Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands
The journey from Langkawi to the Cameron Highlands was one which we had to do ourselves as there were no travel agents open in Langkawi for us to book an organised journey with; so we set out with a taxi to Kuah port from the hotel. from there we managed to get a ferry crossing fairly soon and we were back on the Malay mainland in no time. From here a taxi to the main bus station at Alor Satar where we were told (rightly or wrongly) that there was no direct bus to the highlands, so we got straight on to a bus to Butterworth. The bus was lovely, only 3 large seats across the width of the bus, with loads of leg room and a good recline so time for a nap! At Butterworth we had a couple of hours to kill before our connection actually to Tanah Rata so we had lunch sat in the dusty bus station soaking up the Malaysian culture. The bus to the highlands was also a very comfortable coach and Mum & Vicky were lucky enough to be sat in the front seats right behind the driver...a great view of everything and a first hand experience of the breath-taking drive in to the mountians!! We agreed that it was a fair assumption that the bus driver had driven this route before, judging by the speed he was taking the hairpins and s-bends at! We passed 3 crashes on our way up the mountain and feared that we could have been a part of one at many points on the journey, but the scenery was amazing. We arrived and called our hotel to collect us, it was dark by now and when we arrived at our rooms we could hardly believe our luck. We had 2 rooms next door to each other which were like beautiful Tudor cottages...chocolate box cottages. The hotel itself was just on the outskirts of Tanah Rata and in a raised position on the hill, and our rooms were also elevated from the main hotel giving us a gorgeous view over the valley. the wrought iron table and chairs outside our rooms were lovely for sitting and taking in the view! After running around our lovely rooms we rushed down to the restaurant just in time for dinner and we devoured some beautiful food and 2 bottles of red wine!!
There isn't a great deal actually in the town of Tanah Rata itself despite it being one of the main towns in the Cameron Highlands, just a few small restaurant/cafe's and a few small shops. But, the tours and trips around the area are great. We managed to have a private guide for the day who took us for an early morning jungle trek to start the day off after breakfast. The trek was about 1.5 hours long and the guide was very good at explaining all of the flora and fauna to us along the way, and the temperature in the highlands is a good one for walking. It was beautiful. We spent the rest of the mroning at the tea plantations and factory for BOH tea. You can actually drive right between the tea plantations fields and just pull over at the side of the road to look and take pictures. They are just a beautiful carpet of lush green covering the rolling hills; spectacular! Here the guide picked a couple of leaves and showed us the differences and which grade of tea each leaf was etc. From here we drove down the hill straight to the BOH tea factory, where we walked along the side of the production line watching the processing, and the guide explained to us each step of the process as we went. At the end of the factory there is, of course, a cafe where you can have a pot of one of the many types of tea...along with a jam scone, and you can sit outside overlooking the tea fields - which we did! Our guide also took us to the rose gardens where he worked most of the time and showed us all of the flowers etc as well as introducing us to his family. From there he took us for lunch at a lovely (and very cheap) place which sold great tradional south Indian food - it was gorgeous! After lunch we went to a garden centre which is famous for growing strawberries; but they are nowhere near as nice, or as sweet as, British strawberries! We rounded off the day by taking a walk through an aboriginal Malay village - which was interesting (if not a little scary) and then we had a look at the Old Smokehouse which is now a very, very expensive hotel and restaurant!
All in all, the Cameron Highlands are beautiful and a great place to visit, a must for anyone in Malaysia!