Ummph, Tea Time – Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

-This took place late April 2018 –

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Cameron Highlights was his first cold destination in seven weeks. The Ventura Coast Brewing Company zippered hoodie thus far fostered homey connotations, provided back support, and functioned as an escape from strongly air conditioned buses and planes.

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He tore it back as he, the bearded Californian, and the Belgian ascended the stairs to their hostel. 32 bunked rectangular cubes lined a hallway off the lobby/recreation room. They exchanged hellos and greetings with new acquaintances. At the end of the day pulling the curtain shut on his cube provided a scenic street view and solidarity in an otherwise very social setting. The socializing draining him, having just spent much of the last weeks solo. The re-adjustment from being alone to being part of the group was one he was not accustomed to, but one he was happy for.

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The Sons of Langkawi rented motor bikes after price comparison shopping by walking through town and set out again to ride. The scruffy Californian used his headphones and GoogleMaps to direct them towards their destinations. They spent close to 45 minutes journeying to BOH Tea Gardens.

 

Every tourist guide for Malaysia recommends visiting the plantation. The walkway through tea plants felt unlike any other nature walk because it was through a sensitive agricultural plant.

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In the 1980s, BOH “found that there was no one word to accurately describe its best selling teas. So they invented one. Ummph – an expression: denoting something with ‘kick.'”

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They sipped fresh tea as they admired the views around them. He had been to breweries, hard alcohol distilleries, and a kombucha bar, but never a tea-based factory. It felt fulfilling to attend another type of drink-based business.

 

As the clouds started to become thicker, the Sons chose to head up to Moss Hill.

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GoogleMaps and the Californian did not work well together and went almost every wrong way. One wrong way included a defunct road out of commission. How did they know it was out of commission? Excessive plant growth, large holes, lack of pavement, and hillside tumbles. All of this as the rain started to fall stronger. No footage was taken as it was too dangerous to record and navigate simultaneously.

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Atop the mountain they were in the rain in the clouds. The pathway was slick and covered with moss, similar to the trees. It felt similar to the cloud forest in Singapore he had visited on the first day of his travels seven weeks prior.

He was feeling worn despite the fascinating setting around him. Tired and unable to reignite a spark. His nose ran and his mind sprinted. “What if I get sick? I could be falling under the weather and not get better. That would make traveling suck. I really don’t want that to happen.” The rain was so thick they couldn’t drive back down. They waited under an awning while he fixated on his possible deteriorating health, slipping away from him every minute they waited in the cold. Retrospectively overly dramatic but at the time paramount–a common reflection.

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Riding the bikes felt liberating, fun, and fulfilling. He would like to add this to his daily routine.

The town featured a large amount of Indian food restaurants. Both nights they dined on fresh and inexpensive warm goodness. Later their group played a card/drinking game he couldn’t grasp the rules of. The next day, the Californian departed from all his newfound friends for the East Coast of Malaysia to another yoga retreat.

He was not ready to leave his friends. Creating memories with someone “from real life” (the fellow Californian) was good and felt right. Additionally, befriending someone you would hang out with “in real life” (the Belgian) felt good and right. It felt complete to create and share memories with the fellow humans he connected with.IMG_E7241

 

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