Cameron Highlands is on Malaysia's 'must-see' tourist trail. Every agent from Malacca to Penang can organise a visit there - hotels, transport, tours of the tea plantations.
I can see why. Rolling hills covered with patchwork tea trees are beautiful, in a gentle, undramatic way.
Yes, I did a tour - it is the easiest way to get into these hills and be sure you see them at their best. With photo stops at the most advantageous viewpoints:
There was the obligatory stop at a tea plantation, of course, with shopping opportunities and the chance to sample a cuppa while you enjoyed the view.
We were also led round the processing plant - which had changed since I was last here. Eight years ago we could wander alongside trays of drying tea leaves and soak in the bitter smell of their drying. Then into the factory where it was impossible to hear the guide for the din of machinery.This time I visited on Saturday, and so the machines weren't working. Even so, we were safe behind protective plastic - looking at the workings from a distance, keeping our fingers away from that tempting tray of drying leaves. (So much more satisfying than pot pourri!)
From the tea station we went to a Butterfly Farm - which was, to be honest, a bit tired. Even this snake seemed to wonder if it was all worth the effort.
Having said all that, I enjoyed the morning.
I could have taken myself off along walking trails if I'd stayed longer than a couple of days. And I can't help wondering if the walking trails took the unwary traveller towards the less scenic corners of Cameron Highlands. For, while a few valleys are preserved by the tea producers, far more are farmed - legally and sometimes illegally - under polythene. Acre after acre of plastic tunnels - growing strawberries, and cauliflowers, and chrysanthemums. I stood on a hillside to gaze at plastic twinkling in the sunshine, stretching for mile after mile after mile. It isn't pretty - which is why I have no photographs.
The Malaysians know it isn't pretty. I read an article about it in a newspaper: efforts are being made to prosecute farmers who erect poly-tunnels illegally. But most, it seems, are owned by big companies and tenant farmers are given no choice but to comply. Corruption is a harsh word, but there does seem to be some serious rule-bending going on.
The conservationists, of course, demand a return to the tea plantations (itself a monoculture, and so of limited ecological value - but at least they are beautiful). The farmers point to the need to feed people, and to make a living. The world wants flowers - they can grown them here. If the tea plantations were restored hundreds would be out of work and families would go hungry.
There are no easy solutions. I only hope that Cameron Highlands succeeds in preserving the plantations they have left - or tourists will stop coming and people will be left with no alternative to those ugly plastic tunnels.