Driven: Sungai Koyan to Cameron Highlands

View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory
View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory

Here is the next chapter of my “Driven” series as I go around the country finding places to drive to and enjoy the roads of Malaysia. This time around we decided on a day trip to Cameron Highlands via the Sungai Koyan route. We chose this route because of it’s amazing sceneries, smooth and wide roads as well as fantastic winding routes which allow drivers like our group to enjoy the fun and the thrill of the drive. It’s definitely a way better route up to Camerons compared to the usual Tapah route in my opinion.

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The meet up point was the BHP petrol station just after the Karak Highway toll plaza. We had to stopover again at the Petronas petrol station at Genting Sempah thanks to our government who decided to lower the price of fuel on the 1st of February which caused a number of the petrol stations to run out of fuel as everyone went at midnight to refill their cars. Getting Ron97 for the petrol cars was no easy feat at all.

The real first stop was to try out the amazing “wantan mee” at the town of Bentong. Unfortunately because it was a Sunday, Bentong was packed thanks to the early morning market. So if you are ever around that area, do try to avoid the main town centre.

Finally arriving at Bentong for Breakfast
Finally arriving at Bentong for Breakfast

Getting a parking spot wasn’t easy but the food there was definitely worth it. Bentong is a town which is famous for it’s ginger as well as pineapples and along the roads you would find intimate spots of stalls selling these produces.

View at Bentong
View at Bentong

Arriving at Bentong early in the morning meant that the morning sun is splashed across the landscape, bathing the view in beautiful warm light. Being a small town, it still has a quaint touch and interesting sights as you walk around.

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After a hearty breakfast, we set out towards the mountainous regions of Pahang and I was completely amazed by not just the scenery but also the drive. The group had such an amazing drive up towards the Bertam Valley through Sungai Koyan.

It started off with an uphill stage where the route was a little winding but traffic was completely clear. This allowed us to fully flex our car’s muscle and enjoy the thrill of the drive and thoroughly enjoy how our cars behave around the bends.

Catching up with the fast M5 as well as the Scirocco R, my little E90 320d had quite a tough time keeping up with the group. Initially when the road had an incline going uphill, my torquey car had some advantage but as the roads widen and became straighter, the top end power of the M5 and the VW cars started to shine. It took me all of my ability to keep up with them.

There were some parts of the road which were filled with undulations but it was thanks to my friend who thought me to actually use these undulations to your advantage such as angling your car in order to gain more speed around the corners. We were definitely hitting speeds that one wouldn’t normally hit at the city centre. My adrenaline was pumping through my veins and I was glad that I stiffened up my suspension for the drive.

Stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and fresh air
Stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and fresh air

The feeling you get when you catch that grip around the corner along the smooth roads is just amazing. It wasn’t too short as well because after the first stage, I was having a little bit of trouble with my tyres finding grip. I guess that was the price to pay especially after pushing my tyres quite hard through the corners and bend.

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We stopped by along the route to enjoy the cool breeze and the view as well as allow our cars to cool down a bit before heading off for the second stage. The group took this opportunity to take a couple of photos as well as replenish our fluid intake.

The second stage was just as fantastic and equally exciting as the roads became wider and the route was less of a hill climb but consisted of winding roads and straight stretches. This meant we could increase our pace for this stage and have a little bit more fun on the road. What amazed me was how clear the roads were, how wide the roads are and how quick we managed to arrive at our destination. Definitely a lot better than the route through Tapah.

These two stages were definitely the highlight of the trip and it doesn’t matter what sort of vehicle you drive or how fast you drive, you will truly enjoy the journey. As they say, life is always about the journey and not the destination, in this context, the drive to Camerons was truly about the drive and not the destination.

Lunch time at Cameron Highlands, first time having curry steamboat
Lunch time at Cameron Highlands, first time having curry steamboat

By lunch time we were already up at Tapah, Cameron Highlands where we had curry steamboat which was rather unique and equally delicious. Normally what we would get back in KL would be the standard clear soup or “tom yam” soup. Having a curry base soup did enhance the flavour a lot and it was a pleasant surprise.

The steamboat was heated up by charcoal, sticking to traditional means instead of the more convenient gas stove. What normally makes steamboat good is the quality of the base soup and the freshness of the ingredients. For this case, the shop managed to nail both of it and being in Cameron Highlands definitely helps where fresh vegetables are in abundance there.

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After lunch we headed up to enjoy a little bit of tea and scones at the original BOH Tea Centre. We decided against going to the newer one as it is normally packed with tourists. Upon arrival we were greeted with beautiful sceneries or tea plantations all around us.

View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory
View from the original BOH Tea Centre and Factory

Whilst sipping on tea and enjoying a bit of pastries, we took in the fresh air and just had a great time chatting. I took the opportunity as well to walk around and capture some photos.

After tea time, I had to head back to KL for a dinner appointment and took the Tapah route down towards the North South Highway. After driving through that route, I came to realise that driving through Sungai Koyan was a much better route and it was a lot more enjoyable, not just for drivers but even for my passengers as well.

I will definitely use the same route up Cameron Highlands again the next time around.