Cameron Highlands, Malaysia is supposed to be a top tourist destination. At first, when we went to this place our feelings were mixed, but we quickly made up our minds. This should not be on the top of any traveler’s list. Actually, our thoughts are supported by the fact, 2018 was the worst tourist season in Cameron Highlands. Looks like some already have changed their mind and rather checked other places. Why is it like that and are Cameron Highlands worth to visit after all?
Two Sides of Cameron Highlands
There are two sides to Cameron Highlands: resort hotels, a few views of pristine nature, mossy forest, and a tour of tea plantations. On the other hand plastic greenhouses long trail of cars. However, the other side is much darker, and once you’ve seen it, you can’t enjoy the rest of the experience.
The problems far outweigh the benefits. This is one of the biggest areas for agricultural cultivation, which could be a great thing, but not the way they do it. Most of the farming is done in the greenhouses with a not so ecological approach. It broke my heart when I saw the flat terraces with strawberries, where there used to be a huge hill with dense jungle.
Sadly, those strawberries don’t even taste good. No flavor and no sweetness, only the color and shape of strawberries. I don’t understand some bloggers, recommending the fruits here. Have you ever tried a real strawberry for f*** sake? There is a secret though. Here they grow also strawberries with the Japanese method, which are sold to Singapore. We got them and the taste is like our strawberries back at home.
Chainsaw as a Soundtrack
In order to provide space to grow all the flavorless fruits, the deforestation has gotten out of control. Wildlife around there is almost totally exterminated. We met one guy who was trekking in the jungle for two days and saw only one snake and a few birds. There was no sign of any bigger animals. When we went on a few hikes, it was the same story. We didn’t see any animals there, not even a snake. Just a couple of birds. It is truly like a ghost forest.
Did we let a few small things like killing animals and environmentally unfriendly practices ruin our experience? No, there was more. Traffic jams are a common thing and it looks like there are no solutions coming in the near future. The traffic is jammed because people park their cars in the middle of the main road in order to go to the market or tourist attractions – farms. Speaking of the market; they built another market opposite the existing one instead of a more than needed parking lot. Happy shopping after the meltdown on the road!
But wait, there’s even more! Their waste management is bad as well. In most places, they don’t have garbage collection, so they just dispose at the nearest available location. Plastic bags are laying basically everywhere and there is also the famous corruption. You can seldom spot a sign for waste recycling, but it ends there. It is just a sign without any action behind it.
The corruption can be seen also in forest management. What is left of the forest should be under protection, not left for further deforestation, terrain leveling and building of new greenhouses.
So are Cameron Highlands Worth to Visit after all?
In the first place, this place for sure isn’t heaven on earth (anymore), as some people might have you believe. You can relax in a fancy hotel, play golf and visit some tea plantations or join these farmers and see how their life is. We did both and we can tell you that this is an experience that is unfulfilling from the tourist’s side, and horrible from the view of the locals.
However, I am a pessimist and this article surely won’t give you thrills to visit Cameron Highlands. Luckily my Vivi sees the world through her pink glasses and she will show you some nicer sides of this place. Yes, I did enjoy our staying at the best hotel in Cameron Highlands – Cameron Highlands Resort by YTL. Staying here and a trip to the mossy forest and BOH tea plantation is unforgettable. Not to mention local people. We have met the nicest people here in Malaysia for sure.
As I said before, we were staying at Westwood Guest House, where you can see how they grow their flowers, which goes straight to the Singapore market. A family here is extremely nice and the owner has the best coffee you can find in Cameron Highlands (Trust me we tried a few and this one is far best). Anyway, stay with us, we will post articles about this farm and guesthouse, Cameron Highlands Resort review, travel tips and much more. All things considered, you should visit Cameron Highlands and aware of yourself and others how big mistake they are doing here.