During our recent trip to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, we squeezed in a visit to the Boh Tea Plantations, the Mossy Rainforest, the Strawberry Fields and the Butterfly farm as part of a half day tour.
What follows is a review of the half day tour, which we booked through TJ Nur Travel and Tours. If you ever find yourself in the Cameron Highlands, I highly recommend to book this tour and to ask for Mike! The tour cost us 50 ringgit (about $16 CAD) and lasted from about 9 am until 2 pm.
First Stop: Short Walk through the Boh Tea Plantation
Our first stop was along the road to the Boh Tea Plantations. We pulled over and walked through the tea plantation, where we had a chance to take some beautiful pictures. Afterwards, Mike explained the tea fabrication process to us.
There are three main tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands: Cameron Valley Tea, Bharat and Bho.
We visited the Bho tea plantation as part of our tour. Only black tea is produced on the Bho tea plantation, and all the tea is harvested using a hand held machine. Most of the men who work on the tea plantation come from foreign countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal and make about 50 ringgit a day, depending on the harvest. Years ago, when the tea leaves were harvested by picking the individual leaves by hand, the salaries were much lower, only about 5 ringgits per day. Reason for this being that the pay is based on the weight of the tea leaves harvested, rather than hours worked.
Interesting fact: Black, green and white tea all come from the same tea plant. The main difference between these teas is the maturity of the tea leaf. White tea is made from the youngest leaves, resulting in a milder taste, whereas black tea is comprised of older leaves with a more bitter taste, and green tea is somewhere in between.
Second Stop: Gunung Brinchang and the Mossy Forest
We then drove up the highest road in peninsular Malaysia to reach Mount Brinchang, at 2 000 masl. From here we walked up an old stair tower for a beautiful view of the surroundings. Mount Brinchang can also be reached by hiking Trail No. 1 that is part of a network of trails in the Cameron Highlands. You can read more about this here.
Afterwards, we went on a short hike through the ‘Mossy Forest’. Our guide informed us that this forest is one of the oldest, most ancient rainforests in Malaysia, comparable to Taman Negara (which is 130 million years old). Unfortunately, I have yet to find any reliable sources of information on the internet that support this claim. One thing is for sure, the mossy forest is absolutely gorgeous and should be protected! We walked along the spongy moss that has grown over tree roots and came across so many pitcher plants! We also learned about many of the medicinal uses of plants in the area.
Third Stop: Tea time at the Boh Tea Café and tour of the facilities
After the mossy forest, we headed back to the Boh Tea Plantation. By this time (about 1 pm) we were quite hungry. The Boh Tea Plantation has the most beautiful café that overlooks the tea plantation, with full length windowpanes all in glass. An image of the café will often don the front page of many tourist brochures. Unfortunately, this beautiful setting means that the prices are extremely inflated and you may have a hard time getting a table with a window view. After lunch, we took a quick tour of the tea manufacturing plant (it didn’t take much longer than 10 minutes), and we were ready for our next destination.
Fourth Stop: Butterfly Gardens
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the Butterfly Gardens. The butterflies were quite beautiful, but also quite lethargic as it wasn’t too sunny, and many of them had broken wings from being held improperly. My inner child, however, did get some enjoyment from being able to hold snakes, scorpions and giant centipedes. The Butterfly Gardens also house the elusive stick and leaf insects (very, very hard to find), all of which are native to Malaysia.
Fifth Stop: Strawberry Fields
After the highlights of the Boh Tea Plantation and the Mossy Forest, the Strawberry Fields were a bit of a letdown. We were lead into a greenhouse full of strawberries, without much of an explanation. Also, the strawberries here are said to have two varieties: the sweet as well as the sour, but I didn’t notice too much of a difference from the fresh strawberries I know and love back home.
We then got a ride back to our hostel after what was a long and tiring day.
Overall, I found the tour to be well worth it as we learned a lot about the history of tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands as well as a bit of background surrounding the mossy forest.
Have you been to the Cameron Highlands? What did you enjoy the most?
You might also be interested in: