Saturday, April 25, 2009

Litang 理塘

Litang (理塘) is a county in the Sichuan province of China. It's town, of the same name, is known as one of the highest towns in the world. At 4014m, it is actually higher than Lhasa, but since it is not served by airport, getting into Litang is usually by bus or private transport, and you'll be less likely hit by altitude sickness.

Litang is the birthplace for several Dalai Lamas, and so, one of the things to do here is to visit the monasteries, the main one being Chang-qing-chun-ke'er. During our visit, the monks were having some sort of exam, and it was interesting to see that it was pretty much similar in many aspects to our exam taking scenes! Litang used to be part of the Tibetan Kham province, and the Khampa Tibetans still form the majority of the population here. In town itself, many of the residents are still in their traditional garb, and every evening, there would be Tibetan dances in one of the squares in the town!

Litang also hosts its annual horse racing festival in August. It is a well-known major event, and many travellers would come here to witness the festival. If you do intend to catch this, you'll have to plan ahead and book your accommodations in advance. Too bad I didn't catch this event, as it would provide fantastic photography opportunities! So, no photos of the festival here... Hopefully next time! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fraser's Hill

I last went Fraser's Hill more than 10 years ago. So, there was a certain amount of anticipation on what haved changed, or how much have changed. While things like infrastructure and facilities seems to have improved, Fraser's Hill or Bukit Fraser remains an idyllic and relaxing place to retreat to for a short weekend getaway.

Fraser's Hill is a hill (1500+m) situated in Pahang state of Peninsula Malaysia. Because of its height, it is relatively cooling most of the time and makes a great getaway from the heat of the lowlands. Besides several big resorts, there are smaller bungalows and cottages which are very pretty and full of ambience. There are walks/treks to be had, flowers to be admired, and birds to be watched. In fact, Fraser's Hill is quite a well-known haunt for birders and nature photographers. And after the day's activities, you could just relax in an old English style cafe, known as Ye Olde Smokehouse, and enjoy its tea and scones. It provides accommodations as well, and when I was there, they were fully booked by a group of 40 bikers coming from Singapore!

For transportation, Fraser's Hill is best visited using private transport. It is about 6 hours drive from Singapore, and do note that The Gap is still in operation. It is a one-lane road leading up to the town centre, and there is an alternate hour mode of operation for uphill and downhill traffic. There was supposed to be an alternate route up, but due to landslides on that road, The Gap is back in operation. Lots of materials on the Net, so just gather a few friends and retreat away to this idyllic location!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Border towns and border crossings have always been an interesting part of travel. On my trip to Pakistan, I actually visited 3 different borders of Pakistan. Check out my write up below!