Fantastic Tea & Fresh Air in the Cameron Highlands
// March 10th, 2011 // Malaysia
After Bali, we went to Penang, Malaysia where we feasted on great food, I made friends with Dave, and we visited the Snake Temple. From Penang, we took a bus to the Cameron Highlands. Lauren and I were eagerly anticipating the cooler weather and couldn’t wait to get there. As the bus wound its way through the mountains, our driver decided to stop just 14 miles short of our destination to pee on the side of the road. And that’s when the bus died. We only had 10 people left on the bus at this point, but an older Malaysian woman got off the bus and started reaming the driver out. We can only assume that she was angered that he had stopped so close to our destination, as we were annoyed as well, but she provided quality entertainment for us. The bus driver called two minivans to come and pick us up. We drove past tea plantations, strawberry sellers, and quaint mountain towns that reminded me a bit of the mountain towns of NC. When the driver dropped us off in the town of Tanah Rata, a driver for a couple of hotels picked us up, guaranteeing that if we didn’t want to stay in his hotel he would take us somewhere else. True to his word, after finding out their budget hotel was being renovated and the only option they had were apartment-style suites, the driver, with his unruly children in tow, dropped us off at another hotel in town. It was affordable, and the owner was such a nice lady.
We threw our stuff down in our cozy little room, did some laundry, and then headed out to dinner at an Indian restaurant. We were enjoying the cooler climate, but by that evening the pain from an infection in my leg became unbearable. The next morning I had to suck it up and see a doctor. I’ll spare you the details for another post, but the doctor’s misdiagnosis did at least help the pain subside a few days later.
After a trip to the doctor, we were eager to visit a tea plantation. Knowing that it could potentially rain and it was also painful for me to walk, we opted to take a taxi instead of walking the 8 miles round-trip. Our taxi driver was a really nice guy and stopped along the way so we could take photos. When we got to the Sungei Palas Tea Plantation, we took a tour of the factory. While it was not running due to a national holiday, it was still quite informational. After that, we of course had to purchase a cup of tea at the cafe to test it out and sit out on the terrace. At that moment, torrential rain started. It didn’t dampen our spirits since we had finished our tour of the grounds. We sipped our tea and enjoyed the cool, misty weather.
Back in the town of Tanah Rata, we ate more Indian food, wandered around knick-knack shops for childish entertainment, and spent some time in a cafe. Our quick trip to the Cameron Highlands was beautiful. Though I wasn’t in a state to do any trekking and we didn’t have much time, the visit to the tea plantation still made our visit to this lovely part of Malaysia worthwhile.
- Built in 1935 & reopened in 1972
- Altitude: 1505 meters
- 234 hectares
- Produces 600,000 kg tea per year (that’s 820,000 cups of tea per day!)
- Tea produced is mainly for domestic use, not export
- Owned by a Dutch woman
- Sungei Palas is the largest tea plantation in Malaysia. There are several in the Cameron Highlands to choose from but we chose Sungei Palas for its size, pictures we’d seen on postcards, and it’s beautiful tea centre