In the pre-independence days of Malaya, the British residents of the land often left the stifling heat of the lowlands and retreated to their ivory towers high above the clouds when a break from the hustle and bustle of the cities below was called for.
This gave birth to the highland stations, as they became known – with Frasers Hill, Cameron Highlands and Penang Hill quickly establishing themselves as a trifecta bastion of bourgeoisie escapism, allowing the British to enjoy the cool comforts of England right here in the Malayan peninsular when the need arose.
Much in the same way the Brits did back in the early 1900’s, present-day Malaysians (and obsessive Anglophiles for that matter) can do the same when a quick break from modern city life is needed – for a lot less of course, since an entourage of servants and valets is no longer required to make the journey into the heavens. All you need is a trusty steed of the four-wheeled variety and some willing friends to ride shotgun for the adventure.
And so it was that this Panda, Monkey along with CumidanCiki headed up Cameron Highlands over the weekend – at the gracious invitation of the Cameron Highlands Resort – to re-live the decadent lifestyles of yesteryear in the lush, cool highlands, steeped in colonial influences.
Over a span of three days, we relaxed over elegant afternoon tea spreads, treated ourselves to soothing spa treatments and were taken to explore the nooks and crannies of this quaint highland station.
The highlight of every day was, admittedly, the alimentary cornucopia that was the Cameron Highland Resort’s signature tea treat – a triple decker smorgasbord of all that is good about sweet treats. Tucked amongst the heavenly creations was something quintessentially British – Scones. I admittedly have a weak spot for these little morsels of baked goodness. Served the proper way – with clotted cream and strawberry preserve – these plump, fluffy little fellas were the perfect partners for the subtle aromatic teas that were being served at the resort’s quaint Jim Thompson Tea Room.
I can see why the Brits saw it fit to escape here every so often. The ability to walk and roam without soaking your clothes in sweat is quite simply, a priceless luxury. So is the ability to luxuriate with nothing more than an open window in the middle of the afternoon and not have the room become an instant sauna. A priceless luxury for those missing the cool comforts of home, for sure.
But we weren’t there just to enjoy the climate. The raison d’être for the trip was to be part of a pretty special, annual visual feast. The Cameron Highlands Resort hosts an intimate gathering of family and friends every year to usher in the yuletide season, which is highlighted by the unveiling of the resort’s charming Christmas décor and lighting. The event this year was made even more memorable as one very special guest of the resort celebrated his birthday during the weekend escapade.
Acclaimed for his creations which adorn and accompany the most gorgeous of ladies down the catwalks of Paris, Milan and New York – that purveyor of fine footwear for women – Dato Jimmy Choo turned a year younger that evening amongst swooning fans of his work.
We didn’t have to wait very long for the highly anticipated reveal. After a quick round of speeches by our gracious hosts, Dato Jimmy Choo flipped the switch, instantly illuminating the resort in all its yuletide glory. It was indeed quite a sight!
Our night didn’t end there – over a sumptuous four-course dinner featuring precious ingredients such as truffles and wagyu beef, we were wined and dined to our heart’s content, making new friends along the way. Special mention has to be made of the dining room itself. I would reckon the sheer grandeur of the room’s decor would’ve easily won nods of approval from the Lord Chamberlain at Buckingham. And you can’t possibly get more British than that!
We got the opportunity to exercise our vocal chords a bit after dinner, as carollers led the way with classic Christmas tunes and the crowd enthusiastically followed. There’s just something quite magical about getting a roomful of people belting out Christmas carols in unison. The magic of Christmas really comes shining through, especially in a place with so much colonial history to go along with it.
As much as we enjoyed our journey back to the gracious, elegant colonial times, eventually reality – and the need to get back to the job that pays the bills – beckoned. And so it was that after three short, but enjoyable days, we left the cool comforts of the highlands and its yuletide charms for the big city.
I’m SO ready for Christmas!
– written by Java Panda
***Cameron Highlands Resort,
By The Golf Course,
Tel: 1-800-814652 (Malaysia Toll Free) or +65-6226-3310 (From overseas)