A four hour bus from Penang took us to the town of Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. Another hill station from the colonial era known for its tea plantations, strawberry farms and cold weather. We were a little skeptical of this promised cooler climate but sure enough we were in hoodies for 3 days..the first time in nearly 5 months!
We found a great old English pub called The Smokehouse, complete with English country garden, red telephone box and open log fire. Extortionately expensive for Asia but still a nice taste of home!
On our first day we took a tour to the Boh Sungai Palas tea plantation. The scenery was stunning, tea for miles stretching across the valley and hills. You can visit the factory and stop off for a cup of their locally brewed tea and a fresh scone.
We also visited the Mossy Forest, a unique forest high in the jungle and unlike anything we’d seen before. The mist and moisture from the low level clouds create the perfect environment for moss, orchids and pitcher plants. The ground was really spongy, like walking on chocolate cake and the trees looked like something from The Lord of the Rings. Sadly our camera didn’t do it justice.
We stayed at Orchid Lodge guesthouse and the owner was a very friendly local called Kassim. He put on a cooking class for us one night and we all got in traditional Bangladeshi clothing to eat our dinner! On the menu was chicken curry, biryani rice and sambal chilli fish paste.
Our final day took us on a trek to find a Rafflesia – the world’s largest flower. You need a guide for this trek as they use the help of the local aborigine tribes to locate the flowers deep in the jungle. They take four or five months to bloom and then only have a lifespan of around 5 days before they start to wilt. Our flower was at two days and looked unreal! They also call it the “corpse flower” as on day one it smells like rotting flesh, but we couldn’t smell anything.
Tanah Rata is a strange little town but we really enjoyed it. We never took a trip to one of the many strawberry farms but they seem very popular with local tourists who like to dress their kids up as strawberries! All in all great place to visit in Malaysia for a nice break from the heat and humidity of the city.