TRAVELOGUE: How I Broke the World’s 3rd Largest Flower

After escaping a night with bed bugs, we finally finished our journey to the Cameron Highlands, which feature rainforests and mountains to hike through.

 

The main town in the Cameron Highlands is basically one long street filled with restaurants, convenience stores, guest houses and tour operators. Best of all, the climate was coooool!

We checked into a hostel with the springiest bed I have ever slept on and proceeded to spend the next four days enjoying the temperature, relaxing and trekking.

 

Chrysanthemums in the Cameron Highlands - Malaysia
A chrysanthemum plantation in the Cameron Highlands…just one of the areas we had to walk to to find a hiking trail

Let’s Go Trekking

Hiking boots - Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Carrie and I go trekking in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

As is the case with most places Westerners go, the tour operators make it seem like it’s impossible to go trekking without a guide. Good thing we don’t believe anyone trying to sell us anything, as we spent two days hiking alone in the rainforest.

We just followed well trodden paths up and down mountains while holding onto roots for support, swatting away giant mosquitoes and getting a great workout.

The trails were especially unique as their start and end points were usually on someone’s private property. One started in a berry jam farm and ended in a tea plantation.

Another started in a strawberry field and ended in the back of a hotel in private farmland. There were pretty much no signs for the trails either, so it was a bit of an adventure finding them.

 

A young girl walks through a town in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
A young girl walks through a town in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

How I Broke the World’s Largest Flower

Our other field trip in the Highlands was a day trip to see the rafflesia arnoldii, which is the world’s  largest flower…though there is some argument as to whether it is a fungus.

Rafflesia Arnoldii - the world's largest flower
Me and Carrie with the Rafflesia Arnoldii – the world’s largest flower

The hike up was beyond muddy but our guide had fisherman boots that he lent us. Mine were about two sizes too small so I spent the whole four hours of intense hiking with my toes bunched up. Anyway, after hiking up the muddy trail and through the forest we came to the flower.

At nearly three feet wide, the rafflesia arnoldii really is a thing of beauty.

They only bloom for five days a year, so seeing one is a real treat for hundreds of visitors daily. The first one we saw was nestled in the middle of a dense patch of trees, bushes and mud and stood out brilliantly with its bright red color.

We took a few photos and after the last one I snapped of Carrie with the flower I lost my footing on the mud. Up in the air I went and down I came. Hands first. On the flower. Breaking off one of the six inch petals.

I was both mortified and unable to stop laughing as our guide picked up the broken petal and tried to lay it back where it belonged to fool other visitors.

I can only imagine what the next folks to come through there thought. Oops!

The rest of the tour was pretty uneventful in comparison. We saw a few more flowers and their buds, drank rain water out of a bamboo branch, shot blow darts (without the poison) at a target in an indigenous village, saw a tea plantation, visited a honey bee farm and had fresh strawberries right off the vine.