After a 4-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur (the last hour of which was extremely windy going up into the mountains), we got into the Cameron Highlands, the mountain region of Western Malaysia. After a whole summer of hot and humid weather, it felt amazing to have to put a long sleeve shirt on for the cooler mountain weather.
We found a hotel right in the center of the small town and began our exploration. The two things that the CH is known for are trekking and tea plantations. When initially planning our trip, I had imagined they would have all sorts of different trekking options, mostly overnight (similar to the treks offered in Chiang Mai). The treks here, however, are mostly only a few hours. Considering all the trekking we’ve done in the last few months, I couldn’t complain about that.
We planned to just hang out during our first afternoon/evening and then book a tour for our second day. We found one that included both a trek and a visit to a tea plantation (plus a stop at a strawberry farm and butterfly farm – this place is filled with all sorts of different farms) and set it up for the following day. While I was waiting for the tour agency to book our trip, Dave went to the bank next door to take out some more money. He seems to never read the signs above (what he assumes are) the ATM machines. This time, he put his card into a check deposit machine and his card jammed the machine and wouldn’t come out. Because it was a Sunday, the bank was closed except for a security guard sitting inside. The guard told him no one would be able to help him until the following morning at 9am. Well, we had to leave for our tour at 8:45 so that wouldn’t work for us. He persuaded the guard into calling the manager, who agreed to meet us back at the branch at 8pm. Phew!
After booking our tour, we walked around the rest of the town, mostly checking out our dinner options. The Lonely Planet had made it sound like there wouldn’t be many (it said people don’t come to the Cameron Highlands for the food), but it seemed as though every single place on the town’s main street was a cute restaurant. Hot pots (or steamboats as they call them) seemed like the thing to do here so we thought we’d probably get one for dinner.
By the time dinner rolled around, however, the most popular place on the block was an Indian restaurant (actually it had been packed all day long) serving tandoori chicken platters and banana leaf platters (each for $3). We decided there must be a reason that everyone was eating there so we jumped on the bandwagon and our dinner was great. Bye bye, steamboat!
We woke up the next morning for our tour and drove about 45 minutes in a jeep (which actually looked more like a tank) with a group of about 6 other women from Madrid to the starting point for our trek. The trek was 90 minutes each way and we hiked to see a rafflasia, the biggest flower in the world. Actually, it’s not a flower at all though (we later learned), it’s a mushroom. Still though at about 1 meter around for a medium-sized one, it was pretty cool. At the end of our trek, we learned how to use a blow dart (which is used for hunting small birds and animals). Dave and I both got our darts onto the dart board when it was our turns to try, and Dave almost got a bulls eye!
We had a very late lunch (at 2pm – we were pretty annoyed by this because 1) we were starving, and 2) it would mean we wouldn’t be hungry for dinner until very late), another Indian meal (after a year-long hiatus from Indian food, we were really jumping back in there), and then headed to our next destination.
The other women in our group had only been signed up for a half-day tour so our guide wanted to drop us at the butterfly farm while he dropped them back in town. We really had no interest in the butterfly farm (it was the only thing on the tour we didn’t care to see) so we persuaded him instead to drop us at the local golf course which Dave wanted to check out.
Next stop was the BOH tea plantation, the largest plantation in the Cameron Highlands. Unfortunately, since it was a Monday, the factory and store were closed, but we still got to walk through the plantation. I never had any idea how they grew/collected tea so it was pretty cool to see. And, the scenery was beautiful.
Our last stop, the strawberry farm, was more of a strawberry greenhouse. I had been imagining “strawberry fields forever” so was a bit disappointed when even in the greenhouse all but one row of plants was locked off for tourists. This was really just a stop to buy some strawberry products (they had everything from milkshakes to cheesecake to jam to ice cream and more) but because of our very late lunch, we were still full. We got a milkshake just to try it, and that was the end of our tour.
It had been a nice day in the Cameron Highlands. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing, packing, and watching a movie before a very late dinner (at another Indian restaurant) and bed. We had a nice and very relaxing couple of days in the Cameron Highlands. This was definitely a nice spot to hang out in for a night or two, especially if it’s right on your way between two destinations like it was for us (from KL to Penang).