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Published: January 10th 2013
A quick 2h bus ride later, and I was in Tanah Rata, one of the townships of the Cameron Highlands. This area was established as a hill station by the British during the colonial days, and to this day preserves its holiday/ retreat feel, with the ever-pleasantly cool climate and fresh mountain air. It's certainly no hidden gem though, and has entertained many a vacationeer for the better half of the last century. As LP puts it, it's "very much on the banana pancake trail". It's another one of those places that most Singaporeans would have visited in their youths, but this was my first time here. What can I say, better late than never!
Apart from its famous tea plantations, apiaries and strawberry and butterfly farms, Cameron Highlands is also the location of the big mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson (he of Thai silk fame) back in 1967. Apparently the farang
took a walk around one afternoon, and never returned, and despite extensive searches of the area by the authorities and other locals, his body was never found. Conspiracy theories abound with regards to his enigmatic disapperance, but either way, his legend lives on. I'd read about this story
when I'd previously visited the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, which used to be his home, and has since been converted into a mini-museum of sorts, so in a bizarre way it was somewhat fulfilling to visit "the scene of the crime". And that's not just my ex-cop sense acting up!
And apparently the first Prime Minister of my country Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was golfing at one of the bungalow/ chateaus here when he received word of Malaysia's decision to kick us out of the union (Singapore was part of Malaysia from the end of British rule until 1965). Story has it that he cut short his golf game, rushed back to Singapore, and has never been back to Cameron Highlands again since! So evidently, the pretty, green rolling hills aside, this place is also steeped with both mystery and history!
Stayed at Netasha Holiday Inn.
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