Once I got over the fact that I couldn’t straighten that one painting in my room because it was hung/nailed askew, my journey to healthy skin, unfolded like the sound of music.
I’ve visited Cameron Highlands almost 40 years ago. I remember a treacherous drive up the mountain range, hiking into the forest, playing with a monkey, and then being bitten by it. I remember marshmallows, a fire, my brother and I in co-ordinated hats. I remember clear waters streaking down the mountains, and a waterfall we waded towards.
All I was seeking this time was refuge from the Heat, nature, and the simple joy of walking about, again.
You’ve become rather British, Dr Chan observed.
(Cucumber sandwich and chips for lunch.)
Day 2 I woke up to unblemished skin, and the need for a walk. I asked a kind taxi driver to stop along a less trodden path, indulge me for a while. Off I went- Woohoo, climbing down a steep slope into the heart of tea land.
Off I went- Woohoo… ignoring his cries of, “Girl, girl, turn around and take photo! Smile at camera! Girl, why you keep walking away? Girl, be careful- your shoes!”
Oh. My shoes.
Clad in these sandals, I entered the factory space to learn how tea is made.
The walls echo a history of back-breaking, migrant labor.
The scent of tea, omnipresent.
BOH tea, The taxi driver explained, Stands for, the Best of Highlands.
(Cool. I love learning something new every day!)
Do you want to go to the Strawberry Farms? Do you want to try sweet corn? Do you want to go to the Butterfly Farm? He asked.
Uncle? Please can you just drop me in Binchang? I’ll walk.
Huh? Walk where?
I’ll just walk.
A truck passed by. Someone stuck his head out, whistling. I walked on. With each step, I felt myself- you know that person pre-Heat Rash, return.
In the late afternoon, two dear, dear friends got wind of my being in the Highlands, and invited me to visit. Turn right and walk to the bend in the road about 150m away, then right at the ugly condo and take the small road uphill… road has no name…
More walking! How delicious is this day?
Upon arrival, I am unexpectedly hurtled into childhoods of song.
To laugh like a lark when it trips/ and falls over stones on its way
To sing through the night/ like a lark who is learning to pray…
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before…
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music,
And I’ll sing once more.
- Lyrics quoted from The Sound of Music