Hello and “apa khabar?”- or “How are you?” in Malay. Are you ready to visit Cameron Highlands? I suspect you might be a little cold once you get here, so I hope you brought a sweater along. Jogging or running shoes would be helpful if you intend to walk on some of the famous jungle trails.
Before we start, let’s get to know the area.
Cameron Highlands is in the, well, highland area, about 121 kilometres east of Ipoh and about 214 kilometres north of Kuala Lumpur. It is situated in Malaysia’s largest peninsula state- the state of Pahang. Standing at 5,000 feet or 1,500 metres above sea level, it the highest area on the mainland. Cameron Highlands enjoys a rather cool climate compared to Kuala Lumpur, with temperatures of 25 °C but rarely falling below 12°C. It may not be very cold to some of you, but in hot and humid Malaysia, it is pretty cold.
So what’s the story behind Cameron Highlands?
The French writer Henri Fauconnier wonderfully described the tropics in Malaya when he wrote his best selling book, “The Soul of Malaya.” By the way, Malaya is the old name for Malaysia. In the book, he observed, “In Malaya, the seasons are hardly distinct. You do not die a little every year, as in Europe at the end of autumn. You cease to think of date or time.”
But the British who were in Malaya at the time found this to be highly monotonous and decided to survey areas where they could get away from the tropical heat. Thinking of forms of escape, they ended up heading to the cool mountains up here. This place was a great vacation spot, away from the hustle and bustle of city life and away from diseases such as malaria and dysentery.
Where did Cameron Highlands get its name? Well, thanks to one government surveyor named William Cameron who stumbled upon this the mountain range in all its mossy glory back in 1885. He described the newly found area as ‘a fine plateau with gentle slopes, shut in by lofty mountains’. If you think this is a little too over poetic, you’ll soon find it to be an understatement, but I’ll leave you to discover that.
So while William Cameron was the one who found this place- there was one tiny problem. William Cameron forgot where it was. So, the British administrator at that time, Sir Hugh Low, made a few expeditions after that and finally put Cameron Highlands on the map.
Cameron Highlands became a hit to those who got tired of Fraser’s Hill, a less popular highland area in Malaya at the time. Fraser’s Hill was considered too small, too cramped and it had unsuitable conditions for growing produce. This is good news to Cameron Highlands. The government at the time soon began to focus their interest here. After they cleared the forests, the tea planters came in droves to claim the land around Cameron Highlands for their plantations. Chinese farmers also arrived to plant their vegetables and produce. Shops began to spring up to cater to the needs of the new and growing community.
Alright. That’s the short history of Cameron Highlands.
Before we move on to the sights estekhdamkhabar t in and around Cameron Highlands, you should know that there are a few distinct towns in the area. After all, we’re talking about a very big area here. If you have visited Singapore, it is roughly two and a quarter times the size of Singapore.
And here are the towns:
Firstly, we have Brinchang (spell it out), which is the biggest town in Cameron Highlands. Here you can find several hotels, night markets, a military camp, banks and a commercial area. Further up is Tringkap (spell it out), the business centre of Cameron Highlands, which is well-known for its stalls and shops. Here, you can get vegetable, fruits and flowers that arrive daily and fresh from the farms. In fact, some traders from Kuala Lumpur actually travel all the way up here every day to bring some back to Kuala Lumpur, as the wholesale price here is ridiculously cheap! Look out for shops selling roses for as little as 3 Ringgit for 10 stalks and a whole bag of vegetables for 2 Ringgit. It’s definitely a steal at these prices. Next is Ringlet (spell it out), the very first stop if you come headed from Tapah, and is also famous for its vegetable farms. There’s also a flower farm too. Another big town in the area is Tanah Rata (spell it out). Similarly like Brinchang, it has become one of the major towns in Cameron Highlands where it hosts several hotels, parks and a commercial centre. For those of you who love your coffee and familiar brand logos, there’s even a Starbucks here! Next up is Bertam Valley (spell it out) that has yet another popular local vegetable farm, and an international flower farm which has flowers such as roses and chrysanthemums. And finally the Blue Valley, and it should be at the top of your itinerary, where the BOH Tea Plantation and the Blue Valley Plantation are.