The Cameron Highlands blanket the north-west tip of the state of Pahan in Peninsula Malaysia
. Like everyone who goes there, Natalie Gruzlewski loved the coolness the Highlands offer as an escape from the tropical heat and bustle of other parts of Malaysia
. It's a real surprise package.
The Cameron Highlands were a desirable retreat for the British in the 19th century and to this day is a little corner of England in the heart of Asia. It's around 10 degrees cooler up there, and is known as the green carpet because of the vast tea growing area. The soil, climate and irrigation all come together to produce some of the world's best drinking leaves. The higher the tea is grown the brisker it is; tea from the lowlands is more robust.
Cameron Highlands Resort
For a real treat, the Cameron Highlands Resort is the place to stay. It has just 56 rooms and suites, an 18-hole golf course and a spa offering treatments using the healing and restorative properties of tea. You can even bathe in it!
The resort sits on a hill, and surrounding scenery is lush and green with rolling hills and Tudor-style cottages. Rooms are charmingly colonial, decorated with bespoke furniture and the beauty of Jim Thompson's finest silks. Large four-poster beds are covered with soft cushions, and day beds are perfect for a curl-up and read while sipping a cup of locally grown tea. Each room has a balcony.
The Dining Room overlooks the golf course and hills and is open for three meals every day. Ingredients are sourced from nearby farms.
Of course there is a tea room. Named after Jim Thompson, it is a cosy retreat in an elegant setting and follows the time-honoured tradition of finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with fresh Cameron strawberries and cream.
Just in case you are wondering who Jim Thompson is, he was the American architect who helped revitalise Thailand's silk and textile industry in the 1950s and '60s. He spent Easter of 1967 in the Cameron Highlands and disappeared after going on an afternoon walk. There has never been a trace of him found, but there are many theories for his disappearance, some plausible, others totally far-fetched. Whatever caused Jim Thompson's demise, his legacy lives in the highlands of Malaysia and Thailand.
An on-site naturalist will guide you through the surrounding forest and the area has more than 20 walking trails. Walks expose you to some pretty beautiful plants. including ginger, and thick and colourful orchids. And you will probably see plants you have never seen before, some of which are eaten as vegetables by locals.
Boh Tea Plantation
This is the only tea plantation in the highlands open to the public. Visitors can tour the factory and enjoy sipping in the tearoom. BOH stands for "best of Highlands" and is Malaysia
's highest-selling tea.
In 1929, John Archibald Russell started the plantation and subsequently others were established in the highlands. Tristan Russell is the current chairman and BOH still has the largest combined area of tea gardens in Malaysia. Their three plantations are BOH, Sungei Palas and Fairlie in the highlands and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor which add up to 1200 hectares.
Exports to tea drinking countries, such as Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries such as the United States and Canada, which are becoming more accustomed to sipping tea, means they produce around 4 million kilograms of tea annually.
The BOH Tea Centre has a delightful refreshment area, souvenir and tea shop and an exhibition area with interesting facts and history. You can learn about plucking, rolling, withering, sorting and drying and enjoy the most beautiful of outlooks.
The Cameron Highlands, a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia
Malaysia Airlines and MAS Holidays has four-day packages, including return flights with Malaysia Airlines, accommodation at the Cameron Highlands Resort, breakfast, tea plantation tour and return airport and hotel transfers. They will be available for travel until November 30, 2009 and can be booked until April 30, 2009.
- Perth $1631
- Melbourne $1879
- Adelaide $1894
- Sydney $1897
- Brisbane $1899
Entry to the BOH Tea Plantation is free. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 9am and 4.30pm.
Prices correct at April 23, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 132 627
Ph: 1300 900 800
Level 2, 171 Clarence Street
Ph: (02) 9299 4441
Fax: (02) 9262 2026
Cameron Highlands Resort
39000 Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands
Pahang Darul Makmur
Phone: +60 5 491 1100
Fax: +60 5 491 1800
BOH Tea Garden
Ph: +60 5 493 1324
Visas: Australians can enter Malaysia without a visa. Thirty-day entry permits will be issued, but customs officials can grant 90-day permits at their discretion.
Electricity: Plugs have three pins, identical in shape and voltage to British plugs, so Australian travellers will need a UK adaptor. They operate at 230V/50Hz.
Time zone: GMT +8.
Currency: The Ringgit Malaysia (RM).
International dialling code: +60.