Cameron Highlands to Ipoh
News from home isn’t great, Malaysia actually appears to be doing better during this corona virus outbreak and we may be better staying put for the time being. Mark speaks to his friend in Langkawi and everything seems fine on the islands so we should be alright once we leave here.
We take our time packing as the bus doesn’t leave Tanah Rata until 2.30pm and the check out time is noon. On arriving in reception, we notice that at last they seem to be taking this virus seriously with temperature checking and hand sanitizer. We may as well have lunch in the town before catching our bus so we ask at the desk for a taxi and are informed there are no more taxis today as the road is too busy.
What? There is no way we can walk the 7km with our luggage. I begin to panic as there is no other way to make the journey; no hotel transfer or local bus. The receptionist agrees to try again for a taxi but says it will probably cost double the normal fare, I’m not bothered I’ll pay whatever it takes to get out of here. At first it will be at least 2 hours before one can get here but then they can’t be sure. We can have a taxi at o’clock if we share with two other people. Not sure if this is a good idea but we are desperate and agree, but what if it doesn’t arrive?
Just on the off chance we make our way down to the Nova hotel to see if we can hail a taxi. The road is even more chaotic, where are all these people coming from? We see one taxi in the distance but nothing more so we make our way back to wait for the taxi. As we reach the hotel a taxi pulls up and Mark enquires if he would be willing to take us to Tanah Rata. Unfortunately, he is here to pick someone up but says he will speak to the receptionist for us.
After a short time, the taxi driver says he will take us and our luggage to the junction to wait for our shared taxi which will arrive in a few minutes. What a helpful man. We sit on the cases at the side of the road waiting and praying we will be picked up.
The SVU pulls up and we introduce ourselves to the two other passengers. Our luggage is piled on top of theirs and I climb into the small back seat. Marcus and Mark down and we start the slow journey down to Tanah Rata. The couple who are sharing are Russian and are on their honeymoon. They are really friendly and the 40-minute journey is spent chatting about our travels. They have come from Langkawi and paint a fabulous picture, something to look forward to.
We store our luggage at the bus station and wander up to high street to get a drink before the bus leaves for Ipoh. I bring the tickets up on my phone but unbelievably I have booked tickets for the twentieth not the sixteenth. Luckily there are seat available and we make our way to the back of the bus as far away as possible from any other passengers (precautions for social distancing).
The bus appears to be brand new and is spotlessly clean. Although most passengers are travelling to Ipoh there are some continuing onto Penang so they will have quite a journey. The bus travels up through Brinchang and to Kea Farm, where guests from our hotel get on. No way, we had asked if we could catch the bus at Kea but were told no. All that hassle this morning for nothing, how annoying.
There are a number of pick ups on the way but the bus is relatively uncrowded and we are able to keep our distance from others. As we near Ipoh we descend down onto the plains and we pass large open cast mines which have left a real scar on the landscape. Nevertheless, there is still lush green areas and plantations of palm trees.
On the outskirts of Ipoh, we begin so see cliffs reminiscent of Batu Caves and limestone hills partly covered in greenery. The geology is really unusual and we see a sign for the geological museum which we agree we will visit whilst staying in the city. The city is large with modern buildings and pretty suburbs, interspersed with older architecture and temples. There is a large population of Indians living here and their influence is everywhere.
On arriving at the large bus station, we pick up a taxi to the homestay we have booked. The one storey home is a modern bungalow on a gated plot with a pretty garden. We have two bedrooms each with a wet room and are very pleased with the accommodation which is spotlessly clean. I load our washing into the provided machine and get it hung out as soon as possible while Mark disinfects all handles and surfaces.
We sit out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine while we watch the gardener work for the rest of the afternoon until dusk. Once showered and changed we make our way to the local shops and restaurants to find food for dinner. We decide on Japanese in a very comfortable coffee shop. I have salmon teriyaki which is great Mark and Marcus both have chicken dishes.
On returning to the homestay, the news from the Malaysian government is that there are more cases of Corona so social distancing is being advised and more stringent testing is going to be introduced. There has been a religious festival from which most cases have originated. I feel happier now we have made the decision to change our flights to the end of March. This will mean missing out on the rest of Southern Asia but we will come back here in the future. I’ll be glad to get to Langkawi and the beach in a couple of days.