Cameron Highlands–A Sweet Reprieve From the Heat of Southeast Asia (Not to Mention Gorgeous!)
I went to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia on the recommendation of my friend Andy with the promise of cooler weather and the chance to visit a tea plantation. I had already visited a coffee plantation in Guatemala so this sounded like the proper next step.
I booked a short half day “Countryside Tour” which turned out to be really great as I wouldn’t have been able to see all of the different things on the tour without a car of my own. With a car I’d say the tour was probably unnecessary, though our guide was quite informative and at times (unintentionally?) funny.
We first visited a Chinese temple which was a nice addition to the tour, but with the amount of temples I have seen on this trip, not nearly the most impressive. I did love that at least two walls in the temple were solidly covered in Buddhas.
Next up we visited a place called the Garden Center. We were probably there the longest, around 40 minutes, as it took us that long to hike up to the top and back. Not only were the flowers gorgeous, but the view from the top was spectacular.
Our third stop was a strawberry farm.
Apparently this is a new (or just different) way to grow strawberries. Our guide said the benefit was the farmers don’t have to bend over to pick the strawberries this way. Surely there are other benefits though?
Next up we went to a honey farm.
Because of the rainy weather there weren’t any bees to be seen. We did see this guy though.
Finally we came to the tea plantation! We visited the BOH Tea Plantation and Factory and then had a cup of tea on a terrace with an amazing view of the plantation.
Our final stop was a butterfly farm.
Not only were there butterflies at the farm, but a small zoo-like exhibit of scary things like giant bugs, snakes, and spiders. There was a young local boy on-site who was more than happy to take each of the creatures out of their glass boxes to let us touch and hold them. I let him know right away that I was more than fine with just looking at them through the glass, thank-you-very-much.
And then I asked the one question that you should never ask when looking at creepy crawlies in a zoo-like setting in the jungle.
“So, do you find these here?” I asked, referring to the Rhinoceros Beetle now safely tucked back in his box.
To which our guide answered the obvious and unfortunate answer.
“Yes, of course. All of these things you can find here in the jungle.” Oookaay then.
It’s one thing to look at a bunch of creepy crawlies in a natural history museum in New York City, and it’s quite another to look at them in the middle of the jungle when their relatives could be anywhere!
In order to not have nightmares I went back to look at the cute bunnies that we saw at the entrance.
We finally went to look at the butterflies, and I have to admit they were a bit on the frightening side, too.
This guy may look pretty but the photo is a bit deceiving. The wingspan of these butterflies is about the size of my hand, from palm to finger tips. And there were hundreds of them! As long as they weren’t flying around I was fine to look at them, but imagining them all take flight at the same time caused me to rush right out of the butterfly sanctuary.
And that was the end of our tour. I loved the tea plantation so much that I went back to visit another one the next day. It was a gloriously sunny day, almost hot, so I basked in the sun for a few hours surrounded by the tea plants. It was lovely!
And finally, I leave you with some Highland street food.