The Cameron Highlands is one of Malaysia’s most beautiful hill stations. Size of Singapore, this hill station is about 200 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. It is named after Sir William Cameron, a British surveyor who was commissioned by the colonial government to map out the region in 1885. While the British were keen to develop the region into a ‘sanatorium, health resort and open farmland’, it took them 40 years to turn this salubrious region into a hill station. It was to be a retreat to escape to from warm tropical weather, as also a potential land to grow cinchona (for quinine), tea/coffee and English fruits and vegetables.
Long after the colonial rulers left, Cameron Highlands is still suspended in that time. Evenings here mean sitting on an ornate cast iron bench in a neatly laid out lawn drinking tea after tea with buttery scones, whipped cream and some home made preserves. The laid back, sleepy hill station is not unlike hill stations that English built in India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, but its surely the one that has retained its original charm. Here are some of the reasons why GoMissing recommends Cameron Highlands:
- Strawberries Everywhere.
The farmlands in Cameron have perfected the art of strawberry cultivation. Using techniques like hydroponics and vertical farming, the farmers have maximised the use of farmlands and enhanced yield exponentially. The strawberry varieties like Camarosa, Chandler, Strawberry Festival, Sweet Charlie, Fresno, Tioga and Ichigo are grown here.
The impact of strawberries is so significant in the region that wherever you look, you will have bright, happy looking strawberry peeping out in form of stuffed toys, pillows, plastic key chains and so on. Numerous strawberry farms invite tourists to visit their farms for picking strawberries.
The ubiquitous berries find their way in menus almost everywhere you go. From shakes, souffle, pies and tarts to preserves, candies and waffles…strawaberries are everywhere.
Raju’s Strawberry Hill, Big Red Strawberry farm and Kok Lim Strawberry farms are all in close proximity to each other. Each one is as good as the other and have fairly standard offerings.
- Find Zen in Tea Gardens
Cameron is home to several tea estates like Cameron Valley Tea Gardens, BOH Tea Estate are some of the know estates. Standing at the Cameron Valley Teahouse it was a pleasant surprise to find that the company is owned by Bharat Group and was founded by Shuparshad Bansal Agarwal, an Indian in 1933. Born in 1893, this enterprising man left Agra, India as a young man to join his uncle in Malaysia who ran a provision store. The company that began during British colonial times, survived the Japanese occupation in World War II, saw history unfold with Malaysian independence and continues to be a landmark!
In addition to Cameron Valley Tea Gardens, Boh Tea Estate is another must see. The ride to Boh Tea Estate is thrilling and it offers unmatched vistas.
- Tea with Buttery Scones
Cameron Highlands have numerous tea houses. Whether you are at a strawberry farm, your hotel or at a bustling market, the offering of tea with scones is something you will see everywhere. Indulge in it. Tea is served with buttery scones accompanied by additional swirls of butter, whipped cream and strawberry preserves. It’s an instant nirvana.
- Tudor Style Cottages
A charming aspect of Cameron Highlands is the abundance of Tudor style cottages and mansions. The timber framed houses, have steeply pitched roof of tiles/slate complete with reading rooms, fire places, card rooms, formal dining areas and plenty of antique paraphernalia like gramophones, cast iron garden furniture, hammered copper pots hanging from the ceilings, typewriters, massive clocks and such strewn all around the place. Hotels like The Lakehouse and The Smokehouse provide an authentic experience. Both are must see places.
- Chance to see Largest Flower-Rafflesia
Rafflesia is the largest flowering plant in the world yet it is a plant without leaves, stem or roots. An endangered species, it is close to extinction due to eradication of rainforests. It’s a parasitic plant that can live only on a particular species of vine. Its buds have less than 20% chance of reaching bloom stage. Chances to see the flower in bloom is very rare, but some tour operators register names in advance and take very limited groups to view the blooming flower. Rafflesia, also known as Corpse Flower has a distinct malodour. ( Picture Credits: http://www.rafflesiaflower.com/)
- Bustling Markets
Cameron Highlands has several Night Markets with food stalls, handicrafts, farm produce like honey, exotic vegatables, cacti, roses all jostling for stall space. These markets are vibrant and provide great photo opportunity. If you are upto some adventure you could stop for a bite of Venison (deer meat) barbeque, fried squid or other local eats on sale.
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