Cameron Highlands in Malaysia – a fantastic nature experience.

by Monica Nilsson
Tea plantage
Monica Nilsson

Three friends and I had planned this “girl trip” together and wanted to combine a visit to Kuala Lumpur where our host friend now lived after a year in Bangkok, with a few days in Cameron Highlands. We were really looking forward to some fresh air after the recent smog in Bangkok but also to see this amazing nature with the tea plantation landscape.

In KL we stayed close to PETRONAS Twin Towers where she lives and went out for a nice evening at the Marini´s on 57 skybar overlooking the magnificent skyscrapers and all the evening lightning.

The day after we had hired a driver who came at 9 in the morning and the journey began. It takes around 3,5 hour to drive from KL to Cameron Highland. The first 2 hours are on highways but then the last 70 km:s can be a real challenge if you like one of our friends, easily becomes car sick. The road is like in the alps in Europe, very crooked and here and there quite narrow. Truck drivers seems often very fearless and seemed to us drive way too fast considering the road situation. I guess they are used to it but also live according to the arabic o muslim´s saying – Inshallah (“If Allah wants”) it will be OK, even today.

When we finally arrived we were more than pleased to see both the surroundings but also the nice hotel we choose Highland resort, which is a Colonial hotel from 1930s. The area by the way Cameron Highlands was first discovered 1883 by William Cameron during a British expedition hence the name. During that time the British army and allied forces found the cool climate good for resting. They also discovered the climate good for growing fruit, strawberries and also the famous quality tea. We went on a tour the following day and we learned that the owner of this land is from Great Britain since 1929, The Russel family. They still live today on top of a fantastic hill in a very British looking nice house, overlooking the plantations. The hotel served High tea of course according to British-Malay customs in the old days. Another quite famous hotel in the area is the Smokehouse, a charming guesthouse hotel surrounded with flowers. It looked very pretty. There is a golf course and as a golfer I must admit I was very temped to play golf with this perfect temperature of 23-24 degrees and nice green and lush environment.

We had booked a bus tour one afternoon with Viator and were picked up at 2 pm sharp outside the hotel lobby. The first stop was to the BOH Tea plantation.

Tea plantations Malaysia

BOH Tea is apparently a very famous and popular brand in Malaysia. We visited the tea factory and admired the amazing environment and of course like everyone else, took a lot of photos from all different angles. Our smart phone photo apps suddenly became very GREEN. The rest of the tour (a few hours) was a bit wasted for us, since it was not really meeting our likings; rose “garden” in a greenhouse, bee and honey farm, butterfly garden (very small) and some small market place along the way. However the tour was still worthwhile because of the BOH tea fields and also it was a very inexpensive tour. You could also probably just book a separate private drive to take you there or to the other plantation named Cameron Valley that you actually will pass on the way up. There are only these two who rules the area. The population in the three cities in Cameron Highlands is 40000. The numbers of hotels being built were quite a few and we guessed that an invasion of Chinese tourists was expected in the near future even here. As for us we were happy and maybe lucky that we choose the week before Chinese New Year to go here. It was peaceful and calm and not many people at all at the hotel or even on the road. No tourist buses yet. Thank goodness.
The flora and fauna on this high altitude reminded us of some plants back home in Sweden and it was a mix between the tropical climate, e.g. wild orchids but also the Christmas flowers we have in our homes back home, Amaryllis and Poinsettia were growing like big beautiful bushes. We had a fantastic walk up hill to Jim Thomson Cottage which used to be a hotel but are now a private owned property only renting out for special occasions. We were not allowed to get close since there was preparations for a wedding this day. The history about Jim Thomson and what happed to him after he disappeared is a mystery still today. The house is on a steep hill with magnificent view overlooking the valley.

I am very grateful for this trip and to finally have seen Cameron Highlands, which was on our bucket list already when we lived in Singapore during 1999-2005, but during these years we never went. It was just so many other placed at that time with two teenaged daughters we wanted to visit instead; China, Australia, New Zeeland, Bali etc. There are just too many magical places to visit in this great world of ours, isn´t there? 

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