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January 10, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                      CAMERON HIGHLANDS (Part 1)

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Cameron Highlands Guide


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Selamat from Malaysia! Last week we left off at the unforgettable Pangkor Laut Resort (here’s the link to the archives). This week we finish our incredible trip to Malaysia by going into the highlands and experiencing an entirely different side of the country. If you’re interested in coming, bring a sweater -- it gets chilly up here. Don’t worry if you’re in a hurry or have ADD; there’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week’s story (it’s on YouTube, so it takes only a second to load). Also, be sure to check out my sister (Georgie-Jet) as she visits Albuquerque, New Mexico -- including taking part in the famous Balloon Fiesta (Here’s the link to her story).

Cameron Highlands are located 136 miles (219 km) north of Kuala Lumpur in Pahang, Malaysia. The fast road takes 2 1/2 hours. If you don’t want to drive yourself or take an inexpensive taxi, your hotel can hire a private car service for RM700.00 ($200) each way. There are two roads to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur: the Simpang Pulai exit (a newer, wider and less windy road) or the Tapah town exit (the old, much windier road, but 45 minutes faster). I took both (one in each direction) and I prefer the old road – not only because it saves time but it’s much more scenic. It is quite curvy, but I sat in the front seat and had no problems. A couple of friends who normally get carsick sat in the back. They took Dramamine, and also had no problems. The best part about the old road is that an hour from the highlands you come across an incredible stopping point that has public bathrooms (they charge 1RM [.28 cents]), outdoor souvenir stalls (ridiculously inexpensive), and a fantastic waterfall. Don’t miss out!

The Cameron Highlands are the highest area of mainland Malaysia. At 5,000 feet above sea level, the temperatures are quite cool year-round. They rarely go higher than 77° F (25°C) or lower than 50° (10°C). At night I wore a light jacket. William Cameron, a Scottish colonial surveyor, came upon the plateau in 1885 during a mapping expedition. Yet he did not mark his discovery, so it was not developed into a resort until 1925, by Sir George Maxwell. During the colonial era the popularity of Cameron (as the locals call it) grew, when British expatriates came there to escape the lowland heat. Soon after, British planters realized that the fertile mountain slopes would be perfect for growing tea, which back then was a highly valued commodity. As you will soon read (and see), the Cameron Highlands are still home to many tea plantations -- and much more. For more background info, including the history of the Cameron Highlands, please see this link.

When I first heard about the Cameron Highlands Resort and scanned some background information, I thought I was headed to a very quaint, quiet and exclusive part of Malaysia. I imagined a charming Victorian hotel in the middle of a tea plantation, miles and miles from civilization. What was I thinking? When we first arrived into town – yes, there’s a town; actually, three little towns: Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang, with approximately 7,000 people -- I was surprised. This is a tourist area, though not for Americans. I didn’t see any. However, you will find plenty of folks from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Europe. They typically spend just a couple of nights (I recommend a night or two).

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Drive To Cameron


Stopping Point


Cameron Highlands Resort


Hotel Lobby


Welcome Warm Towels


My Room


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