Fraser’s Hill

I recently featured the highlands hill resort of Cameron Highlands as a destination for your family and kids for the upcoming school holidays. An alternative highlands vacation spot is the nearer Fraser’s Hill.

I have been getting conflicting information about the one way traffic system going uphill or down hill based on alternate hours. It was implemented during the colonial days because the road was too narrow and winding. Recently, an old road going down hill was opened up again, making it two way using two separate roads. This was confirmed by Donald GH Tan, a friend, regular bird watcher and nature lover who used to go uphill.

I was kind of sad to hear about the changes as the one way road and waiting system brought back cherished memories as a child. Arriving at the foothill with the wrong timing meant waiting at The Gap and listening to the exciting and lush jungle sounds. It was something special.

The Gap Rest House is now abandoned and derelict according to Donald. There are still many bungalows and chalets on the hill, many with Tudor style design and charming colonial era designs. Some are abandoned as the Hainanese caretakers grew old and retired. Take your family there before more changes affect the forgotten hill resort.

Surprised that two of the resorts, I stayed as a kid, are still there: Puncak Inn and Merlin (now Shahzan Inn Fraser’s Hill).
Find and book a hotel here;

Picture of a colonial day bungalow by my friend Sharon Teo (

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Draw Of The Valley

In building the dam and subsequent flooding of the jungle area, 2 Orang Asli villages, comprising 84 families, were relocated and re-settled. They moved from their traditional jungle homes into a colony-like housing area with brick houses and relatively modern amenities.

Going up and down a hill behind the dam, I came upon one of the settlements. It has been more than 10 years since, and some of the houses are a bit worn. Saw only kids playing outside but there was an adult.

I asked him if I can take his picture. He nodded affirmatively. Then he nodded to every question I asked, like as if he was lost in his own world. Maybe it was the satisfaction of the long cigarette draws or blissful daydreaming. As an ex smoker, I understand the feeling.

Wall graffiti aside, there is so much to read silently here. The floor mop is a symbol of different abode and lifestyle. There is a bridging symbol, too. Parts of the rusted and broken metal stair railings were replaced with bamboo from the jungles.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5, 1/320 sec.

Damn The Dam?

Moving to an opposite view and looking at the shoreline from the edge of the re-aligned road to Fraser’s Hill. In the previous pic, I was on the extreme left, somewhere up on the hills.

No modern dam will be without controversy. Its environmental impact was scrutinised, debated and protested during its planning and construction. Ironically, all eyes now are on its water level and the dire consequence of a water shortage.

To defray some of the ill wind, there is a visitor’s center with a information officer on site, ready to furnish data and answer questions. Few other dams in the country provide this kind of access and technical info to the public.

The upstairs verandah is now locked but you can request for it be unlocked. Go up for a breezy and very calming view.

You may damn the dam and justifiably so. But the reality is insatiable, ever-increasing demand for water from residential, commercial and industrial consumers means the inevitable.

In the near future, even this last natural resource of the state might also fall short. What with Klang Valley growing ever so frantically.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/500 sec.

The Sungai Selangor Dam

About 5 km from Kuala Kubu Bharu town (or about 6.5 km from Federal Route 1) is the massive Sungai Selangor Dam. In this lesser seen view from a hill, one can see the brownish dam crest and embankment.

The 110 metre-high rockfill dam was designed to store and regulate a maximum capacity of 235 million cubic metres of water. The crest length or span is 800 metres. One of two water treatment plants is located in Rasa, a town I visited previously.

The dam supplies 60% of Klang Valley’s potable and piped water. Rain over the catchment area should be a good sign. Any severe water level drop (due to a prolonged dry spell) may trigger yet another crisis.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 200, f9, 1/320 sec.

Downtown, KKB

Downtown, KKB.

You know you are in Kuala Kubu Bharu town when you see tiled roads with low-lying mountain mists in the background. Is easy to think of it as a foothill town to Fraser’s Hill. It is not and it will take another hour or so to reach the foothill at The Gap.

For me, the standout characteristic is the town’s spotlessly clean roads, sidewalks and even back lanes. It takes either a disciplined cleaning regime by the town council or a very civic conscious mindset of the dwellers. I think is both.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4, 1/320 sec.