15 October 2010

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia - Sep 2010

Last month, hubby and I brought the little rascal one to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Yes, a 8hr car journey with an active and restless baby. Call us crazy but the wanderlust in us just couldn't resist the beckon of nice, cool weather and hot, steamy steamboat with lots of fresh veggies. It's 4-5 years since our last trip and been yearning for sometime now. We reckon self-drive would be easier since I could nurse baby on-the-go with ease and stop whenever necessary.

We set off around 6+am when baby woke up, I think he was excited too since he usually wakes up around 7am. After crossing the checkpoint, we stopped by Machap, our usual pitstop for breakfast.

And what better way to start the journey than my favourite Maggie Curry Sup! I always like the way the Malay stallholders cook this simple dish, al dente and flavourful, probably coz it was cooked fresh and using a wok. I also added a piece of Ayam Goreng; the Malayan fried chicken always tasted sedap with the spice marinate.

Thereafter we continued the long drive up north, stopping once for lunch. Meanwhile, baby did fine, slept quite a fair bit after nursing as well as lunch. I guess the rocking motion helped ease him to sleep. Other times, he was happily watching the scenery.

As we approached our destination, we decided to go up Cameron Highlands via Tapah instead of Simpang Pulai. Simpang Pulai is another half an hour drive away and will reach the town of Kg Raja first (North) whereas for Tapah, will reach the town of Ringlet first (South). Previously, we drove up from Simpang Pulai where the roads are wider and less windy. But this time, we thought of trying Tapah which some said more 'scenic'. BIG MISTAKE. The roads are narrow (only one lane each way) and very windy. If there is a slow moving vehicle in front, it's difficult and dangerous to cut lanes (need lots of guts). It wasn't really scenic anyway coz hubby was busy swiving the steering wheel and I was trying not to get giddy/puke while trying to entertain baby who was obviously getting impatient and also uncomfortable with the windy roads. The only saving grace was probably the many durian stalls along the way. Hubby stopped by one of them for a quick snack. Well, the durians were good but to me not worth it (the journey) coz durian would make me wanna puke more. So, lesson learnt, I swear not to take the Tapah exit (well, I take that back for now coz, due to circumstances we had to take the dreaded roads again during the return trip. Will explain later).

The journey took forever and I was soooo relieved when we finally reached Cameron Highlands Resort, our lodgings for the 2 nights stay. As we parked our car and unloading our luggage, the porters actually came to our car and helped us with all our stuff. We truly appreciate it as all of us were so weary from the road up. This is what we call service.

The Front Office Manager led us to the lounge area and served us hot tea with towel while arranging check-in for us. The lounge area was bright and airy, and there was an air of serenity. We already felt much more relaxed, especially with the cool weather of around 20-22 degree celsius.

After settling the check-in procedures, we were led to our deluxe room which overlook the golf course. There's even a balcony where we could chill and enjoy the peace and tranquility. The room is cozy and well furnished as expected.
After nursing baby, we decided to explore the resort grounds and also go for afternoon tea at the Jim Thomson Tea Room.

I like the colonial charm of the resort, with its long corridors, timber wood ceilings, French-style windows and doorways.
The Reading Lounge even has a real fireplace and a fire would be lighted every evening.

Time for afternoon tea!
We ordered the afternoon tea set for 2 which included a pot of tea each and a 3-tier platter of scones, pastries and sandwiches.
The pastries were so-so only.
I enjoyed the finger sandwiches which came with tuna mayo, cucumber and smoked salmon fillings.
Any good traditional English afternoon tea would come with scones. The scones were served warm, nice and buttery and the clotted cream quite light. Since strawberry is a specialty product of Cameron Highlands, the jam is definitely good. 2 extra plump sweet and juicy strawberries were also included together with a chocolate dip.

After the high tea, we retreated to the room for a snooze till late evening before venturing out for our much-anticipated charcoal steamboat.
There are many steamboat restaurants in Brinchang Town but we opted for this small eatery hidden at the backstreet of the town, which uses charcoal for its steamboat. The steamboat came in a set chargeable at RM15 per pax (I think so, can't remember) which included meat, prawns, cuttlefish, tofu, fishballs, beehoon, noodles and the star --- fresh veggies.
Not sure if it's due to the cold weather, the steamboat tasted really good, especially with the fresh veggies. We loved the watercress and ordered another portion.

After the satisfying dinner, we headed back to the resort for a good night's rest.

Early next morning, it's rise and shine to breakfast at The Dining Room.
Bread basket and fruits were first served and a few selections on the breakfast menu freshly prepared upon order.

I ordered sunny side-up with sausage and hash brown.

Hubby ordered the daily Chef's Special which was Fried Kway Teow. I must say the Fried Kway Teow tasted really good!

We took our time for a slow and relaxing breakfast. It's been a long time since we last enjoyed a good breakfast together.

After breakfast, we went back to the room where I nursed baby, got him to nap then headed to my much needed spa therapy at the Spa Village. Will blog about my spa experience in another entry.

By the time my spa treatment ended, it was lunch time. We headed to Brinchang Town and settled at this restaurant called OK 徳. The entire Brinchang Town was bustling with lots of people, probably coz it was weekend.

Sweet and sour pork, our favourite zi char dish. Pork was deep fried to a crisp and sauce sweet and sourish. Yums!
We saw people ordered curry fish and ordered it as well. Reckon curry would be tasty in such a cool climate. Alas, the fish was not very fresh so the dish was so-so only. Lesson learnt, never order seafood on a mountain.

Stir-fry Cabbage was crunchy and sweet. When the veggie is fresh, just a simple stir-fry is enough.

After lunch, we drove around and stopped by this place called Watercress Valley and bought a bunch. The watercress in Cameron Highlands tasted really sweet and crunchy unlike those sold in SG.
Then, we dropped by an organic farm located near Kea Farm (the largest market place in Cameron). Few years back, we also came near to get our veggies which were freshly dug and picked.
The radish was really sweet and good for both soup and braised dishes.

We love the round cabbage, can even be eaten raw.

Uncle digging sweet potato for us.

There were leeks, yam and some other types of veggies as well but we could only eat this much.

Next, we explored Kea Farm where all sorts of fresh veggies were on sale.

How could we not eat strawberries? The strawberries here were all sweet and juicy unlike those sold in SG which tend to be sourish. I wonder why these are not available in SG?

Along the way back to the resort, we were caught in a massive jam (apparently common during weekends). Passed by a Pasar Malam at Brinchang but decided against dropping by as the jam was bad and parking was impossible. Instead, I hopped down to grab some snacks during the jam and then we headed back to the resort for a rest before meeting a group of friends for dinner.

This purple sweet potato ball caught my eye and I bought a bag of 8 pc (can't remember the price). It was yummy! Crispy on the outside and chewy inside. Purple sweet potato has this special fragrant that was unique and unlike the usual sweet potato.

Sweet corn is another specialty and a lot of stalls were selling either steamed ones or grilled ones.

After rest, we headed to this steamboat restaurant located at the basement of Hotel Titiwangsa to join a group of friends for dinner. The charge was based on per pax (can't remember the cost, I think between RM15-20) and items like meat and seafood came in a set whereas veggies were free flow buffet-style. Forgot to take photo, as we were famished and busy eating! I strongly recommend this place, simply for the free flow veggies! Made a mental note to visit this restaurant again for our next trip.

After the hearty dinner, headed back to resort for a good night's rest as we would be returning home the next day.

Our last breakfast, hubby ordered a waffle sandwich which was really yummy.

As for me, I ordered the daily Chef's Special which was Bee Hoon soup. The broth was light and soothing, just what I needed to perk me up.

Since it was still early, we made a quick spin to the Cameron Bharat Plantation & Tea House to take some pictures. We even drove into the Boh Tea Plantation but there was no parking and we ran out of time, so decided to head back.

On the way back to the resort, we were caught in a jam once again as it was approaching lunch time and many vehicles were heading towards Brinchang Town. (Cameron Highlands Resort is located between Brinchang and Tanah Rata). We reached the resort in-time for check-out and pondered which exit to take. I had sweared not to take the Tapah exit but if we were to take the Simpang Pulai exit , we would have to endure the jam which could take 1-2 hrs to clear (as Simpang Pulai is towards the direction of Brinchang). So no choice, we had to brave the windy roads again. This time, it was worst, the roads seemed never ending and baby was really cranky. I had to cradle and pacify him while trying not to get sick. I literally heaved a great sigh of relief when we finally reached the foot of the mountain. Thereafter, it was an uneventful long drive back home with 2 stopovers for lunch and dinner.

Lesson learnt, don't go to Cameron Highlands during weekends as everywhere was crowded and always traffic jam during meal times. And never ever take Tapah exit.

That aside, it was definitely an enjoyable getaway with the cool climate, serenity and fresh veggies. We didn't visit most of the attractions as they were all too crowded but anyway we had visited most of them a few years back.

I think baby enjoyed too as he loves cold weather and was laughing and playing during the trip. If not for the long journey, we would love to go there more often. Well, probably in a couple of year's time when he's bigger, we could go again and pick strawberries together. Looking forward to Cameron Highlands again!

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