So we were out of the jungle and according to the map there was a 60-minute walk separating us from the Boh Tea Plantation, which was the main reason behind the “jungle expedition” (I like to call it that way, gives it a NatGeo vibe).
A short walk from the lookout tower that signed the end of the jungle trail, there’s the infamous, Avatar-looking Mossy Forest. If you are lucky, you might find very low clouds hovering through the top of the high trees, making the environment much more intriguing – that’s what we were told, at least. There were no clouds when we were there and there was nothing exceptional that we hadn’t seen already in the jungle. Maybe you had a better experience?
The minutes passed and tea plants were nowhere to be seen. The panorama was fascinating nonetheless. From strawberry farms to high green hills, the landscape changed continuously – we even passed by a tiny village where (I assumed) the local farmers live.
It was midday and we were in the middle of the Malaysian highlands, getting hungrier by the minute and with no idea as to our whereabouts. Luckily, a group of locals drove by and told us the plantation was just around the corner. “That’s great news!” said my empty and desperate stomach. Little did it know, the entrance of the plantations ended up being much further away from the café than expected. But with this view, can you really be upset? I couldn’t keep myself from taking pictures!
As we enter the plantation the walk got even lovelier as carpets of vibrant green covered the surrounding hills, but I have to admit my feet were about to give up on me.
Finally, after what felt like a week-long trek, the infamous Boh Sungei Palace Tea Center appeared before my eyes…on top of the hill. I would have run if I had the energy. But, a few burnt-calories after, we made it to the entrance and I cried – internally…of joy!
BOH Plantations is the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia and was founded by British-born J. A. Russell in 1929. The plantation in Cameron Highlands is the largest in the country and the main tea garden out of the three that belong to BOH. It was thanks to the founder’s optimism that the plantations still exist, after surviving the Great Depression. Way to go, Mr Russell!
Luck seemed to stop playing around with us and decided to be nice as a group of people left the table with the best view. I was hangry and could have been worse if it wasn’t for the exhaustion. So we ordered local herbal teas, sandwiches and scones and enjoyed every bit of it all while taking in the beauty of the landscape that surrounded us.
Having been to Cameron Valley Tea House two days before that, I basically knew what the view at the Boh Tea plantation was going to be like, but it amazed me nonetheless. I took mental pictures of every corner of that panorama in the hope of keeping that memory safe in my head. That was not a typical Sunday brunch experience after all (partially because it was Saturday).
The interesting part came after we had a look around the tea shop (TIP: arrive early in the morning if you want to take advantage of the free tour that shows you around the factory and how the tea leaves are processed).
As walking back to Tanah Rata was no option, we decided to take a taxi. To our surprise, all the taxis that were parked at the plantation were waiting for their clients and told us that in order to get one, we had to call for one to come pick us up. The total price was going to be RM85 ($20). That was unplanned and we found ourselves thinking of another way to get back to town, until a generous man came to us. He was a local tour guide and offered to take us for RM20 ($5), as soon as he could find the woman that he took on a tour. We couldn’t be more grateful!
The woman, who turned out to be a young Italian girl (she wasn’t much of a talker), turned up much later than the time they had arranged, but I was just happy to be going back to the guest house to take a shower. We were all dropped off in town and as we were about to pay the man, he refused to take any money. Quite a generous gesture to say the least!
So as you can see, throughout my stay in Cameron Highlands my eyes feasted on green landscapes and my lungs got plenty of fresh air. I sipped on cups of teas while enjoying the view of beautiful tea plantations and walked the hardest trek ever (for me). I imagine it was much more authentic and less crowded with tourists years ago (and without a Starbucks!), but I guess it’s an inevitable result of globalization and various interests. Nonetheless, I highly recommend adding this place to your itinerary.