Monday, August 23, 2010

Fraser Hill (Bukit Fraser) - Part I

It's back to Fraser Hill, a favourite among birders and visitors alike for its montane forest and cool climate. Fraser Hill, with elevations of between 1,200 - 1,500 is a perenial favourite both locally and internationally as well and plays host to the annual International Bird Race.

Getting there
By Car
From Singapore, head down the North-South Highway, (E2->E6--> E1), exit at Rawang, following the signs on trunk road (1 ) till you reach Kuala Kubu Bharu town and then follow trunk road (55).

View Rawang - Kuala Kubu Bahru - Fraser Hill in a larger map
By Taxi
If you arrive via KL Sentral (the main transit hub), there is a taxi counter (located at the main entrance /exit) where you could purchase a voucher to get to Fraser Hill. (est RM150 -175 one way). My suggestion is to arrange for a return upfront so at least your return trip is also secured.  ( I tried this method before !)

Other sites recommend taking a local train (called Komuter) from KL Sentral to Kuala Kubu Bahru and then transfer by taxi from Kuala Kubu Bahru to Fraser’s Hill.

Kuala Kubu Bharu is the place you should stop to take a break, feed yourself and most importantly pump petrol. (There are no petrol stations in Fraser Hill.  From the town to the Gap is about 35 minutes. The Gap is really a bottle-neck area whereby vehicles are allow either to travese up or down at a given time. It's pretty simple to remember: - Odd hours (Up) , Even hours (down). Roads are pretty windy, so a note of caution -don't fill up your stomach at Kuala Kubu Bharu too much if you are prone to car sickness !

Jln Merdeka, Kuala Kubu Bharu
We enjoyed the food in Jln Merdeka, Kuala Kubu Bharu. Can't really remember the name of the place (silly me), but when you reach there, the lunch/dinner crowd is a dead give away. A very simple shop serving "home" cook food.
Depending on your preference, you may wish to top up on supplies at the various shops around here before heading up.

"Grandma's Home cook food"
 Fraser Hill is very much organised now with the food vendors all  centralised and food not a problem, but getting some before hand was a personal choice and more variety of tit-bits and snacks. (lol)

After topping up supplies, off we go through the windy roads all the way up. One of our travelling companion did experience motion sickness and unfortunately all the nice food she ate ended up out again. Poor girl ! By the time we arrived to the hotel, we allowed time for her to rest and recover. 

Where to stay
We opted for the same place we stayed the last time- Jelai Highland Resort (RM$70-$90 per night). The place as usual is pretty spartan, but is popular among birders, cause the area surrounding it seems to attract quite a number of birds( just looking out your window, you see lots of them). The place is not the only accomodation choice of course. Depending on your budget, there are several hotels.We pass by TM High Pines (at High Pines Road) and it looked like a brilliant place to stay as well. Unfortunately it was fully booked. There are many bungalows in Fraser Hill too and if you are one of the fortunate ones who can book them frequently and affordably, do drop me a mail please ! : ) 

There are a number of trails there. All seemed pretty well marked.  Confession: we were lazy. Only completed 1 as a group.
  1. Pine Tree Trail (5000M) -Difficult
  2. Maxwell Trail (1800M) -Difficult
  3. Bishop Trail (1500M) -Difficult
  4. Mager Trail (1000M) -Easy
  5. Hemmant Trail (1000M) -Easy (We did this trail !)
  6. Kindersley Trail (750 M) -Easy
  7. Rompin Trail (500M) -Easy
  8. Abu Suradi Trail (500 M) -Easy


Chestnut capped Laughing Thrush
Fire-tufted Barbet




Birds Spotted and Identified

Silver eared Mesia
Long tailed Sibia
Chestnut Crowned Laughing Thrush
Chestnut Capped Laughing Thrush 
Streaked Spiderhunter
Black-throated Sunbird
Fire-tufted Barbet
White-throated Fantail
Little Cuckoo Dove
Orange-bellied Leafbird
Lesser racket-tailed Drongo
Blue throated Flycatcher

Fraser Hill (Bukit Fraser ) -Part II

Orange-bellied leafbird
Fraser Hill is a wonderful montane forest area for birding. Below are some the pictures taken. A number of it are taken right in front of the  hotel we stayed (arm chair birding !)
In fact, most of the birds i took here with the exception of the Fire-tuft Barbet, were taken pretty closed Jelai Resort.
Chestnut capped Laughing Thrush

Fire-tuft Barbet

White-throated Fantail

Silver eared Messia
There was a bird i wasn't able to identify but managed to get a shot off. Anyone who can id it, do drop me a mail or comment (it looks like a Pipit)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Day trip to Pengerang and Sungai Rengit, Johor

Pengerang is this small town in the southern tip of Johor (close to Desaru and the South China Sea). It is popular for its seafood at this town called Sungai Rengit, as well as a good place for cyclist to ride via its countryside. Other attractions include an ostrich farm, dragon fruit plantation and nice long beaches.

View Pengerang in a larger map

Our day trip was more a field and eating trip to see the area surrounding there and not for birding specifically, so we did not bring our "bins" along.

Getting there without a car
Accessible via a bum boat from Changi Village jetty. Changi Village accomodates boat travellers to both Ubin Island and Pengerang. The signs that differentiate it is pretty clear and it cost SGD$9 per person. The boat man will not leave until 12 passengers are available or the shortfall is shared among the remaining passengers. Operating hours is from 7 am to 4 pm. Note: if you are planning a day trip there, remember to get back to the jetty on the Johor side by 4 pm. Journey time 1 way is roughly 45 minutes and the immigration on both sides close around 5:00 pm.

Once on the Malaysia side of the jetty, there are taxi's available for charter to Sungai Rengit for RM$20 for the whole taxi. (Note: this is for 1 way and 4 persons in 1 cab)

Sungai Rengit
It is pretty easy to move around this town. This town is popular because of its seafood mainly lobsters fresh from South China Sea and often frequented by tourist from S'pore as well Malaysian's from Johor Bahru and further north.

The 3 well known ones are located pretty close to each other. If you are not sure where they are, either (1) ask to locals (2) look for where the crowd and Singapore registered cars go.

We went to the one called Jade Garden Seafood and found it overpriced. By the way, in the same street, just 15 meters further is a house that sells bak kut teh and noodles. It seems popular among the locals too !

I am pretty sure there are shore birds along its serene coastal roads...That's something to consider, once the JB-Desaru highway that spans across Sungai Johor is ready. We were told by our local taxi driver (Encik Arifin, a retired Ranger and resident of Kampung Jawa) that this bridge will be ready only by December 2010.  Getting here by car requires now at the moment to swing a big loop via Kota Tinggi.