Cameron Highlands: Strawberries

Today was an interesting day. Some quick research showed that to get from KL to Cameron Highlands, a taxi was only marginally more expensive than an unreliable coach from the centre of town, so we opted for this option. We were expecting to pay 400MYR but they charged 650MYR and we couldn’t get them down on that which annoyed us, but we were quite keen to get on the road and get to our destination quickly so we finally agreed to it. Off we set. 45 minutes later our driver announced that he’d never been to Cameron Highlands before and was a little lost…a further 45 mins more we sailed past KL again! “a little lost?! entirely wrong bloody direction, mate!!”. He said it was ok because he knew this other way better but Sarah kept an eye on the map for safe measure. We found our beautiful English hotel and grabbed ourself a table outside for high tea and scones.

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There doesn’t seem to be much to do in the Cameron Highlands except drink tea and go on little walks, so with the first agenda point happily ticked off, we donned our walking shoes and set off exploring.

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The temple wasn’t very exciting but it was a nice walk, particularly as the mist suddenly rolled in super-fast, engulfing everything in its path, rather magically.
Our stroll then took us to a wonderful market, selling a huge array of savoury and sweet foods.

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Ah, the strawberries. Famous in these parts. But boy, do they milk it. They don’t just sell punnets of strawbs, but they’re also on sticks, dried, jammed, you name it. They sell strawberries on pencils, on keyrings, on balloons and umbrellas. There are strawberry socks, earmuffs, tshirts, oven gloves, cushions, purses, lollies, hats, slippers…you get the idea. If you can include a strawb, they’ve done just that.

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Think it’s safe to conclude: they like strawberries.

I wasn’t too fussed, particularly as I’d found a new favourite thing: Putu Perak. Oh this stuff is da booomb! I can’t find a recipe online to share but it’s basically a steamed millet cake – a sweet cake on the outside with a salty, coconut filling. The sweet and salty flavours are so delicious that I need to buy some more before I leave this place. We washed it down in a local non-English-speaking coffee hut, with condensed-milk-sweetened tea.

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Full from my Putu Perak, I didn’t need a full dinner, but the girls were still hungry so opted for a local diner. The place looked like a dive, even by traveller standards, but Jen was confident that with so many locals there the food must have a high turnover and be fresh. Without English translations on the menu, they went for a name Jen recognised from London. As we waited for the delicious dish to appear we were overjoyed at seeing a cockroach scuttle across the nearest table. Well, Sarah and I were overjoyed as we weren’t eating so found it hilarious, obviously. It seemed to make Jen and Holly even more excited to get their Malay slop into their bellies.

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After a brave attempt to make a dent in the huge portion, we reminded them that for £1 they might be better off leaving it, while we make a runner for the market stalls instead. The market food was terrific, and we all managed to avoid a night spent bent-double over the toilet. Much better 🙂

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