Bukit Fraser, or Fraser's Hill started as a tin mining station in the 1890s before being turned into a highland resort by the British in the 1930s. Located at 1500m in Malaysia's Main Range, about 2.5 hours North of Kuala Lumpur, it provides a cool and peaceful spot for studying the birds and other wildlife. Many of the guesthouses and bungalows (or 'banglos' in Malay) are now very run down but we stay at an excellent and newly refurbished guesthouse, Stephen's Place.
Stephen Hogg is a professional wildlife photographer and cameraman and he and his wife provide comfortable rooms and good home-cooked food. Stephen has studied the local wildlife, in particular the spiders, and enthusiastically took us on a great night walk. This was the highlight of our weekend as we coaxed tarantulas out of their holes and found a variety of snakes, spiders and geckos.
Tarantula spiders can live in the same hole in banks for their 20 year life. Stephen studied the tarantulas of Fraser's Hill for 3 years and the hairy legged variety above was named after him - Coremiocnemis hoggi. Fraser's Hill has quiet roads and trails which are excellent for bird walks. We walk around the Girdle Road by Stephen's Place several times over the weekend as well as a circuit around the golf course via the road and Hemmant's Trail. On Sunday we explore the "New Road" down from Fraser's Hill to the Gap with our friendly guide, Mr Durai. We don't see many birds but enjoy the spectacular scenery and listening to barking deer and rival groups of Siamangs - the largest of the gibbons.
We had heard that Stephen was spotting a masked civet in his garden and so we sit by his french windows expecting "Bob" to arrive just after dark. To our surprise he turns up at ten past six for some banana bait. The next night Stephen shows me how to rig up a sophisticated camera trap with a Canon 5D, sensor and three flash guns rather than the basic camera in a plastic box. The set up works perfectly although again we get an evening, rather than night, shot as Bob turns up early again (above).
We greatly enjoy our stay in Fraser's Hill thanks to our hosts and a very friendly family who are also visiting. There is not a lot to do here if you are not a nature lover (although there is a 9 hole golf course).The weather is cool (24C or less) and can be misty and damp - a great change from the heat in the valley. We rented a car to get here which made us much more mobile - you can get a taxi from KL but it is useful to be able to get around. See the photos below for more.