Tea For Two in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
The Cameron highlands, about 4.5 hours by bus from KL, was another Pinterest-inspired destination. I was perusing “Malaysia” pins and after seeing photos of sprawling tea fields like this one I knew we had to visit.
The highlands are a trekkers paradise and the cooler temperatures make all the hiking very pleasant. You can just walk around beautiful tea plantations or you can go on some self-guided well-mapped out hikes in the area. Tom and I signed up for the rafflesia trek, one of the only hikes that you do need a guide for. The rafflesia is one of the largest flowers in the world and blooms for about 5 days every 15-18 months. Local boys (I didn’t see any girls doing it) criss-cross the hills looking for large buds that will bloom in the next day or two, and then lead people there on hikes to see the impressive flowers. This means that sometimes a rafflesia trek will be 2 hours each way, or sometimes it will be 5 hours each way- it all depends on where the flower is.
Our trek was a pretty serious 2.5 hours each way. It was beautiful and Jurassic-feeling and more difficult than we thought it was going to be. There is something that feels good about a 2.5 uphill slog through slippery mud and jungle to see a sight like this though. I think if we just walked into a garden and saw the rafflesia we would think “oh, look at that nice big flower!” and then move on with our day. Earning the sight with an arduous hike just makes you appreciate it so much more. Also thinking about those boys searching the jungle floor to find the round brown buds is just amazing!
The intense hikes also helped us to more deeply appreciate the beautiful tea-times we had almost daily in the highlands. Freshly baked buttery scones served with local homemade strawberry jam, local honey, cream and MORE butter! Mmmm! We came for the views but boy, I could have stayed another month just for the scones!
We rented a motorbike to explore the area and were able to trace our tea-time treats back to the source. Our biking day was spent visiting the gorgeous mossy forest, the BOH tea plantation, the strawberry and other produce farms, and a Bee farm. It was pretty wonderful to learn how the tea is picked and processed, see the strawberries that would be preserved, and watch the bees gathering pollen for the honey and then sit down to eat it all knowing exactly what it took to get into our bellies.
Practical Information and Tips
We rented our bikes from the guy on the corner of the main strip and the street leading up to My Father’s Place. It was 35 MYR for 5 hours ($10.60 usd). You can book tours to go and see the same things we saw, but I highly recommend renting a scooter and seeing them independently.
The best scones we had were at Lord’s Café above MarryBrown’s, and the banana chocolate cake was incredible!
We ate just about every meal at Kumar’s, an Indian restaurant. Everything we had there was very good.