The deep sinking feeling of aridness once again overwhelms my household. After seven whole weeks of sheer merriment spent with my beloved two eldest daughters, we are back with only three of us. My girls, by now, should have reached Volgograd for about 10 hours, probably still jet-lagged. I pray to Allah swt that He bless them with a fruitful 10 months ahead and ease them out of any predicaments.
During the last week they were here, which coincided with the school hols, the whole family members managed to squeeze a "3 days 2 nights" trip to Fraser's Hills, after much coaxing from Red and Mas. True to their words, Fraser's is indeed a place that makes one yearn to return. A small hill town (more of a village, I daresay), compared to Cameron's, it boasts an ambiance so peaceful and tranquilizing to the heart.
As to several of my prior holiday trips, the journey always pose as a hindrance, so much so, leaving me vowing quietly to never make a return visit. Tioman's choppy boat ride left me a total wreck. The bad road to Kuala Tahan was nothing to be desired, too. Now, the dwindling uphill road to Fraser's is another crying shame. For those who have sensitive vestibular organs like my daughters and I, negotiating the hair-pin curves, repeatedly, all the way up, was a head-spinning and nauseating disaster!
Anticipating an arduous journey, Sofi and Aliah, prepared themselves by sleeping early in the trip, all curled up, hoping to minimize the roller-coaster effect. Thinking that I have developed a certain kind of immunity, I braved through with only slight apprehension. Halfway through, I developed a sudden attack of nasal congestion, probably an allergic response to the kerbau meat I had earlier at a wedding. Made worse by the rising altitude and cold climate, I began having difficulties n breathing. The narrow road and gloomy weather contributed to the claustrophobic effect, reducing me into a nerve-wreck with an impending panic attack! Half irritated, hubby told me to relax as it was rather impossible to make a u-turn, panic attack or not!
After more than an hour of vertigo challenge, we reached the "hill station", as it was called a century ago by the British, whom, in search for cool climate, would scale the highlands of Malaya to find suitable spots for cool retreat. As history went, Mr Fraser was seen in the late 19th century with several mules, transporting tin ore through the hill treks. He was never to be seen again after that, thus the hill's name.
Occupying a 3 bedroom apartment in a resort perched on the hill-sides, surrounded by luscious green forest in the background and facing a majestic view of interlocking hills ala Shangrila upfront, we had a glorious family time together , immersed in joyful activities. We had barbeque for both nights, of marinated meat, prepared by the girls, from home. The ample balcony was truly apt for barbeque parties but unfortunately the very cool atmosphere and slight wind made it quite impossible to light the pit properly, thus we opted for the fire-place instead, which was quite a quaint idea after all.
With the cool breeze constantly blowing through the balcony door, we spent the night in a most relaxed manner. Some, having a game of scrabble which should be renamed squabble due to the amount of bickering the two opponents had. Some in great earnest, trying to finish Harry Potter's latest book. Mostly, we were lazing around watching whatever was on the TV. The barbeque tasted great, probably influenced by the holiday mood and also being famished after the trying journey.
Basically, Fraser's Hill consists of a small town center with several resorts, hotels and colonial styled bungalows scattered all over. the quaint small town is made up of a row of shops, a police station, a post office, a health clinic and a municipal office. In the middle is a clock tower that also serves as a round-about and a must photo-taking spot. All this is cloaked in a misty atmosphere, its beauty enhanced by the colorful flowers that thrive well in the cool temperate. Many of the old buildings here are colonial styled with white-washed brick walls, accentuated with black window and door frames. this must have been a vain attempt by the colonial British to create an atmosphere similar to their hometown.
Within the two days , we managed to scour almost all the important spots in Fraser's, taking the main route many times in a day. Of them, my favorite would be the Ye Olde Smokehouse, a name I find very amusing to pronounce. An old English bungalow, converted into a posh restaurant with rooms for accommodation plus an interior so overwhelmingly Christmas-like in atmosphere that a background music of jingle bells would have completed the mood. I read that one should not miss the scones which was rated as scrumptiously good. They, however forgot to mention that the price was exorbitant! For a set of 2 measly scones, accompanied with clotted cream, home-made jam, butter and a cup of tea (BOH tea!!!), they made us pay RM 18!! And the scones were nothing to shout about, really. I suspect they were not freshly baked as touted but frozen and microwaved when needed. Nevertheless, having tea, English style in such an appropriate ambiance is an awesome experience to cherish.
There were several trails that traverse the hilly town. Bishop's Trail became well known a few years back when 3 Singaporean youngsters got lost in it. It took us 45 mins to walk through it and indeed it was a challenging pathway with many obstacles that include walking on narrow ledge and not to mention the teeming leeches. As we went deeper into the forest, we could here a group of Baboons making jungle calls and I can't help envisaging them attacking us. Alas, it was the leeches that got the better of us. Numerous succeeded in attaching themselves to our lower limbs. Sofi had a few in her shoes!
Worth mentioning are the tarantula's nests found in relative abundance along Ledgeham Road. These hairy spiders make burrows in the hilly banks of the road. When observed closely, you'll find old brown leaves neatly lining the opening which is often covered with a cobweb. Tarantulas only leave their nests late at night, thus for spiders enthusiasts, this would mean having to bear the eerie possibilities of encountering other spooky beings as well.
Apart from the strenuous journey up and down, Fraser's Hill is a perfect retreat spot for nature lovers who pine for a peaceful hill-top getaway. Already, I am sensing that somebody is planning a revisit. In fact, I might just retract my vow of not wanting to come back. However the next time, I would be more prepared with Stemetil, asam and all! And oh yes, this time I'd prepare the scones from home as well!