Sunday, 14 January 2018

My Malaysia Trip: Cameron Highlands Part Two

Following on from My Malaysia Trip: Kuala Lumpur Part One, we took a long 4 hour journey north of Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands. Back when the British used to control Malaysia in the 18th and 20th Centuries, the Cameron Highlands were a popular destination for us Brits because of the cooler climate. Whereas Kuala Lumpur was a humid 30 plus degrees each day, the Cameron Highlands were on higher ground (obviously) and barely reached 21 degrees when we visited.

The drive was long and luckily we had a private transfer which made the trip more enjoyable as we could stop when we wanted and take breaks. We had about 2 hours on the motorway (they also drive on the left side of the road!) then a further 2 hours on windy roads through the mountains. There were steep drops and some sharp corners with no barriers, so I held on tightly! 

On our way to the Cameron Highlands we stopped off at this popular waterfall called Hutan Lipur Lata Iskandar. Over the years water running down from the hills had created this beautiful waterfall and traders had built shops and cafes around it. When we drove back to Kuala Lumpur a few days later, kids were swimming and playing in the waterfall too!

Because of the cooler climate and British influence, tea plantations began to populate the Cameron Highlands hills. We had one full day of visiting the sites around the Cameron Highlands and our first stop was the Boh Tea Plantation, which is the most popular tea grower in Malaysia. It's an amazing view to take in and a very popular resort for Malaysian tourists. It's free of charge to visit and you can wander through the tea plantation routes, taste the tea (of course!) buy your own tea and see the working factory. This was my favourite part of the Cameron Highlands!

Another weird British influence is strawberries! Across the Cameron Highlands you'll see various strawberry farms where you can pick your own (for 30 ringgit which is about £5.50) or pick up strawberry produce such as jam, sweets or tarts. We tried some homemade tarts from a cafe and they were so fresh and delicious! In comparison to Kuala Lumpur, there weren't many (if any) Western tourists but mainly Malaysian tourists. So whilst we were at the strawberry farm we were asked if we could have a photo with a few young Malaysian girls - it was the weirdest thing ever!

On our whistle-stop tour of the Cameron Highlands, we also visited a bee farm for free of charge and tried the local honey and brought our own home too. I'm not a massive fan of buzzing bees and tend to let them do their own thing, although thy were very interested in me! 

Another British influence was the Rose Garden, something that looked even better in the photos because the sun came out. Built upon a hill, you can wind your way through the rows upon rows of roses and other flowers. My mum is an avid gardener and I think this was one of her favourite places to visit! I think we paid about 5 ringgit to visit, which is less then £1 each and the flowers were all very well maintained. There were so many interesting and different flowers that I imagine it would've been a photographers dream!

On our last tourist stop in the Cameron Highlands we visited the Sam Poh Buddhist Temple, which is set upon a hill and looks down on the Brinchang town. Malaysia mainly follows the Islam religion, but there is a mixture of Hinduism, Chinese religions and Christianity too. When I went to Japan in 2015 I found their temples and places of worship so interesting and the Sam Poh Buddhist Temple also blew me away with how relaxing and surreal it felt.

Part of our reason for visiting Malaysia and the Cameron Highlands in particular was because my grandad did his national service here in the 1950s. He travelled around Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and the Cameron Highlands too and spent some down time in the army barracks similar to these or around the area. He wrote diaries from all of his trips and reading them before and now I've been to the same places, makes me feel a little closer to him and understand what he experienced.

We spent three days and two nights at the Strawberry Park Resort, which was set upon a very long and large hill! I wouldn't recommend spending any more than three days here, you can probably get everything done and visited within two days. The Strawberry Park Resort is ideal if you have a car or are happy to use taxis, otherwise there are more hotels closer to the main road. To be honest it wasn't my favourite place to stay but it did the job for the time we were there, the food was delicious and the staff were very helpful too.

Next up is my favourite part of the whole trip, staying in the Borneo jungle and seeing all of the wildlife! You can catch up on my Kuala Lumpur Part One too.

Have you travelled to Malaysia before? What do you think of the Cameron Highlands?

Thanks for reading!
Rhiannon x

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