Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill), Perak.

I've always been curious about this Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill) around the vicinity of Taiping town in Perak. I know it is a small hill station in comparison with Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill (Bukit Fraser). I tried going up the last time but due to timing factor didn't get a chance to go up Bukit Larut. This time round, it was almost a trip that never was.

A little cafe in Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill)

Brief History of Bukit Larut

Bukit Larut or the old name, Maxwell Hill is one of the oldest Malaysia hill resort. It was set up around 1884 as place for rest and recreation centre for British high ranking officials. The only way up back then was to use sedan chairs. I wonder how long it would take to go up with people carrying them up using this mode of transport and without proper roads until 1948. Even now, the only way is to hire government run land rovers as the public are not allowed to drive their own vehicles up the steep and narrow incline.

Maxwell Hill was renamed to Bukit Larut in 1979. The name change I suppose was to change all the English sounding names around Malaysia to Malay. Hopefully they won't do that to Cameron Highlands or Bukit Fraser, because it would really sound weird with another name other than the one we know and love.

The Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill) office

Going up and fares

Anyway, Bukit Larut is a small hill resort (the smallest Malaysia hill resort I reckon) in Perak and the only way up is using the government run land rovers. The fare isn't expensive, only RM6 per adult or RM3 per child for a return ticket. The only problem was the timing and a limit to the number of people allowed up at Bukit Larut.

I couldn't go up there the last time because it was a Friday and I went there at lunch hour. And this time round, the weekend on Sunday was throng with visitors and there was a maximum limit of 150 persons allowed at Bukit Larut, and so I couldn't go up there yet again. Determine to give it another go, the next day was a Monday, a working day, thus I should be able to go up to Bukit Larut. However with family in tow, we were also tired from the previous day activities, we got up late, and again we didn't get a chance to go up Bukit Larut in the morning. In the end, by hook or crook, we took their last ride up at 3 o'clock which didn't give us much time to explore Bukit Larut.

So do note this. The Bukit Larut office is open from 8am to 12pm. They are closed for lunch, and then open again from 2pm to 4pm. The land rover service is available on hourly basis, and you must be there 15 minutes before their departure at both the ground office or up there in Bukit Larut departure area. The last ride up is at 3pm, and the last ride down from Bukit Larut is at 4pm. Don't miss the ride down or you will have to stay one night there or walk back down yourself! It would be a long, long 10km walk back down if you miss the ride! Apparently somebody did get left behind that Sunday.

The Journey

The afternoon sun was beating hard on us as we waited for the land rover service on the ground station. There was a jungle trail nearby with an unused house next to it leading to some campsite. With nothing much to do, I followed the jungle trail for awhile but didn't follow through as it lead to quite a distance. Even at this hour of 2.30pm we could see many Taiping people having their routine exercise walking up the road to Maxwell Hill. We asked one of them about their walk up, and the walker said, "Not all the way up, just about one plus kilometre to a resting hut up there. It takes about 35 minutes to walk." That's about the same amount of time to travel by land rover all the way up to the 10.3km section of Bukit Larut.

Very healthy people. There were some who also use the jungle trail which I saw earlier as a shortcut route to the resting hut. With all the nice greenery around and fresh air, the Bukit Larut trail or road makes for a good healthy exercise!

When our ride came, we bundled in behind the land rover together with four other visitors. It was a bit cramp, with five of us sitting in a row, and four of them in another. I sat at the edge to have a better view behind the land rover and to take some nice photos of the journey up.

The ride up to Bukit Larut was really bumpy.

With the ramp door latched up, off we go to Bukit Larut! It was very much like a roller coaster ride as the driver races up the steep incline and tight corners. I was hanging to dear life, with one hand trying to grapple the cage like roof while my other hand was holding on to my DSLR camera to get some shot of the action!

Along the way, we spotted the hut with all the people resting from their long walk up the road socializing and probably sharing some juicy gossip or talking about politics or something. In a flash and another tight corner we have already left them behind at the hut. Nothing but the exhaust fume from the land rover to show that we were there.

Despite only the government land rovers allowed on the road, we had a near mishap when we turned a corner. The driver scolded the other tractor driver because they were not supposed to be on the road or something or the tractors didn't sound their horn for each blind corner. The tractors were there because JKR was doing some repairs to some stretches of the road.

Due to rally style driving, Kenny and Lindy were feeling sea-sick. So take another note, for those of you who easily get motion sickness from winding roads, please bring along your motion sickness pills. The best natural remedy is to use ginger pills or have real ginger drink. It's been proven to be more effective than motion sickness pills.

Bukit Larut Hill Station

Arriving at the Bukit Larut hill station at 1,036m from sea level, the cool air of the hillside was rather refreshing. The place was rather quiet. Much more quiet than Bukit Fraser and not to mention small! The 10.3km section only comprises a Bukit Larut Cafe, Angkasa Bungalow, and a playground with a mini watchtower and mini wooden Burma bridge. Oh, and don't expect much from the Bukit Larut Cafe. We wanted to order some drinks but they only have simple tea and those 3-in-1 sachets for coffee, and some packet drinks and sodas in tin cans in their fridge. It wasn't very inspiring so we decided not to have a drink at the Bukit Larut Cafe.

Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill) at 1036m above sea level.

The place was very peaceful with well tended gardens all around. Trees and jungle surrounding the area add on to the tranquillity. You could also see Taiping, Perak from way up here too! Lena suggested we might stay here for one night in future. But I think not. There is practically nothing to do here but to admire the scenery and perhaps bring along reading material for some peaceful reading and resting. Also without transport, walking over to other areas of Bukit Larut will take a long time. There are more bungalows further up all the way to 13km. I suppose the land rover will take you there if you are staying overnight.

Tulip Flowers and Tulip Mania

If you like tulips you could head out to Cendana Hut at 1,128m above sea level where they grow their tulips. However there is a season for it, so you will need to check with the Bukit Larut office to find out when the tulip flowers bloom. It will get very crowded when the tulips bloom when throngs and throngs of visitors will catch tulip mania and vie for a chance to see tulips flowers blooming up there in Maxwell Hill. The accommodations would also be fully book during that time.

With only about 20 minutes before our ride down, I couldn't explore much of the area. Just enough time to catch a whiff of cool air and hardly any chance to really admire the place before we have to make our journey down from Bukit Larut. Sigh! So watch out for your timing if you want to have ample time for exploring Maxwell Hill!

Oh, the ride down from Bukit Larut was gentler, so you don't have to worry about getting nauseous from the winding road.


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