Saturday, July 21, 2007

20 degree Celsius in the tropic...

Well, last Sunday my spouse and I decide to visit Fraser's Hill, the holiday resort that was founded by a British Adventurer and Trader, when this country was under the British colonial rule. It is still with its lush greens and those colonial buildings still standing. The last time I visited this resort was some twenty years ago, so this weekend trip is a sort of a revisit to see what's happening at this cool place in the tropic after a lapse of times. It is still cool like before. Still with that lush greens with the sprawling golf field nestle in the green valley. Fraser's Hill is an enclaves of holiday homes built along the hillsides. It was a holiday resort for those colonial master in an era gone by. The temperature while we were there were around 20 to 22 degree Celsius. From time to time you see mist floating just about your head and at time you actually walk through the mist. When it rain the weather became cooler. Indeed, it is nice to be there enjoying the fresh air and the cool atmosphere.

We stayed at the four star hotel there, the Shahzan Inn Fraser's Hill, the former Merlin Hotel. I had stayed at the Merlin before and this hotel still retained the fire place at the lobby. An uncommon sight in the tropic. It is a constant 23 degree Celsius in the hotel, so there are no air condition or fan provided in the building. In a way this building saved lots of energy without the air conditioned units. When we arrived and check in we saw many people enjoying their lunch at the sprawling coffee house. Indeed a nice place to be, where there are no bustling of traffics like in other towns. We got a nice room at the forth floor, the highest floor with a balcony lookout toward the golf course, a panoramic view of green landscape. This hotel building is built against the hillside and if you get a room at the third floor you may park your car at the entrance of your room.

We took a short rest after the two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Fraser's Hill is actually not that far from Kuala Lumpur. It is more or less about ninety kilometers either ways from Kuala Lumpur using the Karak Highway or via Kuala Kubu Bahru in Selangor. Now going up and down the hill is not like before. In those days one had to take turn to go up and down because of the narrow road, the only one to get to this resort. So in those days one had to wait for all the cars going downward to finished using the road downward before the car going up were allowed to travel upward. Now it is not so. The old road is use for going up only and there is another road for going down hill.

On that Sunday morning we left home at just before nine in morning and took the Karak Highway up to Bentong. From there we drove toward Raub taking the country road. Actually we should have taken the new road to Raub but because of poor signage, we took the old Bentong-Raub road. Anyway we got to Tras and from there turn left toward Fraser' Hill. The distant from Tras to Fraser's Hill is just 29 Kilometers. It is still that old country road built during the colonial period by the British. It winds its way along the hills and the river, as such it take almost an hour to drive that twenty nine kilometers. It is a very lonely drive all the way, with very few cars travelling both ways. Anyway since we have decided to take this route instead the one via Kuala Kubu Bahru, we proceed on with caution, driving slowly and eventually arrived at the foot of the hill. After a stop to take some photo of the site, I drove the Honda the nine kilometers steep road toward the resort. It took me about twenty minutes to drive that nine kilometers. It was worth the drive. The roadside were scenic with lush tropical forest and the atmosphere became cooler as we move on. We could see giant fern trees along the way. These kind of vegetation only grows well on the highland where the weather is cool. On arrival we saw the lush greens of the resort. Not much has change since I last saw it some twenty years ago, except that the are now new building of condominium further up the hills. It was indeed refreshing to see so much of greens but I was disappointed not to see as much flowers, for flowers grows very well in this cool climates.

To me Fraser's Hill should be left as it is with less physical development as possible but instead more flowers should be grown. Turning it into a sort of a flower garden. It is a great place to get lost and enjoy the peace and tranquility in a cool atmosphere. It is very near to Kuala Lumpur and it is possible to make a day trip to this place with families even just to enjoy that cool fresh country air of the highland. The Coffee House at Shahzan's provide excellent food and as such it would be a good getaway for parents to have a quality time with family members, while enjoying the sumptuous food there. A drive around the hill side would take you back to nature. This is a good place to bird watch or just to see nature at its best. The wild flowers are everywhere, so are the flora and fauna. The atmosphere and the scene here is so different from that of the city, what with that constant Twenty degree Celsius temperature all day long. It is also a pleasant place to take a slow walk on the many trails provided for that purposes. So friends, when was the last time you visit to this nature showcase on our doorstep. If you have not been there, do take a drive and I am sure you would enjoy the trip. An overnight stay would be much enjoyable for you could also dine in an atmosphere of cool in the open. Or just sit and chat at the fire place at the lobby of the hotel. They burn real wood at this fire place. Truly a cool place in the tropic. Where else could you find such place but in the Fraser's Hill.

On our return we took the road via Kuala Kubu Bahru and the road was not that lonely. From Fraser's Hill to Kuala Kubu Bahru is just 30 kilometers and the road is much better then the Tras - Fraser's Hill sector. The road and the scene is much better along this road. Just after Pertak there is a new man made lake, a scenic sight indeed. I never knew that the place is so scenic until I pass the dam on my way back home. Well friends like the old saying ' nothing venture nothing gain. To my spouse and me it was indeed a great weekend trip to Fraser's Hill. We would be going there again in the not too distance future. So You the Young, why not make that trip and enjoy the weekend in that cool comfort of the lush greens in the heart of the Titiwangsa Range. Have a nice day. [BTW the telephone number of the Shahzan is 093622300][To enlarge image, click on it]

2 comments:

Mr Bojangles said...

In 1974, after sitting for my finals at UM, I was invited to attend a job interview at the Fraser's Hill Dev. Corp. which was HQd on the hill itself.
I rode my trusty Honda 125 to KKB from KL to take the bus up to Fraser's.
Those days there was a single (mini) bus service from KKB to the hilltop with the return trip at around 1.00pm. If you missed the down trip, you'd have to spend the night at one of the chalets and with my limited financial wherewithal,that wasn't an option.
After one of the most pleasant interviews I have experienced, I decided to have a look at the type of accommodation that came with the position I had applied for. So I walked almost halfway round the hilltop from the FHDC office to the single storey bungalow. Because of this diversion, I missed the bus going down to KKB.
This was turning out to be interesting. Because now I had no means of transport down to KKB where my motorbike was parked at the Post Office which was opposite the bus depot.
The best and only option was to take a brisk hike down the Gap road(5 miles)and hope to catch a stage bus from Raub to KKB.
And that's what I did. Those days, Fraser's was one of the undiscovered beauties and visitors to the hill were as scarce as a haze free day is on the lowlands today. I did not encounter a single vehicle or soul on my trip down.Not even an orang asli. Luckily it was downhill and I could make good time. But I confess sudden rustlings in the wayside bushes or flutterings in the jungle did cause me to assess my chances of making it to the top of the nearest tree ahead of any animal or thing bent on some mischief. I also kept picturing headlines in the newspapers the following week reporting the mysterious disappearance of a university student, ala Jim Thompson who vanished in the neighbouring hill resort.
Alas, fortune must have been smiling on me that afternoon, for nothing exciting happened.Though the attendant at the Gap station must have wondered at this lonely and crazy figure appearing in the evening haze down the deserted road.
Looking back, I think it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have taken in my life with the feelings of solitariness, and only the sounds of the wind, birds and distant rumbles of thunder to keep me company in that lush green paradise.
And I was able to keep my appointment with the Raub-KKB bus which trundled into view about 40 minutes after I reached the Gap station.
I've gone up the hill a few more times since then trying to evoke the familiar feelings of that day but as you know, things like this only happen once in a lifetime and are best left as slumbering memories.
My apologies for rambling like this on your lovely blog Pak Idrus, but I can never resist telling this story whenever Fraser's Hill is mentioned.
Wassalam.

Pak Idrus said...

mr bojangles. Thanks for the visit and that wonderful story of your youth at Fraser's Hill. What a story to tell your grandchildren. My daughter is an MD and she say that as we grow old our memories of the past would be crystal clear. I believe so, like you I could still remember all those great, crazy, adventurous moments of my youth. You relate that episode of you life very well indeed. Friend we pass that path only once in over life and I am glad that you did enjoy that episode of your journey of life and sharing it with me and now with the world as well. Thanks again friend. Maybe we should me, my email address is at my blog, do get in touch. Have a nice day.