Fraser’s Hill was a favorite holiday destination when I was growing up. Sometimes my family and my cousins’ family would occupy an entire stone and wood-framed bungalow. We would spend the days going on walks, or when we were older, trying to play golf. Evenings were spent first scoffing dinner prepared by the bungalow cook, and then playing board games or just lounging in front of the stone fireplace.
Louis James Fraser is one of a number of Scotsmen who have places in Malaysia named after them. Cameron, Dickson and Darvel are others. Fraser operated a tin mine high in the Titiwangsa Range in the 1890s. He disappeared some twenty five years later. A search party sent by the Bishop of Singapore found no trace of Fraser. What the Bishop did find was the the perfect place for a hill station. In the years of empire the British were fond of recreating a slice of home in highland areas where they could retreat from the heat of the lowlands.
Hence the mock Tudor-styled bungalows, and the cooks who could make the best Yorkshire pudding east of the River Tees. My last visit to Fraser’s Hill, or Bukit Fraser as it is now properly known, was at least ten years ago. I have fond memories of Fraser’s Hill. I have less fond memories of the road to get there. A winding, nausea-inducing stretch of tarmac that gets even narrower and twistier over the final 8km to the top. A section of road that some say was created by a snake being chased uphill by a mongoose being chased by a monkey being chased by a tiger being chased by an elephant.
Chon, Mark, Marvin, Shahfiq, Wan and I met at the Sungai Buloh R&R on the North-South Highway at 5am. We were either very keen or certifiably mad! By 5.45am we were in Kuala Kubu Bahru. Just in time for breakfast at the 24 hour Restoran Fazlina Maju.
The meeting point was at the mini stadium in Kuala Kubu Bharu. The ride was organised by Dave Ern. Dave is very well known for organising cycling events. The Fraser’s Hill ride was Stage 1 of the King of 9 Mountains series that Dave is organising. Check out Dave Ern’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dave.ern to see what other events he has and is organising for cyclists.
Dave does a great job. He posted riding rules on his Facebook page. As riders arrived at the start point he handed out a list of the names and mobile numbers for the lead riders, the mid-ride and rear sweepers, and the support car drivers. He gave us a rousing pre-ride briefing, and we all had excellent support from his crew of volunteers.
Then we were on our way. Our first photo stop was at the Sungai Selangor dam lookout point. Dave Ern was already there, briefing the riders that had chosen to start their ride at the lake.
We made regular stops along the 32km from Kuala Kubu Bharu to the Gap. It is a pretty ride with lots of photo opportunities. And we needed regular breaks from the non-stop climbing!
We even had spectators.
The Gap used to be the point where the two-way road became a one-way road for the final 8km to Fraser’s Hill. Traffic went up on even hours and came down on odd hours. The drive took about twenty minutes so you weren’t allowed through the gate later than 40 minutes past the hour. If you missed the gate time at the Gap you waited at the Gap Resthouse. In the days when the drive from Kuala Lumpur to the Gap took the better part of three hours, a fresh orange (that’s what the kids got anyway) on the veranda at the Gap Resthouse was a treat.
Sadly the Gap Resthouse is no more. It was closed for renovations and never reopened.
A second road from Fraser’s Hill to the Gap was built in 2001. So today the old road from the Gap up to Fraser’s Hill is open all the time to traffic heading up. The new road is the one-way route down.
That last 8km includes 400 meters / 1,300 feet of climbing. Suffice to say were all pleased to get to the top.
A friend asked me if Fraser’s Hill was as I remembered it. My answer was “yes and no.” The police station is the same. It will probably stand unchanged for the next hundred years.
Scott’s Pub and Restaurant used to be known as the Tavern. I remember it for its dart board and billiard table. And of course for its food and drink.
The golf club across the road from Scott’s has expanded greatly. You don’t have much of a view of the course from Scott’s anymore. This is the course to the right of the clubhouse.
What used to be the Merlin Hotel is now the Shahzan Inn.
The few bungalows that we saw looked to be in good shape. This is Glen, which overlooks the golf course.
Here is our “We made it!” shot.
We didn’t take a tour of Fraser’s Hill. It was all we could do to ride up one last slope from the clock tower to get to the the food court (also new) next to the old roller skating rink for lunch.
It started to drizzle just as we finished lunch so we bolted for the road downhill. We didn’t get caught in the rain but the road was very wet in places. There are no descent photos. I was too busy having some high-speed fun.
There is now talk of a ride to Cameron Highlands. Another place named after a wandering Scotsman. And 600 meters / 2,000 feet higher than Fraser’s Hill. Hmmmmm.