12/05/2018 – 14/05/2018
A few words about the area
Hill station in central Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands are famous for their tea plantations, run by the BOH company. Local tea is called « Palace Supreme ». If you remember our trip to India, what comes next will bring back memories about Ooty.
There are many different teas: white, green, red, Oolong (Chinese), black, which can be put down to the process and the leaves maturity (1) instead of different plants (2), as we might think.
(1) Malay black tea is produced through the following process:
- Cut and harvest (see below)
- Controlled dry, to develop flavors
- Rolling to release flavors
- Oxydizing/fermenting to change flavors (this operation lends leves to their copper tone)
- Air drying at 100°C to stop the oxydizing/fermenting process
- Sieving to separate all grades
(1) BOH produces black tea, which means that the last four leaves are harvested (see further) and used. Hence, harvesting can be completed by pruning bushes on a definite thickness. Workers can use hedge trimmer / shears in opposition with workers in Ooty, India where they have to harvest manually, since they produce white/green tea. From a general point of view, they earn 24 MYR/day (5€) upon harvesting 1200kg in a month and that of the cleaners is 7 MYR/h (1,5€). Cleaners job consists in trimming bushes to control their growth. Urea fertilization twice a year by plane.
We stayed in Tenah Rata, one of the few towns in the area. Its name literally means « Flat land », due to its location in a relatively flat area within the hills. The town is located 1,440 meters above sea level
Transport from Penang
We booked a bus at « Grassland Travel » travel agency, close to the Komtar bus station in Penang for 40 MYR/pp (8€).
Available transports in town
- Local bus
There are many restaurants and street food stands in Tenah Rata, in the same street as the bus station (see « Excellent Food Centre » on maps.me).
We stayed at the « De Cameron Guesthouse« , in front of the Bus station, negotiated at 52,50 MYR/night (10€) for a private room with shared bathroom and Indian breakfast included (roti, king of pancake, with dhal (lentils soup)). We did not book anything beforehand because there was not any room under 100 MYR/night (20€) on Bookings.com.
- Guesthouses : 5 MYR/kg (1€/kg)
- Washing machines in the street close to the « BB Inn Hotel » : 7 MYR/10kg (1,50€)
- Jungle trekking (2-3 hours) – Trails from 1 to 10 are on maps.me
- Rafflesia experience, search for the biggest flower in the world
- Tea plantations and BOH manufacture
- Butterfly farm (*)
- Strawaberries farm (*)
- Orchids farm (*)
- Roses farm (*)
- Bees farm (*)
- Mossy Forest (old forest with trees covered with moss)
- Gunung Brichang (Brichang Mountain)
- Parit and Robinson waterfalls
Depending on your budget, the time you have at your disposal and what you want to see, you can either go on your own (we did not, but we saw a few people going to the Mossy forest and tea plantations on their own) or book thruogh any travel agency in town. Prices range are from 25-60 MYR/pp (5-12€) for a half day, 75-100 MYR/pp (15-20€) for a whole day, to 350 MYR/pp (70€) for a two days jungle trekking with jungle overnight stay. All of these prices are negotiable, but it’s a pain in the ass to get even a 5 MYR/pp discount.
Tips: We booked both transportation to Taman Negara and a half day activity (Mossy Forest+Gunung Brichang+Tea plantations+BOH manufacture) at the same place and managed to get a discount for both of them. We paid 60 MYR/pp for the transport to TN and 40 MYR/pp for the activity package.
(*) Entrance fees are never included in the package and cost 7 MYR/pp on average for each farm.
We will now head for Taman Negara National Park. We will travel by bus+boat at the « Unititi » travel agency within Tenah Rata bus station and we negotiated our seats at 60 MYR/pp (12€). We chose to depart at 8AM (there is a second departure at 10AM) and the trip is supposed to last around 7 hours (4 hours by bus from Tenah Rata to Kuala Retang, lunch stop for 1h30 and 3 hours by boat to Kuala Tahan).