Finally the long weekend had arrived and with it came my parents all the way from snowy Yorkshire to enjoy ten days of Malaysian life. We decided to visit the Cameron Highlands to make the most of their visit and also so that I could escape the island for a couple of days.
I hired a car due to the fact that my car (Vera) wouldn’t make it there alive. We dropped Nova off for her vacay on floor 25 and set off on the three and a half hour drive. We crossed the bridge with no idea how much the toll cost, stopped off and ate curry puffs and then began to climb the jungle hills into the mist.
We were staying in Birchang at an apartment my mum booked a few weeks before. It turned out to be the weirdest Chinese style apartment ever created. There were lots of rules stuck on the walls, padlocked kitchen cupboards and bizarre wall murals of fairies and people riding bikes. My biggest issue was that I was highly allergic to the apartment and after half an hour had itchy eyes and continous sneezing issues. “It was cheap” we reminded ourselves.
We spent the first night in a local Chinese restaurant eating huge portions and discussing Ireland with a random Chinese family. I was freezing as the temperature had dropped from 32° to 15° so I made sure everyone knew just how cold I was (I was shivering it was awful). I booked a jeep tour for the following morning that included a visit to the mossy forest and the tea plantation.
Now obviously when I booked the tour I looked to see what hiking was involved and how physically demanding it was etc etc. It was a horizontal, wide, wooden board walk. Brilliant news, we could enjoy the jungle without almost killing ourselves. It had rained all night and the ground was very slippery. Our jeep turned up, we drove to a random vegetable patch and then we started walking…up a steep incline. I was thinking “hmm maybe this is the way to the board walk” and feeling optimistic when we came to ladders placed up the slope and ropes to hold on to. Okay so no board walk. I was a tad concerned about my mum and Mike as I had told them it was casual and fine and it was quickly becoming neither of those things. Up we went and the more slippery it became the more anxious I became. We had not discussed whether we wanted to haul ourselves up a muddy jungle hill in high humidity at 9.30am. Thankfully both parents were up for the challenge and I didn’t need to worry about them because they both made it up without breaking a leg- although Mike looks slightly pained in this photo as my sister pointed out. It was pretty high up!
After this we looked at some viagra plants, observed a spider, heard about how Malaysian people are ruining the moss by jumping on it and then spent the next 20 minutes trying not to fall down on the way back. Apparently the board walk is closed because of bad weather and people destroying the jungle. Thanks for the heads up.
Phew, we were all alive. After this we got back in the Jeep and slowly (Cameron Highlands = traffic jam central) made our way to the tea plantation. Finally the view that the Cameron Highlands is famous for was ours.
It was beautiful and green and the tea tasted pretty good considering it wasn’t Yorkshire tea.
After the Jeep tour and a quick nap we went out for “High Tea” at the Cameron Highlands Resort. It’s a beautiful building and it was really nicely decorated for Christmas. We had scones, jam, cakes, cucumber sandwiches and unlimited tea. We then randomly got some free spring rolls.
It was lovely and by this point it was a pretty rainy day so nice, and necessary, to be inside. We expressed disappointment to Mandy about the fact we weren’t staying at this hotel and why were we not staying at this hotel? and then we solemnly drove back to the weird Chinese apartment. We found an amazing Indian restaurant for tea called Singh Chapati and it was a wholesome day for eating.
The next day we went to what was probably the most bizarre tourist attraction I’ve experienced since Nha Trang theme park in 2012. The Cameron Lavender “farm”. I would describe this place as a purple mismash of Disney vibe photo shoot opportunities interspersed with random non lavender flowers and strawberry themed food and drinks.
It was the weirdest place. Malaysian family photo shoot central and supervised Muslim dating experience. There was not really any lavender there. There was purple flowers and flowers you could pick to impress your date and then a very strange selection of ‘props’ including a purple castle, a love lock wall, giant angel wings, butterflies, windmills and Christmas corner with pandas.
We laughed a lot, drank some strawberry coffee and then got the hell out of there. We had experienced the experience of the Cameron Highlands. I didn’t sleep for 2 nights due to allergies and was googling “how long does the call to prayer last?” at 5am whilst wearing all my clothes in bed. On the way back we ran out of credit for the toll twice, set the alarms off and held up traffic.
Opinion of the Cameron Highlands…
Cons: If you go on a public holiday everyone in Malaysia will be there. It’s mostly a selfie opportunity. It’s really cold. There’s one road. It’s very bizarre.
Pros: A complete contrast to Penang. Hiking delight. Landscape lovers will enjoy it. Photography opportunities galore. Strawberry picking is a big thing here. Afternoon tea is quaint. It has a wintery feel to it. It’s very bizarre.
It was the closest I’ve felt to being festive and it was lots of fun to experience it with my family. However I was delighted to return to the warmth of Penang so I’m concerned about Christmas in the UK! I’d recommend it as a location for a couple of days of a Malaysia tour.
Proud summit photo.
Birchang from the balcony.
Mandy looking less than interested in experiencing the tea plantation with her long lost daughter.
Next up…the sequel “Parents in Penang”