On 26th and 27th July 2008, the students from ELS Petaling Jaya and the English Adventure Camp students took a break in the cool air of Cameron Highlands, a popular mountain retreat in Malaysia.
The group of teenagers from different countries, accompanied by a few staff members, left Petaling Jaya by coach early on Saturday morning. The journey took about 4 hours. The first two hours, along the excellent North-South Highway took us through Malaysia’s verdant jungles and oil-palm plantations. Then, as we steered off the highway and began our climb up the mountains, the students were able to see the traditional wooden houses and villages along the way. The view was breath-taking as the bus wound its way through hills and villages.
We stopped at the Lata Iskandar Waterfall for a while, so that the students could stretch their legs and enjoy the refreshing sight and sounds of the waterfall as it tumbled over the rocks.
The journey continued until the jungle gave way to vegetable gardens and tea plantations. We had arrived at Cameron Highlands! The first stop was at the Barath Tea Plantation where we watched the delicate top leaves of the tea-bushes being clipped. The students were allowed to walk among the bushes to take photographs.
After that, it was lunch-time, so we stopped in Brinchang, one of the pretty little towns, with its mock-Tudor houses and shops. We went to a Nyonya Restaurant, where we enjoyed traditional Malaysian food, such as curry chicken, butter prawns and sweet & sour fish.
The Rose Garden was next. This was a delightful little place with little walkways passing through every kind of rose bush you can imagine. The students loved the scents and colours and took lots of pictures of themselves surrounded by flowers.
The Honey Bee Farm, further up the road, allowed the students to see the hives where the bees were kept and to buy pure and fresh honey.
The students took many photographs at the Butterfly Farm, as they posed with some of the huge, colorful butterflies which were perched here and there among the exotic plants. There were also other creatures like scorpions, lizards and large beetles, common in the Malaysian rain forest.
There was time for one last stop at Cactus Valley where the students saw many varieties of cactus on sale.
It was now time to find our apartment. The students were put in groups of eight into comfortable apartments in Brinchang. They had time to freshen up and then we went for dinner.
Dinner was Chinese-style steamboat at a hotel restaurant. The students had a chance to cook their own food at the table. Some of them even tried using chopsticks as they dipped the food into the spicy sauce. It was certainly a tantalizing new experience for most of them!
The Night Market in the town was simply wonderful as the students could buy fruits and vegetables straight from the farm as well as freshly-cooked corn, and strawberries dipped in chocolate. Some students bought durians and had a typical Malaysian durian feast in a corner of the car-park, savouring the fruits straight from the shells before retiring for the night.
We checked out of the apartment early the next morning and the bus took us to the hotel again for breakfast. We had ‘Nasi Lemak’ and ‘Mihun Goreng’, the typical Malaysian breakfast.
Then we made our way to the Strawberry Farm where the students saw strawberries growing in thousands of little pots. Cameron Highlands is famous for its strawberries and there are many gift-shops with strawberry themes, selling ‘strawberry’ cushions, bags, key-chains and even strawberry-patterned umbrellas! Some of the boys bought them when it started to rain. Of course, everyone bought fresh strawberries to take home.
Mardi Garden was our final destination. There were flowers everywhere. By now, the students from different countries had made friends and were talking in English to one another. The flower-garden provided a memorable place to take photographs.
It was now mid-day and time to go home. Everyone was exhausted and slept most of the way back. After a lunch of fried chicken at a fast food restaurant (by popular request!), the group arrived back in Petaling Jaya in the evening.
The students’ trip to Cameron Highlands was a truly memorable part of their Malaysian experience and one to treasure indeed.