Brief history of Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands was named after a British surveyor Sir William Cameron after he discovered the place during mapping out borders between states at 1885. Since then, Cameron Highlands became a favourite choice among the British residents who wanted to be somewhere cooler (literally) in Malaya (old name of Malaysia). Cameron Highlands’ beautiful hilly mountain definitely provided relief and solace for many of the British longing for their sweet home London. Even at present, you’ll find many retreat homes. We found out that even the late Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore came here a lot with his wife and kids (more on that later).
How to get to Cameron Highlands
We took the North South Expressway three hours later we arrive. It was a weekend on Labour Day. It was expected that the traffic will be high since many hardworking KL-ites would want to go back to their hometowns and spend some time with their families due to public holiday. Thankfully, the traffic was pretty clear as we left very early in the morning around six o’clock. If you plan to come, off peak days will be the best time to come. You’ll get to avoid massive jam bottlenecks that happened to us once we arrived at Tanah Rata (the largest township in Cameron Highlands), since many people use the same road to Cameron Highlands as well back to their hometowns in the north.
Don’t let the driving distance discourage you. Expect to be greeted by lushious greenery while cool breezy wind over your face as you wind down your car windows (which is exactly what we did). Do be careful since the road can be slightly narrow than usual. You will also find wooden stalls by the roadside including wooden houses. Many stalls weren’t open at the time, but we found out later that these are stalls operated by local Orang Asli (aborigines) in the area. We found beautiful wooden handcrafts like chairs, ornaments and natural honey (which was really affordable at around RM50 for three big bottles). Do buy some of these natural and homemade products to support the local aborigines.
What to Do
Two things: tea and scones.
Boh Tea Plantation
Finding tea is the first thing we agreed to do. The drive was challenging because the road fits only one car at a time and very narrow. You had to honk everytime you want to pass a curve to warn potential driver on the opposite side.
Boh Tea Plantation which is the leading tea grower in Malaysia and it was our first stop. Fazlin said that nothing has changed since 15 years ago when she first came. The cafe at Boh Plantation looked slightly larger. Perhaps to accommodate more visitors. We ordered our scones at the café and you read further here. Along the way, there were a lot of shops selling strawberries, vegetables and flowers.
We didn’t know at that time that there are more than at least four Boh tea plantations in various locations in Cameron Highlands. I actually had a quarrel with Fazlin because she thought that I’ve missed a junction (I did).
We headed down to have dinner and shopping at the bustling Brinchang market. The market ranges from food, vegetables and clothes.
Tea is a huge thing in Cameron Highlands. The most famous plantation is Boh. Boh has been around since 1929 when their founder JA Russell received concession to grow tea.
Kea Farm @ Open Air Market
First of all, Kea Farm isn’t exactly a farm, but an open market. The traffic can be bad during weekend so it’s best that you come here first in the morning and then visit other places afterward. This way, you’ll avoid the traffic since you’re travelling back from the opposite direction.
Little did we know that Kea farm is actually not a farm but a market place to purchase fruits, vegetables and flowers.
There is a small little café at the entrance of the Kea Farm that serves drinks that ranges from strawberry smoothies, strawberry juice, strawberry milkshake and strawberry tea. You get the idea.
Never in my mind would I have ever known there is such a place like the Time Tunnel. I would say that this place is a must visit in Cameron Highlands. If you are like me who is always curious, this is the place for you because there is so much to see and absorb! You can read the full post here.
A scone is a single-serving quick bread. It is made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and are baked on sheet pans. They are often lightly sweetened and are occasionally glazed with egg wash. Fazlin love scones so much, so we ended up going to more than three places in Cameron Highlands to try out scones.
Western places vs Asian places
If it’s an Asian thing. European tourists fancy trail walks through the hilly mountain area at Tanah Rata. We should do that next time we come.
We stayed at AirBnb for the first time here. It was a nice cozy room apartment owned by two girls (and probably something more than that).
You can get here by car or bus.
We realise that there were other places that we should have visited.
This is also our first time staying in an Airbnb. We really didn’t have an idea what to expect. We have a mixed feeling about our Airbnb experience. Probably the next time will be better we guessed. Our Airbnb host told us that you can briefly distinguish Tanah Rata as western area while Berinchang as Asian zone because of the nature of activities carried out by these two groups of visitors.
Tanah Rata is a more cozy and low density area compared to Berinchang. We realise that there are not really many things going on in this area. Apart from homestays and hotels, we saw a wet market in the evening when we arrived at Tanah Rata to our Airbnb.
Cameron Highlands is perhaps one of the few places in Malaysia you can visit with a cool and refreshing air. Another favourite place you can go is Kundasang (near to Mount Kinabalu) in Sabah.
Cameron Highlands is definitely a place that we will come back again in the future.