Bukit Larut aka Maxwell Hill
It was somewhere back in the year 1884 where the British Assistant Resident of Perak by the name of William George Maxwell founded a hill station, presumably to escape the sweltering heat of the sea level areas. It was one of the oldest in the country and still stands today and kept safe from the evil clutches of commercialisation that plagues other hill resorts in Malaysia.
We used the land rover services for our journey uphill and downhill to and from the bungalow as there was no other option (unless you wanted to hike up there, but we had two people who are almost 60 with us, and one rather heavy bag (as there is no food up there - and it would suck if you were left foodless in a cold place during a holiday!) Besides, travel sites indicated that the hike up could take up to 8 hours, and we thought that the land rover would be the better option until we had seen the situation for ourselves)
Racing through the narrow curves and bends which were steep at times, we reached the bungalow, shaken (not stirred, ha! ha!) and exhilarated. The sun was shining brightly then, and we were given the keys by the caretaker, and showed around the bungalow. It did look pretty gloomy, though (the walls were light blue), and rather quiet. I was once again disappointed because I thought that there would be other buildings within sight, but the only building we could see was one empty building by the name of Dahlia (picture below)
We did a small bit of hiking after that, in the hot afternoon sun, checking out the view with hopes of reaching the peak, but as much as we attempted climbing, the peak was still far away. In fact, after one and a half hours of walking along the paved road - or hiking, if you will, we had still quite a distance to and decided to turn back as it would be getting dark soon. Nevertheless, we managed to see some interesting views of the reserve forest, enjoy the quietness, and wonder in amazement at how the people from the 19th century had managed to build whatever they had built in such an inaccessible area (there's no record of how and when and who exactly built the buildings or lugged up the wood for the buildings, but I can expect it to have been a somewhat gruelling task and wouldn't be surprised if the history of it was somewhat shady and is best kept hidden)
(Pictures from the top: 1. A small waterfall slightly off the path, 2. A tall pine tree in the sun, 3. The view of the valley from the top of the hill (not the very top) You can actually see the mangrove forest in Port Weld aka Kuala Sepetang, and a bit of the sea, 4. An observation tower which is unfortunately in a state of disrepair :(, 5. Giant ferns)
Now, our objective of this holiday was to escape city life, the noise of vehicles, bright lights, phone reception (well, I still had pretty good reception, though), the internet and all modern life pleasures. Even the bungalow had only very basic facilities - an electric kettle, a refrigerator, some cutlery, lights and a TV with awfully bad reception. By 7 pm, it was so quiet that all you could hear was the sound of some creature in the distance preparing for it's nocturnal prowl.
The night was cold, there was not much to do (Mom regretted later for not bringing the Scrabble set, and I regretted not bringing Risk and get the family addicted to that instead. Oh, well) and naturally after all that driving and the two hours plus of hiking made us pretty tired, so we slept. Funny thing is, about 8 pm, we heard some loud footsteps in the house, but kind of brushed it off for the sounds of the wilderness. The next day, though we found out from the caretaker that the place apparently has *invisible forest dwelling folk sharing the space with us. They are supposedly harmless but still there, because it happens to be their home. Definitely a goosebump inducing tale on a chilly Saturday morning.
And in typical fashion of all holidays, I had a 'first' experience again. This time, a leech decided to whet it's appetite on my delicious blood. It didn't hurt, but the very idea is just plain gross.
* if they exist, that is.
To be continued