Cameron Highlands - tea plantations, strawberries, jungle & rafflesia flower
From sunny Penang we went to cool off a bit in the fertile area of Cameron Highlands, to small city Tanah Rata, which has become our base for exploring this beautiful place.
How to get to Tanah Rata & accommodation in Cameron Highlands
The 4.5 hour minibus journey from Penang to Tanah Rata cost us 40,5 MYR / person (cca 10.40 USD). We did not book accommodation in Cameron Highlands in advance, as elsewhere in the Southeast Asia. We spent the first night at Daniel’s Lodge, that is part of Kang Travelers, and paid 40 MYR (cca 10.25 USD). It was a disaster and we found so many bad reviews about bedbugs on the internet therefore we had to find better accommodation the other day. Good people live everywhere, in the end me made a deal with owner of Hillview Inn to let us sleep with in their house in one of the rooms they usually did not rent. But for 44 MYR / night (cca 11.30 USD) we had clean room, bedbugs free and shared bathroom with the house staff. We can definitely recommend this accommodation in Tanah Rata especially since the Indian owners were very nice.
What to see in Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is the place full of life for plants and crops grown here. It reminded us a lot of Da Lat in Vietnam. However, this largest mountain station in Malaysia had a spark. And there was much to discover.
Tea plantations – hitchhiking for sensation seeking
We could not missed tea plantations because we have never visited any of them before. We went to the Tanah Rata bus
station and found out that cheap local buses had been canceled in order to force tourists to pay expensive cabs. Of course, we did not like this since we were experienced travelers, so we after advice from local lady called Sharmila we decided to hitch-hike. In a few minutes an Indian guy took us took us to the Bee Farm from there we walked 3,5 km to the BOH Sungai Palas Tea Center tea plantation. We went along the road but partly alongside the jungle where there were many beautiful plants and fern trees. Soon we had a view of vast tea plantations and we were in kind of a fairy tale. Observing the green coloured fields was a feast for the eyes.
At the plantation we went for small excursion to learn more about the collection of leaves, methods and tea processing. Green leaves are immediately transported after collection from the field to the factory. Here begins a multi-stage tea process, which involves withering, rolling, fermenting, drying, sorting, and grading. Classifying tea decided about the quality and whether tea will be loose or packed into teabags.
Everyone is allowed to move freely all over the plantations but have to be cautious not to break tea leaves. There is a very nice cafe where fresh tea can be bought and can be tasted along with an excellent cake and amazing view from large terrace on top of that.
To the highest peaks and Mossy Forest
We were lucky with hitch-hiking as when we left the plantation we met a Belgian couple who was renting a car in Kuala Lumpur (KL). We asked them if they would take us to the main road. On the way, however, the plan changed and we went to see the highest peak of Cameron Highlands. The road was rather zigzagging and the blacktop was from time to time missing. It was an interesting trip but the weather changed too. We traveled around the Mossy Forest and it started to get damp and myst. When we reached the road end, almost up the the peak, we could not see anything. But still we took a short walk. Based on traveller’s pictures it is worth going there during a good weather conditions.
In Cameron Highlands, flowers, fruits and vegetables are grown, but the most prevalent are strawberries. There are several strawberry farms. Even we were tempted and did not regret to visit one. We have never seen so many strawberries at one place before. The best thing was to eat strawberries here not just on its own, but also in combination with whipped cream, ice cream, waffles, milk as a cocktail, just with anything that comes to mind. For sure go and visit such farm and make yourself a sweet day.
Jungle Walks – in the footsteps of Rafflesia flower
In the hills of Cameron Highlands you can also see the plant with the largest dimensional flower, Rafflesia arnoldii. It is located deep in the virgin forest. The blossom will last for at least 5 days, but it is ideal to see it around 2nd or 3rd day. Our counselor, Sharmila, we met at the station was very kind and helpful, so she was trying to get information about actual flowers possible to see in the area. Although we had been told it was not worth going on trip to see the flower because it was not the right season. Nevertheless we wanted to go to the jungle. She recommended us couple of
walking paths and we went to explore surroundings on our own. We even found a campsite during our walk as you can see in our photogallery. The path through the jungle was interesting but when the rain began it was not so much fun, especially in the mud. When we came back to hotel we were literally soaked to the bone. Therefore hot Indian tea and soup came in handy.
We wanted to thank Sharmila for her effort to help us, and that’s why we brought her a chocolate cake because she told us she loved chocolate. She was so excited that she invited us to Ipoh to spend Diwali, the Indian festival of lights with her family! It’s always great to spend some time with locals. So we enthusiastically nodded and in a few days we set out to celebrate Diwali in Malaysia.
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