We spent the morning on a long walk into the little town of Fraser’s Hill and back again, completing the “telecoms loop”. It was a perfect temperature, gently undulating rather than hilly so not too challenging. Even though we were walking on the road, we only encountered about half a dozen vehicles.
But mainly, we just enjoyed the songs of the birds and the insects, the squirrels and the monkeys. As usual, we heard more than we actually saw. Speaking of which, we still don’t know if it was a bird or there really was a wood saw somewhere in the distance.
The rustle in the trees made us look up into the face of this dusky leaf monkey, or dusky langur. He watched us for a minute, but didn’t come down to say hello.
There were at least a couple of others, we caught a quick glimpse.
The views were fantastic: lots of green, unspoilt, we could only imagine what kind of wildlife was in there.
Before setting out, though, we’d had an early breakfast, parathas and dahl, toast and jam, tea and orange juice. The cereal remained untouched.
Overnight, our host had left a mercury vapour lamp turned on, outside in the garden. It attracted dozens, if not hundreds, of moths and other bugs onto the white screen.
Carniverous squirrels came into the garden to feast on the insects, and they sounded very nice, tasty and crunchy. Not so keen on the ones that screamed in agony, to be honest.
A nice variety of birds appeared too, very quick, and almost impossible to take pictures of them.
However, Liesel has taken pictures of the birds we’ve seen from one of Stephen’s books: it’s good to be able to put a name to the wildlife.
Amongst all these bugs we found a beautiful butterfly.
Just a coincidence that this picture was sent to us budding entomologists at the right time.
Stephen told us that this mantis is one of the rarest species in Malaysia. Such a shame then thet Liesel witnessed its demise at the beak of a robin.
In town, we had a pot of coffee at the hotel, with a jug of hot milk, and when I say hot, the handle-less jug was far too hot for me to handle. Liesel’s asbestos fingers managed.
The walk back from town was slightly harder, being more uphill and when we viewed the wider expanse of jungle, we again wished we’d booked this place for a longer period.
And they’re trying to look after the wildlife: at least, according to this poster.
Yes, it gave us an idea of what creatures we might be lucky enough to see. Tiger? No such luck!
So far, they’ve resisted the level of development that we saw at Cameron Highlands, and if Stephen is right, he and the other ex-pats living here will maintain Fraser’s Hill in its current pristine state.
So, with that in mind, it was disappointing to see a couple of large buildings over the valley, certainly not bungalows. The population of Fraser’s Hill is about 1000 so an extra couple of hundred people at a swanky hotel really will spoil the feel of place.
We’d been told about the landslide so it wasn’t a surprise to find this. Many are natural, maybe too much rain too quickly, but some are caused by old, rusty water pipes breaking. This is one such example. We were walking around “the loop” which is usually given to one-way traffic. Because of the landslide, vehicles aren’t supposed to come this way for now. But then, we walked round the corner to find this.
Here, some of the road had slid down too. We heard a car approaching from behind, so we hastily walked past this point in case this vehicle proved to be the final straw, and the rest of the road disappeared down the hill. But no, not this time.
We passed a bungalow that was half missing. I said it would be nice when it was finished. We later learned that Stephen’s Canadian friend, David lives here in one half as there are no utilities in the other. The middle of the bungalow had slid down the hill many years ago and so far, it hasn’t been rebuilt!
A cloud went by as we walked along the middle of the road. It must be smoke, we thought at first, disappointed. But no, it was a very low, actual, cloud, just drifting by on the breeze. We’ve been in dense clouds before, on hills, at altitude, but we’ve never seen a lonely cloud like this before, just above ground level. Fraser’s Hill reaches up to 1500m above sea level on this loop, and this is a common phenomenon, apparently.
Back in Stephen’s garden, we admired the orchids, said hello to the geese and had another look at the now depleted bug population on the screen. There was a storm in the afternoon, but still, we enjoyed watching activity in the garden from indoors.
Stephen and his wife Samiah had business down in Kuala Lumpur and they apologised because our evening meal might be late. In the end, they were still in KL at 5:30 so they called their friend David. He kindly drove us down the road to town and we ate at a Malay place, since the pub and the Chinese restaurant were both closed. We don’t know his full story, but he’s been here in Fraser’s Hill for seven years and doesn’t feel the need to move away.
Driving back, up the hill, suddenly, David braked. In the bushes, we saw an animal. Two.
There were two boars now running deeper into the bushes.
What a great day for exercise, for wildlife and for giving us a sense of enormous well-being.
It rained and thundered during the night, so neither of us got much sleep. How lucky then that we could have a lie-in… until 6.15am! It was still dark, but we had to pack and have breakfast quickly before being picked up by David the Canadian ex-pat from the half-a-bungalow just along the road.
The white screen in the garden was again covered in bugs, despite the ferocity of the storm. I had time to experiment with the phone camera and a pair of binoculars. You need four hands, really, but this isn’t too bad, after a bit of post-shoot editing.
We had a huge breakfast, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t partake of the toast and jam.
The oversnight storm had brought lots of debris onto the roads but David just drove past the branches and rocks like it’s normal.
He did brake hard on one occasion. He spotted a scorpion crossing the road.
It does look like a plastic model but it was alive and kicking, unlike his mate just along the road. David lifted it above the low brick wall, so let’s hope it continued climbing the hill.
I feel embarrassed again for not knowing the exact names of all these birds and moths and other creatures and all the plants, but it’s was exciting to see them all out in the wild.
It became warmer as we drove down the hill, and as David predicted, as we turned one particular corner, the weather changed. Beyond this point, the windows were close and the AC turned on.
The one-way road used to be controlled by time. At 10, 12 and 2, you could drive up, at 9, 11 and 1, you could drive down. Everyone knew the system and if they had to wait at the bottom, there was a place to buy tea. This shack collapsed just a couple of weeks ago,
The large number of derelict building we saw, north of KL? Not so much derelict as never actually used. They were built by a developer in the hope the KL’s then new airport would be built north of the city. Some residential properties were sold off cheap to minimise losses. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, KLIA, was build far to the south of the city, in the end.
The road was cut out of the side of the hills. In an effort to prevent landslides, some hills have been sprayed with concrete, with many pipes allowing rainwater to drain. The grey concrete looks ugly, but ferns will soon and quickly grow to hide the eyesore.
David spoke a lot about Malaysia, Malays, the lifestyle here, but he was very reticent about his reasons for being here. It was very kind of him to take us to the airport, though, devoting six hours of his day to us total strangers.
The flight to our next desination was short and sweet and I slept through most of it, despite enjoying “Londonstani”, a really good book, from which I’m picking up lots of Hindi, Panjabi and Urdu slang, innit.