Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BUKIT FRASER TRAVEL GUIDE


Clock tower and post office

Fraser's Hill is named after Louis James Fraser, a Scotsman who prospected for gold in Australia but eventually struck tin here instead in the 1890s. Employing Chinese miners to do the hard work for him and earning his keep by operating mule trains down the mountain, Fraser set up opium and gambling dens to increase his profits, which may have had something to do with his subsequent mysterious disappearance. The tin ran out in 1913, but the lush valley within was rediscovered as a colonial hill resort that, thanks to its 1524 m elevation, enjoys considerably cooler temperatures than Kuala Lumpur. By 1922 a road had been cut through the mountains to the valley, which soon sprouted bungalows and even one of Malaya's first golf courses.
Not much has changed since, and Fraser's Hill retains a wonderfully weird mixed-up character, where locals eat curries off banana leaves in a English cottage next to a golf course while the call to prayer sounds from the mosque.


Orientation

Orienting yourself in Fraser's Hill is easy enough: the entrance via the Gap is at the southwest corner of the valley and the "center" as such is at the intersection of Jalan Genting and Jalan Lady Guillemard, with the much-photographed clock tower marking the spot. Most restaurants and shops are clustered here, while the golf course takes up the bottom of the valley and bungalows and swanky residences dot the hills all around.
Public transport on the Hill is non-existent (the bus from Kuala Kubu Bharu no longer runs) and you'll have to arrange your own wheels in some form or another.

By road

Fraser's Hill is located 105 km north of Kuala Lumpur, around 2 hours by car. For a long time, access to Fraser's Hill was possible only via a 8 km one-lane road known as the The Gap, used by uphill and downhill traffic in turns. A new road was completed in 2001, but it has been plagued by repeated landslides, and is frequently closed for repairs.
When the Gap is the only option: Traffic control effective 7AM to 7PM. Odd hours for going up to Fraser's Hill and even hours for descending traffic.
When the new road is open: All downward traffic uses the new road, while the old Gap road is designated for upward traffic, with no time restrictions round the clock.
For road conditions from Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) or Raub to Fraser's Hill, contact the police station in Fraser's Hill at +60 9 3622222.

By train

The KTM Kommuter's northern run from Kuala Lumpur now reaches Kuala Kubu Baru, although you'll need to switch trains in Rawang (platform 2 for trains to KKB). From Kuala Kubu Baru, you can hire a taxi for RM70 one way. Arrange to have your driver pick you up when you want to return, as getting a taxi back otherwise will be tough.

By taxi

Apart from your own car, the easiest way is by using taxi from Kuala Lumpur. Normal KL taxis can't do the trip, but you can arrange one from the Puduraya bus station, or call up Selangor Radio Taxi (tel. 03-2936213) or Comfort Taxi (tel. 03-7330495). You can expect to be quoted around RM200 for a one-way transfer, but this can be negotiated down, even more so for a return trip.

For getting around Fraser's Hill, your own car is the best option. However there is no petrol station up in Fraser's Hill so remember to fill your tank before going uphill. Should you get caught without sufficient petrol in Fraser's Hill, ask the locals and they may sell some petrol to you in 1 litre bottles.
Most distances are, however, walkable if you're not in hurry and don't mind going up/downhill or taking the trails through the jungle.
Fraser's Hill is famed worldwide as a birdwatching destination, with over 250 species recorded. Winners during the annual Bird Race have spotted as many as 70 species within 24 hours!
  • Clock Tower. The central point of Fraser's Hill, this exceedingly British-looking little stone building covered with creeper vines is the most popular place to get your picture taken. The tower and the surrounding square are under renovation as of August 2008.
  • Jeriau Waterfalls, 5 km (30 min drive) from the town centre and then a 15-min walk. The falls are 6 meters high and fall into a shallow pool suitable for bathing. The area is equipped with restrooms and shelters for picnics.

The top sporting activities on Fraser's Hill are hiking and golf.


Royal Fraser's Hill Golf Club

Hiking

There are eight signposted trails around Fraser's Hill (map), although some have been closed at least temporarily after a well-publicized incident in 2005 when three young boys got lost in the jungle. Watch out for leeches.
  • Hemmant Trail. An easy 20-minute trail along the north side of the golf course.
  • Bishop's Trail. Effectively a continuation of the Hemmant Trail, this is a slightly more challenging half-hour track through the jungle. Slippery when wet.
  • Pine Tree Trail. A challenging 6 kilometer trail up and down hills to the eponymous Pine Tree Hill, and you'll have to return the way you came to boot. This is a full-day hike that will take 7-8 hours at a moderate pace.

Golf

  • Royal Fraser's Hill Golf Club. (All day 9 hole - Walking course) A short but very tight course. Open daily 8AM-7PM, green fees RM30/40 weekdays/weekends (whole day). Carry fee RM10. Golf sets available for rent at the Sports Complex.

Tennis

With such a delightful climate, Fraser's Hill ought to be perfect for tennis. Unfortunately, the courts have been neglected. Both Pines Resorts and SilverPark have courts, but they have fallen into disrepair. There are two public courts on the Pines Road (next to the Pahang Instana), but they are barely playable. The courts are filthy, so be prepared to discard your balls after a few plays (they turn from yellow to black).


While you can get your fill of Fraser's Hill T-shirts and fridge magnets from the souvenir shops around the clock tower, the most useful local fashion accessory in these parts is a pair of leech socks. Baggy stockings of unbleached cotton worn over your pants, these not only prevent unwanted blood transfusions, but also double as handy Christmas decorations if you paint on a reindeer or two.

  • Kraftangan & Cenderamata Bukit Fraser,a souvenir shop at the Sports Complex. T-shirts (RM19.90 to 35.90), fridge magnets, accessories (3 For RM10), and local souvenirs. Open on weekends/holidays only.
  • Start your visit by dropping into the Fraser's Hill Tourist Information Centre on Jalan Genting, to your left past the top gate of the Gap. They hand out a useful (albeit scaleless) map and can advise on trails and such.

For more details: wikitravel.org

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