Food poisoning last week drained me of all my energy. I lost 9 pounds in the process and wore a path in the hardwood floor between my bed and the bathroom. No fun!!!! I needed a break. I needed some time to re-coup and just relax. So Friday I drove the three hours up to the Cameron Highlands.
The Cameron Highlands were “discovered” in 1885 by William Cameron, a British colonial government surveyor. He and his crew were mapping the Titiwangsa Range, using elephants for transport. Upon reaching the top one of the taller peaks, he spied a large plateau area. Later this plateau was named in his honor. Around 1925 the plateau was developed as a “hill resort” and soon became a popular holiday location for the British who tired of the heat and humidity in Kuala Lumpur.
Today it is one of the main growing regions in Malaysia. The cooler temperatures (41 to 75 degrees) plus the year-round tropical sunlight is perfect for growing vegetables, strawberries, and legumes, supplying much of Malaysia and Singapore with fresh produce. It is also home to large tea plantations, BOH the most famous. But mainly it is a major tourist and vacation destination drawing thousands of visitors on any given weekend.
Getting there was a challenge. The first 200 kilometers were on the big, modern North-South Expressway, but when I reached Tapah, I turned off onto the “old road” up to the Highlands and the town of Tanah Rata. The old road is about 60 kilometers long but it takes over an hour and a half to navigate. If you have ever driven the Road to Hana on the island of Maui you can begin to picture the road to the Highlands. In the 83 kilometers to Hana, you have to navigate 620 curves…that’s an average of 7.46 curves per kilometer. The 60 kilometers to the Highlands present the driver with 519 curves, an average of 8.65 curves per kilometer. (I’m not telling how I know the number of curves) Besides the curves it’s all uphill and there are NO turnouts, NO passing zones and very few guardrails. If you get behind one of the tour buses or large lorries, you are stuck. You have to be prepared for falling debris and minor landslides and washouts, and stray dogs. I’m just thankful I drove during daylight hours…this would be a nightmare in the dark.
I stayed at the Cameron Highlands Resort, a YTL resort. You can be assured that I was totally pampered and cared for. I indulged in a three hour spa village “treatment” including a soaking in a hot tub of tea and mint, a body scrub and a most luxurious massage.(about $90.00 USD for the three hour treatment) I qualified for the “resident package” so food was included…breakfast, lunch, dinner and high tea. I gained back all the weight I lost…and then some!!!! Amazing hotel.
Saturday morning I drove further north through the town of Brinchang. Brinchang is like a poor-man’s Leavenworth. Instead of Bavaria, the theme is Old English, but not everyone has signed on and those that have slap a little gingerbread here and there and call it quits. Pretty funny.
BOH Tea Plantation is a must-visit place when you are in Cameron Highlands. The BOH Tea Plantation has a total of 8000 acres planted with tea making it the largest tea plantation in Southeast Asia. The road is narrow and winding with many a sharp curve where you need to give a honk or two when negotiating the corners to let oncoming traffic know there is a car coming. The road is wide enough for cars to pass only if one pulls off to the side. Put narrow road aside,the view of green rolling hills, with the neat regular rows of tea plants, is truly breathtaking and refreshing! Every hue of green is captured on the hills. Truly beautiful!!!
The Highlands is also known for STRAWBERRIES…all grown in green houses, carefully maintained, watered and fertilized. Everywhere you see strawberry stands, strawberry pillows, strawberry balloons, strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam and of course, fresh strawberries.
I returned to KL rested, a few pounds heavier, and ready for the week ahead.