Friday, June 10, 2016

Fraser's Hill, conquered at last! Day 1

Fraser's Hill has always been a very special place for me. Founded by a Scotsman at the turn of the century, it joins Cameron Highlands, Maxwell Hill and Genting Highlands as respite stations from the oppressing heat and humidity of Malaysia. My parents brought me there once when I was a school boy in our KE70 Toyota Corolla. Went there a few times with friends too and I recalled an occasion where we got blood sucking leeches in our clothes while hiking. That said, there is so much to like about Frasers. The fresh and cool climate, the interesting flora and fauna, beautiful birds and colourful insects, vestiges of British Colonial times and of course, the journey up on road. In the old days, the final 8km narrrow stretch had its traffic controlled hourly for ascends and descends.

Planning for this began 2 months ago over a lovely luncheon in some posh hotel in Singapore where I shared this idea of cycling up and that got everyone excited.


A quick call to Mike Khor in KL started the wheels moving when he kindly volunteered to book accommodations. Our initial group was as large as 11 people but unfortunately, one of our good legends had an unfortunate mishap that knocked him out literally and Im glad he is making a good recovery! The other two guys who pulled out had some last minute "fishy" commitments. That left us with The Infamous 5 - Mike, Ying Chang, KC, George and myself which turned out to be a nice small group. One thing I learned about organising tours is that the show must go on no matter what, and also to expect pull outs, disappointing as it may be at times. That is just part and parcel of life.

George's trusty Chevy wagon pulled up at my home 0930 and we manage to load up 4 foldies, 2 in the boot and 2 on the roof and headed north for our 430km journey. But we had to see placate poor Claudine who so badly wanted to join us but couldn't. Thus a necessary stopover at Gelang Patah, near her home, for the famous fishball noodle for a quick breakkie where she blessed us with delicious home made curry puffs.


Our battle scared wagon like a fully loaded aircraft carrier made its way up the North South Highway at 1130 and encountered heavy storms that slowed us down to 70km/h at times due to poor visibility and thick traffic. Our hopes of having lunch in KL were dashed and plan B took us to Tangkak for the famous Beef Noodles, where that too was scuttled. By the time we picked up Team Member #5 at Shah Alam, it was 430pm but Mike as cheerful as ever, was undeterred. His motto in life is to always chill and take things as they come. With his full size Surly LHT hanging precariously on the rear rack, our USS Chevy groaned its way up to KKB, a small town at the foot of Fraser's Hill.


Unloading our bicycles and checking into our simple rooms, we had a quick shower and later went on a walkabout to check out the quaint town. KKB felt like being in a time warp with many beautiful art deco buildings, quiet streets, lush trees, colonial style buildings and even a friendly bakery that has been operating there for 40 years.

We chanced upon a kind old man who ran a provision shop and he recommended us to go to New Sign Restaurant for dinner, just 1.5km away towards Frasers. I was fascinated with his 1970s Honda C90 Cub! That proved to be like striking gold as the dishes we ordered were flavourful, satisfying and fresh. But best of all, the bill came to RM$70 for the 5 of us.

After dinner conversations continued at the local Mamak cafe where we sat under a huge tree just by the roundabout enjoying our Teh Tariks. The strong wifi, available everywhere these days, was appreciated. Time and again, a loud car or motorcycle would accelerate pass us but we didn't mind one bit. We were just so happy to be together, exchanging stories and felt really excited about our climbing mission the next day. But we had a long climb the next day and had to reluctantly called it a night.

What a fabulous first day indeed!


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