Driving in the Dark
So, I pick up my Lawyer brother at 3am on Friday morning and we set off in the wee hours of the night. Due to the change of plans, we would be taking the old Tapah route up Cameron Highlands, saving Simpang Pulai for the next day when we head towards Ipoh to pick up our Doctor brother.
I love driving through the night, as that is the time of the day which I am the most alert. Every one of us are different and you need to know what works for your own body. The key thing for me is to take an early night’s rest the day before, and when I wake up to my 2am alarm in the morning, I’m sufficiently rested and ready to cover a good distance before the break of dawn.
The awesome thing is that at this time, crossing the checkpoint at Woodlands or Tuas is a breeze, without the peak period jams, and traffic is extremely smooth through the early morning hours. You have get accustomed to driving in the darkness without street lamps, relying purely on your headlamps. The lane markings are not so easy to follow in the dark, and you have to watch out heavy vehicles with sleepy drivers, or for speedsters who approach from the back with all guns blazings, flashing at you to give way. Because of the clear roads, these speed demons can easily be doing in excess of 200km/h. It is wise to get out of their line of fire.
Another advantage of leaving Singapore at 3am is that it allows you to reach Kuala Lumpur by 7am, and you get to avoid much of the heavy traffic that heads into the Malaysian capital in the mornings. When the sun rises, we have almost completed the loop around KL on the E6, and we move on to the E1 heading towards Ipoh.
We take a quick toilet break at the popular overhead bridge rest stop at Sungei Buloh. Not much is open in the early mornings unfortunately, so we decide to wait to have our breakfast / brunch up the mountains.
We reach the Tapah exit at about 8:30am, and begin to head towards the foot of the mountains via the route 59.
Driving Up Cameron Highlands Via the Tapah Route
The Tapah route up to Cameron Highlands is generally not recommended for those who are new to mountain driving. The road conditions along this route are also relatively worse than Simpang Pulai, although it has already improved tremendously through the years. There are plenty of twists and turns, and a lot of blind corners where you have to be careful of oncoming traffic. Many big trucks and buses use this route up as it is a much shorter distance from Kuala Lumpur compared to the Simpang Pulai route.
If you happen to get stuck behind slow moving traffic, you have to be patient. Only overtake if you have a clear view of the road ahead. You need to time your overtakes and be confident in keeping to a low gear and flooring the accelerator especially when you are going uphill. You need extra juice to overcome the force of gravity working against you.
When you are going downhill, ease off the accelerator and put your foot over your brakes, always ready to slow down. Keep your engine running in low gear to take advantage of the effect of engine-braking.
Engine braking is a viable method of controlling the speed at which a vehicle travels downhill. By shifting to a lower gear, engine braking reduces the need to repeatedly apply the foot brake, lowering the risk of the brakes overheating.
Don’t let all the naysayers dissuade you from trying out the Tapah route when you are confident and ready. It is actually a wonderful drive with the wonderful sights and the feeling of being very close to the mountain slopes and greenery.
My intention was to take some video footage to show what the driving conditions up the Tapah route is like, but my mobile phone windscreen mount was giving me quite a bit of problems, it kept shifting position as drove over the bumps in the road. I think I need a new mount. 😛
My apologies for the not ideal footage, but somewhere in these videos you will get the flavour of how the drive is like.
Look out for the next part of this blog series where I share about the beautiful Lata Iskandar Falls and the Cameron Bharat Tea Plantations.
- 2019 Cameron Highland Brothers Drive
- Clearing up Confusion
- 3am and Away
- Roadside Waterfalls and Tea Plantations
- Review: Copthorne Hotel, Cameron Highlands
- Walk to the Boh Sungai Palas Tea Estate
- Evening Entertainment
- Morning in Ipoh
- Up the Mountains Via Simpang Pulai
- Walk to Brinchang
- Hike up Gunung Brinchang
- Last Dinner
- Heading Home
- 2019 Thailand Fly & Drive (Bangkok, Khao Kho, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son Loop, Chiang Khan, Khon Kaen, Khao Yai, Pattaya)
- 2019 Cameron Highlands Brothers Drive
- 2018 Bali Drive
- 2017 Hungary Winter Drive
- 2017 Hokkaido Winter Drive
- 2019 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Krabi, Phuket)
- 2018 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Bangkok, Rayong)
- 2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Krabi, Phuket)
- 2016 Drive from Singapore to Thailand