The High Life

The Cameron Highlands are named after William Cameron who was commissioned to map them out in 1885. Forty years later the area was developed into a hill station by the British, complete with tea plantations, hotels and a golf course. Today the Highlands are a mix, or rather clash of old and new. English Tudor style 1930's properties that were once surrounded by rolling hills and large, landscaped gardens now sit alongside their modern day, multi-storey equivalents and towns that were once little more than a row of wooden buildings are now sprawling as they provide an ever increasing range of goods and services
Our first stop was the Sungai Palas tea plantation. After a tour of the processing plant, where they're still using machinery from the 1930s, we enjoyed a pot of BOH (Best Of Highlands) tea together with strawberry tarts, it was all so delicious we couldn't resist seconds and even thirds! To round off this most English of days, the heavens opened on the way back to the hotel completely soaking us to the skin

The next day we went to the 'Mossy Forest', a 200,000 years old eco-system with our guide George who looked like he'd been around for almost as many years but proved remarkably fit and agile. Typically, the term “mossy forest” is derived from the abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation. The forest is home to “pitcher” carnivorous plants as well as many others that have medicinal properties (maybe this is where George had discovered the elixir of youth!).

Again there's a stark contrast here with the 'forced' cultivation of hydroponic fruit and vegetables which seem to be taking over the region. We leave the Highlands feeling happy that we've visited but with no great desire to rush back. Whilst the scenery is spectacular in places you can't help but feel that the area is only going to get worse as more property is built and more of the land is turned over to intensive farming. A pity from a tourist's perspective but no doubt borne out of economic necessity

Next stop is Penang which is generally acknowledged as the gastronomic capital of Malaysia. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint although that means we'll be piling the pounds back on again!


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