It was my first time organizing a vacation getaway with my entire family. I wanted to head to a location that was a little more cooling compared to hot and humid Singapore but yet, not too far away on account of my parents.
This was the highlight of the trip for me there
And thus, I thought of Cameron Highlands! It was so beautiful. My only regret was that we didn’t stayed there longer because initially I thought that there was not that much things to see there. Apart from tea plantations and the cooler weather. what else could be there in Cameron Highlands?
Plenty. I found out later.
We left late Sunday night on an overnight road trip. So imagine the 7 of us, plus the driver all cramped up into one MPV driving all the way till the next morning. I felt so groggy.
By the way, the guy in white there are the traffic police. There was one road section where there were so many people who got fined. I spotted at least 5.
We stopped at pit-stops along the highway that looked like these :
Here there are huge cafeterias, toilets and a big prayer room. Its quite different from the pit-stops in Italy on account of the hot cooked meals that you can get at any time. I think I should blog about this in another post about the differences. By the way, if you’re interested, you can see different angles of the pit-stops during my Vespa Club road trip to Malacca and Pengerang.
We drove up to Kuala Lumpur and our driver stopped by this interesting place. It was the Istana Negara, which directly translated means National Palace. And it was the first time that I’ve ever seen a guard on a horse before. Mum was remarking at clean the space was (aka crap-free)
By the way, if you looked on the floor, there is a red painted semicircle to which I understood later that it was the boundary for tourists to stand at. My family didn’t notice this and mum started to pat the horse even. We were lucky that the horse didn’t bit her hand!
After a long and groggy drive later, we started to drive towards the base of Cameron Highlands. The scenery looked different to me as compared to urban Kuala Lumpur, the scenery looked more jungle-y and in no time we reached the Lata Iskandar waterfall!
Its not the biggest one in Malaysia, but it was still pleasant to see and soak your feet in. I could see kids swimming and playing around.
But one of the things that I didn’t expect to see was the aborigines. Along the roads were huts that looked like these.
And in each huts will be an Orang Asli, or the aborigine selling their crops like freshly plucked petai. Our driver informed us that the Orang Asli were very good at knowing the properties of the different crops. Once he’s eaten a herb that made everything that he ate taste sweet for several hours.
Masala tea, with its spiced goodness, mixed with creamy milk made the tea so delightful that I didn’t care how much calories it contained. The only place I know that serves Masala Tea in Rome is the Indian restaurant that Cart and I went to last November. It was really good, so I’m not sure why its not more popular in Italy.
It was such a lovely weather. Sunny and breezy. But because we were higher up, it was a cooling 24 degrees. Natural air conditioning. And coupled with the beautiful scene in front of us, I was just enamoured.
Isn’t this gorgeous? Tea plantation as far as the eyes can see. With so much rolling heels and so much green that it looked like a carpet.
After our tea break, we continued on our journey and at long last, we finally reached the bungalow. Its quite interesting seeing the black and white decoration, isn’t it?
I booked the bungalow online after researching for different accommodations. Due to my family being a big group, I had preference for an apartment over hotels. But I have to say, that trying to do reservations with many of the owners on the list was a pain because they don’t even list emails and hardly anyone even responds when I try to call them up!
Greenhill apartment, the place where we stayed, wasn’t my first choice, but it was decent and comfortable enough for my family.
Apart from what was listed in the site, there were also slippers and toilet paper provided. But I was a little disappointed that there were no towels to be found. I mean for 480 RM a night, which is not a small amount, I think it would be standard. Its interestingly cheaper to stay in Milan and yet have all those AND food in the fridge to boot.
Nevertheless, I am amazed at how cooling the place was. Check out how frosty it looks like in the window. This fascinated me as Malaysia is located in an equatorial region like Singapore, where it is typically hot and humid. My sister was already wrapped and huddled in her jacket.
My family looked and went around excitedly in the apartment opening and testing this and that, then rested after the agonizing long road trip and in no time, promptly fainted till the evening.
It was probably too late to visit any attraction so we went to have dinner first. We ate at this place called the Restoran Sri Brinchang for Indian food and my family ordered so much food that each person (there were 8 in our group) almost had two portions of food. It was so scary. I hate seeing food being wasted, so I was afraid that we would not be able to finish the food. But amazingly, they were all able to finish it. This boggled my mind.
After our dinner, we visited the Brinchang night market. I love night markets or pasar malam, as it is called here. There were many booths which sells a plentiful of things like clothes, freshly made street food as well as freshly harvested crops, trinkets and jewellery.
It was just like any other night markets in Singapore, with only one exception. It was much much cooler (as in the temperature) here so much so that even Cart said that he was feeling chilly at one point.
The thing that I found odd was this :
While it was cold, I didn’t think that it was THAT cold to justify these strawberry earmuffs. But I find them super cute though. The biggest irony though, was that my brother and I saw someone wearing full winter clothes – winter jacket, a scarf, gloves, hat but he was wearing a pair of slippers. Huh?
I saw my mum starting to go crazy buying boxes of teas and my sister buying a nice jacket. I don’t know where my dad and brothers ran off to while I looked longingly at the freshly made vegetable fritters, but at the point of time, I was already feeling so full from dinner.
I ate some though the next day though (at another location) and it was seriously very very very good.
There were three varieties – Fried mushrooms, Fried flower buds and Fried Broccoli. It was extremely crispy, unlike any fritters that I’ve ever had. One bite and my mum was running off to buy some mushrooms so that she could try to make it herself as soon as she got back home.
My favourite would have to be the fried broccoli though. I wonder if I could replicate the taste too. I should have bought some of those special batter powder while I was in Singapore.
By the way, check out this clip of this interesting toy we saw at the night market :
Anyway, I think that this was the highlight of our trip. It was so gorgeous but so perilous to get there. The driver had to drive very carefully and honk regularly as the roads were narrow, plus there were no fences or barriers at the sides and I could hear someone gasping every time we turned. It was very high up you see, and the idea of the car falling down was very scary! I was sitting at the back though, so I couldn’t see anything.
It was worth it when we reached the top though, as we were greeted by a shroud of mist.
I admired the scenery. The mist gave it a dreamy effect and the jungles reminded me of the floating mountain out of a science fiction show. I spotted a couple doing their wedding photography here.
There is a wooden bridge here, which made it easier for travellers to walk through easily but we still had to be careful as there were quite a few boards broken here and there.
Anyway, check out a short video I took at the top :
I’m not sure if you could hear the monkeys towards the end of the video, but during our trip there, we could hear monkeys going whoop every few minutes or so.
It’s so peaceful here, that I really didn’t want to leave the place but there were so many other things to see and visit. So reluctantly, we left and we headed to a couple of farms and botanies. There were quite a number of farms that we went to, so I’ll just group them all together.
Our first farm stop was the family run, Opah Strawberries and Jam. Doesn’t my dad look really small surrounded by these huge cauliflowers? My family looked super excited roaming around the area, pretending to be farmers.
I liked seeing the strawberry nurseries, with the flower buds and the tiny berries starting to turn red. I’m not sure if there were a strawberry picking area because the farm seemed to be enclosed. But there was a small kiosk where you could buy strawberry jams and sauces as well as have tea and scones too.
We then went to a place called the Multicrops Central Market and there were loads of varieties of potted plants here ranging from cactuses as well as flowers. There were also souvenirs being sold here too, but I think the highlight of the market were the potted plants.
This bamboo looking plant shaped like a pineapple was a cool thing to see. And there were miniature stacked ones for sale for which I was extremely tempted to buy. I would have liked one on the coffee table. But I had the feeling that it will be immediately confiscated long before we reach Rome.
Immediately next to the market is a gardening area called Uncle Sam, where you could buy more potted plants as well as herbs and fruits. Cart was looking around fascinated, trying to find any European herbs. And indeed, he found some rosemary!
Whereas, I looked around for more unusual fruits. Like this Buah Cinta that my dad is holding.
Directly translate in Malay, this means Love Fruit. But I’ve no idea why its called that but it tastes a little like unripe apple to me.
And we also visited this place called the Rose Center at Kea farm. Unlike the previous two farms, you’d need to pay 5 RM to enter here. But this place is huge and filled with many different varieties of roses and flowers. My brother Haikal was feeling adventurous enough to go up the steep staircase to try to reach the other end of the farm.
By this time, the rest of my family were not looking forward to trekking, and retreated back to the car. But since we already paid for the entry, I just wanted to get my money’s worth so Haikal, Cart and I pushed on and I saw a very pretty scene.
There was a friendly gardener there and he told us of the different varieties and colours of flowers and proudly showed us the sunflowers that he planted. They were so pretty.
And due to the advice of this blogger, we then also visited the Time Travel Museum. It was 5 RM to enter here.
I thought that it was an interesting place and I enjoyed reading bits and pieces of history. Like Cameron Highlands was a place where Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong used to go for vacations. And I enjoyed looking at old photos of how Cameron Highlands looked like in the 50’s till now.
But the displays were a little haphazard, things weren’t arranged according to the theme, more like stuff that someone just chucked away here and there.
Like this game-boy. If this is considered old enough to be displayed in a museum, then I am super ancient.
Nevertheless, check out this short video of something I find quite interesting in the museum :
By the way, at this point of time, there was a group of rambuctious children running around the area. You could probably hear it in the video. I was feeling a little nervous when they started to clang around. Its not my museum, but I wouldn’t want to have anything broken here. I just couldn’t bear to see it.
So we left. And headed toward the last stop in my itinerary – the Boh tea factory.
For me, this was the biggest reason for going to Cameron Highlands. Unfortunately for us, having spent time at the farms and gardens, it was getting a little late. We managed to get there safely, (the roads were as perilous as getting to Mount Brinchang) but it was starting to get dark.
Thus we were not able to see the famed Tea shop and I couldn’t get my Boh tea boxes. In any case, you might want to take a look at the pictures of the plantation here, they are very pretty.
In Rome, there is this very famous expression, “Boh!” which means that “I don’t know” or “I have no idea” and I thought that it would be a riot to give this as gifts to friends in Italy.
Anyway, luckily for us the supervisor allowed us to take a look at the factory to see the machines as well as his crew a work. It was such a strong smell of tea outside the factory and inside, it was even stronger with the acidic smell of freshly crushed tea leaves. It took a while for our noses to adjust.
The place was very loud! So it was hard for me to pay attention to the supervisor as he was explaining the different steps. It was interesting seeing the machines move from one segment to another nevertheless, being crushed, the aired, then dried. We were shown how the tea looked like in each process.
And that was the end of our itinerary. What a fulfilling day! We managed to see so many things! I was feeling high from happiness and I think that the rest of my family had fun too. My mum kept saying how blessed she feels to see God’s wonders and was scribbling in her notebook at all the places that we visited.
And it was almost time to drive back home. It’s misty here too!
But I still was not satisfied as wanted my Boh tea. I forced the driver to stop at a shop along the way, where I bought about 10 boxes of Boh tea and several boxes of masala tea. My mum bought more and together between us, we could hardly close the back door of the MPV so we had a couple of items on our laps and our feet even.
I felt so uncomfortable! But I’ll suffer this temporary discomfort because we cannot find these in Italy.
And then, finally, it was time to drive straight back home. I kind of pitied our driver who had to drive the entire journey all the way back non stop. We reached back Singapore at about 4 am and I looked at the Woodlands Immigration all full of bikers checking in to go to work.
But all in all, we definitely enjoyed ourselves. What a pity that we didn’t get to spend more time there. I’d love to go back there again! Longer next time round.
And just for fun, I’m putting in a picture of this slipper I found during our trip to Mount Brinchang.
Some poor baby out there is missing a slipper.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my other journeys :