Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas in Camerons...almost

It's time to get back to regular blogging and while I'm at it, perhaps pictorial posts will be much more interesting.

After 20 years of whining about not having been to Cameron Highlands, one of Malaysia's more well known tourist site which houses the infamous BOH tea plantation, strawberry farms and fresh local produce outlets, I finally made a trip there with Joe and a group of our students. It was an enjoyable 2n-3d trip, though I strongly suggest a longer stay if you can afford the time. Before our departure, I had envisioned myself in the cottage-like Bala's Chalet, devouring in their famous homemade scones served with fresh cream and strawberry jam and sipping tea while enjoying a good book. Needless to say, I came home not having even opened the cover of my book.

We found that with a day of jungle trekking (more like 1.5 hours), visiting the tea plantation and farms, night market and playing Pictionary, charades and card games, our schedule was already full to the brim. One thing's for sure, we planned to be healthy this trip. Long walks, hiking, steam boat dinners (nothing fried), lots of veges, you get the idea.

Day 1
Our first stop on Monday Dec 22nd at 11:00am - Burger King for breakfast.

Bala's Chalet
1:00pm: Arrived at Bala's Chalet. Love the atmosphere. Lots of greens; warm and cosy. Price: reasonble. Cons: limited parking - beware during the holidays and weekends; amenities not so great - passable. We were assigned the "Tinkerbell" and "Robin's Nest" rooms. The weather was lovely, comfortably cool so you can walk around in shorts and a tee in the afternoons.

Strawberry Farm
Trotted down to The Big Red Strawberry Farm after lunch. There is quite a selection of strawberry farms to choose from - we just picked the one with the biggest ad on the map (guess the marketing investment paid off). Rumour has it that the pick-your-own-strawberries farms aren't as great, but I guess it would be a fun experience if you're travelling with children.

The thing about being on a holiday is that you find everything so interesting, didn't matter if it was some kind of flower you see everyday wilting along the curb, or some kind of pastry that could have had better crusts. The holiday bug has bitten and you respond with 'ooohs' and 'aaaahs' at every little thing.

Snapping away at flowers; one must always have time for blackmail pics such as this


Rows of fresh vegetables...puts you in the mood for a salad, doesn't it?


We took the opportunity to indulge in some strawberry delicacies. Here you have the fried strawberry ice cream and pancakes with strawberries. Very yummy.

The kids reverted back to the good ol' days when they could comfortably fit into these kiddy rides.

After the farm, we went back to Bala's and had a few games of Pictionary. Joe must have been a Pictionary Guru in his past life. Dinner: steamboat at OK Tuck, Tanah Rata. Perfect meal for cold weather.

We went to the night market after dinner, hoping to burn some of the calories we put on today. What we really ended up doing was devouring more strawberries (this time coated with chocolate), fried mushrooms, corn (very very good), fried sweet potatoes and honey.

Raw honey

Day 2
Robinson's Waterfall & Jungle Trekking
We found a short jungle trek (or rather, it only appeared to look short) on the map which would lead us to the Boh Tea Plantation and thought it was about time we embarked on an adventurous journey. We saw a glimpse of the waterfall 10 minutes into the jungle and was determined to find our way to the bottom of it. 45 minutes into the walk with the path getting muddier and narrower and the waterfall being out of sight; and finally witnessing a tree falling from 50 feet above us, we decided we were not going to find the way to the bottom. We turned back, stopped at the first spot where we saw the waterfall, and decided to enjoy the cool water for a couple of minutes.

You know when it's a tourist spot when there's a souvenir hut 3 minutes into the trek. This place sells very good raw honey (I used some of it to make honey clasps treats for New Year's and they were absolutely delicious!). Their homemade marmalade and blackberry jams are good too.

The owner tossed a homegrown lemon to Howard.

Boh Tea Plantation
2:00pm: After our brief jungle trekking experience, we drove off to Boh Tea Plantation. Caution - if you are prone to car sickness, bring some sour plums. The road is awfully windy, but the sight is worth the trip.

Don't be fooled by this picture - this is not what you see the minute you step out of the car. For breathtaking views of the plantation, it's another 15 minute hike up the hills. We were practically panting when we got up there...not because it was undoable...I guess we were just lacking in daily exercise. It was a little cloudy that day, hence the dark skies.

Path to the top of the hill - Roger and June

We made it!; Howard's handstand

Pretty hibiscus

Scones and tea at the cafe (June). The scones were really tasty - smooth, buttery texture and melts in the mouth. I haven't had such good scones in a long time.

Went back to Bala's for a rest. While resting, we had more scones. Apparently their scones are the best in town - hence, how can one not try them? (sorry, no picture - was too busy eating and making comparisons). The scones and tea set was quite pricey at RM 22.50 per set (compared to RM 12 for both at Boh Cafe). It was good, but the texture was slightly different. Bala's had flaky layers at the top, making it a little rough (still melts in the mouth), where as the other one felt richer and smoother.
We repeated our dinner menu tonight, with the addition of 2 meaty dishes at OK Tuck; did the night market again (with double the food quantity we got yesterday); bought some beers and headed back to the Chalet for an early night of fun and games...or so we thought.

Pictionary...charades style

Day 3
The Smoke House & Market
After a hefty breakfast, we headed to The Smoke House for some photos. The Smoke House is a pretty Victorian-style chalet with lots of scenic photography opportunities. You can walk around the surrounding areas and are only allowed inside if you are a guest. Our last stop was at the produce markets. We ended up with bags of fresh vegetables, flowers, strawberries and corn (look for the ready-to-eat ones that is white and yellow in the inside - these are the BEST!)

All good trips must end with a decent family picture
(Roger in the front; Olivia, Howard, Joyce, June at the back)

Got back to KL around 4pm. It's Christmas Eve and traffic was already starting to get heavy, the air warmer and then thoughts of unwrapped gifts and gifts still to be bought occurred...back to reality.

Here is a link to a useful website if you're planning a trip to Camerons. My recommendations: strawberry farm, tea plantation, hiking, steamboat dinner; must buy raw honey, corn and fresh jams; must try: scones and tea.


Rick@NatureEscapes said...

Good way to end the year and get in shape for the New Year. Nice shots of trekking in Camerons. For more outdoor fun check out Nature Escapes

Yu Ann said...

The home grown lemon looks dodgy ... it's steroid induced, I think :D

melissa said...

Hmmm...I wouldn't be surprised. said...



if i go up, 100% im gonna vommit :'(

melissa said...

Eri -
Well...I will let Olivia tell you about her experience personally...