8 December 2016

The Old Smokehouse, Malaysia

Yesterday my personal facebook feed brought up some memories on its ‘time hop’ feature.  I love seeing these memories.  These memories were even more special because this marked the anniversary of our penultimate day in Malaysia.  Today is exactly one year since we left our home in Ipoh and flew into another new expat adventure.
An English cottage in the heart of Malaysia
Malaysia was not the best posting we have ever had but we do retain a fondness for it, in the way expats often do for countries they have once had a very close connection to.  I had to go back a little while ago and that was a thoroughly bizarre experience.

The southern parts of the Cameron Highlands are more picturesque than the North
The period between getting the notification that you will definitely be leaving and actually sitting on the plane is hectic, this one particularly so as starting requirements for the new job gave us just a few weeks to pack up and leave.  However, once the hassle of packing was sorted, the children had spent their final days at school and Mr EE had handed over his work we had a few days to do as we wanted.  We became, for want of a better word, tourists in our own home and we went to as many of the places we had always wanted to see but never quite managed as we possibly could. 

The Old Smokehouse
One of the places we made a point to go and say goodbye to was the Cameron Highlands.  Ipoh is situated just to the North and we would often drive up for the day to have tea and buy fresh temperate vegetables and strawberries, an unbelievable luxury in the tropics.  A colleague had recommended a hotel called ‘The Old Smoke House’ in the southern part of the highlands but we had never had the time to visit, we were determined to see it before we left.

We drove south on the main Penang/KL motorway to the southern junction access point and then up the steep switchback roads to the Cameron Highlands proper.  This route, being closer to KL, is much more popular than the northern access road which we normally used and was jammed with a lot of coaches stopping off at scenic waterfalls and roadside stalls.  Once we reached the highlands tea fields were more in evidence in the south than the lines and lines of polytunnels that hug the hillsides in the north making for a more scenic drive.  It was not long until we saw the sign for the Old Smoke House.

It was a truly dislocating experience.  Designed like an old English Cottage, complete with lawn and flowerbeds and a red telephone box the hotel was a perfect simulacrum of an English pub.  It was too cold to eat on the terrace so we enjoyed a lovely if slightly pricey and stingey cream tea in the conservatory.  The bars and sitting rooms had been decorated for Christmas and we wandered through the public rooms soaking up the atmosphere.  Although we were flying back the next day it had been over 2 years since we were last in the UK and even longer since we had been in the UK for Christmas so Mr EE, the older children and I felt an unexpected burst of nostalgia.  Mini EE who at just over one year old did not remember the Christmas tree from the previous year, was entranced by the lights. The barman was amazed that we had driven up from Ipoh, it turned out his parents lived just down the road from us.

As the light faded we drove north through the larger settlements of the Camerons until we got to the area we knew well and then the long steep road down into Ipoh and home for one last night, last minute packing and the next step on our personal adventure.

For more posts on Malaysia please click on the photo below.

Ersatz Expat

Posted as part of the Travel at Home Series

Ersatz Expat


  1. That is just so peculiar...little England in the middle of Malaysia! What a funny "start" to your UK Christmas. Can't believe it's already a year since you left.

    1. I know! THe time has passed both frighteningly fast when it comes to our human family and grindingly slowly when it comes to the pets. This little hotel/restaurant is lovely, funnily enough when I posted the pictures on my personal facebook it turned out a uni friend had stayed there as a toddler.

  2. There is something to be said for being a tourist in your own home. Seems like that was a perfect Holiday Staycation!

    1. Yes very true, we sometimes forget what is on our doorstep in favour of more exotic locations.