1. Fraser’s Hill’s most iconic clock tower in the centre of town
Always a pleasure to enjoy extended weekends; a privilege not many counterparts in the other countries can boast of. Indeed, when push comes to shove; at least we still have a cause to rejoice for and proudly proclaiming ourselves to be citizens of Malaysia. In spite of the recent (and ongoing) political spat, I felt glad seeing Malaysians from all walks of life gleefully soaking in the summer air (it’s always summer …) while seeking respite from the heatwave up on the hills of Fraser’s.
Fraser’s Hill has been one of the most popular hotspots for tourists visiting Selangor for decades now; albeit I have to admit that this was my first visit and the general interest is dwindling amongst the younger generations; instead opting for the “Big 2 Highlands”; Genting and Cameron before looking at alternatives like Fraser’s and Maxwell.
2. The Selangor Dam that you will pass by before you reach The Gap; the foot of Fraser’s Hill.
To bring us closer to the end of May, allow Motormouth to relive the memories of Fraser’s Hill and the journey to Kuala Kubu Bharu town and beyond. Once again, if you’re itching for a bite, holding off on that pertinent nature’s call or within minutes from a meeting appointment, by all means, please read this during your leisure time.
Dozens of photos ahead. And a very liberal dose of rants and ramblings. Motormouth-style.
3. As you head towards town, you will find random shops like this grocery store that could have seen better days.
Driving yourself to Kuala Kubu Bharu town was by no means an arduous feat. About 70km or so away from Petaling Jaya, the drive is relatively smooth as you can use the NKVE, then northbound towards Ipoh direction along the PLUS expressway. We exited at Lembah Beringin exit and was led by the GPS through some pretty, erm, scenic yet extremely desolated route. There were abandoned housing development, the golf course with nary a golfing cart in sight and a couple of guard houses.
Anyway, the journey was smooth and we were on our way towards Kuala Kubu Bharu town. Until, the thought of ‘Why not travel another 30km to reach Fraser’s Hill?’ came to mind.
4. The first coffee shop that will greet you is this eating shop named Kheng Yuen Lee that serves a variety of rice and noodle dishes. You’ve traveled through one convoluted path to reach here; you deserve a cup of coffee.
Only that …. you should stopped over for a pee break or a drink (or maybe a lighter meal) before proceeding up the hills. The journey to the destination was one prolonged pain especially if you’re right behind some lorries, trucks or road hogs. Even if you are driving alone, the twists and turns will definitely push your boundaries especially if you’re prone to motion sickness.
Now you understand the light meal portion. And there is NO petrol station along the way or even up on Fraser’s Hill. So please pump first at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) town before jeopardising your chance at surviving the turbulent excursion up and down the hills.
It took us about half an hour to reach the Gap, the foot of the hills before the journey got a little … perilous. The subsequent 8km up the hills will be rather taxing, hence be prepared to use your headlights, car horns and patience a lot.
5. The Information Centre housed in the Inn at the heart of the town is pretty handy. Grab a map from here and remember to talk to the friendly chap behind the counter on WHERE to go and WHERE not to breach. There are landslides around certain areas when we were there, and he pointed out paths we should not traverse.
Upon arriving at Fraser’s Hill, the mood changed to a slightly relaxed tone; surrounded by the calm of the greens, vibrant/punchy colours of the flora and the smiles on the faces of the children. It was a refreshing change from the sombre tone of the warriors combating injustice and the scorching hot weather down the hills, that’s for sure!
6. The colder climate permits beautiful flowers to grow across the landscape of town; creating this artificial yet calming sense of beauty.
7. It gets incredibly hard to get lost when every single landmark, hotspot and accommodation is pointed out explicitly on the sign posts
8. The main police station in town – since 1919?
9. And next to the police station, you will see the main post office of Fraser’s Hill
10. A dead beetle, the red postbox and benches at Fraser’s Hill Golf Course, and the sunny weather
11. Stretch of red benches for the lethargic souls …
12. There are several bungalows around the vicinity for rental and some even built around the hills; promising great tranquility yet not extremely accessible unless you’re driving or biking
The main town itself isn’t too vast to begin with. You have a police station, a post office, a few gift shops and a coffee shop for a quick fix. Then some inns and bungalows for accommodation.
If you’re lost on what to do or where to go, proceed towards the Information Centre where you can book your tours (hiking, etc) or grab a map and be on your own. Seek advice from the chap behind the counter whom was really pleasant that afternoon; showing us a clear outline of things to do and what to see.
13. Ye Olde Smokehouse @ Fraser’s Hill – It did not bother me that the weather was nowhere as cooling as Cameron (which was not as chilly as it used to be), or the interior of the Smokehouse here lacked ‘warmth’ compared to the one in Cameron.
14. Light sources from all over the place …
15. Ornaments and books that made all the difference; transforming this charming little bungalow into an attraction not to be missed
16. The TV room where we spent a good half hour or so watching Pirates of the Caribbean waiting to be seated
17. The garden, the courtyard, the wines, the steaks and the company. Pleasantly done.
18. Of course, Ye Olde Smokehouse offers more than just accommodation; they are also famed for their food and especially their English high-tea with the renowned scones
19. The fireplace that was not functioning that afternoon (understandable) but could be of use in the evenings when the temperature can drop to a low of below 20′s come nightfall
20. Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Garlic Sauce (RM55/USD18.30) – A bountiful chunk of meat cooked to medium doneness, with accompaniments of simply blanched vegetables and potato wedges
21. Roast Rack of Lamb (RM50/USD17) – Tender meat falling off the bones, interlocked with fats that infused the meat with a sweet, gamey flavour
Up for a late lunch at Ye Olde Smokehouse; one of the key attractions you don’t want to miss at Fraser’s Hill, we found out the hard way that they are somewhat under-staffed and the rustic structure of a bungalow has definitely seen better days. You can make your reservations first prior to your visit, but walking in without one was just as cool.
We were invited to seat at any of the couches in the rooms on the ground floor (upper floor is for room guests only), then the waiter took our orders. Thankfully, we were placed in the TV room. Hence itchy hands reached for the remote and the Astro channels kept us occupied for the next half an hour or so.
Once our food were almost cooked and ready to be served, we were ushered into the dining hall which was dimly-lit and reminded me of her Cameron Highlands’ counterpart with monochrome checkered-floors, wooden dining tables and candle stands on the tables.
The menu includes a variety of usual suspects; Beef Wellington, Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, various cuts of Steaks, Roast lamb, Bomb Alaska, Crepe Suzette and English High-Tea served from 3 – 6pm.
22. If the weather permits, and the sun was not burning a hole behind your neck, go for the finest al fresco dining arrangement. Best to pop open a champagne or two and nibble on their cakes and savouries.
The food was not exemplary nor the experience deserving of a Michelin star or two. Accommodating as he was, or at least admirable for how hard he tried, the waiter was at lost when queried on the items on the menu (Angels on Horseback, anyone?). The service was not as quick as you wished it would be, but since apparently everything was cooked from scratch (aside from the sauces), the wait was forgivable.
Initially wanted my steak to be medium-done (I don’t favour blood oozing from my steaks, actually); the outcome was a medium-rare piece instead. But the juicy slab of rib eye was devoured with gusto, and the gravy was a fine choice yet not overpowering the flavours.
A meal for two came to a few ringgit shy of RM150/USD50; not a princely sum yet far from an average meal. And remember they DO NOT take credit cards (due to a lack of phone connection or something), so please bring enough cash. Or you can offer to wash the plates or water the plants I suppose …..
23. Allan’s Water – A small lake where you can feed the fish, or paddle a boat with a partner at RM6/USD2 for 15 minutes.
24. Indeed a mouthwatering sight … seeing the fishes fighting over each other for the feeds
25. Flower Vegetables Farm – Next to Allan’s Water, you can find the small farm with various potted plants, vegetables and fruits to purchase home.
There are several spots highlighted for you to consider visiting; one being Allan’s Water where you can paddle a boat or feed the fish, and adjacent to this lake would be the flower nursery and vegetable farm where you can buy freshly-plucked greens, strawberries, tomatoes and brinjals. Or grab a few potted cacti, flowers or decorative plants.
Aside from that, Fraser’s Hill also offers you a horseback riding experience at The Paddock to the east of the centre of town. It was raining rather heavily by then, hence we passed the ranch on the exit route towards Kuala Lumpur. You can also chose to do archery here, if you fancy shooting some arrows like Legolas.
By 5pm or so, we left Fraser’s Hill and journeyed down hill towards KKB town for an early dinner.
KUALA KUBU BHARU TOWN
26. KKB’s St Paul’s Catholic Church
KKB is a small town that reminded me greatly of the smaller towns around Perak during the golden years when we used to do overnight trips in Pengkalan Hulu, Gerik and Tanjung Piandang. By 5.30pm or so, the town was almost lifeless, save for a few Indian Muslim (mamak) restaurants dishing out early dinners to the residents or passerby eager to experience a slice of KKB life.
To imply that the brush of modernization has not left a stroke in the heart of KKB town does not hold water. You do see mini markets, modern cafes and amenities already set roots in town, albeit in a sparing manner.
But then again, like many of the smaller rural towns in Malaysia; the rich tapestry of culture and heritage was evident from the aged appearance of the pre-colonial warhouses, old school barbers and one very prominent bakery in town named Teng Wun.
27. Lim Guan Joo was where we had our early dinner before leaving for Kuala Lumpur, while the initial plan was to pay Sun Sun Nam Cheong a visit; this traditional coffee shop serving delectable Hainanese delights.
28. The sign post actually had New Orleans and Putrajaya on different sides.
29. Teng Wun Bakery Confectionery – For more than 30 years, Hoo Jee Suan has mastered the art of making KKB famous kaya puffs and various delicious confectioneries.
30. Teng Wun – Go for the Butter Sponge Cake (RM8.50 for a cake that sliced into a dozen pieces), the fluffy cupcakes (6 for RM4.50) and the packed with fragrant kaya (coconut egg jam) puffs that goes for RM1.10 each.
To find an old school bakery in this part of town is neither a shock or a surprise. But … to find one that bakes incredibly light, fluffy and tasty butter sponge cakes, egg-licious cupcakes and a flaky kaya puff made with kaya that was double-boiled over low fire for about 10 hours? Priceless. Whatever you do, don’t give this bakery a miss. They have been covered by various mainstream media before, yet success has not gone to their heads yet. The humble cake maker even offered us additional cupcakes (a marketing ploy maybe … but he seemed genuine enough) to bring home.
31. Simple dinner at Lim Guan Joo building (not sure of the name of the restaurant though) – Curry Mee and Fried Noodles with Cockles
Choosing the most unassuming premise for dinner; we settled for a corner shop bearing the name Lim Guan Joo on the facade. With nary an idea on what they serve, we marched in half expecting rice and dishes. But they only serve noodles; from curry mee to pan mee, and fried noodles to soup noodles.
The curry mee appeared fiery with pieces of beancurd pouch (tau fu pok), crispy slivers of crackers, fish cakes and cockles on top. The curry was flavourful, not disastrously oily or bland. The fried noodles with a great amount of bean sprouts and ‘ku chai’ (chives) and cockles fared less impressive though, tasting slightly underwhelming.
The almost 10 hours-excursion was not planned meticulously, and most of the items were made up on the spot or we played by ear; trusting our instincts rather than dead-set on expectations. But my first Fraser’s Hill experience was positive I might add, although many have argued that there’s just nothing to do up there. So, why bother?
But then again, think about this …. Don’t you feel that you have more than you can handle working and juggling your life in the city, why do you even bother wishing to do more when you’re up there?
”More food and travel stories to come your way this June ….”
YE OLDE SMOKEHOUSE
49000 Fraser’s Hill
Pahang Darul Makmur
Tel No : +609-3622 226
TENG WUN BAKERY CONFECTIONERY
15, Jalan Dato Muda Jaafar,
44000 Kuala Kubu Bharu
Tel No : 03-6064 1586
Opens until 7pm
CURRY NOODLES CHAR KUEY TEOW @ LIM GUAN JOO
19, Jalan Mat Kilau,
44000 Kuala Kubu Bharu
Opens from 2pm – 9pm
Off days not fixed