Malaysia - Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands - its full of rolling green hills of tea plantations and strawberry farms - so uniform it doesn't look real. A lush humidity fills the air and old Land rover Defenders chug around the narrow roads. It is much cooler up in the highlands compared to the lower regions of Malaysia, but can be a nice little bit of escapism in peak summer from the blistering heat.
Brinchang has amazing night markets at the top of town with a wonderful array of local street food to try. You can walk around here every evening and try something different each night quite easily or just to have a look at the local produce and experience the culture.
If you're looking to get laundry done up here there is one in the central square in Brinchang right near the Check In Hotel - which is also a great place to stay with very large bedrooms and a friendly owner.
Just below Brinchang you have Tanah Rata, which is where most of the travellers and back packers stay. There is an amazing very cheap ‘restoran' here called ‘Sri Brinchang’ which does incredible Malay curries using local produce. Don't be put off by the plastic chairs and table clothes.
‘Happiness and Delicious’ Restoran does a fantastic whole steamed fish and noodles in their ‘special sauce’ if you ask the waitress. The whole menu is in Chinese and Malaysian - but just tell the waitress what you're looking for and they rustle you up some fantastic traditional dishes.
TJ’s travel and tours at the top end of Tanah Rata are a good, reliable tour company to use if you are wanting a tour of the mossy forrest and the tea plantations - they aren't expensive and you can also rent a mo-ped from here also.
Boh Tea Plantation specifically has great views over the rolling hills and a lovely little cream tea cafe with a view overlooking them. Not far from here there is a Butterly farm you can visit with hundreds of giant colourful butterflies. Great little place if you are into nature photography and want to see all the local species they have.
If you are trying to break your journey up a bit going north or south of Malaysia and want a little stop over - Ipoh is a good place to see a bit of local un-touristy Malaysian living. There are great spots for foot reflexolgy to wind down and a lot of night markets. One thing I learned quite quickly was they eat quite late here, so you will notice the hawkers don't get busy until after 9pm. This goes for breakfast too - quite a few of the cafe’s don’t open until around 10 - 10.30am.
The Old Town of Ipoh again has amazing street art so you can do another ‘street art hunt’. Some pieces are huge across the entire sides of buildings and others are smaller with objects attached to them making them 3d - really worth going looking for these!
Both the Cameron Highlands and Ipoh are very simple and cheap to get to via bus from Kuala Lumpur or Penang.