Whirlwind ASEAN Day 20: Cameron Highlands

The sounds of heavy rain welcomed me when my alarm rang. It’s the first time this trip that I needed an alam to wake up. Maybe I’m already tired from all the traveling I’ve done over the past weeks. I like to think it’s because of the constant bed weather here in the Highlands. It’s too comfortable to wake up early.

I hoped the rain would stop before 8 AM just so the tour I booked yesterday would push through. The staff of the lodge assured me and the other people in the tour group that our driver/guide Mike was an expert at making the sun appear. Sure enough, the rain stopped and we drove up the mountain on our Land Rover.

Mike and our 4x4

Mike and our 4×4

Mike decided to delay climbing Gunung Brinchang to let the clouds clear so our first stop was the Butterfly Garden (5 MYR). This was more like a mini zoo than a butterfly garden with several small animals placed randomly among the flowers. As for the butterflies, when you enter the facility you see several large colorful butterflies lined up among the flowers. None of these were particularly active, it looked like they were pacified somehow. Even though they were perched on flowers, none of them were sucking up any nectar or even displaying any movement. You can literally pick them up and they wouldn’t move an inch. In terms of variety I only saw a maximum of 3 species. Not particularly impressive for a butterfly garden. The butterfly garden in the Bacman EDC site had better variety and we’re obviously more healthy. No wonder they had other animals here! They wouldn’t attract many customers with just their butterflies.

The large stagnant butterflies

The large stagnant butterflies

 

Viper and myself getting a photo together

Viper and myself getting a photo together

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext up was the Boh Sungei Palas Tea Plantation, the largest tea producer in Malaysia. The entrance to their plantation is just a few meters past the butterfly garden and it is an amazing sight to see. Visually, I find this more interesting than the terraced rice fields because they have a certain “texture”. They have 600 hectares in total and this is harvested by 200 people paid 0.20 MYR per kilogram. According to Mike, these workers gather anywhere between 100 – 300 kg per day depending on the equipment they use. They carry this all the way to the processing facility on the day that they harvest it to ensure maximum freshness of the tea leaves. They also have a cafeteria beside the factory where tourists can taste the different kinds of tea while enjoying the sight of the tea plantation.

Boh Sungei Palas Tea Plantation

Boh Sungei Palas Tea Plantation

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Finally it was time to go all the way up Gunung Brinchang. At 6666 ft, it’s the highest point in the Cameron Highlands. It’s also one of the few mountain peaks accessible by car. No tiring treks needed! Unfortunately, the views were mostly covered by clouds although Mike says it was better today than yesterday.

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Before going back to Tanah Rata, we walked through the mossy forest. Pitcher plants are commonly seen here and the pristine forest is really beautiful to walk through (if you don’t mind getting muddy). I haven’t been inside a nice forest in more than 2 years already so it was refreshing to walk through one again. For those who don’t want to get their feet dirty, there is also a boardwalk through the forest although I preferred getting muddy. It’s just more fun that way.

The mossy forest

The mossy forest

Tiny pitchers

Tiny pitchers

Boardwalk through the forest

Boardwalk through the forest

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As we made our way back to the town, it started raining again and wouldn’t stop until late in the afternoon. There goes my plan to do one of the walking trails. I really didn’t mind as I was content to read a book in the comfy chairs of the lodge while listening to the rain.

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