Pahang – Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands was named after and discovered in 1885 by an English man named William Cameron during a survey operation in the Titiwangsa Mountain Range. Today, Cameron Highlands is a lively holiday destination with a multi-racial ethnic community encompassing Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Aborigines.

At 5,000 ft (1,500 m) above sea level Cameron Highlands is the highest area on the mainland, enjoys a cool climate, with temperatures no higher than 25 °C and rarely falls below 12°C year-round. Cameron Highlands is actually a district in the state of Pahang Darul Makmur although the road entrance is via Tapah and Simpang Pulai in the state of Perak Darul Ridzuan. The size of the whole Cameron Highlands district is roughly two and a quarter times the size of Singapore.

Day One

Brinchang Town
We reached Brinchang early in the morning for some local breakfast and we took the opportunity to walk around town. Currently the biggest town in Cameron Highland, it seats several hotels, night markets, military camps, public service and comercial centre.

We had breakfast of thosai at this roadside stall…

In the heart of Brinchang town…

Chrysanthemum Flower Nursery
Fresh flowers are cultivated in the highlands and is a leading export. Flower nurseries can be found located on the hilly inclines bordering the main road in Brinchang. Blooms like roses, chrysanthemum, carnations, dalia, geranium, fuschia, gladioli and ‘everlasting flowers’ are grown at the nurseries.

Deep red chrysanthemum flowers…

Yellow and orange chrysanthemum flowers…

Watercress farm
We also viewed a watercress farm, where the greens were grown on open terraces with constantly running water. Harvesting is carried out after 60 days.

A birdseye view of the watercress farm…

Mini Organic Vegetable and Fruit Farm
Featuring open terraces of conventional farming, we saw many kinds of crops grown there like cabbage, broccoli, passion fruit (AKA love fruit), and cameron honey apples.

Me with some organic runner beans…

Organic rock melons, passion fruit, cameron honey apples, lemons, oranges…

Kok Lim Strawberry Farm
Kok Lim Strawberry Farm is the largest strawberry farm on Cameron Highlands. Strawberries here are grown on A-frames to maximise land use. Over the years, land on Cameron Highlands for purpose of strawberry farming, has shot through the roof. Normal fresh produce farm land does not fall under that category. A-frames can carry 7 rows of compost bags over a same area, otherwise the same area can only grow 2 rows on the ground. A special watering system is used to control the amount water and nutrients delivered to every individual plant. The compost material is thus slightly moist to feel.

L-R: Scott, Joy, Rui, Li Wei.

Strawberries growing on compost bags on A-frames…

Little strawberries…

Big Red Strawberry Farm & Gift Center
Four acres of strawberries and lettuces which are all hydroponically grown. A good place to get the the best price for Cameron Highlands strawberries. Located in Brinchang town. Same location as Cactus Valley. From the main road, turn into road where Star Regency is located. Take a right at the junction and go in about 200 metres.

Green coral, red coral, butterhead, and roman lettuce…

Our guide showing us the roots of the lettuce…

For RM 4.90, you get an empty bowl you can fill will lettuce, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes…

Cactus Valley
This is the newly built tourist attraction with numerous types of cactus on show. Its hillside location makes for interesting viewing of the cactus and other plants which include Strawberries, Roses, Apple & Peach trees, Orchids, Cherry Tomatoes etc. Cactus Valley boast of having one of the most variety of cactus plants, some as old as 60 years.

Beautiful red and yellow cactus flowers…

Steamboat
We ended our day with a steamboat dinner in Brinchang town. The steamboat dinner is a signature dish of Cameron Highlands, the perfect meal in the cool air especially during the night!

Day Two

Rafflesia (Day Trek)
Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. It was discovered in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide working for Dr. Joseph Arnold in 1818, and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the leader of the expedition.

L-R: Suk, Scott, Joy, and our Orang Asli guide…

Frog eggs laid on a branch above a muddy puddle of water…

The 3 hour trek up to the Rafflesia was rather muddy but loads of fun…

The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an endoparasite of vines in the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae), spreading its root-like haustoria inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower.

The flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names which translate to “corpse flower” or “meat flower” (but see below). The vile smell that the flower gives off attracts insects such as carrion flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers.

Scott enjoying a cool drink of natural bamboo water…

Orang Asli Village
The Orang Asli are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. The name is a Malay term which transliterates as original peoples or first peoples. The Orangli Asli people gave us a blowpipe demonstration and we got to try shooting a target as well.

Giving the blowpipe a go…

Natural Hot Spring
We had some extra time so Kumar brought us to a natural hot spring in the area and we cooked some eggs in the 80 degree water. Slurping up the eggs from a little hole at the top was so much fun!

Kumar and Scott cooking eggs in the hotspring…

Scott, me, and Suk sucking eggs – literally :)

A quick wash to remove the mud in my shoes and socks before heading off…

Cameron Valley Tea – Bharat Plantations
Bharat Tea Plantation is located somewhere between Habu (Ringlet) and Tanah Rata. The correct name for this tea centre is Cameron Valley Tea Plantations but it is often known as Bharat Tea Plantation as it is owned and operated by the Bharat Group, the second largest tea producer in Malaysia. In total, Bharat Plantation owns four parcels of tea gardens with 1,600 acres of planting area.

Black tea and blueberry muffins – yum yum!

Day Three

Boh Tea Plantations
BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is the leading tea grower in Malaysia with four tea gardens – Boh, Sungei Palas and Fairlie situated in Cameron Highlands; and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor – constituting a total land area of 1200 hectares. With a production capacity approaching 3000kgs per hectare, the Company produces 4 million kgs of tea annually which translates to about 5.5 million cups per day. This represents about 70% of all tea produced in Malaysia.

The BOH tea factory building…

We were guided round the factory to see the tea making process…

The vast green rolling hills and valleys surrounded by the carpet of green tea plantations was a sight to behold. This is our view of the plantation as we sipped our tea at the tea shop.

Gunung Brinchang
Gunung Brinchang, is the highest peak in Malaysia accessible by road located at a majestic height of 6666 feet above sea level. The view from the summit offers a great panorama of the plateau, although it spends most of its life shrouded in cloud.

A view from 6666 feet…

Mossy Forest
We saw a variety of pitcher plants of different shapes and sizes, beautiful wild orchids, and herbal plants such as the famous Kacip Fatimah. Its the top most tip of a ridge that is heavily covered in moss. The forest is said to be 200 million years old, a rare natural wonder. The ground that we stepped on is natural compost, spongy and wet.

Numerous types of moss cover the walls, trees, and ground…

Rare and interesting looking fungus…

We saw many interesting plants including the following pictured below. Diamond flower, ginger flower, ladies lips, cobra lily, purple and red berries.

The pitcher plant AKA monkey cup…

Orang Asli Resettlement @ Sungai Ruil
The Orang Asli are the indigenous people of Malaysia. The government is trying to move the Orang Asli from jungle settlements to towns in order to educate the children, provide medical care, etc. I’m sure there are other political motivations here as well. They live in small houses/shanties up in the hills and we didn’t get to speak with any of the villagers. It would have been more interesting to visit a village in the jungle in order to gain a greater appreciation for the Orang Asli way of life.

Day 4

Lutheran Mission Bungalow
The entrance to the Lutheran Mission Bungalow is guarded by a lone old tree that has seen hundreds stay at this 1930’s British colonial home which was once owned and occupied by the legendary American entrepreuneur Jim Thompson who established the modern Thai silk industry, before he mysteriously disappeared in the jungles of Fraser’s Hill.

Tanah Rata
One of the major hub in Cameron Highland whereas it seats several hotels, parks and comercial centre. Main attraction in Tanah Rata is the Mardi Plantation Centre and it’s business centre. Several high-class shops have been opened in the town including Starbucks Coffee. There is also a budget traditional Malay Kampung Homestay located at Kampung Taman Sedia.

Everything in cameron Highlands is strawberry themed…

We stopped for lunch at D’chennai Curry House for a chicken tandoori and naan set which was absolutely delicious. The large red pot below is used to cook all the naan and chicken.

Parit Falls
Robinson Falls and Parit Falls, the two most popular waterfalls herae. These falls are ideal for swimming and they make a lovely picnic spot. We found the trek up to the falls a little to pathed for our liking, but enjoyed the sound of the water nevertheless. Oh BTW, the word ‘parit’ translates ‘drain’.

Parit Falls head-on…

Parit Falls from the top…

Kampung Taman Sedia
Chinese is the majority live in Cameron and followed by Indian and Malay. But with the goverment planning for more malay people at Cameron Highlands, the First malay village has been been established – Kampung Taman Sedia (literally translated as village of a ready garden). At the moment, it’s the only Malay village in Cameron Highlands with 42 families living there and providing homstay accommodation.

Ye Olde Smokehouse
A landmark in Cameron Highlands, Ye Olde Smokehouse was built in mock-Tudor style (mock because it’s not actually Tudor). Ye Olde Smokehouse celebrates everything British, right down to the red telephone booth in the driveway. On its walls are antique pistols, brass kettles, and faded photographs of British officers. Outside, the garden is meticulously tidy and planted with a variety of local plants that from far, would pass for an authentic English garden.

The front of Ye Olde Smokehouse…

Red telephone booth in the driveway…

Jim Thompson Trail (Night Trek)
On Easter Sunday, March 26 1967, Jim Thompson, the “Thai Silk King” set out from Moonlight Cottage for an afternoon stroll in the jungle and never returned. His disappearance without leaving any traces has remained a complete mystery until today. This has led to one of the most thorough and massive search ever conducted for an individual in this region.

Some creatures of the night we spotted: mating stick insects, giant moth, rare insect from the centipede family, beetle, giant tadpoles, frog. Pictures were taken with a night vision camera to avoid the flash scaring all the animals away. We also saw fireflies which were absolutely beautiful :)

Tours we took:
Day One – Agro Delight – RM 65 per person – Duration 5 hours.
Day Two – Amazing Rafflesia – RM 120 per person – Duration 4.5 hours.
Day Three – Nature Discovery – RM 60 per person – Duration 6 hours.
Day Four – Moonlight Rendezvous – RM 75 per person – Duration 3.5 hours.

All in all, we spent about 500 SGD per person for coach, 4 nights hotel accomodation, tours, food, and souvenirs.

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