Located relatively three hours from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands is a place where serene and tranquillity can be found. There are several routes to get to this place, however this time around we decided to explore a new route, which is through Raub, Pahang. I was stunned by the picturesque view along the journey.Words are not enough to describe the beauty of nature flaunted before my eyes. Throughout the journey I could not help myself appreciating the nature that passed by.
We didn’t feel tired at all even after the three-hour journey. We reached the hotel quite early and we had to wait for other fellow media colleagues to arrive. Having the advantage of arriving early, I wasted no time exploring the hotel compound. De La Fern Hotel is located on a strategic location by the hill and surrounded with lush greeneries. My colleague and I went around the hotel and snapped as many photos as we could. Moments later, the other group of media arrived, only afterwards we checked into our rooms and had refreshing shower to boost our withering energy.
After dinner, our program kicked off when we were enlightened by new and updated input on Cameron Highlands such as Mossy Forest, Bee Garden, Time Tunnel and MARDI Research Centre. These were the places that have not been sufficiently highlighted but hold enormous potential to pull in more tourists and offer great educational experience to all visitors towards what Cameron Highlands can offer. We had a productive discussion among the programme participants about the things that offered around Cameron Highlands as we noticed that the development was carried out quite extensively.
I said this to myself, “Aren’t we supposed to stop development before it reaches the maximum capacity? Isn’t that the whole purpose of preservation?” Based on our discourse, it is found that capacity for development in Cameron Highlands is nowhere near the maximum level as yet. Developers are now working hand in hand with the local authorities to minimise negative impact on Cameron Highland’s environment.
When the following day arrived, all of us were eager to explore the attractions mentioned earlier, apart from tea plantations, vegetable and fruit farms. The first place that we visited was the BOH Tea Farm in Sungai Palas, located 5,000 feet above sea level, covering 234 acres of hilly area.The BOH company was founded by a Scottish gentleman named John Archibald Russell. The business is now being run successfully by his granddaughter, Caroline Russell.
This is one of their three plantation farms in Malaysia. At the Sungai Palas Tea Farm alone, approximately 142 workers are needed to pluck the leaves for processing and they are mostly foreigners. I was amazed when looking at the farm and the vast area that it covers. It must be gruelling go up and down the hill just to pluck the shoots of the tea tree.
The same tea tree can only be harvested once in three weeks. The invention of scissors and machines makes the task of plucking tea leaves much easier, thus encouraging the increase of production level. Roughly, the BOH tea factory can produce up to 820,000 cups of tea and divided into three categories: “Palas Supreme”, ”Cameronian” and “Gold Blend”.
After learning about the tea farm, we then went further uphill where the famous peak of Mount Brinchang is located. It was chilly up there and the trees are much bigger. We rushed out of the van to breathe in the fresh air and to witness the view of the majestic land from here. From the viewing tower, with much help from the clear skies, we could see the hectic Ipoh town from afar. All of us enjoyed the tranquillity and serenity of the place immensely.
After spending time taking photos and admiring the splendour of nature, we followed the guide to explore the enigmatic mossy forest. Located 2,031 metres above sea level, Mount Brinchang is the highest point of Cameron Highlands. Grown like a carpet, moss is a plant that can store water more than its mass and grow wildly on trees and rocks.
Other than moss, there were also other plants like bilberries, bamboos, raflesia, pitcher plants and other wild and rare plant species. The ambience in the mossy forest was really chilly and placid. All of us were stunned by the exquisiteness of the mossy forest, which etched a wonderful memory among us.
After descending from Mount Brinchang, we then headed to MARDI research centre. We were welcomed by the officer in charge and given a briefing about the place. This research centre is mainly aimed towards providing awareness about the preservation and rehabilitation of the environment and also to study the potential of the plants to be developed and commercialised in the area. This research centre also has its own nursery whereby the plants are being grown there and experiments are carried out onto the plants. This research centre is opened to all visitors.
After feasting ourselves with delicious lunch served by the hotel, we resumed to the next attraction, which was the Time Tunnel, which is not like your typical boring museum. It collects all artefacts like old posters of movie stars, antique kitchen appliances, saloon equipment, old television set, including classroom furniture. The owner of this museum explained to us that some of the artefacts in the Time Tunnel are his own, while the rest belong to his friends who share the same interest towards vintage collectibles. The joyful experience at Time Tunnel transported us to a bygone era that we could only read in our history textbooks.
To those who are older, Time Tunnel also offered them the opportunity to reminisce the good old days.Coming back to the present, we made our way to a special café called Jasmine Café. We could easily spot the café from afar because of its outstanding choice of colour. There is a story behind the whole concept of the café.
The owner, Mr. Foong, is a local Chinese but he had been living in Amsterdam for more than 15 years, making him familiar with the culture and lifestyle of the land of tulips. One thing that captivated his interest the most is the food and that’s how the Jasmine Café was conceived. Apart from serving Western Food, Jasmine Cafe also serves local delicacies presented uniquely.
During our final day at Cameron Highlands, I felt that three days spent here seemed too short. The program ended with a small gathering and speeches. Silently, I said to myself, “I can see myself coming here again very soon”.