Tea to the sea: Malaysia Part II

We made it to the bus station in plenty of time to catch our
bus.  We even had time to stock up on a
few snacks, including a delicious Portuguese
Custard Tart
, before boarding our luxury bus to the Cameron Highlands.  I’d heard a lot about these buses – both
from, yes you guessed it, the Lonely Planet, and from friends who had been to
Malaysia.  It’s true, they really are
luxurious.  And so cheap.  The tickets, for a 5 hour journey, were about
£7 each.  The seats are huge, bigger
probably than British Airways’ Club Europe seats, they recline to quite an
angle and are just so comfortable.  The
bus was well air-conditioned and there was even a comfort stop about half way
into our journey.
I’d also read that the latter part of the bus journey could
be quite hairy as you climb towards the Cameron Highlands.  These accounts weren’t wrong.  The roads are narrow, steep and windy.  There were a few close calls with horns blazing,
but I guess the drivers must be accustomed to the route and we arrived into
Tanah Rata in one piece.
We’d booked to stay in Gerard’s Guest House, but had been
instructed to check-in at Father’s Guest House. 
This was a short walk from the bus station.  We were met by a French lady who gave us lots
of information about the area including some tours.  Cameron Secrets Travels & Tours is owned
by the same guy who owns the guesthouses – Gerard.   Gerard
himself then came by to give us a lift to Gerard’s Guest House.  It was a little out of town, next to the
Heritage Hotel and some apartments which looked like they could have been
lifted out of a ski resort.  At first we
thought ‘why did we choose somewhere so far out of town?’, but actually the
walk didn’t take more than 10 minutes and it was so lovely to be somewhere
We booked onto a half day tour the next day – the Mossy
Forest tour.  For some reason we don’t
normally book onto sightseeing tours but in this area, without your own
transport, it was really the only option. 
The tour included:
  • The Boh tea plantation & factory: Endless
    rolling hills covered in tea bushes and a well designed factory-museum experience 
  • Mossy Forest: Interesting flora including the
    pitcher plant and lots of moss!
  • Mount Bringchang: The highest mountain in the
    Cameron Highlands – but you don’t have to climb it, you get driven to the top
    where you can climb a viewing tower! 
    Very lazy way to get to the stunning vistas from the top
  • The Butterfly Farm: Where the guide quite
    happily handled giant beetles and scorpions. 
It was a really good way to see the highlights of the Cameron
Another highlight of the Cameron Highlands was yet more
excellent Indian food!  We must have been missing Indian food more than we realised – out of 3 main meals in the Cameron Highlands, all of them were at Indian restaurants!  But why wouldn’t you?  The food was excellent and such good value for money.
From what I’d read and heard about the Cameron Highlands I was expecting endless beautiful scenery, lots of tea plantations and quaint rural life.  It was almost like that.  It just didn’t quite match the ‘quaint rural life’.  It is a hugely popular tourist destination and so there has been huge tourism development – lots of ugly hotels have sprouted up.  The towns that make up the Highlands are unremarkable, and actually quite ugly.  Lots of concrete and very little character.  All that being said, it was still a lovely place to visit.  Perhaps it’s the cooler air.  Or the fact that it’s not a big city.  Or the tea and strawberries.  Whatever it is, it is somewhere I’d recommend a visit to, and somewhere I would love to go back to.
From the Cameron Highlands, the next step was Pangkor
Island.  I’ll post about that separately.

Photos from our Malaysia trip

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