I have used the odd phrase “a bit nice” because it’s how I feel about the Cameron Highlands, but also because it reminds me of a scene in Peep Show. Without including any mildly rude material on this innocent blog, all I’ll say is, “maybe it is a bit…nice?” I can’t assume everyone is a Peep Show fan, so I’ll move on.*
As I mentioned before, the Cameron Highlands, or CH as I’ll call them, have been described to me several times throughout Malaysia as “VERY COLD”. I’ve now discovered that this means about 23 degrees Celsius. I can understand why Malaysians love this, it’s a more comfortable climate than the humidity and 32 degree+ heat that I’ve experienced everywhere else so far. But it’s not cold.
It’s also described as having beautiful scenery, and it does. There are some pictures below.
However, it is also a bit soulless. There are two main towns, Brinchang and Tanah Rata, and we stayed in between the two, thinking this was a good idea. It wasn’t – we were stranded, surrounded by empty modern blocks of apartments presumably built for tourists, nothing within walking distance, and dependent on local expensive taxis. It just felt a bit bleak. Both of the towns were, um, a bit nice.
The main “things to do” in the CH are visiting a tea plantation, seeing the sunrise over the mountains, the Mossy Forest (apparently the oldest rainforest in the world – although Google disagrees) and other sweet little things like strawberry, bee and lavender farms. On Saturday I arranged a sunrise tour that would take us up early to see the sunrise over the mountains, a trek in the forest and then the tea plantation. It was NOT EVEN A BIT NICE!
Firstly, we arrived at the viewing spot by 6.20am, and told the sunrise would be about 7.30am, so we could go out for a walk until then. In the total darkness and the rain. What’s the point? So obviously nobody did that. Then the sky gradually became dull and the sunrise was never alluded to again, as we sped up to the Mossy Forest, rattling around in an old jeep.
The guide then told us that the Mossy Forest is in fact closed, so “don’t tell your friends you were here” (oops). I asked if it was safe, and he said yes, as he helped us climb under a big red sign saying to keep out. I was having a bad time, even before he warned us not to touch the moss on the trees because it was full of poisonous spiders. To be fair, the walk was actually fine, considering it was dull, cloudy and rainy. We went up a lookout point and the view was… also fine.
Around the tea plantation the scenery is beautiful, but the factory/museum part was unremarkable, even the 5 minute factory tour. I was reliably informed by an Indian tourist that it was the worst tea he’d ever tasted. As someone who doesn’t like tea anyway, I didn’t bother with it. On our way there, the guide (on two separate occasions) made comments along the lines of this being private land, so if anything happens to you here there’s no point in telling the police or the authorities, they’ll just throw the report out. Now what the F is that about? Just plain sinister. We didn’t get robbed, and nothing bad happened, but he sure did imply that it might.
Anyway, back to our lonely isolated weird apartment block for 10am, watched the Lion King, had a nap. So all’s well that ends well.