A Letter from Harvey
|Hi there everyone,
I'm sitting up here in or on Fraser Hill, an old British Raj Hill station and it is truly beautiful. It's 5 30 in the afternoon and it's been raining ever since I left Raub by taxi to get here. I'm staying at the Frazer Pine Resort which has seen better days.It really is looking quite tired. It is a huge complex of chalets and I have a 3 bed roomed apartment with huge balcony and views right down the valley for miles, all for for €28 a night. Fraser Hill is completely tree covered with patches cleared for the bungalows and resort hotels from the bush and a beautifully kept golf course right in the middle of the town, At the entrance to the town there is the clock tower and a collection of English styled buildings to complete the picture. Ye Old Smokehouse is a pub left over from the old days and an icon of the place.
I'd better go back to when I left LP and bring you up to date.. The flight to Stanstead was good and it took me from 11.30pm to 2.45am to get to Stockwell!!!!!
The flight with Malaysian Air was excellent, better than the Air NZ one 3 months before. I had an idea that it was a dry flight but that was not true. Service was second to none. I landed in KL at 7.20am and took the fast train to the city and a taxi to the hotel. The hotel was a backpackers and this one was a lot more basic than I had been used to. My room was a small box with no window and just enough room for two beds. It was clean but it needed a good coat of paint. One positive side was the big roof garden it had.
That morning I took in the sights around the hotel where there were a dozen or so western bars and restaurants which no doubt went on to the late hours. I was just one street off one of the main shopping areas so had a look through some of the shopping plazas, Lot 10 among them. I also chased up or tried to chase up the departure point for the trip to the jungle. A travel agent i went into off the street said he could book me the trip up to the park. I already had my accommodation. That done I went back to the hotel for a sleep. That evening I went out to the street market to eat and had a very tasty Chinese meal. The street was heaving with people. That night I was ready for a good sleep but as it was Sat night there was a disco below the hotel - right under my room - and it went onto 3 am then stopped for an hour and started again at 4am, It was still going when I got up at 6.45 and there was only one song the whole night I recognised. It was that heavyblast bass they now have and it was so loud the floor in my roomwas vibrating!!!!!!!!!!!!!As you can imagine I didn't sleep a wink.
Next morning I was up and away with NO sleep to get the bus to the Jungle. I had no idea which company was going to pick me up but one arrived at the point of dep asking for me. The company was Han Travel. The same one as I had tried to book with on line from the beginning and even though I got a confirmation eventually of dates,( at first they said it was full,) they gave me no way of making a payment to fix the booking. In panic as time was running out to my dep time I had booked another one on line, but not realising it was not full package had only got the room with breakfast. All the sites I looked at had complete packages and none really offered room only, so when I saw this confirmation of room even at €280 for 2 nights, more than the others, but not a lot more I took it. It was a complete white elephant and not worth the price, More of that later.
The bus eventually left 1 hour late as KL had closed down it's roads for the annual marathon. We arrived at Jerantut to catch the river canoes for a 2 hour trip up the river into the jungle. The people at Han Travel office there were very helpful. After getting permits we set off the the canoe, about 10 to 12 of us. The river follows the edge of the National Park and at times we were going through dense jungle and times quite open where land had been cleared for palm oil nuts.The river was not fast flowing and trip was very sedate with no mishaps but a little uncomfortable towards the end having sat on your ass for 2 hours with little padding between you and the floorboards.
Eventually was arrived at Taman Negara and I was able to book all the side trips there at the floating restaurant of Han.They then organised a pick up to take me to my hotel. Yes I did get the presidential suit, 2 bathrooms, jacuzzi bath, 3 showers. 2 TV's, one a monster but only one channel on both!!!!!!!!! There was a dining table but no kitchen. Very nice but not up to the price. That night I gave the jungle night walk amiss as I was done for, no sleep the night before.
Next day was the trip up to the canopy walk way. We took the canoe with outboard and landed beside some steep stairs. We climbed them and the others right up to the beginning of the walkway. Quite a climb!! I gave the next bit to the top of the mountain a miss and waited for the rest by the walkway. I asked if I could go by myself along the walkway and wait for the others at the end. I given the OK so I wandered down it on my own with no one in sight. You saw no animals or birds as with so many people going along it they have all flown long ago. Still it was great to be able to look into the treetops and hope you might see something. I stopped when I wanted to take photos with no one chasing me on. I waited for the others at the end and we returned to have lunch.
The afternoon was white water rafting. Well not exactly the rubber duck stuff. They took you up the river in the canoe with outboard and climbed each rapid at full throttle, each time they would rock the boat so you get some water over you. There were 5 in all and going back they really shot down them.You arrived back absolutely wet. Going up the river we spotted a huge monitor lizard swimming across the river, but couldn't get a photo of it as all our camers were in the plastic bag so as not to get wet. This was the only animal we saw in the whole trip.
While up there we visited a native village where the people still hunt with blow pipes. They still make them and go off into the jungle to get their dinner. They really live basically with no mod cons, just a palm leaf hut or lean- to shelter, a raised platform to sleep on. The place was full of rubbish and some of things they had bought in the shop but other than that there was nothing I could see that would make the place home. We were shown how they made the darts and had a go at shooting them. It was interesting to hear about their way of life and how they still live like this even though they are just a stone's throw from civilisation. We were also shown how they made fire, different form twisting a stick.
That evening I went on the night Jungle walk and really again because so many people go every night the animals had scarpered!!!!!!!!!!!, We did see some interesting insects and spiders. The walk was on the otherside of the river behind a big Govt tourist complex. This was the place to stay as it was really tastefully done and you had all the jungle sounds all night long and it was set right in it.
Really it was the Han Travel group that made my stay there so good. They really had everything under control.
Today I took the bus back to Jerantut and from there attempted to use local buses to get to Ruab to get to Fraser Hill. I got the buses, old things with no windows, crash gearboxes and full of rattles. All this added to the comfort of the journey. They were really local buses. While waiting for the bus to leave there was a very nice old Chinese man who said he did private transfers. I had thought the taxi was a bit expensive at €50 and the bus was about to leave. I would be in Raub in 1 hour. I had understood it was only one bus and not two. I had to wait an hour for the frist one to leave and wait one and half for the second to leave.Once in Ruab it was easy to get a taxi the Fraszer Hill but it was €18, take that off €50 and the taxi fare was not so expensive.
It started to rain just after I left and it bucketed down all the way up. The new road washed out 5 years ago and it is still not fixed so you have to go through The Gap, the old one way system where the traffic changes directions on the hour. As I said I checked in and found the room and tried the internet. Not working in the room so came down to reception where I can get a signal.
When I was checking in there was a Pakistani family before me and he seemd to be asking a lot of questions. When I came back down he approached me to ask my opinion on the status of things here.The dining room probably won't open because the cook is still in KL unless he comes back tonight. There are no taxi's up here at all and if you want to get anywhere you have to walk. It is raining heavily. It is a good 45 mins to the nearest eating place. The reception guy says he has a friend who will take us for a price so we all join together and take the car down to the market to eat and buy a few things for back in the room. He arrived and we set off, found a market place. We had dinner in a Chinese Restaurant where the owner is quite famouse having worked in important houses during the the British days. It was something I read somewhere. We had a great meal the our driver was waiting there to take us back.
Today (Wed) I came down to the dining room for breakfast and at first thought it was only toast and jam. However the Pakistani family were there and he said they had asked for and got, omlete and sausage. I also got the same although there was nothing to say it was available. Our driver arrived and we went off on our tour of the area. As I said there is a small village centre at the clock tower and from there the golf course stretches out along the valley, built on the workings of the silver mine James Fraser had there. He disappeared one day in 1910 and was never found so the Bishop from Singapore set out to find him. He found his house and the tin mine but never found Fraser. The bishop then decided this would be a good site for a hill station and so it happened.
We went off to a small waterfall and then visited Ye Old Smokehouse. A Bentley was standing outside, one of the guests. Outside and inside was Ye Old England with all the paraphernalia in place just as an English Pub. Quite expensive to stay but well worth a visit to eat. The Pakistani family were eating there tonight. Outside the building also looked tired and worn out. It needed a good coat of paint but I could see none would be forth coming. All the big resorts and hotels all had this tired look and a need of a coat of paint.
Out driver then took us on a tour of some of the bunglows and some truly had idyllic settings, like the tops of the hill with uninterrupted views right down the valley. After we went back to the centre where we ate last night and found two other restarants open the other two, open last night now closed. We chose one and had a good Malay meal. Then a walk back to the resort and stopping on the way for photos. I got ready to go back to KL. I said my goodbyes to the family and caught my taxi down to a suburb of KL, then got a train to the centre and a taxi back to the hotel. The Pakistani family I met, he was one of the top lawyers to the judge of the Supreme Court in Karachi.They would be one of the 500 or so elite families in Pakistan. I have an open invitation to vist anytime.
I fly to NZ tomorrow so its out for a bite to eat and up to do a hop on and hop off tour of the city KL before I go.
All the best,