Friday 18th March
I arrived at The Old Smokehouse, having been chauffeured from the Hyatt Saujana Hotel at Subang, close to the old KL International Airport and was quickly impressed by the hotel, its surroundings and the coolness of the climate. I walked into the small town, got a sketch map of the area, showing some of the walking paths (none of them much more than 1 km), had some rather nice spicy noodles and a drink for lunch and had a general look around. There were several large maps of the area on billboards and on one it showed a walking path going off to somewhere called Pine Tree Hill, with the legend 4 hrs. That seemed like a reasonable walk and I decided that it would be the long one for me the following day.
I was only able to obtain a very sketchy, one sheet of photocopied A4, type of map of the area but it seemed sufficient as I was assured that the routes were well signposted. During the afternoon I walked the Abu Suradi Trail, the Henmat Trail and the Bishops Trail. I walked down to the Jeriau Waterfalls, unfortunately only able to be accessed by walking on a road. There and back it was about 8 kms and the falls were small but quite lovely and I sat for some time watching a couple of Malaysian families picnicking and their children splashing, swimming and generally having a good time in the slightly silty waters of the outflow. A couple of the other walks were closed and I thought that Id leave the rest until Sunday morning, leaving myself plenty of time for a slow relaxing plod to the top of Pine Tree Hill and back.
I spent the rest of the day sitting around and doing very little at all, apart from reading the book, The Salterton Trilogy by Robertson Davies (excellent and highly recommended); it was wonderful, all that I had expected from my weekend of R&R. Later I walked down to the village again, bought a MR 10 phonecard and called Noelene from a call box, as the hotel had no phones in the rooms, came back and lay on the bed, reading, relaxing and marvelling at being able to have the window open in Malaysia, with no all-dominating air conditioning, listening to the noises of the monkeys, birds and cicadas. In the evening I ate in the hotel restaurant, very quaint, very English and with excellent roast lamb, complete with mint sauce and all the trimmings. In contrast with the traditional British way of cooking vegetables, when they are usually boiled to within an inch of their lives, these were perfect too.
I talked to the hotel Manager, Soe Naing Aung, about my experiences of travel, how much I liked Malaysia in general and Frasers Hill in particular. He told me that Richard Attenborough and a BBC Wildlife TV crew had visited recently. Apparently, a family of spiders, very similar to Tarantulas, had been found close to the hotel, a species previously known only as 14 million year old fossils; I was impressed. So there were Tarantulas in these here parts; interesting, I thought!
I went to bed early, read a little and looked forward to my longer walk the next day. In the night a wind came up; I actually had to reach for an extra blanket and close a few windows.
©John Gillatt, 2005