May 23:  Cameron Highlands

Up at 8am, but I slept soundly only until 3-4am, and had lots of crazy dreams 4am-8am despite the PM pill.  Too much energy and randiness!

I dropped off my laundry last night, and the cool thing is I didn't have to wash any socks, because I was wearing sandals most of the time and therefore had enough clean socks to last.

On the drive in yesterday I realized that the Cameron Highlands are all about strawberries.  Every sign and business touts strawberries.  Sima Myaskovsky would be in great delight here.  But not me.  I'm sick of all this strawberry hysteria, and I never liked the taste to begin with.

We had various optional activities available today.  One was a full-day adventure that included swimming at a waterfall, which I just did in Costa Rica, and seeing some huge flower, which wasn't high on my list.  So I did the half-day adventure with 5 of the others.  First stop was Gunung Berinchang, the highest peak (6666 ft) in the Cameron Highlands and the highest in peninsular Malaysia accessible by tarred road.

This reminds me so much of Mt. Lee, where the Hollywood sign is.

From the viewing platform.

Another direction.

Yet another direction.

Another one still!

Eh, these shots really aren't that impressive.  They could be from any mountain in the world.

I have to say, the views of the mountains were nice, but I was paying more attention to the mountains inside the minibus.  Wow.  On a bumpy road, some things just go into perpetual motion.  Spectacular.  On a similar theme, I kept seeing a place name "Titiwangsa".  I've had a titiwangsa on my mind this entire trip.

Next we embarked on a "mossy jungle trek", which was on a wooden walkway, but much shorter than expected.  The people who did the full-day adventure got muddy, so maybe that one would have been more worth it.

Lee at the edge of a cliff.  He's in more peril here than this photo reveals.  (Ironic that I'm typing cliff and Lee in the same sentence a day after Halladay's perfect game.)

After that we stopped at 2 lookout points to see the tea plantations.



Tea.  Not putting any effort into captions here.  I have a lot to do besides this travelogue.


Rhododendrons.  Psych...tea.


Next we visited the BOH tea factory.  Tea.

The Oompa-Loompas here were much taller than I expected, and not as preachy.

Finally we went to a butterfly farm, which we all had low hopes for, and it ended up being pretty epic, for reasons other than butterflies.

Rhinocerous beetle.  Lee chased the girls with this, causing worry to the bugmaster.  Or bugmonger.

Weird leafy-looking praying mantis.  Sorry for the focus.

Do you like butterflies?  I've got a whole basement FULL of butterflies.  If you close your eyes, you can feel them brushing up against your face!  Lee was doing the Mr. Herbert voice again.  One of the girls said "if I was a little boy, I'd be scared right now".  I said "if I was a little boy, I'd be very aroused right now".  Typical disturbed comedy club reaction.

Butterfly on a tortoise.

Leaf insect.  Cool.  Mother Nature is a mad scientist.

I volunteered to hold the stick insect.  This thing was grippy.  The bugmonger said this was a female, and it sure felt like it.

Lee agreed to hold this king grasshopper.  Right after I took this photo, the thing went after Lee's mosquito bite (you can see him eyeing it above) and sank his fangs into it.  Lee yelped and tossed the beast to the ground, which was the only reasonable reaction.

The bugmonger retrieved this ginormous scorpion from a pit with a long hook.

And because I'm a badass, I volunteered to let the scorpion walk on my muscly arm.  He was moving a lot, so I couldn't focus the camera.  The bugmonger said other scorpions will send you to the hospital, but this one won't.  I don't know if that meant this one was devenomed, or if this species is less venomous, or if it doesn't sting at all.  The fact that these were kept in a pit and the bugmonger seemed concerned when the scorpion went under my arm makes me think I still could have been stung.

I said finally before, but there was one more stop at a strawberry farm, which was 10 seconds of looking at strawberry plants and 10 minutes of pondering purchases of shakes and ice cream.

We got back to the hotel at 1:10pm.  I was hungry so I headed into town with Lee and Matt, and finally broke down and had non-Asian food for the first time on the tour.  One of the nearby towns has a KFC but Tanah Rata has only a fake KFC called Marrybrown, a self-described "family restaurant".  On the way back I bought 2 Heinekens, just in case.

Back at the hotel I tried to tan on the lawn, but after 15 minutes the flies became too irritating, and clouds came.  And a bug flew into my ear, and when I tried to get it out I thought it was a big hard beetle, and scratched my ear bloody, only to realize it was my iPod earphone.  So I got on the Internet 2:45pm-3:10pm (why am I reporting exact times here?).  Flyers were up 3-1 over Montreal.  Shit-shower-shave.

There was a couple in the room next to mine, and I thought I heard pounding noises (5-7 rhythmic bangs at one point), but I never heard cries of pleasure from the chick.  That doesn't necessarily mean they weren't boning, because the guy was Asian, and therefore is incapable of inducing pleasure in a woman on account of his makeshift 2-incher.  So perhaps they had what they considered "intercourse".

Our hotel.

This was reportedly supposed to be a supermarket, but it's identified in my Lonely Planet as "Derelict Construction Site".  I guess it's been like this for a while.

I went on the Internet again and read my Lonely Planet and Let's Go guides on the lawn to identify the cool bars in Kuala Lumpur.  Around 5pm the people from the full-day adventure returned, muddy.

At 7pm we went to another Indian place for dinner.  Today was also Darcy's birthday, and some of the girls bought him a birthday hat and an inflatable Snow White, and we made a card from one of my notebook pages.

After dinner we went to the Travellers' Bar, the only bar in town.  Darcy bought drinks for everyone, which was pretty cool.  When I was going to the toilet, Fiona said "take a wee napkin with you", and I pointed out that there's nothing wee about my trips to the toilet.  I was of course referring to my penile size, and not the act of "weeing", which of course is very much a part of the toilet experience.  A guy from Toronto and his gf joined us at our table.  He introduced me to the concept of an Eiffel Tower, which involves two guys high-fiving each other while spit-roasting a girl.  Good to know.  I had 13 drinks here, including several Long Islands.

I went to bed at 1:30am, but not before an obligatory comment in the hallway:  " little minx."