Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Refreshing Cameron Highlands

It hit me this morning how stressful life can be in Kuala Lumpur. This morning I got stuck in a traffic jam going to the office and once there I got the news that my immediate boss is being recalled to the home office in record one month’s time without successor. That does not leave much time for a proper hand-over, especially since he has someone who basically has been keeping his work to himself all the while he is working here.

What a come down after such a refreshing trip to the Highlands, although not as cool as before maybe since never been there earlier but still interesting to the family. Anyway after the bowling competition on Saturday and lunch at Tony Roma’s, we immediately sped north up the PLUS Highway before exiting at Tapah. I figured since I will drop by Ipoh before returning to Kuala Lumpur, it would be better to go up through Tapah and come down through the Simpang Pulai Highway, I must say the drive up was a pleasant exercise but it would be better if you are not driving a stick-shift, as I must say it was a cruise to drive on auto all the way. Never mind that the wife and the elder one had motion sickness but it was more because they did not have a proper breakfast that day as once we were up there, the curvy roads did not see them reliving the blue faces they had. My one regret was that I didn’t stop to buy the forest durians and petais that the orang asli was selling by the road side as I thought there would be some on the way down but I managed to buy some wild orchids or anggerik desa for my scented garden. The reason being was not only that we did not want to reach there before it was dark but because the family wanted to lie down fast. Luckily the little one slept through the whole drive or I may have had problem making her settle down. Anyhow we reached the hotel in good time but as was mentioned before it was tough getting good parking near the hotel. The basement was full already as it could accommodate only 15 cars but it was our first time so what can you say but to make the best of it, After resting awhile, we went to the Brinchang pasar malam as planned where the kids loved the strawberries dipped in chocolate and honey but there was nothing good to tapau for dinner so we ended up eating in a Malay stall after the visit. I must say that the prices for Malay food in the food Brincang and Tanah Rata is quite expensive as the cost is quite comparable to eating at a proper restaurant, a point to take note in the next visit.

The next day was a recce mission up the Brincang-Tringkap way as the hotel front desk said that the best tourist spots was located along the route. Since we were going to use that route to reach the Simpang Pulai Highway, it was a good chance for us to note where to drop by on the way back to Ipoh and where to stop on this journey. Basically those things that need to be bought late like strawberries to preserve their freshness will be bought then while sight seeing will be the purpose of this drive. As expected, all the tourist spots was jammed up when we drove by but we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds in the tea spot at Cameron Bharat Sungai Palas . It was a great place for the kids to learn about tea trees and then we had a most sinful brownies with ice cream accompanied by strawberry flavoured tea. After buying some premium tea and strawberry flavored tea, we then turned back towards Brinchang but at the butterfly farms there was a horrific jam. We were lucky that a parking spot opened up and we stopped to visit one of the butterfly farms that also incorporated a flower garden. We then stopped at the cactus centre for a look around but then proceeded down to Tanah Rata for lunch. We were hoping to sample the delicacies at T-Café but unfortunately it was closed as it was a Sunday. After being scalped at a local Malay stall, we then proceeded down to Boh Tea Plantations. It was a hairy ride up as the road was a single car wide and at the blind corners we had to toot the car horns as instructed to let oncoming cars know we are there. Again it was bad luck for us as they has finished making tea at the factory although we reached there before three so our reward after such a scary ride was only some great views although we could make our own way through the factory on our own. Since I knew a bit about tea making through my readings, I was able to identify the process to my kids and show the end products but it was not so worthwhile I guess. The tea shop there was not as interesting as the Bharat tea shops and we did not stop to have another round of teas. On the way down we stopped at apiary farm or simply a bee farm where we bought some wild and apple cider honey that the wife loved before returning to the hotel for a rest. We then had a steamboat dinner at the hotel restaurant and then adjourned for a karaoke session. Sadly the kids did not enjoy this much because the songs selection was basically oldies but goodies, so they had nothing to sing to. Pity them.

The next day we decided to check out early and left the hotel at around ten. Firstly we decided to check out Bala’s Holiday Chalet but it seems their tea room only starts in the afternoon so we could not have their English delicacies. We initially stopped at two strawberry farms in Tanah Rata but they didn’t allow self-plucking due to their experiencing of the Ugly Malaysian syndrome so we then proceeded down to Simpang Pulai where we stopped at a off tourist traps site Soon Cheong strawberry farm that did allow self-plucking. We were the only ones there and the kids had a merry time plucking the strawberries. Quite a bargain because they only charged RM35 per kilo for the strawberries and these are the big, juicy and sweet American variety and not the small scrawny bittersweet ones that is common at the normal tourist trap farms. The next stop was at a watercress farm not far from there before proceeding down the Simpang Pulai Highway. I must say although not as stomach churning as the Tapah route, this was a long and winding road and sleepy to boot. We ended the day by having nasi ganja for lunch in Ipoh before surprising my mom as she had no idea we were coming home that day.

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