Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.

The photo of the man (Mr Ishak), the Land Rover driver who took us safely up a mountain road with 93 hairpin bends to a height 1036 meters of over a distance of 10.2 km.

Up the hill called Bukit Larut which in the olden days was known as Maxwell Hill in Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.

This is how the Hills (white speck in the distance) looks like from Taiping Town (photo taken early in the morning when the cloud has not yet cleared).

Maxwell Hill used to be a cooling resort for the British who were working in Taiping, which was the capital “City” of the State of Perak, and which once upon time was the richest District in Malaya, a District where tin plentiful and was mined, and where the Chinese (from mainland China) first settled with their skills of mining for tin. It would have been the Capital ‘City’ of Malaysia had not Yap Ah Loy (the Chinese Kapitan) moved to Kuala Lumpur where he prospected for more tin after he decided that tin in Taiping might be exhausted in a couple of more years from then (and he was right). The Chinese and the Malays in Taiping (Larut then) were fighting over tin in those days, and peace was made after the British intervened. Peace at a price to the Malays. That is why the place was made to be called Taiping.

Back to the Maxwell Hill, it’s a beautiful place, the temperature may go as low as 17 deg C at the lowest point. And Taiping has the highest measurement of rainfall in Malaya, maybe because the mountain (hills) is the agent of convection current.

The Hill has a few bunglows for rent, some with caretaker and some with no caretaker. What is lacking is that there is no canteen or ‘cafĂ©’ where one can get food unless one brings along ones own food for a picnic up the Hill. One may of course rent a bunglow for an overnight stay up the Hill, price ranging from RM200 to RM 300 per night, (RM3.3 = USD 1.0) doing your own cooking. The bunglow may be having from 3 to 4 rooms, comfortably housing about 10 people a night.

But one may also rent a chalet, very close to the top of the Hill, with arranged catering provided for.

And close by is a Telecom Transmission towers station.

And the flowers on top of the hill, they are exquisite. One may see butterflies and moths, and at the bottom of the Hill one may even meet a monkey.

The path to the top as I said earlier has 93 hair pin bends, and a driver has to be very skilled to manoeuvre these bends. And when one sees vehicle coming down (which is rare) when one is drive up, one has to stop to let the other vehicle/s pass, the road is that narrow.

It’s a popular spot for hill walkers. I observed that there are 3 stopping stations for these walkers up the hill, and some walkers taking the short cut jungle road to reach these huts. The walkers seem to range from young schoolboys to old man of maybe over 60 years old. And some walkers even use these stopping stations as their tea house where they rest or even eat lunch in these stopping huts. In fact one may see cooking facilities up there in these huts where they boil water (fresh hill water) to make tea (or coffee).

Its an experience of a life time to go up the hill.

One can only go up by the Land Rover provided the Hill Management, One cannot bring ones own vehicle, except those with proper permission given by the Authority, caterer (Contractors) or the Telecom people.

Historically, the road up the Hill was constructed under (?) the supervision of William Edward Maxwell who was appointed Assistant Resident of Perak in 1875. The British built the first Prison in Perak, then the Taiping / Port Weld (now renamed Kuala Sepetang) railway line, (where an elephant was killed when it charged a moving train) and then the road up the Maxwell Hill. They must have used Indian labourers who got paid pittance. How did they build the road? By hand! And using hand tools called ‘cangkol’ probably, pick axe, spade and shovel (I think) as well. How did they break up the rocks? I am told that they heated up the rock by setting fire underneath them, and then pouring cold water over the rock. The rock broke under the differential temperature. And they then chipped these broken rocks where appropriate and pushed and roll over the rock down hill.

There is a proposal to put cable car to the top of the hill from the bottom. But the Authority has yet to approve that. And I hope that the scheme does not get approved.

The Hill itself is an asset to Taiping in particular and to Malaysia in general. It has a natural environment. But the biggest asset is that it has a virgin tropical jungle, undisturbed and with logs worth RM millions. A lot of people are eyeing those logs and to date no approval had been given to cut these trees and logs down. And I pray that the Authority will never approve loggings in that area.

View of Taiping Town from the Hill.

That Bukir Larut (Maxwell Hill) is one of the most beautiful spot on this earth to my thinking.

For further refernce,

Sunday, April 12, 2009


As a Muslim, I am very much in support of the proper dress for Muslim women.