A trip into the Cameron Highlands offered a reprieve from the sticky heat of South East Asia. The Cameron Highlands, built in the 1920s by the British, is Malaysia’s largest hill station, covering an area the size of Singapore. The elevation means the temperatures are refreshingly cooler than the rest of humid Malaysia.
The green hills and tea plantations spread out across the Cameron Highlands from the main town of Tanah Rata where most accommodation is based. We took the opportunity in the cooler air to trek and explore the trails and jungle around Tanah Rata, climbing high through the green tea plantations, pausing to admire the marvelous vistas of the cute, neat, green tea bushes and rolling hills.
Feeling the refreshing breeze we trekked through ancient mossy forests, sticking to the boardwalks as the reserve is unique in that the trees have been untouched for centuries and the base of the forest is covered with a thick carpet of moss.
Further up the foliage turned to jungle until we were at the highest point– Gunung (Mount) Brinchang, 6,666 feet above sea level. To get even higher we climbed up a rickety 15 m high observation tower. The wind howled around us as we surveyed the Cameron Highlands that were now below us as the misty morning clouds swirled around the mountain tops in the distance.
Back down below, we explored the trails to discover waterfalls and visited colourful butterfly farms, fragrant rose gardens and gorged on delicious strawberry treats at a strawberry farm.
It’s also possible to see the largest flower in the world here – the Rafflesia Flower. It’s actually an external parasitic plant as it doesn’t have leaves, stem or roots but it looks very impressive. It has gained the unfortunate nickname – the corpse flower due to it’s repugnant smell but the only way to see the Rafflesia plant on a 4WD guided tour
The neat, green, tea bushes of the tea plantations are blanketed across the highlands and my highlight of the Cameron Highlands was taking a tour around a tea factory.
We visited the Boh Tea Plantations, one of the largest and a household name in Malaysia. Most of the tea plantations were established here in the 1920s by the British.
The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is actually a tree not a bush, If it was left in the wild it could grow about 16m tall but they prune the tea plants to make them easier to harvest and to get a better crop. What’s interesting is that the different types of tea (green, black and white) are made from the same plant, it’s just processed differently.
As well as getting an insight into the history of tea growing in the area we were shown around the factory and learned about the production of tea.
Then the best part – sampling the end product amongst the cool air and stunning vistas of rolling hills and neat, carefully tendered tea plantations.