A nice cup of tea and a sit down

Trip Start Nov 07, 2004
Trip End May 20, 2005

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Friday, February 4, 2005

If you haven't already guessed by now, we like it at altitude and the Cameron highlands offers a welcome respite from the heat at sea level. The land is carved out of the fertile jungle that still makes up some 60% of Malaysia. It's mainly put to use supplying Malaysia with vegetables, grown on steep terraces lining the hills. The other major crop here is tea. Three plantations established about 70 years ago dominate much of the landscape with hundreds of thousands of tea plants. We took a tour of the plantations and factory, but the reality of 21st century tea making is a little more prosaic than most people's romantic notions. The picking is done by large, two man glorified hedge trimmers, no little ladies with nimble fingers anymore! The tea is really good, but they don't make enough to export so you won't see much in your local corner shop. Amazingly the place is also self sufficeint in strawberries, so tea and scones is a regular fixture.

On culinary matters, the local speciality is "Steamboat" (the Chinese take on fondue). You are given a large bowl of boiling stock, and several plates of raw ingredients to combine as you like. This in an ingenious device that allows you to completely over-cook your food, whilst at the same time leaving you convinced you've given yourself food poisioning.

The jungle is literally on the doorstep, so we hired a guide for a trek (unfortunately due to a steamboat related incident, only one of us went). The trek was fantastic, cutting through acres of primary forest, but it was a pretty strenuous SAS style jungle march. There was some dissent in the group that the guide may be going a little too fast, but it was quickly squashed when he pulled out his identity card, he was 62!

Our stay here was prolonged slightly owing to a reluctance to move 15 feet from a toilet, but this was no bad thing, the highlands have been a high point.

Caroline and Mark
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