Travel Notes - Cameron Highlands
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
To end the year of travel notes, today I decided to introduce you to one of the most picturesque places in Malaysia. One of the most popular highland retreats that attract thousands and thousands of visitors every year, this is Cameron Highlands. The highest point of the hill is about 2000 m and what personally won me over was the slightly cooler air. The average day temperature is about 25 degrees, at night it gets to 18 degrees (which is considered cold for these latitudes). The more I live in Malaysia, the more I realise, I'm a cold climate kind of person. And in fact, when I first arrived I seemed okay with the heat, until about March when the monsoon season came to an end and the summer heat started hitting hard. This continued up until November. Needless to say, my aircon has become my best friend in the hot months, and now that it's December I feel the need to wear warmer clothes and expect a snowfall, which makes my new best friend work even harder.
Enough about my needs for cold air, back to Cameron Highland. The climate there actually benefits the natural diversity and makes the environment conducive for growing continental plants, fruits and vegetables. The hills are famous for their tea plantation, strawberry and honey farms rose and lavender gardens.
One thing that captured my attention was the abundance of wild orchids that undisturbed grow literally beside the road. The road itself is another one of a kind experience, winding through the valleys it uncovers breathtaking views of the endless tea plantations. I can't tell you how many times I wished to stop the car and capture all that beauty... it was more than 100 (it would have taken an eternity to reach the final destination.)
Once at the top of the hill, the landscape reveals a sea of strawberry farms, but they are not as you would expect (maybe that was my expectation only...) fields and fields of sweet aromatic berries, but on the contrary, you see hundreds of covered greenhouses scattered across the land. From afar the picture resembles more a military camp of sorts.
I stayed at the Copthorne Hotel Cameron Highlands. This is a Tudor-styled resort consisting of the main hotel building, offering scenic views of the valley, as well as a series of little houses leaving you with the feeling you are somewhere in Europe and not in South East Asia. The place is located at the very top of the hill and is only 1 km away from various vegetable and fruit farms. Some of the nearby attractions include Robinson Waterfall, the Butterfly Farm and Garden and Boh Tea Plantation.
One of the most iconic attractions in Cameron Highlands is of course the Sungei Palas Tea Garden, which was the next stop. 'Boh' Tea is the most popular tea brand in Malaysia since 1929 and obviously is a must-visit place in the country. The garden meets the visitors with holistic tea experience against a beautiful backdrop of undulating tea fields as far as the eye can see. Funny enough (or not funny at all, depending who's telling the story...) I visited first thing in the morning and naturally, for me, I tried to order coffee. Guess how that went... The look I received was something unique, followed by uncomfortable laughter and the excuse that since this is a tea plantation, they only offer tea... Oh, the anxiety wave that followed after this short but memorable conversation... In my defence, I did ask the question before I have had coffee, which should explain my incompetency and lack of, well brain cells.
Luckily no-one overheard this shameful conversation and a few moments later I ordered a speciality Vanilla tea, which was so fragrant and refreshing and in fact did help come to my senses. It might have been the cool early morning breeze too.
The views were truly spectacular, making me want to dive into the vast sea of green and forget all my troubles. Now I truly understand the power of that natural raw colour, so refreshing, so calming, yet energizing. On the way back, we saw some of the villages where the workers live with their families. Most of them are Hindus and therefore one can see many beautiful and overflown with colour Hindu temples emerging here and there among the endless valleys.
The rest of the trip was mainly eating strawberries, sweet potatoes and probably the sweetest corn on the cob I've ever tasted. You can buy these from vendors, sitting by the road, hoping to attract the tourists and treat them to some local delicacies.
Another popular attraction, as I've mentioned above, are the many strawberry farms. What makes the attractions, well, attractive is the possibility to pick your fruit and pay by the kilo. This for someone born and raised in Eastern Europe is quite common, but for the locals it's a completely new experience and a very fun one for the kids. Plus nothing tastes better than the food, paid for with your own labour. There're several bee farms as well, where one can buy honey or other honey products, as well as souvenirs and more strawberries!
The strawberries are everywhere, honestly. And If I have to be completely honest with you, although I liked the strawberry diet for the time being, I struggled to even look at the fruit for the next couple of months. Who knew you can overeat with strawberries. Everything in life should be in moderation, children, remember my words!