(Day 229 to 232)
08.07.2010 - 11.07.2010 22 °C
After a night back in Kuala Lumpur we took a minibus transfer to the Cameron Highlands. Drastic change of scenery here, as we swap the smelly city for the rolling, tranquil and lush hills of the Highlands. The roads lead us upwards and are windy, which inevitably lead to a motion sickness casualty amongst our little group – not one of us I’m glad to report, although all of us were feeling it too.
Our first impression of the Cameron Highlands was that it was, literally, going to be a breath of fresh air after KL. At an altitude of about 1,500 metres, it’s much, much cooler than the rest of the country here. It’s been a very long time since we last wore jeans and a jumper, so a nice change to the hot and humidity.
The Cameron Highlands area was originally developed by the British as a tea-growing area, but has since developed a much broader agricultural base (famous for strawberries and other fruits and vegetables) and is also a magnet for tourists.
Upon arrival, we were lucky enough to find a tour that took in pretty much everything there was to do in the region in one long stretch and we booked that for the following day. Our afternoon was spent in a tea house having scones and tea and feeling so spoilt.. Scones in Malaysia, what a surprising luxury! It has to be said that this region is famous for its Tea plantations and the addition of scones with home made strawberry jam added to the mix is almost logical.
On our tour we started with a trek into their “rain forest” which they call a dwarf rainforest – if my memory serves me right, and I apologise if I got this wrong - simply because of the shorter trees, lower tree canopy etc which differentiates them from a ‘regular’ tropical rain forest. This walk’s purpose was to find the Rafflesia flower (or Malaysian Monster Flower), red, huge and no doubt the biggest we will ever see in our lives. The flower stays open 7 to 10 days only and we were lucky that one was in bloom when we were there as we didn’t think there would be any. It also smells like a “Malaysian Public Toilet” in the tour guide’s own words
Following the trek we stopped at an “indigenous” village, to learn how to use the blowpipe as they did back in the days (and occasionally still) to hunt in the forest.
The village itself only had a couple of houses, on the highway and apart from the blowpipe experience which was good fun; it wasn’t much of a visit (coming across remote villages on our amazon trip was far more interesting).
The next stop was to be a Tea Factory B.O.H (Best of the Highlands) where, oops – the factory shut early today!! So a very funny tour guide took us around to show us where every thing happened and we had to use our imagination to figure out the rest.
For all you Tea-drinkers (I’m a coffee-girl myself) pay attention:
- He said that sachet tea is the lowest form of tea you can ever drink, not all of it is tea, and that you should throw it away this instant! For flavour to spread the tea needs space and that is why tea-leaves are so much better (please note tea-eggs don’t count either as the tea-leaves still don’t have enough space.)
- If you indulge in flavoured-tea, he added, go and drink juice instead (he criticised our Dutch friends heavily here, who admitted whilst hanging their heads in shame, that in Holland you are not quite “with it” if you don’t have a huge selection box from Pickwicks to offer your guests)
- If you don’t leave your tea to infuse for AT LEAST 5min you may as well also quit (this time the British were targeted and I almost did rise to their defence having seen many a ritual happen in my old job’s kitchen in Belgravia where there were long amounts of infusion required, and even sometimes remakes requested..)
After admiring the scenery and indulging in some more scones and tea, we departed for the Butterfly farm. The Butterflies themselves were not many in variety but always a pleasant sight. Martin, who had been dragging his legs up to that point suddenly perked up at the rest of the animals in store: Scorpions, snakes, tarantulas and the likes. Our guide, again quite “hands-on” was loving opening cages and getting everyone to hold this or that, while this time I was the one hanging back!!
Our day ended at a Strawberry farm where we stayed a total of 10 min as we weren’t able to pick any (why we still don’t know) never mind eat any, so full we were from our recent scones!
All in all, a good few days in the Cameron Highlands!