The Cameron Highlands are located in West Malaysia roughly 200km North of Kuala Lumpur. They sit at around 1,400m above sea level and so maintain an annual temperature of around 18c. For anyone who has spent time in South East Asia before visiting the Cameron Highlands this is positively freezing.
The land was first surveyed by British survayer, Sir William Cameron (who it takes its name from) in 1885. A narrow path was carved through the jungle connecting the Highlands to the valley below but it was not developed further until 1925 when a team began to experiment growing fruits, vegetables and tea in the area. It was a success and by 1926 the Cameron Highlands were under development and a new road was commissioned. Since the building of the road the area swiftly developed into a bustling country town baring a small resemblance to the ones you might find in England. It has been discribed as ‘a haven during the colonial era for those who were homesick’.
The best way to reach the Cameron Highlands is by bus. I caught one from TBS in Kuala Lumpur for 35MYR one way. Buses also run to and from Penang and IPOH at similar prices. The journey says it takes 4.5 hours but mine ended up taking just over 5 due to severe rain. The climb up to the Highlands was a thrilling adventure in itself. You travel up the sharp twisting road, winding around the cliffs as the heavy rain cascades down the hillside and accross the road. Every now and the then the driver would stop and get out of the coach. He would survey the puddle ahead and always make the decision to press on through. The bus practically swam through some sections of the road. The driver was balancing on the often blurred line between mad man andexpert. I arrived at around 18.30 and was greeted by a cool crisp 16C and a fresh, damp smell in the air. I hadn’t eaten for several hours so made my way to Mary Browns. Located straight accross the road from the bus station and ordered fish n’ chips.
As I sat there watching the rain fall through the window with the lush green hills behind and the smell of battered fish, I was immediately transported home to England. I felt a warm inner comfort that I had not felt for sometime. My head was filled with romantic notions of the British Colonials as they reached the Camaeron Highlands looking for the same feelings to combat their longing for home. Okay so Mary Browns is not your typical British fish n chips. The chips are floppy fries rather than fluffy, crisp potatoes and the fish lacks size and colour but after almost three months of travel it hit the spot.
I have been enjoying my travels around south east Asia, experiencing the diffent cuisine and culture. I have not felt home sick once but there is a lot to be said for finding something so familiar so far from home, whether one is seeking it or not.