We recently went up north to visit a friend. On the way down, we detoured to Taiping and scaled up Maxwell Hill or Bukit Larut. Now, Maxwell is unlike the other hill stations like Cameron or Fraser’s. It only has a single road system that has to be alternately divided between those going up and down as the route is narrow and steep with sharp hair-pin bends. To avoid chaos, only government Jeeps are allowed to maneuver the road driven by their seasoned drivers who negotiated the gut-wrenching bends like pro F1 drivers.
My daughter, Aliah is never into such nature trips. She hates the long car rides as she is being plagued by a bad case of motion sickness as I am too. Anticipating a grueling ride up, we both took a tab of Stemetil each. Sitting in the mid section of the Defender Jeep, we braced ourselves, praying for a safe and uneventful journey. As the jeep started moving, another stationary jeep was almost blocking our path in front. Instead of stopping, the driver slowly inched to the left, perhaps missing the drain by a few millimeters! We looked at each other, rolling our eyeballs, least suspecting that we were going to face with more precarious situations ahead!
After a few hundred meters up front, we encountered the first sharp bend, which made everyone go, “Uh Oh…” and started holding on to our seats with the strongest grip that can beat any adhesion glue, be it UHU or Gam Gajah. I’ll explain why. You see, the bend was not only acute, it was also steep at the same time, thus the driver had to accelerate as he took the sharp corner to prevent the vehicle from slipping back! Imagine! So you could envisage how we went swaying left and right every few seconds, holding to our dear lives! By then, we, the vestibular challenged ones, only dared look ahead as all other views especially down the ravines and gorges would initiate a cascade of events resulting with a pool of stomach contents on our lap!
By then, Aliah was putting on a face that obviously said “Why do you have to torture me this way?” She was changing positions every few seconds (macam kucing nak beranak, the malay says) in an effort to reduce the uncomfortable sensation, putting her head on my shoulder, on my lap or the seat in front. After 30 minutes, we finally reached our cottage called Cendana Hut. The view up there was simply breathtaking. Together with the cold misty atmosphere, the huge pine trees facing the cottage, created a faux ambiance of being in Switzerland (not that I’ve been there!) or somewhere similar!
The rooms however had the distinctive musty odor that was probably unavoidable due to the high humid atmosphere. Aliah was scrunching her nostrils as she entered the room and upon inspecting the bathroom, her bad suspicions came true. The toilet was fairly clean but with old tiles that gave it a rather sad outlook. By this time, Aliah was counting the hours to go home!
By evening it was raining heavily (hey! Didn’t we learn that Bukit Larut receives the most rain in Malaysia and that it rains almost everyday here?!) and we had to do the inevitable, i.e. sitting together in the big living room, drinking hot coffee, chatting or watching….discovery channel on ASTRO!!!! When it stopped pouring, we went for a stroll and the guys went photo shooting of birds, spiders and sceneries. The sunset was amazingly beautiful as the bright red hue filled the horizon that draped the whole of Taiping and watching it from on top of Maxwell Hill was even more exhilarating!
Having dinner and breakfast on the open wide deck that offered a panoramic view of the wide horizon across with Taiping town far below and luscious green forest all around, was undeniably an unforgettable experience. The peaceful surrounding of singing birds and chirping crickets is a definite balm for busy town people and saves trips to the shrink!
As night set in, the temperature dropped further and Aliah who can’t tolerate cold weather well, became more exasperated. She even made a comical statement, “Kat sini sejuk sangat sampai sakit hati!” “The weather here is so cold that I get heartache!” In that case, I told her that she won’t be a good candidate to study abroad in places like Volgograd where Sarah and Sofi are studying. Sofi said that the temperature there can go as low as -30 C and the heater doesn’t work so well either!
Going down the next day wasn’t as bad and we could enjoy the exuberant green view better. It was really a nice trip despite the few setbacks. Even though Aliah has vowed not to return, I might, insyallah!