Andrew and I left the steamy plains of Ipoh for cooler climes.
Another creaking bus, another winding road, another sick bag and we made our way to Malaysias’ highest peaks,
‘The Cameron Highlands’.
We had no idea what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this.
On route, I cast my eye over mile after mile of unattractive plastic sheeting scarring the beautiful landscape.
Had ‘The Beatles’ come together here for inspiration, the song would, doubtless, have been entiltled ‘Polytunnels Forever.’
I must say, I have always been baffled by the practice of ‘Pick Your Own’!
When I was a child, my father would often drag the family to some bland farm in some home county or other where we would all set out to pick our own.
I could never see the fun in this back-breaking escapade – especially when you could pick up a full punnet in Sainsburys round the corner and save on the petrol. The extra plus being that somebody else had slipped a disc whilst gathering your harvest!
Poor old dad, he was a huge strawberry fan and so we humoured him.
Strawberries, strawberries everywhere, and everyone to eat!
So many farms, that we were caught for three hours in slow moving traffic – now that’s what I call a strawberry jam!
There must have been enough of the fruit to supply Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club until the end of time, or at least until Cliff Richard retires – whichever comes first!
In fact there were so many of the evil little red things around that it gave me nightmares.
On the first evening at our ‘hotel’ ( I use the term loosely – see later), I had one particularly vivid dream.
One which saw me being chased by a gargantuan, crimson monster, who obviously did not want to be trifled with.
An evil scarlett giant who wanted nothing more than to spread me, as human jam, on his scone, and devour me.
It was ghastly – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stomach a cream tea again!
This shouldn’t be a problem, as at our hotel, they don’t serve them – in fact they don’t serve the guests anything – not even a towel.
We are staying at a ‘Boutique Hotel’.
Yet, on stepping inside, the place is actually very authentic.
By that I mean it is clear no-one has been round with a mop and bucket since Elizabeth The First ascended the throne.
Another thing in common with The Tudors, this time the court of King Henry, are the corridors.
We wanted to check out at once but were forced to pay in advance. When we noticed the sign at reception, we knew any chance we had of leaving was as likely as Anne Boleyn keeping her head!
And so we are residing in this squalid place for another three nights – a true Elizabethan experience.
These fake, black and white monstrosities pepper the landscape all around.
It seems amazing to me that the human being is capable of taking genuinely beautiful countryside and transforming it into a theme park.
I believe this practice started when some dumb colonialist or other thought it a good idea to throw in a couple of Tudor ‘style’ mansions. Since then some tasteless investor or other, probably Chinese, has decided to pick up the historic baton and run with it – in quite the wrong direction!
The next day, to escape this ugly mess, we headed into the hills, and found a place that was truly heavenly.
A hillscape of bovine emerald hummocks – still and silent.
We stopped, despite my nightmare, for a cream tea. Well, it would be rude not to in such a setting.
The tea was passable but the scones lacked any character and, in my opinion, were doughy and a tad underbaked.
After an exhausting day in the fields, we returned to our ‘doll’s house’ for a good peaceful sleep.
However, since our arrival here, this has never been the case.
We thought ‘The Highlands’ would offer fresh air – instead we have had to invest in an air-freshener!
Admittedly, we have inadvertently arrived on the busiest week-end of the year.
It’s Bedlam! At times our lodgings sound like the orphanage from ‘Annie’!
Not surprising really, as some of the guest rooms are housing up to twelve members of the same family – it’s like a refugee camp!
How ‘Booking.Com’, the company with whom we arranged our accomodation, can give this place any stars is beyond me.
I have re-named them, ‘Booking.Con’!
However, I have been assured that once the Chinese New Year holiday is over, things will calm down.
And, after a quiet word with the gorgeous girl at the reception desk, our price for the next few nights has been dramatically reduced, she’s even promised us a visit from ‘housekeeping’ in the morning!’
So I’ll give it a little longer before I make my judgement!
It’s not ‘Off With Her Head’ quite yet!
But in the very eloquent words of Bette Davis…..