This Malaysian's artistic journey started after a visit to the highlands

The writer (second from left) and her family at Fraser’s Hill. — Photos: JAMIE SOLOMON

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Perhaps travel doesn’t mean going somewhere new each time. Perhaps travel means going back to that one place over and over again until it becomes a part of you.

My family loves Fraser’s Hill in Pahang. Our affinity with this local gem began brewing 10 years ago. Every year we would make several trips to this “Little England”, barring those periods when the movement control order was in effect and interstate travel was restricted.

Every time we went, we would fall in love with the place a little more and each time we left, a piece of our heart stayed behind.

Fraser’s Hill is breathtakingly beautiful whether you are standing on an elevated point gazing out at the distant hills shrouded with low-lying clouds, or just taking an evening stroll, chancing upon a strange and peculiar invertebrate in the forest.

A place rich in biodiversity, it invites one to get up-close and acquainted with the natural world. The birds are welcoming, offering anyone who cares to listen to their unscripted orchestral symphony.

The cool climate, a welcome change to the discomforting heat in the lowlands, makes exploring this quaint little town pleasant and enjoyable. With development kept to a minimum, Fraser’s Hill has retained its pristine condition over the years.

As a family of six, we come here to enjoy the great outdoors and each other. It’s a special time for us to be together, a place where distractions are kept to a minimum.

We walk and hike together. Sometimes our walks are unplanned and we just go where the trail takes us. We play cards and board games. We sweat it out playing more energetic sports like frisbee and basketball. And there’s always time in the evening for a family movie.

A strange tradition we started many years back and have kept doggedly since is this – having ice-cream up in the hills, as if it wasn’t already cold enough!

Fraser’s Hill is all this to me and so much more.

I also go to the place to “refuel”. Each time I do that I feel refreshed and energised, ready to conquer the world again.

Fraser’s Hill invites me to slow down, too, telling me to listen more and look at my surroundings. It teaches me that I don’t need many things in life and that simplicity is the way to go.

At the same time, Fraser’s Hill is dear to me because it is the birthplace of many sorts for me – the birthplace of my poetry and prose and the cradle of my explorations with nature and art.

The writer first started sketching while spending some time at Fraser’s Hill in Pahang.The writer first started sketching while spending some time at Fraser’s Hill in Pahang.

Back in 2019, I picked up a pencil and a piece of paper one day, and started sketching.

I sat myself down on a bench in the public playground at Fraser’s Hill. It was 3pm, and the weather was perfect. I sat down for three hours sketching my first ever art piece.

Over the years, I have gradually honed this interest. Fraser’s Hill has always been the perfect place to sketch for me.

Then, at the beginning of 2022, I started “nature journalling”, recording observations, thoughts and feelings about what I experienced in nature.

And yes, you guessed it, I did this at Fraser’s Hill.

Our family holidays have become even dearer since then. Our memories are now captured not just with our phone cameras but on the pages of my journal. The “hand-eye-mind-heart” connection works to seal these indelible imprints into my very being.

Yet, although Fraser’s Hill extends its invitation to all, it is not for everyone. A rather common complaint you may see on social media is this: “Fraser’s Hill is boring. There is nothing to do!”

The writer has also started 'nature journaling'.The writer has also started 'nature journaling'.

Admittedly, the place can only be enjoyed by a certain group of people; those who are curious and patient enough to explore its charm and mysteries.

If you fit the bill, come and experience the magic of the hills.

So, maybe travel is not about going some place new every time. Maybe it’s about going back to that one place that has captured your heart and getting acquainted with it and in the process, rediscovering yourself.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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