Sven, Chelsea and I drove in a rental car 4 hours north east of Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands where lots of tea is grown. We visited a tea plantation and sampled a few brews. Most of the leaves are now mechanically picked instead of by hand, except for the steepest slopes. The leaves are picked every 21 days, withered for a couple of hours, crushed, left in the air to oxidize for 2 hours, dried, graded and put into large sacks to go to the plant for processing into other packaging.
Because it is cooler up in the Highlands, it is a wonderful growing area, especially for strawberries, most of which are grown hydroponically. The hills are covered in shade houses and you can purchase a myriad of strawberry souvenirs. Tea, together with scones, strawberry jam and cream are a must!
Our next experience was "cupping" where small glass cups are suctioned to your back following a massage. These are supposed to extract toxins. Chelsea and I decided to try it. Some cups were a little uncomfortable but we have been left with spectacular suction marks on our backs (giant hikkies!) After Sven took a peek at our backs he decided to stick with a foot massage!
Christmas day 2011 was spent at Pangkor Island, down at the coast from the Highlands - back to the 30 degree temperatures - eating, drinking and kayaking.