Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bukit Frazer 2

Once past the dam the gentle turns sharpen again, the road narrows and the real fun begins. Next stop is “the Gap” and its restaurant, which was under renovation when I arrived there, so I just stopped and rested by the side of the road chatiing with the tour from Singapore that were having the same idea, and were tired as well. Nice bikes, Mostly one liter + 4 cylinder Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha machines and they were shown the way by a Malaysian guide on an old 400 cc Honda. But he knew the turns, which helped! Didn't see any Kawas, let alone BMs, Aprilias and other European stuff. So asked about it. German and Italian bikes were too expensive and lacked a dealer network,so the feeling was and Kawas apparently have low resale value in Singapore. Poor show by the green machine people. But good fun all round. The guys were on a three day trip, the first day from Singapore via the North South route to Frazers’s hill, the second day on to Cameron Highlands. A lot of riding, and they were in full leathers!

From the junction at the Gap, there used to be but one narrow road leading to the very top of the hill, a single lane affair, that allowed traffic on alternate hours to go up or down it. These days a second road has been constructed, Jalan Bukit Frazer 2, to accommodate downward traffic. The sign indicating the alternate hour opening times was still being displayed though

There was a historical Mr. Frazer, who explored these hills towards the end of the 19th century and discovered a viable tin ore body that could be mined. The story of the opium den finds its origins in the Chinese miners that were employed to work these mines.The Bishop of Singapore apparently turned the place into a proper hill station in the early 20s, after Mr. Frazer had disappeared in the haze.

Whatever might have been the case, in its morphology, Frazers hill today still shows its hill station origin, as witnessed by the former attempts to alter the landscape and flora to create the illusion of a rural British setting, and help the colonials remember their landscape of origin. It is built on a fairly extensive high plain on on top of a granite formation. As every self-respecting hill station Frazers hills is dotted with the English cottages and Swiss chalets that the British built in the hills, as opposed to the verandah bungalows that they were quartered in in the plains. The winding lanes , with familiar names that sounded like home all elading to a main street dominated by a steepled church which asserted itself as the center of the universe. The hillstation was always more that just a nostalgic retreat, some became the vey symbols of colonial over-rule. Some of the old bungalows, lawns, ye olde smokehouses etc survive to this day, as does the original lay out and its winding lanes. The golf course is one of the oldest in the country. It is still charming, if you can see through the shadier bits of its past.

The route to Frazer's Hill earned itself a little further footnote in history as the site where the former British High Commissioner was ambushed and killed, during the Emergency. The sign is still there, and it is still pretty remote For those interested in travelling the road to Frazer's Hill in the 1950s, there is a bit about it in Peter Nevilles: the Rose of Singapore, 2006).

Mercifully modern Malaysia is taking over, also here and busy turning this into a more relevant and contemporary place to be in. The ride to and from Frazer's Hill remains memorable by any bikers standards!


No comments:

Post a Comment