I would have never thought of myself missing the British weather, but surprisingly enough I did.
The tropical Malaysian heat was difficult to adapt to since we arrived, I know what you are thinking of and it’s true that where I am from in Italy the weather can get pretty hot, but it’s not as humid as in South East Asia. I guess the high humidity is what made acclimatizing in Malaysia quite difficult even for a Southern Italian like me.
After having heard so many good things about the existence of a green paradise on the Malaysian hills, the Cameron Highlands, I suggested to go there not only to enjoy the surrounding nature, but also to ‘cool down’ a bit and have a little break from the heat. It’s a good enough reason, isn’t it?
It was all true, the climate was pleasantly cooler in fact I took my hoodie out of my backpack for the first time after South Korea.
I am so glad we went and saw with our eyes why people say that Cameron Highlands are so charming.
We had only one day to explore the area, reason why we decided to take a tour that included few spots: a butterfly farm which we skipped (you might know why if you are aware of Dale’s butterflies’ phobia), a pick-your-own strawberry farm (unfortunately the strawberries weren’t ripe enough so no picking for us 🙁 ) and also a short jungle trek in the Mossy Forest which was very unique indeed, it looked to me like we were on a ‘fantasy’ film set with low hanging moss everywhere and a haunting and misty aura.
The highlight of the tour though was, apart from enjoying the cool and crisp fresh air, the scenery of the spectacular Cameron Highlands’ tea plantations. I had never seen anything quite like that in my whole life until then and it still felt like being on a movie set.
The shades of green that covered every little spot on the undulating hills generated a velvet landscape of which the eye couldn’t really see either the end or the origin. It was simply gorgeous, magic and out of the ordinary.
In the Cameron Highlands the tea leaves used to be picked up by hand in the past, nowadays it is done with special machines unless the plants are located in a very awkward area where the machine cannot be used. The people working in the tea plantations are men only, mainly from Indonesia, Philippines and India. They are on a 2-3 year contracts of which include accommodation and food, they all live in the same area that has been built especially for them.
They work 6 days a week (no matter if it rains or there is the sun shining) for long hours and, since they get paid by kilos of leaves picked, they work extremely hard through all the conditions to earn as much money as possible to send straight to their families back home.
If you ask me, it’s a pretty tough life with no other ‘entertainment’ apart from working and probably in not great conditions either, hats off to them.
No Cameron Highlands’ visit can be completed without going to the Sungei Palas Boh Tea Centre. Here we witnessed the various steps of the tea making process in the factory, got a bit of knowledge about the history of the tea and the factory itself, tasted a sample of iced tea in the shop and enjoyed the breathtaking view of the forever green hills from the modern and well designed tea cafe.
We resisted the ‘guilty’ temptation of feasting on warm and freshly made scones which really gave us the impression of being back in the UK and made Dale slightly homesick for only a couple of minutes.
I truly enjoyed the whole experience, my only regret is not having seen the tea leaves picking, but at least I have a reason to go back to the Cameron Highlands one day.