coach is one of the transport modes available to Singaporeans. The other option which i am seriously considering in my next trip, is to take a plane to Ipoh and then self drive up to Cameron Highland!
These old school shophouses were in fact pretty common in Singapore about three decades ago. I remember seeing some opposite Nee Soon camp when i was a kid.
Snaking traffic appeared at certain sections and not the entire stretch of road leading to the highlands. The opposite way, going down, was generally quite alright except for the times when a few rogue cars wanted to overtake.
Lavender Garden seemed to be a great hit as the carpark was filled and cars that didn't find a lot choose to park at the roadside; making the narrow road even narrower.
Disappearing views of the canopy-topped farmlands as the coach continued its journey down the highlands.
Strawberry Moment Dessert Cafe - there used to be a branch at Brinchang which was way more convenient. At its present location, the only way i can get there is to either self drive or engage a driver.
Wild orchids everywhere and it's so hard to get a decent shot of them while the coach was in motion. I finally got the above shot when the coach stopped because of a roadwork ahead.
The roadwork which resulted in the passing of only one direction and the cue had to be taken from the worker with the stop and go sign.
Hm.... a sheltered driveway? I don't see the need of it unless (i am guessing here) the structure itself is to stabilise the hill to prevent landslides.
Dark clouds floating up the highlands; the rain would likely be worse than the ones we encountered the day before. Good luck to the travellers in the highlands!
With the appearance of the karst formations, i knew we had arrived at the bottom of the mountain range. Frankly, don't you think it's a bit sad that the human touch has deformed nature's beauty?
Sign of the word "Ipoh" on the roadside; once again, this confirmed my suspicion that the coach was using a rather unconventional way to Cameron Highlands. In the past, they would drive up the mountain from another gateway further south which is nearer to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
We were asked to switch buses here as the original bus was said to have broken down before it went up the mountain that morning. Strangely, i didn't hear that from the lady who alighted from the coach earlier; she only mentioned the jam.
Nevertheless, i just wanted to get back to Singapore as it was close to 2pm and if we were in Ipoh, it would easily be another 6 hours or more.
Oh, are we going up to Cameron Highlands again? Nope as this was the gateway i mentioned earlier; the one that coaches originating from KL and Singapore would take; via the Tapah / Kampar route along the North South Highway.
Started pouring shortly after; an environment damn conducive for sleeping! I dozed off as with Alex and didn't realise the coach had stopped at a rest stop for passengers to buy lunch until we were about to drive off.
My lunchner (combination of lunch and dinner) in Ming Ang (Yong Peng) at 7 pm! Both Alex and i were famished and i wolfed down a Ramly Burger that tasted so marvelicious!
Can't remember what Alex had although he had to order his tea leaves eggs! The burger was hardly sufficient to curb my finger and i paid for three extra eggs.
I didn't forget to roam the supermarket and purchase the super good heong peah from Ming Ang. Trust me, they are one of the best brands around when it comes to heong peah (in Singapore, we call it chestnut pastry; 马蹄酥).
Tuas checkpoint at 9 pm! By the time we cleared immigration, alighted at Yuan Ching to take a cab and reached home, it was about 10.30 pm! Now, did i mention this was supposed to be a relaxing trip?