Roadtrip, Malaysian Hill Stations

Disclaimer: Generalizations and cynicism alert!
(This is more a note to myself than anything else, because I’m usually not cynical when I travel. This time I couldn’t help it, and I didn’t want to edit myself here.)

It’s been a while, eh? It’s probably the longest I’ve gone without wandering anywhere or scribbling about something wander-y. (I must admit, my new home has kept me endlessly entertained!).

It’s time for an ode to the mountains.

Except, umm, I’m speechless.

I’m a mountain person, inside out. I can’t explain the exhilaration when I rest my eyes on tall green peaks, sweeping valleys, snow covered jagged behemoths, or even rolling hills. I’ve lived close enough to a mountain range for a long time to take care of this, but for a while now I’ve been living in beach land. So when I reached out for a mountain trip (that we could afford with our last minute planning), I found a handful of Malaysian hill-stations.

A hill-station is a distinctly colonial term; the British scrounged for them in their colonies like their life depended on it (probably it did?!). In their wake, they left behind bungalows, high tea and strawberries. The colonized took these, added a few viewpoints and manicured gardens, and constructed a big fat tourist trap. And we walked right into three of those.

Bukit Tinggi – Colmar Tropicale – A man-made French village
Genting Highlands – ChinSwee Temple
Cameron Highlands – Views from Mt. Jasar

I have to admit a few fun things, though. These places were cleaner and greener than I remember Indian hill stations to be. Each one of them had a USP, albeit touristy. And the home-stay concept is up and thriving in the Cameron Highlands. If not anything else, a jungle trek and home made tea should take care of a weekend lust for mountain air.

Cameron Highlands – Everything English home-stay

And indeed, our jungle trek to Mt.Jasar with a fun nature guide couple was the bright spot of our trip, leaving us brown and muddy and happy with a post-trek bowl of hot Maggi soup. It occurred to me as we poked into the Titingwasa range that this was my first encounter with mountain rain-forests. Unlike my previous hill-station experiences, there was not much I could see through the thicket around me, even on tiptoe. So most of the time, I forgot we were on a hill, if not for my warm woolen cap.

Cameron Highlands – Hiking on Mt.Jasar. I saw a pitcher plant for the first time ever!

Oh, and since this was a road-trip connecting us between Kuala Lumpur and these three hill-stations, here is something we drooled over.

Malaysian six-lane highways, sheer delight on a road-trip (except during famous Malaysian traffic jams)!

Mental note to self: When we say mountains next time, we mean a two day trip of climbing or hiking something. Cars and tea and strawberries can wait a tad.

Photo courtesy: B

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