Friday 17th November 2017
It was great to get away from the boat and the heat and head inland by car. The Cameron Highlands is the biggest and best known of the Malaysian hill stations, and the highest point in peninsular Malaysia accessible by car. The last part of the journey was certainly up some very steep roads. Because of its height above sea level, the climate is very different from most of Malaysia, with the temperatures a fairly consistent mid-20’sC for much of the year, accompanied often by mists and rainfall. An excellent climate for agriculture, the area consists of tea plantations, strawberry farms and nurseries of the flowering plant kind. It is also very developed for tourists and extremely busy. We were glad we had chosen a hotel set back from the main road, up a steep hill and in its own grounds, because here we found the peace and quiet and green we were hankering after. It was good to head out after a filling breakfast at the hotel to take a look at some of the tourist offerings, and then to retreat back to the hotel to relax.
We visited a couple of tea plantations, had afternoon tea at the Jim Thompson Tea Room, visited a butterfly house and a Strawberry farm, where the plants are grown without soil, and attempted a walk into the surrounding lush green countryside. I say attempted, because we didn’t get very far along the path before we were met by some very loud barking from a number of dogs. We retreated a hundred yards or so and they stopped. After a while Steve ventured on again to see if they had gone, and this time he not only heard but saw some very large dogs on the path ahead. Needless to say we retraced our steps to a safe point before considering our options. While we stood and thought about it at an open gateway we had passed through earlier, we noticed that the gate itself which was swung back seemed to have a sign on it. No prizes for guessing what it said…
“Beware of THE dog” is a slight understatement, I feel, and the sign not well placed if the gate is left open!
Having read that the locals prefer visitors to take a guide with them when out walking, we now understood why, and decided to give up on this particular walk. Instead we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed another cream tea on the balcony overlooking the lush green vegetation we missed out on walking through. Ah well, you win some, you lose some, but a cream tea will always be a winner!
Cream tea back at the Strawberry Park Resort, where there were no angry dogsI
At the Sungei Palas Tea estate we got our first views of a tea plantation. The hills were covered in tea bushes, as far as the eye could see.
We wandered among the tea bushes, and went up to the teahouse to sample the tea.
Views from the teahouse show the extent of the plantation, and the lush green vegetation supported by the climate up here.
The entrance to the Big Red Strawberry Farm was like going into a theme park. I quite expected to get ride on a giant strawberry!
The strawberry farm grows a variety of fruit, veg and flowers, many of which
are grown hydroponically.
The Sam Poh Temple is the main place of worship for the local Chinese community.
It is protected by gilded lions, and gold was very much in evidence in the statues inside.
We seemed to spend a lot of our trip drinking tea, and enjoying typical old-fashioned British afternoon tea, a throw-back to the colonial days. The Jim Thompson Tea Rooms are named after a US-born Thai businessman who disappeared in the 1960’s whilst on holiday in the Cameron Highlands. He apparently walked out of the cottage where he was staying and never came back. It was big news at the time, and the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved.
Enjoying afternoon tea at the Jim Thompson Tearooms.
A well-used Land Rover, popular here in the hills. The mist that often covers the hills and keeps the temperatures comfortable.
After a very restful couple of days of more eating and less walking than we had anticipated, it was time to pack up the car again and set off for Ipoh, Malaysia’s third largest city and state capital of Perak, down in the Kinta Valley, where we suspect it will be hot!