The Cameron Highlands: Malaysia

(True story, personal share. Enjoy!)

My first vacation was at the age of 3, to a place in Malaysia called the Cameron Highlands, a mountainous region with valleys, hills, and Venus flytraps. It was known for its tea plantations and strawberry farms.

As a toddler, I didn’t know that this would be my family’s chosen holiday place for the next few years. We went there every summer until I was eight.

Though I haven’t returned for two decades, I still have vivid memories of the place.

Every morning, we’d wake up early and have breakfast with the other guests at the lodge. The adults would speak among themselves as I played with the other children in the garden. There was a red wooden jungle gym designed like a small barn. We would swing around and play on the slide, bounce on the see-saw with carefree innocence.

I’d make mud-pies and feed them to the adults, showing off the “brownies” I had made.

My funniest memory was at the age of three. It was an odd day though, the weather was strange. Clouds and sunshine danced in the skies as I embraced liberty in the fields. I ran, enjoying the wide-open space — a luxury that I didn’t have at home, in the city.

Out of nowhere, a rooster popped out and stared at me.

Being the curious child I probably still am, I ran towards this creature in hopes of befriending the bird. The rooster had a whole different agenda though, jumping out at me without warning. It attacked my face leaving surface grazes, nothing too damaging. Still, I wanted to play with the rooster despite my angry father yelling at the thing. I must’ve found it amusing for I wouldn’t stop laughing.

Another memory I’d had was on an afternoon hike when I was eight. My father had walked ahead with some friends and went back to the lodge, leaving my mother and I to make our way back together. It was around five o’clock in the afternoon, still a good hour before sunset, nowhere near nightfall.

Right as the group went out of sight, mother and I noticed this strange man who had apparently been trailing us for a while. Mother was apprehensive, and cautiously pulled me into the bushes. She whispered to ask me if I remembered the short-cut we had taken through the hills, and I said “yeah…I think so…why?”

We trekked through the jungle and came out near the back entrance of the lodge, safe and sound.

Despite being attacked by a rooster and followed by a stranger, I have fond memories of the place because each trip opened doors to new friends. I had friends at the lodge who were also traveling and visiting. I made friends at the boarding school, a few of whom are still in contact now. In my early travels, I learned the importance of friendship…

Thank you, Cameron Highlands.

Mikavelli

cameronhighlands
Photo: Tea Fields by Will Ellis

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