Written by beautysan on 16 Feb, 2003
I started my journey from Kuala Lumpur. It took me around 2 hours to get to the Tapah exit via North South Highway. After that, it's a 1.5-hour stomach-churning ride up to Cameron Highland. The road is very narrow, very winding, with numerous 90-degree sharp…Read More
I started my journey from Kuala Lumpur. It took me around 2 hours to get to the Tapah exit via North South Highway. After that, it's a 1.5-hour stomach-churning ride up to Cameron Highland. The road is very narrow, very winding, with numerous 90-degree sharp corners, but it's not too steep. If you are tailing a trailer lorry, good luck to you, you are in for a loooong ride. Sometimes, you will encounter some considerate heavy-vehicle drivers who give way to the traffic which has built up behind it whenever the road widens a little. And, of course, landslides and fallen trees are a norm here, so beware!
Along the road from Ringlet (the first town to greet you at the lowest level of Cameron) to Tanah Rata, you will see lots of Orang Asli (aboriginal) settlements just beside the road. It's really interesting to see their primitive way of life and their atap houses--a big contradiction to the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest building just about 150km away!
Ringlet has nothing much to offer--the lake in front of Lakehouse Resort is reddish brown, probably caused by the construction work going on nearby. From here, look out for the "Boh Tea Estate" sign and follow the sign to the tea plantation. The vast green tea estate could easily be the highlight of the day. On the way to the plantation, after the turn off from the main road, you will find yourself surrounded by vegetable farms--some vegetables just planted right beside the road! After driving through the entrance point of Boh Tea Estate, it's another 6km on s steep and winding road up to the car park. This tiny road could only accomodate one car at a time, so at every blind corner, you should sound your horn to alert the oncoming traffic. Walking up the hill to the plantation in the cool climate is also a good idea if you have time to spare.
Up on the peak of the hill, there stood the tea factory and "Umppph" Boh Tea Cafe cum souvenir shop. The tea factory is not my cup of tea though. I have had enough of factories since I work in a factory myself, so I skipped the factory tour and walked up to the view point for a panoramic view of the vast green plantation. You have the chance to look at the tea plants and the workers collecting tea leaves up close because the path leading to the the peak of the view point is actually among the tea plants! At one point, we were actually engulfed by the clouds! Haha . . . actually a cloud floated through where we stood, so we just felt slight drizzle . . . but the feeling of actually touching and coming into contact with a cloud is tremendous!
The souvenir shop offers, obviously, a wide range of Boh tea, from flavored Boh tea to gold blend cameronian Boh tea.
On our way to Tanah Rata, we passed by Bharat Tea Estate. I personally think that Boh Tea Estate offers a better view because the view point is situated right at the peak of the tea hill, providing a birds-eye view from all angles, whereas Bharat is in the middle of the valley where the view is limited.
After checking into Heritage Hotel, we set off again for sightseeing and looking for some vegetables to buy for our DIY steamboat dinner later that night. Tanah Rata is an extremely small town where you can find ONLY the essentials. The next town further up the hill--Brinchang--is more touristy and of course the prices get steeper the further you go up the hill. There is a golf course just opposite Merlin Inn Resort, too. There is a central market in Brinchang, selling potted plants, flowers, dried flowers, ornamental flowers, pottery, cacti, etc. I don't find them particularly amusing or cheap, though. The local markets outside of tourist attractions are a better bet for cheap buys.
Strawberry farms are not as good as they sound. You'll only find some potted strawberry plants gathered under a roof. Disappointing!
Entrance to the Cactus Valley is even worse! I read on the Internet that this is the new tourist attraction of Cameron Highland, but the mere miserable sight of it turns me away even before I enter!
After Brinchang, another 10 minutes drive down the valley passing vegetable terraces gets you to Kampung Raja, where Rose Valley is. The entrance fee to this attraction is RM4 for adults. I thought it was much too expensive, so I didn't enter. I spent the RM4 buying roses from the flower stalls outside instead. The roses here are VERY cheap and you can find just about any color!
On our way back, we stopped at Ye Olde Smoke House. It's a very nice cottage with a beautiful garden terrace. I heard that they serve very good scones. However, when I got there, the sign screamed right at my face: For Patrons Only. How disappointing! I managed to catch a glimpse of the interior--one word could describe it--WOW! And another glance at the menu outside the coffee house led me to another "WOW!" It was sooo expensive that even a pudding cost RM20!(RM20 could easily buy me one decent meal in a good restaurant in Malaysia--get the picture?) I decided to just take a few photos of the beautiful old English cottage and go back to reality. After all, I could always eat scones anywhere, not only here in Cameron Highlands which is 4,500 feet above sea level and where the prices are equally sky-high.
We covered all of Cameron Highlands attractions in half a day! It's was a pity I did not go for any jungle trekking or see any of the waterfalls. The reason was, from the postcard photos I saw in some stores, the waterfalls certainly didn't look worth the climb. Therefore, I am not sure if hiking there would have been fun.
The memorable part of my day was certainly the steamboat dinner. We improvised by using a rice cooker for a steamboat. With lots of fresh Cameronian vegetables from the market, and some meatballs, we cooked and had steamboat dinner right in our hotel room! (We were not supposed to cook in the hotel room!)
All in all, Cameron Highlands is a nice place to relax and unwind, or to escape from the stark heat of surrounding places in this region. But, if you are expecting some decent tourist attractions, be prepared for disappointment.