Bus to Tanah Rata
The Cameron Highlands is a mountain “hill station” developed by Scottish colonialists in the 1920’s. It owes its popularity as a tourist destination to the cool climate, beautiful scenery, agriculture, and diverse natural plants and wildlife. The only way to get to the Cameron Highlands is by road. We took an early morning bus from Penang and arrived around 3pm in the mountains. There are several towns in the Cameron Highlands, with Tanah Rata as the main one.
Homestay with Jaycee & Jessica at Do Chic In
Instead of staying at a hotel in Tanah Rata, we opted to do a homestay with Jaycee & Jessica at the Do Chic In. Staying in a house was a welcome change after months on the road in hostels and hotels. Their cooking was great, and the place was cozy. We also got to talk at length about the internal turmoils within Malaysian politics.
Scones at the Ye Olde Smokehouse Inn
Ye Olde Smokehouse Inn is a historic Scottish resort famous for its amazing scones. The Scots not only brought delicious scones to Malaysia, but also golf. Local stories tell of how the Scottish-built golf course in town would often have wild tiger footprints in the sand traps.
BOH Tea Plantation
BOH Tea is the largest black tea producer in Malaysia, and we visited their tea garden in the Cameron Highlands. The hilly tea fields are a beautiful vibrant green. Plantation workers still pluck the finest tea leaves completely by hand. They employ mechanized hand tools for the mass-market harvesting. The steep terrain makes all the tea harvesting a labor intensive process.
Beekeeping is another important industry in the Cameron Highlands. The honeybees back home in North America all belong to the species Apis Mellifera, the European Honeybee. Native to Malaysia are two other species of honeybee: Apis Cerana (the Asiatic Honeybee) and Apis Dorsata (the Giant Honeybee). We got to see hive boxes of Apis Cerana, but the Apis Dorsata bees only live in the wild. Also, we were able to try honey from both species of bees — yum!
The Mossy Forest hike is a walking trail on top of a mountain in the Cameron Highlands. The forest itself is largely untouched jungle habitat home to wild orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, snakes, and even tigers. The road up to the Mossy Forest was very steep and windy, passing through the tea plantation. This made the ride a bit sketchy in our driver’s 1980’s-vintage Datsun. On a sunny day, you can see for miles from the lookout point — this visit was not sunny at all. Fierce winds, misty rainclouds, and cold temperatures are common up in the Malaysian mountain forests.
The Wind and Clouds, Viewed from the Watchtower