The British, under the auspicies of the East India Company, came to colonialise Malaya during the 2nd half of the 19th century. J.W.W Birch, Sir Frank Swettenham, J.G Davidson and Sir Hugh Low, were amongst some of the early and well known residents to arrive here from England.
In the 1950’s, a British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, was ambushed and assassinated by the Communists, near Fraser’s Hill, another well known and famous hill resort. Early British residents and commissioners, infact dreaded coming to Malaya in those early days. Malaya, in the 2nd half of the 19th century, was not only hot, wet, and humid. It was also infested with malaria laden “mosquitoes” as well.
The British administrators of early Malaya, were more accustomed to the cool, temperate atmosphere which they found in England. Due to the above, the British residents high commissioners and other district officers, very soon found an alternative solution to solve their predicament here in the tropical heat of the Malay Peninsula.
That was the reason which soon led to the opening of “hill” resorts or “tempat-tempat peranginan” all around in our country. Amongst the cool, hill resorts, opened by the colonial folks, must surely be Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill and of course Penang Hill.
My wife and I once had delicious Penang laksa while we were up Penang Hill in the 1970’s. Genting Highlands, of course came to be opened very much later. The 6,600 meter gambling resort, started when its founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, made a decision to set up the now famous resort approximately 45 years ago.
Hill resorts in this country – Cameron Highlands, Penang Hill and Fraser’s Hill were in reality, places where early colonial administrators and high ranking British officials went for their holidays, rest and recreation. Even after the British, had finally left the shores of Malaya, in 1957, when we finally achieved our independence, Malaysians, still fancy visiting the cool and beautiful hill station of Cameron Highlands, Perak, even up till today.
As early as the 1950’s and 60’s, bus loads of tourists, especially young Malaysians, used to visit Cameron Highlands. It can be said that if you were young once a upon a time, and you have never visited Cameron Highlands before, then you would have missed a valuable experience in life.
But then, to travel up Cameron highlands, to Ringlet a town, which is more than 6,666 feet high, is no easy, matter. Travelling by chartered bus, up the winding road to the top of Cameron Highlands is no easy matter. For those who easily become giddy and prone to vomiting, will obviously find going up Cameron Highlands a big struggle indeed.
Why do so many people fancy going up to Cameron Highlands, one might ask? Amongst some of the reasons why this resort is very popular, even with Malaysian are:-
1. Then cool temperature and fresh air there.
Compared to lowland temperature of 38° – 40°C, the temperature in Cameron Highlands is around less than 20°C. Even with the sunshine shining through during the daytime, the atmosphere is cool and very relaxing. At night, the temperatures can sometimes be even colder. Spending a few nights holiday there would be very relaxing indeed.
2. Beautiful flowers and plants thrive in abundance down there.
Cameron Highlands is reknown for its large blooms and flowers. Many people go up to Cameron Highlands to see the beautiful and colourful flowers that grow there. With such beautiful flowers around, taking photographs of ourselves and our family, for the sake of remembrance, is a favourite hobby of many people.
Most people opt to travel up Camerons, during long weekend holidays and school holiday. As a result, the Cameron Highlands is indeed a popular resort, not only with Malaysians, but even foreigners are attracted by many things which the resort has to offer.
3. The abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Being a cool place, fruits and vegetables tend to be able to grow well up in the Cameron Highlands. As a matter of fact, most of our daily vegetables and fruits come from this highland.
Visitors who go up the Cameron Highlands, usually come down with armfuls of vegetables and fruits. These items are not only fresh, but they are cheap as well. Not buying these items on our visit to Cameron Highlands would indeed be a waste of good opportunity.
4. Availability of strawberries in Cameron Highlands.
Besides the Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands appears to be one of the few places in Malaysia that is known for strawberries. The strawberries found here in the Cameron Highlands may not be as big or as sweet as those in other countries, nevertheless, having the chance to taste our own strawberries is indeed a great joy. However, strawberries here may not be cheap. This fruit is as a matter of fact, rather limited and are therefore expensive.
5. An opportunity to see tea plantations.
Cameron Highlands is also reknown for the cultivation of “tea”. Malaysia’s most famous brand of tea, “BOH” tea is infact grown up in the cool temperatures of the highlands.
On a visit here, now you can see tea plants are grown and how workers, especially women, harvest tea in the highlands as well. I have not been to the Cameron Highlands now for well over 30 years. Therefore, I am not very certain if visitors there are allowed to purchase a few packets of this famous item.
6. A chance to see English “Tudor” architecture in Cameron Highlands.
One of the things few things our once colonial masters brought to this country was “architecture”. Some of the older buildings built during the English colonial era were styled according to “Tudor” architecture.
Such buildings nowadays are rarely seen in our country today. In Cameron Highlands, a visitor will have the opportunity to see such old buildings still standing around in our country. Therefore, Malaysians should take the opportunity to go up to Cameron Highlands to see those old colonial buildings.
This short article on why people choose to visit Cameron Highlands, was meant as an introduction before I begin to talk about the recent “horrific” bus accident which befelled a double-decker bus. 28 foreigners, mostly Thais died in this fateful accident that day.