“Cameron Highlands is to Malaysia what a boner is to a man, a bulge along the front side of the backbone extending out towards the atmosphere, to some an object of attraction and to others of repulsion”
“It's cold here.”
Cameron Highlands is Malaysia's biggest hill resort. At 5,000ft above sea level, it's a mystery why people actually take time off their mundane lives to visit this place. Not only is the climate cooler than the rest of the country, but even the air lacks the familiar stench of sulfur and smog that most Malaysian urbanites are so used to.
Cameron Highlands was first stumbled upon by William Cameron, a Brit who got lost in the forest. He did not want to lose face to his crew, and so upon reaching the peak he gave this whole speech about how "enamored he was by the wide area of gentle slopes and plateau land". Since white people at the time were easily excited, Sir Hugh Low believed the crap spewed by William and immediately set out to built hotels, resorts, unplanned towns, and open farmland. Which is kind of redundant since he beautifies the place for tourists, then uglifies it with farmland.
edit Getting there
Frankly, getting there is a bitch. It’s a wonder why people try. The road from Tapah to Cameron Highlands is narrow and windy. Ever so often, the tourists that travel up there have to stop their vehicles to throw up beside the road. The natives that live along the road are turning aggressive and will spear anyone that chunders on their territory. So if you do find yourself amongst the unfortunate few who dare travel the windy path to Cameron Highlands, be sure to bring many barf bags to keep your load in. Of course, this raises the possibility of causing others in your car to vomit as well because your spew doesn’t exactly smell like a bed of roses.
A different approach would be to use a helicopter. This mode of transportation is the best way to get to the highlands, but you either have to be royalty, in the military, or own your own chopper.
edit Things to see
The first thing that greets your eyes as you enter Tanah Rata, the main town of Cameron Highlands is…an apartment. That’s right, after spending a gruelling hour and a half journey up the spew-ridden road you’re rewarded with a view of apartments, and if you’re lucky, you might catch the residents hanging up their panties and boxers for drying. These apartments are called O’ly apartments. The origin of the name is beyond everyone.
edit Golf course
The 18-hole golf course is surely a sight to behold. So much that Japanese tourists are more willing to fly all the way to Malaysia to play golf here than pay to play in their own country (FACT). What makes this golf course so special is that it doesn't pretend to be something its not, like having a swimming pool at the club or a posh restaurant upstairs. Its a regular non-exclusive golf club.
From time to time, the aboriginals or "Orang Asli" will sneak in, and forage for golf balls in the woods or sand bunkers and then sell them off to gullible tourists. But this isn't so bad as the money you spend on used golf balls that you don't even need will contribute to the survival of the orang asli. And by survival I mean their regular visits to the local games arcade.
edit Tea plantation
Also not to be missed are the tea plantations. There are a total of two plantations in Cameron Highlands and they are both exactly the same. Tourists are usually awed by the sight of the mountain sides brimming with tea but get bored of it after 15 minutes. That is when they realise that the arduous journey up the highlands to look at tea was not so worth it after all and so they shuffle back into their hotel rooms and weep.
For those who have not learned their lesson, they might want to take a drive up more windy, mountainous roads to the tea factory. Getting there is no easy task as the road is wide enough for only one vehicle to pass at a time. Adding to that, the mountain side protrudes out on one side of the road and slopes down dangerously into a ravine on the other. If you somehow manage to survive the drive, you will finally reach the factory which will most probably be closed. So in order not to look like a loser that came all the way up for nothing, you end up buying hot tea at 3 times the price at the tourist teahouse while contemplating suicide.
Visiting the farms in Cameron Highlands requires great endurance. The nauseating smell of dung and fertiliser fills the nostrils to the point of wooziness, and the flies in these areas come in droves, usually nesting in the hair and lower neck regions of unsuspecting tourists, causing severe cases of dandruff and hair loss. Still, some people find this prospect appealing and they stop by the farms anyway, taking close-up pictures of lettuces, carrots, chillis and other vegetables. If the tourists stay too long however, the farmers start to think that the tourists have never seen vegetative lifeforms before and will promptly wrap up a few fresh cabbages and give them to the tourists...for a nominal fee of course.
edit Strawberry farm
Unlike typical farms, strawberry farms are much better maintained and more tourist friendly. Tourists have the awesome opportunity to pick and eat the strawberries at their leisure...for a nominal fee of course. Thats right, you PAY the strawberry farm owners to do the dirty work of picking the fruits for them. Sure, the prospect of being able to eat unlimited strawberries is quite tempting, but the best strawberries have already been picked and made into synthetic strawberry jam. ONE whole strawberry for every jar. So all thats left are the small, sour strawberries which make you cringe every time you eat them.
edit S.K. Convent
Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent. Situated on a hillside overlooking the town of Tanah Rata, first built by the British during the colonial era as a military hospital, and till today still retains its British / French architecture.
It was transformed into a Roman Catholic church and school in the 1970's and still stands as a wonderful sight to behold. By the way, don't bother trying to take pictures from the Tanah Rata main road, as the view is hogged by an overgrown fern tree and electricity cables. BUT the reason I listed this primary school in the "Things to See" section isn't because of its grand architecture, nor its rich historical value. I listed it here because it is the only Convent which is a co-ed school! Yep, BOYS are allowed to study here.
So bring along some sand in a plastic bag and maybe a camera. Wait till school is out and watch in amazement as BOYS run gaily out the gates, playfully lifting each others skirts and gossiping about their asexuality. Feel free to poke them with sticks and throw the sand in their eyes while laughing cruelly as they run away crying their pansy-asses off.
It is even more fun if you happen to see a kid in town, still in his school uniform. Go up to him and ask him which school he is from. If you're lucky, he will say "Convent". Immediately after his response, burst out in pangs of belly laughs, give him a few titty-twisters and punch him in the nuts. No one will arrest you or pay any attention for it is normal for Convent Boys to be treated this way.
NOTE: After the cock punch you so expertly delivered, the boy may lie unmoving on the pavement, so you might get cited for littering if you just leave him there. Please keep Cameron Highlands clean and dispose of all garbage in the bins.
edit Cultural differences
Cameronians usually think of themselves as great drivers. The reasons for this are outlined below:
- No one drives an automatic car.
- The topography is such that one has to master stop/starts on very steep hills.
- Taking sharp, blind corners is a commonality for Cameronians.
- When driving near the farms, locals speedily veer and steer clear of Land Rovers used to transport vegetables...for you never know which ones have worn out brakes. And almost 40% of them have worn out brakes. Fortunately, the land rovers are concentrated only in these parts of the country, call it a land rover saturation phenomenon if you will.
- Locals make full use of the high beam.
If you are a tourist driving in Cameron Highlands (especially with a Singapore number plate) you can be sure that a local driver on your tail is cursing you to death for your slow ass, amateurish driving, and you will be ridiculed and laughed at for applying too much brake when taking the corners. Also, due to the lack of street lights in many areas, locals sometimes use the high beam. But the word "USE" here does not mean simply switching the light on and leaving it like that. Locals expertly turn them OFF when they pass an oncoming car, and turn them ON again after. Some lowlanders who discover this hidden feature of the car cruise around with the high beam turned on the ENTIRE time, all smug and with their nose up their arses. Again unbeknowest to them, the locals are chanting death spells upon them for being inconsiderate crotch-faces.
Best thing to do in this situation is park your car in the O'ly apartments before you enter Tanah Rata, and hire a taxi or two to drive your proletarian ass around town. It is recommended to cover up the windows of your car, for rumour has it that a certain Chinese woman known only as "Y.H" living in O'ly apartments loves to spy on incoming cars through her semi drawn curtains while sipping on warm beer.
Cameronians are also champion gossipers. But they should not be judged because frankly, without gossip, the life of a Cameronian would suck. Try putting yourself in the shoes of a Cameronian...No shopping malls or Haagen-Daas means no shopping therapy or "stuff-my-face" therapy for women...No seedy bar to pick up chicks in or a neighbouring town to invade for men to vent their frustration either. So people turn to gossip.
The gossip usually revolves around some new guy who moved in the neighbourhood or a rape/murder case down the road. But the juiciest of all gossips in Cameron Highlands is when people get married, especially if the couple are inter-racial, have age gaps of more than 7 years or are both below twenty-two. Immediate speculation will travel around Cameron Highlands at the speed of light! The top speculations on the reasons of the marriage are:
- Someone got knocked up
- One or both are muslims who were caught having pre-marital sex
- One party has used black magic to entice the other into falling in love with him/her
- A huge sum of money is involved somehow
- They did it to spite their parents
“You call it a bush, Cameronians call it a fern, You call it a flower, Cameronians call it a weed, You call it a marriage, Cameronians call it unplanned pregnancy ”
edit Urban legends
edit Jalan tengkolok
One of two roads connecting the town of Tanah Rata to Brinchang, Jalan Tengkolok is the road less traveled upon. It is therefore poorly maintained, and the District Office did not even bother installing street lamps along the road. Rumour has it that a ghostly figure of a man clothed in white with long hair and shiny red eyes roams these streets at night. The most famous encounter was when a group of school kids decided to go ghost hunting in 2004. They took a slow ride down the road with their headlights switched off. The driver caught sight of the ghostly figure first, apparently "floating" parallel to the car. The driver was in such a state of panic that he stopped the car, opened the door and ran out screaming. By then the ghost had become aware of the presence of the car and started floating towards it. The youngest kid, front seat passenger at that time, was said to have jumped into the driver's seat and sped away. Two more accounts of people travelling that road on the same night tell of a similar encounter. The District Office has now installed street lamps and assured the residents of the non-existence of this so called ghost.
Still, this did not stop the legend of the Jalan Tengkolok ghost, nicknamed "Dinesha" from spreading like wildfire amongst the locals. EPILOGUE: The schoolkids later went on to live comfortable lives, some to study and settle abroad, except for the youngest kid, whose balls shrank to the size of raisins after the incident and could not produce sufficient testosterone to sustain his manliness.
In 2006, he underwent a sex change and sold his body for money at stripper joints in Kuala Lumpur.
edit Current development
It isn't so much a development as it is a degradation. All this while, Cameron Highlands has escaped the gourdy glow of traffic lights that plagued every other town and district around the country...until recently. But there is an interesting story behind it all. The Sultan of Pahang recently made a visit up to the highlands, during which a little boy crossed the road in front of his limousine. Mr Sultan then commented that they should have traffic lights to aid road-crossers.
The pathetic government officials, being a bunch of ass-kissing yes-men, decided to install 5 (count them) traffic lights in the town. Not in front of a junction...but right smack in the middle of a straight road! Since its installation, the lights have never been used... whoopee! There goes district funding which could have been used for a much better purpose, like maybe lip collagen injections for the officials so that their ass-kissing will cover twice the amount of butt-cheek area than it previously did.
Then there's the very welcomed New Bus Station. Upon its completion, it was predicted that traffic congestions would decrease dramatically. There was only one problem...The parking spaces were not big enough to fit the buses! And speaking about parking spaces, the hump on the ramp leading to the upper tier of the bus station is too high, thus causing damage to the under-carriage of vehicles driven by those who dared to drive up there.
The engineer and town-planner who thought up this bullcrap should have their heads flushed down the toilet.
edit Post 2005
Cameron Highlands used to be peaceful and tranquil. Writer’s came to think. Artists came for inspiration. Students came for retreats. Businessmen came to compliment their uneventful lives with more uneventfulness. Foreigners came to take a break from smelling bodily odours on crowded Kuala Lumpur trains. It was the tired man’s escape.
But how things have changed. The place is now crawling with tourists. I use the term “tourists” liberally here…they are more like lemmings, blindly following the herd up the mountains and (hopefully) off a bloody cliff! These people make a day trip up the Highlands on the weekends…And for what?? To buy fresh vegetables?? Forgive me for having a brain but:
o 2½ gruelling hours driving up an extremely narrow road o and another 30 minutes to find parking o and 1 hour wrestling with other shoppers to buy goods o and a 2½ hours driving back home
All that for vegetables that are only slightly fresher than what you can get from your local supermarket is NOT worth it. Then there are the other lemming tourists who think they’ve outsmarted the masses by booking a hotel room and staying for the night. They spend all that time driving up the mountains to end up in a hotel room, and don't leave the room because the traffic is so bad in the evening, then drive back home the next day. Congratulations dumbass, you have accomplished nothing.
“But we drive up there for the cool climate, we don’t mind staying in the hotel room the whole day if the temperature is optimal LOLOLOLOLOL”
Wrong again turd-face! You can experience the same optimal temperature in ANY hotel room. It’s called Air Conditioning. Try it sometime.
The other party contributing to the problem are the roadside vendors. I use the term “vendors” liberally here…they are more like fungus, sapping up resources even after the host is dead and spreading spores all over the countryside. I swear if I see one more stall selling stupid strawberry shaped balloons…
The worst thing about these fungi vendors is that they are not even locals. They come in, take the business that was meant for the locals, litter everywhere and leave. Good thing the locals wouldn't be caught dead selling a strawberry shaped balloon… In the end, what pisses Cameronians off the most is the congestion. Vendors set up their stalls by the main roads, causing traffic to slow down significantly. You would have to be a complete moron to not see a problem with this. Then again, the authorities are complete morons anyway, so it makes sense.
So may I offer a suggestion: How about, you allocate a plot of land specifically for vendors to set up shop? And have it a few kilometres inland, AWAY from the main road. Nobody cares if your pathetic planning of this new plot of land results in massive road blocks or road fatalities…as long as it is AWAY from the main road. Let the lemmings and fungus smother themselves to death with strawberry balloons for all I care.