Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Good Morning Vietnam - Goodbye Bagsy

Today saw the last day of the 'Planned Passage' and the first of the just taking direction as it comes. I had a flight booked from Manila, taking me as far as Hanoi, Vietnam (via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and had also consulted the Foreign & Commonwealth Office about entry but had to have a Plan B ready. A little ambiguous as to whether a visa could be obtained 'on the ground' in Vietnam I was always prepared to be 'bumped' should that situation arise. It did, and I was, and I'm now in Malaysia!

Always considered a part of this trip, the plan would have been to enter Malaysia from the north but this change will be of no concern and life goes on. There can be few serious 'birders' in the world who have not heard of, or been to, Fraser's Hill and being only 4 hours or so from this Avian Mecca the choice was obvious.

Time for a coffee and lunch, once again the Tourist Information sorted out all my travel detail and very soon I was on the easy to understand under/over-ground to Rada.

I did rater like the idea of a 'Ladies Only Coach'.

Having visited this capital city before and the Petronas Towers there was no need to linger, but did catch a sight of the landmark (between the tall buildings foreground) in the distance.

A change of train about half way produced an hour delay, but struck up conversation with a very nice gentleman who was able to give me further useful information. It would have been nice to report the ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING above as the first bird on Malay soil, but yes, you've guest it that pesky TREE SPARROW was in first.

Another 'Lifer' as we crossed the line to exit the station, a Television in the lift, unfortunately no settee and chairs so a quick move on. Knowing little about my destination, I was soon to learn that while all facilities are in place there it is what would be described as Very Remote. No public transport, so first an £18.00 taxi ride to the resort 45Km away and worth every penny.

At 4,200 feet above sea level, the Resort is modern, well run, inexpensive and where the hot and bothers from KL come to cool down. It is surrounded by almost untouched jungle and the reputation as a Bird Watchers Paradise is well known.

There being only one taxi in what is effectively a series of 'resorts, the driver touted for the return journey (while I'll be touting for a lift back) there was now about 2 hours of daylight to find a hotel (not difficult) and have a wander.

fitted the bill perfectly and as I made my bid to check in I was approached by K.S. Durai the local Bird Guide. A most pleasant character who is good friends with former TV presenter and naturalist Tony Soper and has a CV as long as your arm. His first question "do you have a Field Guide" was met with a No as my East Asia book expires before here, to which he thrust a copy of Birds of South East Asia into my sticky mit. Next came the formidable Fraser's Hill Bird List, complete with 296 species to 2010, and a list of telephone numbers should I get stuck and a promise that he would contact me later.

For a little less than 22 quid B&B this is about the best value room I've had thus far, but having already logged HOUSE SWIFT, GLOSSY SWIFTLET, ASIAN PALM-SWIFT and PACIFIC SWALLOW I was more interested in getting out there.

Apart from the afore mentioned, it would be impossible to visit here without instantly getting

so the first 'Lifer' and from what Durai had told me by no means the last!

No, the 'second' came in the same amount of time, a 'second' with the rather fierce looking


being next to join the list. An ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN put in a brief appearance as did some

Way-side Flowers before a cacophony of chatter drew me to a nearby tree. The chatter was that of a fine


in company with almost as nicer looking


It was considered a GREAT start given the amount of day-light left, and with even more flowers

these ARUM TYPE LILIES looking a treat, there was time to photograph

PACIFIC SWALLOW before going on to find what would effectively be the final bird of the day.



If this had been a example of what can be seen just one hour before dusk, then I felt a sleepless night coming on once again. Cannot wait to follow some of Durai's suggestions and fell a return to the 'check-in' desk for a longer stay wont be too long in coming!

HUGE & JANET "I don't have your E-mail address - HELP"