There's much to see in this part of the Cameron Highlands. The summit of Gunung Brinchang is reached through a steep tanglewood of roots, vines and slippery mud. Ropes are strategically placed to help you with the clamber. Pray for a clear view on the summit and you may be rewarded with views over the picturesque green hills of the highlands. If however, the cloud is impenetrable, it will only make the mossy forest near the top more magical.
This 160 million-year-old cloud forest is home to hundreds of mossy trunks. Bent, twisted and deformed, they lean and stoop like haggard old men. In places the bark has fallen away from the trees, only to be suspended in midair on mossy tendrils. They hang there, swaying slowly in the wind that meanders gently through the ever-present cloak of mist.
Downhill, the immense tea plantations are a curious sight. The endless rows and rows of tea leaves follow the contours of the slopes. This makes it possible to walk amongst the tea, playing as one of the workers you will see with their iconic conical hats. They hack at the tea leaves with specialised shears equipped with a bucket-like bowl to catch the debris and toss the leaves into wicker sacks strapped to their bodies.
Unless you're up for buying a taxi or planning to walk down the main roads back to Tanah Rata/Brinchang, the best way to return is by hitching. Of course, you could retrace your steps down mount Brinchang, but the lure of the hitchhike is always too much for me. Will you be picked up by locals or another traveller? Ride shotgun in an air-conditioned SUV or bounce around on to the back of a pickup truck? Those truly adventurous moments are to be treasured. Strangers helping strangers is a beautiful thing.
Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // summer 2016