Australia and the Other Side travel blog

Ye Olde Smokehouse; circa 1920's

With staff on the patio overlooking the mountains

Birding in the early morning clouds/fog

Look, The Clouds Are Lifting

With our birding guide, Mr. Durai

Silver-eared Mesia

Forest Blossom

The heat & humidity slowly wears (melts?) you down, and so we went in search of some relief. It was found at Bukit Fraser (BF - henceforth), aka Fraser Hill, which is about 100km NE of KL.

Getting there by train, or bus, & taxi would take a few hours, while by only using a taxi a couple hours, and less than $50. After exiting the expressway from KL (~ an hour) we pass through the nearest big town of Kuala Kubu Bharu, and then begin climbing up into the Central Highlands of Malaysia. This Central Mountainous Range runs from the Thailand border to the south of Malaysia; the length of the country. The area around BF is referred to as the Titiwangsa Range, and was considered so rugged an area in the 19th century that it was not explored by the British authorities. Until Louis James Fraser (hence the name of the town) an intrepid Scotsman hacked his way, with numerous Malay locals & Chinese coolies, to the hilltops at 1500 meters above sea level. Here he discovered, not gold, but tin. Mining operations began and his business flourished until 25 years later when he disappeared without a trace ! Never to be seen again.

The British authorities determined it was a very beneficial location for a recuperation site for injured military servicemen. The Red Cross also helped fund some construction; specifically, what became Ye Olde Smokehouse in the 1920's - our hotel while staying in BF.

The area had been acknowledged as an ecological treasure due to its location in un-developed rain (actually cloud) forest almost a mile in elevation. Development is no longer allowed and hence there are huge areas of virgin forest, home to 100's of bird species, innumerable plants, and reports (rumors) of wild leopards/tigers ! The weather at a mile high was so noticeably, & enjoyably, cooler. The mornings were shrouded in cloud till the sun burned it off around 11:00. Lidia was in birding heaven, and we made excursions on our own, and with a local guide, Mr. Duria. Lots of unique beautiful birds, though getting them to pose for a picture was typically a futile endeavor; save the Silver-eared Mesia.

Ye Olde Smokehouse has also not been 'developed' since its construction, and hence a stay there is a step back in time - probably to the 1940-50's. Then there was the slightly more modern 20 instrumental (thank god) song list (which is indelibly etched in my brain: 'Love Me Tender', 'Country Road', 'I Did It My Way', 'Morning Has Broken', 'On Top of The World', etc, ad nauseum) of elevator music that played incessantly.

Oh, and the area does have not well-maintained trails, and lots of leeches - but that's a whole 'nother story !

Rather than spend 9+ hours proceeding from BF to Penang by taxi, train, bus, & ferry, we decided to take a taxi back to KL (2 hours) and fly to Penang (1 hour); cost ~ $25 each !

Ciao for now

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