Our Travel Blog

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cameronian Camping

Spent three days and two nights in Cameron Highlands recently. Unlike other visitors to this highland, we opted to camp out at the Fathers Guesthouse in Tanah Rata. Temperature was hovering at around 19 to 25 degrees C in the day and around 16 degrees C at night.

Day One, we arrived through the new Simpang Pulai exit off the North-bound highway. Earlier, we took a detour into the small town of Bidor, for its popular duck noodles for breakfast. However, Jules and I thought that the one in Bangsar’s Lucky Garden still serves the best duck noodles around.
The new highway from Simpang Pulai was a very scenic drive and much less windy than the old route through Tapah. As we ascended the slopes, we could actually feel the air outside getting cooler and fresher. Temperature was much colder than expected as it began to drizzle, you can literally smell the greens through the unpolluted air. The drive was so pleasant and relaxing that I was so tempted to stop Moggy, walk out and smell the air on a couple of occasions.
We arrived at the peak, and the second cameronian town of Brinchang after Kampung Raja at about 10.30am. Brinchang is another 6kms from our intended campsite at Tanah Rata.


Around 11am we stopped by for some freshly brewed strawberry flavored tea at the Bharat Tea Plantation at Cameron Valley. After that, we headed to the famous BOH Plantation between Tanah Rata and Ringlet town. There, we had the chance to step into the tea factory and learnt a little about the tea making process for free….and then some more hot tea for the both of us. After a some driving around Cameron, and a little wet marketing for some fresh produce we finally decided to settle down at Father’s Guesthouse and began to set camp.
Temperature was starting to get chilly by 7pm so we made some hot and spicy Tom Yam soup, with Shitake and Inoke Mushrooms, Cabbages, and “Suay Kow” for ingredients.


Day Two, we did nothing much except headed nearby for some breakfast and then towards the evening, we tried to do a bit of shopping at the night market at Brinchang, bought three bunch of roses(at RM10 only) until it started to rain. We had to rush back to the campsite to try to salvage our equipment and gear from getting soaked from the rain. By the time we arrived, everything was wet, including the bedding stuff inside our tent, our camp chairs and campbeds. However, thanks to Moggy, we could sleep pretty comfortably inside her for the rest of the night until dawn. It was quite a challenge for us as we have never gotten caught but a downpour like this(can you imagine, plus the cold temperature) camping out.

Day Three, woke up in Moggy to find that it was still drizzling. Nevertheless, we headed for some breakfast and hot ginger tea at an Indian coffee shop down the road. Eventually the drizzle and the rain began to stop after we returned to the campsite, the sun came out enough for us to bunk our rain soaked gear out to dry. At 1pm we broke camp, took a nice shower and headed for lunch then back to KL.

For those of you planning for a break from the city, and if Cameron Highlands in Pahang is your next destination, and if you are looking for a budget accomodation, we would recommend Fathers Guesthouse at Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands. Rates are very cheap, mainly catered to backpackers, so you will meet guests from Europe, Australia, USA, etc. This place reminded us of our trip to places like Chiangmai & Pai, Koh Lipe, and Khao San Road in Bangkok.

More photos, visit pauljules2006.shutterfly.com

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ulu Yam - 17, 18 & 19 March 2006

Day One

1820hrs - Left Bangsar. According to our original plan, we were suppose to rendezvous at Esso station along the Kepong-LDP highway with Linson, Emily and Phil. After some battling with the after office traffic at the Damansara/Kepong Toll, apparently due to some miscommunication, Jules received a call from Emily asking our location and telling us that we were suppose to pick her up at her home in Damansara Jaya. At that time, we were already very close to the initial RV point and we had to make a U turn to DJ. Nevertheless, we pushed off from Emily’s, and to avoid the bad traffic, we took another alternative route to RV with Linson at the Shell Station along Sg Buloh/Kepong road, which would lead us into some backroads to get to the Batu Caves area, then into Ulu Yam. Linson bought Benny some gas at the Esso station pumps before we headed for dinner.



2038hrs - Had dinner at a mamak restaurant called “Money Corner”. We ordered tandoori chicken with naan, fried rice, fried bee hoon and 20 sticks of chicken satay. After dinner, there was some excess food, so instead of letting them go to waste, we packed them as I knew some of us might be hungry when a reach campsite later.

The tarmac road which led us to our destination was good, but dark and windy, and would have been a scenic one if it had been the morning. Overall, it took us about 45 minutes from our dinner place to the off-road sector.



2230hrs - By this time, the place was almost pitch dark. However we had Moggy and Benny to provide us with sufficient lighting. We set up our new 3x3 meters retractable canopy in a flash. All of us could not wait to get settled for some ice cool beer. Moggy’s battery(as usual) provided excellent lighting with two florescent lights around our camp area. While the rest had to settle into the tents and airbeds, Jules and I were more than happy to sleep on our camp beds sheltered under the canopy. We love this as we get to be closer to nature also get to enjoy the nice unpolluted fresh air without having to sweat in the tent. After a couple of ice cold beers aka Kingfisher Strong (7.2%) and a great company of friends, we retired to sleep at around 2.30am.



Day Two

0730hrs - By the time I woke up, Linson had already turned off the florescent light from Moggy. The rest of the people were still covered cozily in their sleeping beds. After a while, Linson too return inside his tent, for round two. As for me, I took my camera to the area around the waterfall and river to snap some shots and video clips. None of them woke up until about 10.00am.



1015hrs - Breakfast was fried sausages and french toast for everyone with instant Nescafe. We enjoyed the food and conversation with one another over breakfast, even though some of us were still on hyperspace mode due to some symphony orchestra playing in the background the whole night.



1200hrs - We decided to head to the waterfall area for a cold dip. This is something that we did not get to do last weekend as we had dipped downstream, because there were many people at the waterfall area at that time. The water was very clean with light brown sandy beach type sand. However, we could see rubbish, cans, plastic bottles, fruit skins that were littered at some area. This feeling gave us a feeling of disgust and disappointment towards the public's attitude towards the environment. We wish that the government would take some serious enforcement action on these culprits.
Nevertheless, we did not let it dampen our spirits, we proceeded to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall. As far as our eyes could see to where there’s accessibility, there is at least a 3 tiers of waterfall at this site. We bathe in the pool at the bottom tier and then subsequently trekked up to the 3rd pool at the top…..the sight was amazing. At about 1pm, we saw a few off-roading vehicles trying to make an attempt to cross to the stream below us. They could not proceed later as one of the Isuzu Trooper had a busted clutch and had to be snatched by a lighter modified Suzuki. They failed after a few attempts. To put the drama to an end, Linson went down and took his Benny into action. Using his winch, he succeeded to winch the Trooper out of the rut. Apparently his radiator almost got overheated as he has forgetten to turn the radiator fan on auto mode, as he had switched it into manual mode during the river crossing last night when we got in. The rest of the afternoon was spent chillin’ out with one another until dinner.



1715hrs - Started to gather some woods to set our campfire and set up our BBQ pit.

1900hrs - Had “Ikan Cincaru” and “Pari” Tom Yam style cooked on the BBQ pit. There was also Chicken Wings marinated in Honey Garlic BBQ sauce, enough for all the 5 of us.

2345hrs - There’s nothing better than ending the day after a cold dip in the waterfall over some good laughs and conversation.


Day Three

0900hrs - That’s when all of us have awaken from a good night sleep. After that Breakfast was made courtesy of Emily and Phil.

1030hrs - We all took the final dip to enjoy the waterfall before we broke camp at about 12 noon.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO CLIP

More photos, visit pauljules2006.shutterfly.com

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ulu Yam – 11&12 March 2006

Got caught by the camping bug during the weekends, as has been sometime since we took Moggy off the tarmac. However, as offroaders, we knew that it would be too risky to go at it alone with a single rig. Anyhow, Jules contacted our dear chief, Nasa from Edarwest Outdoor, a veteran offroader, for some advice on short trips that's nearby with a light trail, nice campsite and safe for an overnight camping. He suggested a place in Batang Kali called Ulu Rening, Jules noted down some markings and positions that we could use to attempt our supposedly first solo offroad venture.

That same night, we met Nasa over some drinks at Telawi. Also took the opportunity to meet up with some friends including Linson, also a long time offroader who drives a modified Daihatsu Rocky. Next thing we knew over some drinks, he volunteered to come along with us to the campsite, so we thought that would be helpful incase we could find the way there.

The intended campsite was relatively near to KL, so we decided to rendezvous at Rawang Toll at 1pm on Saturday. Set off around 1.05pm, proceeded through Rawang, passed Serendah before we arrived at Batang Kali town. Tried to follow the instructions given by Nasa but both vehicles could not managed to find the campsite location despite being already in the Ulu Rening area. After about a 30 mins attempt, Linson proposed for us to go to Ulu Yam instead, which is quite close to where we were. So Ulu Yam it is. We have heard quiet a lot about Ulu Yam, with its waterfall, streams and all, but we also knew that the place is also accessible to public(trekkers, bathers, picnickers, people in Protons). Anyhow, we were thinking “what the heck” as we are already dying for some campsite action, even if it means lesser offroad sector fun and accessibility to the general public. Anyhow, we knew Linson and his buddy Michael will be leaving campsite later in the afternoon and shall not be joining us overnight, so that means the campsite would also be safer for us in case we get lost or caught inside for whatever reason.

We had the luxury of three choices for location to set our camp, finally we settled for one next to the waterfall at about 3pm. The first one a smaller one with a good clean stream, the second was already inhabited with truckloads of campers who have set camp there earlier. Most of these guys we noticed came on Jeep Cherokees.

Our spot was nice as its pretty clean, except some garbage strewn in some places by some imbeciles who should be barred from entering the jungle forever. The air was cool, except for some mosquitoes possibly due to the area being infested by littering imbeciles. Fortunately, they left us alone after I started the camp fire. Rest of the night was spend just the two of us. Dinner was(whatelse?) BBQ'ed lamb steak and cod fish. We retired onto our campbed early at about 10pm.

Woke up about 8.30am, made breakfast.......our favorite mushroom sausages and Jule’s best French toasts and needless to say, coffee with Low Fresh Milk. We brought a bottle of Gecko Creek, Australian Shiraz Carbenet 2004…….hmmmmm, young wine but fruity. Took the chilled bottle into the stream, after an hour of soaking in cool fresh and clear water, we decided to have more food……….Indo-Mie (Dry)……that’s the best!

Subsequently, we took a 2 hour nap, right until, the clouds decided bring some rain. Our Main Canopy broke when the aluminum frame structure could not withstand weight of the water trapped at the roof. The rain decided not to have mercy on us so we proceeded to pack off at about 3pm.




Overall, Good campsite. Try to avoid holiday season and weekends, as you see no kids.
We are definitely thinking a 3 Days 2 Night this coming weekend with more buddies and more food and drinks!

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fraser's Hill - Smokehouse, 5-6 March 2006

Just returned from a short trip to Fraser's Hill located in the state of Pahang. Slightly less than two hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, heading through the towns of Rawang, Serendah and Kuala Kubu Bharu, accessible from the North-South Plus Expressway. We left KL on 5th March which was a Sunday at 10am, took a quick stop for breakfast in Brickfields. By the time we hit the highway towards Rawang was about 11am.

Arrived in Rawang at 11.25am, and was caught in an unusual traffic jam inside the town center as it was a Sunday, and we had expected normal folks to be sleeping. But then again, welcome to the infamous Rawang traffic. By 12.10pm, we were traveling passed the Sungai Selangor Dam at Kuala Kubu Baru. The journey up to the hill resort of Fraser’s Hill would take us on a scenic
drive through the place call the “Gap”. At the Gap, the road to and from Fraser’s is a single lane which allows only one way traffic to flow through at any point of time. As such, there is a gantry point on both sides(beginning and ending, depending on which side you start your journey from, going up or going down) to regulate traffic. Traffic ascending the hill is scheduled every odd hour for forty minutes to travel to the top, and those descending downhill from Fraser’s Hill is scheduled every even hour similarly for forty minutes to get down to the bottom side of the gap. The distance is a short 8km, which would take between 10-15 minutes.



We reached Fraser's at 1.16pm, temperature was a cool 20-22 degrees Celsius. There was basically nothing much to do in Fraser’s unless you plan to do a bit of trekking at the waterfall or the Rompin Trail. But we had planned to chill out at the Ye Olde Smokehouse Hotel because of their Tudor architecture, perfect place for some peace and quiet, their excellent leg of lamb at the smokehouse restaurant…yummy!

All their rooms are given names, instead of the usual numbered rooms. They have names like Laura Suite, Marshall Suite, Alexander Suite, Charles Suite. We took the Alexander Suite. The rooms are decked with furnishings and decors reminisce of the British colonial days. The place was built in 1924 and was originally named, “the Red Cross” as it was funded by the British Red Cross Society.

Dinner was very much anticipated as I had came here with Jules sometime last year, and we knew they serve one of the best, if not the best “Leg of Lamb” in Malaysia. We also knew that dinner would not be complete with wine, so we had earlier procured a bottle of Shiraz Cabernet on their open patio. Ended our perfect dinner with Fresh Fruit Flambé at the AV lounge.

The rest of the evening was spent watching a re-run of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s “Ghost” on HBO before heading back to the suite to enjoy the soft maroon furnishings.

Woke up at about 8.30am with spectacular mist lingering past our French windows, overlooking the hills. Breakfast was yet again at the same patio we had dinner. Checked out the hotel at around 11.45am, we drove Moggy around Fraser’s to kill time before the gate at the Gap opens at 12 noon for the descending traffic back to the foothills.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO CLIP

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