Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Road to Frasier's Hill


The 6am sunset from the Kota Kubu Baru resthouse was fantastic.

The day started out well enough, we all were so pooped from last night that we just collapsed in our beds (after a long chat session and gossip sharing). The morning came with some very interesting incidents, Visithra sleeping with Kazzie, was awoken by the later who was on top of her and shaking her awake when she opened her eyes and screamed. After that incident the girls were all full awake because Visithra apparently can scream quite loud. Kaz was trying to get me to wake up as well when she came to my front door and found it unlocked with the key sticking out in the door jam. That was how tired I was to not have noticed (It was near midnight when we crawled into the hotel after Eddie and Jenn's wedding) and forgot to even take my key in.

As mentioned there we four stood in the room's balcony waiting for the first ray of light to peek from the mountain range. In front of us the Kota Kubu Bharu golf course stretched far and wide and the air was ever so fresh. The morning sunrise did not disappoint. We decided to skip breakfast as we couldn't find anything really nice to eat in town and made the decision that we'll wing it and stop by some place on our way to Frasier's Hill.


Large cloud banks envelop the mountain ranges of the Central Spine with a view of the Selangor catchment dam in the foreground.

We went in my car for the drive up and after a few missed turns and about turns to find a place to eat and a place to park Kazzie's car, we found the right road up to the Pahang border. Kota Kubu Baru is a quaint town with only a few main streets and though the place looks big its mainly due to the various government offices situated there. The rest of the area is mainly scattered villages and we saw some great colonial government houses here and there and even some odder houses that wasn't real nice. The journey wasn't too eventful and the first sight we stopped to have a look was near the Syabas station fronting the Selangor Dam reservoir. From afar you could see the large dam walls fencing in the man made lake miles away and the sight of the mountain fringed lake was beautiful.


The serene river we saw on the way up to Frasiers.

The road up to Frasiers was as winding as I would have imagined. I haven't been up to Frasiers before and I was quite excited to travel there. Soon the villages gave way to narrow mountain passes with lush forests on either side of the narrow road. It was quite a challenge to navigate as the two way traffic often looked as if they would collide due to the narrow gap. We passed an old iron cast bridge on our journey and decided to stop. Here the river flowed naturally over the rocky river forming minor rapid, along it banks trees formed a picturesque panaroma hardly found in a city like KL. Apparently the area was a rest stop and recreational area as we saw families venturing down to bathe on the river banks. Our only disappointment was when a group of 3 rowdy Malay guys on motorbikes stopped as well and started harassing the girls, especially Kazzie and Han. When we decided that the situation warranted a hasty retreat we called to Visithra but she was precariously hanging from the side of the bridge trying to take photos even as huge lorries passed by and made the bridge shook. We did finally made a getaway and hoped that the biker gang would leave us be and thankfully they did.


The traffic light at the Gap guard house signaling that traffic was moving from the other direction.

The winding road was quite hard to navigate, not only were we driving uphill at quite a steep pace, the road itself was quite narrow and the traffic at the other direction sometimes consists of people speeding at over the limit for such space. Constant roadworks were also apparent to repair damaged roads along most of the stretch. Despite these, the road passed through many wonderful vistas, lush forests, huge valleys and multiple waterfalls. We passed by several cyclist on our way up and Han opened the car window and began shooting their picture to their chagrin. I forgot that the Gap was a single lane road and it was a surprise to see the one way traffic system put in place by the British being used even to this day. Near the Gap resthouse, a line of traffic had already built up and we lined up as well to wait for our turn to ascend the hourly single directional traffic.


Kazzie was so kind to get everyone corn in a cup since none of us had any breakfast at all.

The wait wasn't too long and we had fun waiting by chowing down on some hot corn sold by the roadside. The people gathered at the stop was interesting to note as well, a family of sikhs were digging in for the wait and the cyclists we passed by earlier all caught up and were their in their colourful attire after a long journey up, man were they fit. Once the traffic light turned green, we set off once again, this time along an even steeper climb and narrow road. At last we reached the top and into the town center. The first sight were a row of stone walled buildings that looked so colonial. The town center was the clocktower and roundabout while surrounding it were the commercial areas such as restaurants, hotels, golf courses and shops selling souvenirs and essentials.


A family of sikhs patiently waiting for their turn up the Gap.

Our first priority was to get food and after browsing along the various restaurants we settled on one which served nasi lemak and roti arab. The lovely old shopkeeper was trying her best to persuade us to try the roti arab which was a baked bun dipped in dall curry. At first we didn't know if it was good but Han ordered one for us to share and soon we were going back for seconds. The nasi lemak was fantastic as well with spicy hot sambal. All in all the warm food and drinks kept the chill air away.


Several of the cyclists cooling off after a hard climb up to the Gap.

We spent some time driving around the place which we though was small but instead found that Frasier's Hill stretched to a large area. Various places of interests presented themselves but we didn't have much time as we wanted to make it for the down traffic near 230 pm since we wanted to get back to KL before evening sets in. We went to an Indian temple which was having a ceremony and joined in. It was quite odd for them at first when we bunch of photographers barged in but soon enough they were all smiling as we took their photos. The organiser of the ceremony even invited us to stay for the free lunch but we declined as we couldn't stay.


An interesting post box set within a money plant covered wall.

A brief stopover at a roadside strawberry farm for eats was our last business for the day. It wasn't much and nothing as fancy as what you'd find in places like Cameron. We tried the jam laden waffle and strawberry tea/drinks but I found it wanting, the waffle was thin and soft and the jam was a the bottled kind and not fresh preserves. The strawberry drink was weak and not too tasteful. So strawberries in Frasiers is a no no. Driving down wasn't much of a problem but navigating the winding road and avoiding falling asleep was one thing.


Han taste testing the roti arab.

The bottom line was that Frasiers was a nice hill resort, not to glitzy as Genting Highlands and not too developed as Cameron Highlands. It still is the small cool hill resort that the British developed to escape from the tropical heat and to make a small piece of England in this foreign land they somehow acquired to rule. Maybe staying there would have produced more interesting happenings and sights but we only planned a day jaunt, maybe next time.


Flowers decorating the base of the clocktower.


Menu sign of one of the restaurant in the town center.


Strawberry blossoms.


A converted colonial resthouse.


Saying goodbye and heading back down the Gap.

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