Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winter Travels 2013 - Part 3: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia

Fraser's Hill, or Bukit Fraser, as it is officially called in Malay, is a tiny hill station located in the Titiwangsa Mountains, not too far from Kuala Lumpur. The area is noticeably cooler than the steamy lowlands between the mountains and the coast, which is of course one of the main reasons that a hill station was established there in the first place. As a result of the mild and wet climate, the vegetation is a luxuriant mix of tropical and temperate species, and the lush rainforest that surrounds the hamlet on all sides appears constantly ready to swallow back up the sparse buildings.

Selamat Datang Ke Bukit Fraser - Welcome to Fraser's Hill!

 The town square with its tiny clock tower

Lots of flowers in the town center

Plantings by the side of the street

The road winding away into the rainforest

The ascent to Fraser's Hill requires driving up a narrow serpentine road that winds its way through lush jungle, the composition of the vegetation slowly changing with increasing elevation gigantic tree ferns and towering bamboos become more and more common. Apart from beautiful plants, there is other wildlife also - we saw at least two different species of monkey observing us from the edge of the road! Once there, we had a picnic in a small pavilion in a grove of Southeast Asian pines (Pinus merkusii) followed by a stroll around the minuscule town center which was quite literally dampened by rain showers.

View over the golf course that abuts the town square

A beautiful rain-speckled hybrid tea rose

A flower - some sort of gesneriad perhaps? - that was growing out of cracks in retaining walls throughout the area

A pale pink Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

No damaging the plants!

After touring the tiny town proper and driving around the area a bit we had lunch at Ye Olde Smokehouse. The food was nothing to write home about but the peaceful colonial-style setting was lovely indeed. While lovingly decorated, the place was hardly immaculate; both the building and the garden were showing clear signs of age and of the effects of the perpetually wet climate. However, as is often the case in such places, that was really part of the charm.

At the entrance

A swing in the garden

The nicest Tibouchina specimen I have ever seen

An epiphytic orchid flowering in the garden - perhaps some species of Coelogyne?

Azaleas

On the terrace

One of the fragrant bouquets inside

After lunch - and with the showers having abated a bit - we spent some more time exploring the area. Apart from the various lodges, company retreats, and private homes scattered in the hilly jungle, there is also a small lake on which one can ride boats - we did not - next to a small, somewhat forlorn nursery and a Hindu temple. In addition to all sorts of flowers, the nursery grows strawberries, which do not exactly thrive in lowland Malaysia and are therefore very much identified with highland regions in this part of the world.

View across the little boating lake

Eucrosia bicolor, a pretty flowering bulb that had been completely unknown to me prior to this trip

A look into the nursery

A very small - and very yellow - Impatiens at the nursery

Beautiful Brugmansia

Luckily, Fraser's Hill will likely remain as small and somewhat forlorn as it is now, for the government has ruled out further development of forest land in the area. I, for my part, want to explore more (former) hill stations now - Cameron Highlands, Shimla, Darjeeling... There are so many to discover!

1 comment:

  1. That is lovely! You can almost feel the warm humidity in the air just looking at those photos :)

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