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 Cameron Highlands

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Posts : 3
Join date : 2009-05-13

PostSubject: Cameron Highlands   Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:51 pm

Cameron Highlands is one of the most popular highlands retreat around Malaysia losing out only to Genting Highlands. With about 300,000 visitors yearly and growing, it stands to pass that Cameron Highlands has a charm of its own with its Tudor architecture style buildings, tea plantation with its soothing greenery and breathtaking scenery, not to mention some old favourite English pastime of having afternoon tea and scones with Devonshire cream. Yes, give me Cameron Highlands anytime!

Of course with its growing popularity, it is not without its downside like traffic congestion and degradation of its pristine environment. All this and the less than efficient authorities who need to really buck up and do something about it to ensure that Cameron Highlands growing popularity will not be its own downfall.

Traveling to the highlands is different from going to the beautiful sun, sea and sand of which Malaysia has many good ones around, especially the Terengganu and Sabah beaches which are to my opinion some of the best around in Malaysia. But the tropic is indeed hot, and to cool oneself without using artificial means is of course, to travel to the highlands! With the natural environment one can commune with nature and perhaps find your center as you balance the yin and yang of a hectic hustle and bustle city lifestyle.

How to Explore Cameron Highlands

The best way to explore it would be by car of course. Public buses has never been efficient anywhere in Malaysia, least of all in the highlands. But you are welcome to take your chances if you are without your own transport. You could of course take the public taxis or brave the area on foot. Doing so on foot would be quite a feat as you will have quite a lot of area to cover, you certainly have to be very fit to do so too. Still I have seen many a determine traveler doing so! My hats off to them!

How to Cameron Highland

Place to visit

Strawberry Farms

Cameron Highlands is the only holiday destination in Malaysia where strawberries are grown and harvested commercially. The strawberry farms found here are also open for visitors, making them one of the top tourist attractions in Cameron Highlands. The farms are great places for shopping products made from strawberries, such as jams and tarts. The best season to enjoy strawberries is usually from April till June, the driest months.

The strawberries harvested during this time are at its sweetest due to the decrease of humidity in the air, which somehow affects the taste. The strawberry farmers explain that heavy moisture (rain) soaks the plants, causing them to bear fruits that are less saturated in sweetness. Still, visitors can enjoy strawberries all-year-round in the Cameron Highlands, sweet or not.

About a decade ago, this little berry was grown from the ground up, in typical soil beds. Today, modernity has caught up with the farmers, for they now raise the plants using hydroponic methods. Growing them in bags mixed with rich soil results in faster fruit production, while stacking them on racks increases the quantity that can be produced at any time.

The strawberry farms can be found mostly before and after Brinchang, along the main road. Visitors and tourists can pluck their own strawberries from these farms as well as buy them in traditional markets, night or day. Shops are also open in these farms that sell strawberry-derived products which include jams, tarts, scones, cordial juice and other treats.

To visit any of these farms; meaning to actually enter the area where the strawberries are grown, you'll be required to make a purchase of at least half a kilogram. This minimum amount can be plucked directly with your hands inside the farm. A basket will be given to visitors which, at the end of the day, will be weighted and charged accordingly. Inside the farm, you can see how the strawberries are grown. Wooden racks stack up layers of strawberry plants nestled in soil bags. Water sprinklers feed these plants at certain intervals during the day.

A roof of taupalin sheets provide shade and protection from excess rain water. If you intend to pluck strawberries, here's a tip; only harvest the large strawberries for they are the sweetest. Anything smaller than your thumb size will tend to be very sour. Also, as mentioned earlier, the rainy season affects the taste of the strawberries. Excess rain and humidity in the air make the strawberries that are produced during this time have a soggy taste. The drier months between April till June is when the strawberries are generally at their sweetest.

Tea Plantations

Boh Tea Plantation is the largest tea producer in Cameron Highlands. While they have plantations in Ringlet, their most popular estate is in Sungai Palas, which is just off the main road after Brinchang town. The Boh Tea Plantation here can accessed by a narrow road that forks to the right after the Butterfly Garden. As you travel along this road, you'll pass by pleasant bungalows and gardens until a valley filled with fields of tea greets you.

Continue on the road until it splits into two directions; take the right and follow the road to the Boh Tea Center situated on a hill top. Here, visitors and tourists can visit the factory which is open to the public. Tea leaves are churned and ground into fine powders daily by machines and rollers, the entire process observable through glass walls.

The Boh Tea Center also has an exhibition wing with pictures and posters depicting the history of Boh in Cameron Highlands, along with an audio visual room that plays a constant video documenting the creation and growth of Boh Tea. To pick up bags of famous Boh Tea, there is a shop in the center which retails their products and also souvenirs of the Cameron Highlands.

Finally, the cafe at the entrance is the pinnable of Boh Tea; it has a balcony that extends over the hill top, providing an awesome view of the valley of tea fields. At this balcony, one can enjoy a hot cup of tea with scones while being mesmerised by the scenic view. The cafe carries an assortment of English favourites such as brownies, cakes, scones and different tea blends.

Bharat Tea (Cameron Valley)

Bharat Tea, also known as Cameron Valley, has two plantations in Tanah Rata and Tringkap respectively. The Bharat Tea Plantation will greet visitors coming up the hilly road towards Tanah Rata on the left. This vast valley of tea fields has two centers with tea shops and cafes, both of which are located along the main road.

The tea fields are magnificent and span vast acres across the green valley, providing a picturesque view of the landscape. Convenient parking spots are available along the side of the road with access to the tea fields below provided by small roads.

The first cafe has a beautiful verandah where you can look out to the tea fields and enjoy a wide variety of cakes, pastries, scones and tea; the second cafe has a less striking view but has more shops retailing tea and handicrafts. It seems puzzling at first to see such an arrangement of two shops within immediate reach of each other, but it makes sense that the lack of broad space along the road prevents the construction of a larger facility.

Finally, there is another Bharat tea estate in Tringkap, which serves tourists and visitors coming from the north through the Simpang Pulai road towards Cameron Highlands. This smaller tea field has a small but cosy center that houses a tea shop and cafe. Guests can have tea on the upper floor of the center, which is an open-air verandah that provides a surrounding view of the landscape, including farms, homes and tea fields.

Butterfly Parks

The Butterfly Garden stocks a variety of insects, reptiles, mammals and birds housed on a landscaped garden with festoons of orchids, ferns, vines and other greenery. Another attached garden is filled with flowers such as roses and hibiscus with streams of Rajah Brooke butterflies. If coming from Brinchang town, the Butterfly Garden is located at right after the Butterfly Farm, so don't get confused. If coming from Simpang Pulai, then the Butterfly Garden will be the first on your left.

At the counter, the ticket is priced very reasonably at MYR5 per adult and MYR2 for children. Children below 3 years of age go in free. After descending a series of steep stairs, you'll be greeted by a pleasant garden that is filled with festoons of vines and orchids hanging in the air, flowering shrubs along the rocky kerb and small trees providing shade over the enclosures. The garden evokes a sense of serenity and peace, creating an ideal atmosphere for enjoying the highlands.

Butterflies will usually be soaring everywhere, but this may be seasonal. As the butterflies need to be restocked every week due to their short lifespan (14 days after metamorphosis), there are times when the butterflies can be few. Fortunately, the butterflies are not the only thing to look at. Glass enclosures along the pathway house creatures such as snakes, lizards, insects and furry rodents.

Some of the wildlife species you can see include snakes such as the brilliantly coloured red mountain rat snake; lizards such as the giant forest gecko, a fiesty large lizard with beautiful turquoise eyes; frogs such as the Malayan giant horned frog, a large amphibian with leaf-like camouflage; and lively tortoises, namely the impressed tortoise which is a montane species found in the Cameron Highlands.

The variety of insects is also amazing; look for the large wire-mesh enclosures that have small trees or tall plants inside. Observe carefully and you will notice inconspicuous leaf and stick insects. When motionless, these fascinating insects are almost impossible to spot in the actual rainforest!Also watch out for the orchid mantis, which is a tiny praying mantis that resembles a pink or white orchid. Millipedes, scorpions and tarantulas complete the rest of the picture.

The Butterfly Farm is a more recently established park located right next to Butterfly Garden. It houses a similar, but slightly lesser range of creatures than the Butterfly Garden. The price of tickets is the same; visitors and tourists will descend down some steps into the park, which is divided into three sections encompassing the flower garden, butterfly area and animal exhibits.

The Butterfly Farm also has a small dedicated car park along with a restaurant that serves western food and Chinese steamboat. The top floor has a small souvenir shop along with a plant store. There are ticket counters at both sides, but only the one next to the car park is in use.

Kea Farm

Kea Farm is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the Cameron Highlands. Traders and farmers bring their stock to this market to sell their produce, ranging from vegetables to fruits and flowers to ornamental plants. Open daily, from the morning till evening, the Kea Farm Market can easily be reached from Brinchang Town along the main road, located at the right side of the road just before Equatorial Resort.

The Kea Farm has no proper entrance. Instead, the left side of the narrow road is a row of shop lots, the largest being a proper restaurant. The right side has a more traditional market feel, made up of wooden stalls. The market is mostly a quiet affair on weekdays, while on weekends, visitors from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will come up to haggle and bargain.

Peak seasons, such as national holidays or festivals, will see Kea Farm packed with so many people, that getting anywhere within the crowd is like swimming in a mud pool. Cars will park along the side of the main road and entrance, jamming up the entire stretch. This is a brisk time for the traders and farmers in Kea Farm to sell their good.

The prices for vegetables, flowers and other products here are quite cheap. There is much competition among the traders themselves on the price of their products, so you can spend freely without worrying. Some recommended things to buy in Kea Farm include the famed Cameron Highlands corn, strawberries, roses, pitcher plants and continental vegetables.
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