The beautiful Cameron Highlands are where much of Malaysia’s tea and vegetables are grown. The climate is cooler than the lowlands and so ‘rare’ cold climate veggies like cabbages and carrots can be cultivated, as well as strawberries that yield year-round. Needless to say there is a lot of Colonial British
pomp influence here – after all, it was the prime place to be posted in Malaya in the BAC years (Before Air Con), and it is a very popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, with all the progress in the last 50 years the climate is now a lot warmer – 10 degree nights instead of 3 degree – and the animals like panthers and monkeys are gone. The birds are also lowland birds now, rather than highland-specific birds, and only 3 of the original 20 water sources are drinkable due to the pesticides.
The worst jobs such as picking tea leaves are now done by Bangladeshi migrants (used to be Indians under the British), unlike in advanced western countries where we now reserve the worst jobs for our teenagers. After spending the afternoon trekking up the steep muddy slopes of the tea plantation in the rain I think I’d rather work a deep fryer at maccas than get paid 20 sen (about 7 cents) per kilo of tea leaves picked. Tea pickers of the world – I salute you!