During our last week in KL, Gareth and I also drove up to Cameron Highlands, about 3 hours north of KL. It’s really only about 2 hours north, but takes another hour and a bit to get up the mountain. Especially if it’s raining, and you’re also not used to the winding roads that go round and round to get up to the top, but that’s all part of the road trip.
Cameron Highlands (named in the late 1800s, after surveyor William Cameron) is a “hill station.” Back in the day when Malaysia was a British colony, the poor British residents and officers had to find a way to cope with the heat and humidity, so they developed areas in hills and mountains to enjoy the cooler temperature there. So places like Maxwell Hill in Perak, Penang Hill, Fraser’s Hill in Pahang, and Cameron’s, also in Pahang, were developed as places for “rest & relaxation,” and were (and still are) popular holiday destinations. In addition their climate, with cooler temperatures but with good rainfall and sunlight, is great for agriculture. Cameron’s has plenty of farming activity, best known for tea, and for me it’s always been the place where the most gorgeous flowers come from. What I also didn’t realise was just how big the strawberry industry, and obsession, is up there. You can’t go 5 feet without seeing some form of strawberry merchandise, be it toys, magnets and souvenirs, clothes, hair accessories, or, wait for it, earmuffs! Which I bought, of course! Definitely very useful in Aberdeen anyway.
Here we are at the BOH tea plantation.
Tea, up close
More tea hills, looking all moody in the cloudy, rainy weather.
What I find really interesting about the photo above is that you can see all the little hills and valleys that make up that part of the mountain range, and that’s because the only plant growing there is a neatly cultivated shrub. If it was jungle it would be covered by all sorts of trees, and of course all you see are the tallest ones that cover up the entire area. I’ve grown up seeing jungle covered mountains, usually when driving interstate, but I never really thought about what the land might look like under all those big trees.
We stayed the night at a guesthouse which used to be a school back in the Colonial days, and the next day we went to the Butterfly Farm, and saw some beautiful local butterflies. This is Malaysia’s national butterfly – Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (named after James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak)
One of my favourites, the common tree nymph.
At the butterfly farm there were of course lots of flowers for the butterflies to feed on, and there were many of “the gorgeous flowers” I expected from Cameron’s. One of my favourite moments of the trip has to be The Hibiscus As Big As My Face.