Amidst the buzzing culture and tropical islands of Malaysia one might be surprised to find highlands nestled in this bountiful country.
Despite people coming to Malaysia for the islands- the Cameron highlights are also very beautiful and worth visiting if you have the time. The temperature is cooler in this area and the land is green and lush. Because of the heavy rainfall and lack of paved roads everyone here drives landrovers. Fun fact- the Cameron highlands have more land rovers than anyone else in the world. The land rovers you find here are old school, hardcore and amazing.
Another thing that this place has a lot of is strawberries. Landrovers & strawberries- an odd, yet lovable combination. I guess this is the only climate in Malaysia where they can grow strawberries- and they are damn proud of it! Every single thing that you can think of in this town is strawberry flavoured- I even tried a cup of strawberry flavoured coffee…when in Rome.
However, people aren’t drawn here just for the rustic rovers and strawberry flavored goodies. The Cameron Highlands are actually famous for their beautiful tea plantations and for having the largest flower in the world- the Rafflesia. To truly appreciate what the highlands had to offer I signed up for a full day outing that involved a jungle trek to find this monstrous flower, visiting the rolling hills of the tea plantations, and of course, eating strawberries.
To find the Rafflesia flower would be nearly impossible on our own. The first reason is that we were driven up a crazy steep road that was basically just made of mud. The road seemed like it was impossible to go up and a few times I thought we would drive right off of the cliff- but it was nothing a monstrous land rover and very skilled driver couldn’t handle (you just might want to close your eyes).
The second reason that wecouldn’t find this flower on our own is because it is actually only in bloom for about a week.Therefore, locals are constantly going out into the jungle searching for a flower that is currently experiencing it’s 15 minutes of fame so that they know where to take visitors.
On the day that I went we had to hike a couple of hours in the jungle heat before we reached the Rafflesia-hence why I am so sweaty and gross in the picture below. It was well worth it though because the hike through the bamboo trees was beautiful. And when we reached the flower it was in full bloom- a very lucky occurrence.
On the hike back down I hurried far ahead of everyone – trying to get far enough away to quickly pee in private. While scurrying ahead something stopped me in my tracks. I thought I saw a blue bumble-bee. I did a double take. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a blue bumble-bee!
There was no one around to show this amazing discovery too and I had to pee so bad that I couldn’t wait around to show people. Instead, I made sure to snap a picture of it so that people wouldn’t think I was crazy. It was one of the neatest things that I have ever seen..well, that and the world’s largest flower.
Next we were taken to an aboriginal village. Here, we were taught by villagers how to shoot a dart from blowing into a long pipe. It was wild to see how just blowing the smallest amount of air into this pipe could shoot a dart so fiercely that it could kill a monkey.
Next, we were given the chance to try and shoot at a target. The guys all went first but none of them even hit close to the target. After the men went there were no volunteers so I said that I would give it a whirl. I was a bit timid since I was the only girl to go and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.
I aimed carefully at the target, took a gasp of air and blew sharply into the pipe. Everyone burst out laughing. I was so embarrassed.The dart was so tiny that I couldn’t see where it landed. Then someone told me,“you hit the bull’s-eye!”
The last part of the tour was visiting the tea plantations. I think the best part about the tea plantations was just being in nature and surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills. The factory itself was closed on the day that I went but we could still wander around outside. I found it hilarious how our guide kept mentioning how Sri Lankan tea is better. I would agree that the tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka are more lush and beautiful, but the ones in the Cameron Highlands certainly weren’t a sight for sore eyes.
The tour ended at a random stop where you can see strawberry plants -woo hoo! I wasn’t lying when I said that this town is super proud of their strawberries. Here you can treat yourself with a cup of strawberry tea and a Belgian waffle covered in strawberries.
What Else can you do?
Strawberry Farm – this is definitely not a must do but if you have an extra day to spend it is something to do. This is where you can also try a cup of strawberry coffee – it’s surprisingly good.
Time Tunnel Gallery– This was, well….odd. It is like mix of a museum and a cute antique shop. You walk through a tunnel with walls lined with random artifacts and information about the history of this area. And it may just be the only place here that you can escape from strawberries.
How to Get Around
The Cameron Highlands is a small and quaint town and absolutely lovely. There are no buses here so if you want to explore more you can either hire a taxi or do what I did and hitchhike – although I would never do this alone. Malaysia is a very safe place for hitchhiking and you meet some amazing people (Read my fun hitchhiking story here).
Update: Apparently due to the rareness of the Rafflesia flower tours are no longer put on regularly. However, if you are determined to see this flower some companies can arrange a trip for specific groups