Monday, May 18, 2009

The charming place...

Whittington bungalow

Muar Cottage

Fraser's Hill located 1,524 metres above sea-level in the mountains of Pahang is another enchanting hill resort. It is built on 7 hills. It bears no claim to cosmopolitan fame- it has about it, a rather quiet rustic air, more in keeping with rustic solitude of English countrysides.

The resort is named after a scottish pioneer Louis James Fraser, who towards the end of the nineteenth century built himself a shack in the hills, operated a primitive mule train and embarked on the lucrative trade in tin ore. This continue until the first decade of the twentieth century when he apparently disappeared.

In 1910 Bishop Ferguson-Davie of Singapore combed the mountains in search of Fraser. The search for Fraser proved fruitless but he had on the other hand discovered a perfect mountain retreat-one that was to become one of Malaysia's foremost hill resorts. Surveying work began in 1919 and set the scene for its development as a mountain retreat. Today, in spite of the spate of the developments and additions of modern hotels and luxury condominiums. Fraser's Hill still retain much of colonial bungalows owned by the state government and private corporation.

Keepers of a heritage

Every afternoon, a group of men gather at Hillview Restaurant in Fraser's Hill 's town square. Over tea,coffee, pisang goreng (banana fritters) and cream crackers, the group reminisce about the past. These men are the last bastions of caretaker tradition in Fraser's Hill.

We met Lim Jeow Fong, 73, a caretaker for Guthrie House (Whittington), Tan See Au, 68, who takes care of the Bunge & Arundel Bungalow (HSBC) and the youngest of the lot, Leung Chin Au, 58, who minds the Muar Cottage.

Mostly born and bred in Fraser's Hill, these men are second -generation Hainanese caretakers. Due to the lack of written records, nobody could confirm when the caretaker tradition began. The British built the bungalows or cottages in the 1920s. And most of the present caretakers' fathers have worked in Fraser's Hill since the pre-war era.

A caretaker's role

A caretaker is a butler, housekeeper and chef rolled into one.
"Our job is to serve good food and maintain the bungalow well. " Leung put it simply. But 'good food' is an understatement. These folk can cook up storm at the snap of their fingers. From crispy chicken chop, juicy T-bone steaks, fluffy lemon souffle' and Yorkshire pudding to sinful Bomb Alaska (sponge cake slathered with ice-cream and topped with meringue), the caretakers' culinary skills would put some of today's five-star hotel chefs to shame.

Leung's father was a first generation Hainanese who came from China."He was uneducated but he picked up cooking very fast. Since he couldn't read, recipes were out of questions. He memorised everything by heart," said Leung who followed his dad's footsteps and became a caretaker. "When he taught me to bake or cook, there were no measurements - it was a pinch of salt, a fistful of spices or a handful of sugar."

Initially, the senior Leung struggled with the language too."When I was a kid, my dad told me he worked as katika (literal translation of caretaker). Only when I was older did I realise he meant ' caretaker'," said Leung. "For the longest time, we called toasts (bread) roti tot!

In the colonial days, only high-ranking officers had the privilege to stay at these bungalows, according to Lim who took over his father’s caretaker job at Guthrie House 42 years ago.

"Dinner was a formal occasion and English would dress smartly," said Lim who still dons his crisp, white uniform. " We had to learn proper dining etiquette, where to place the cutlery and plates and how to serve correctly."

Up till 15 year ago, on Christmas or New Year' s Eve, the caretakers would whip up a typical festive spread. You get a choice of freshly baked rolls, consomme', prawn cocktails, roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, mince pies with brandy sauce, the whole works, added Lim

The caretakers had to know their Tom Collins and Screwdrivers (variation of cocktails) too. Plus, they needed to serve the guests, run a kitchen, tend the bar and maintain the house.

Traditionally, caretakers were only men and their wives assisted them.
"In those days, jobs were scarce and men were the breadwinners," said Leung.

To get a job, you needed a reference letter and have the ability to cook English fare, Lim adds. Lim's father was a barman at the Royal Selangor Club in the late 1940s before he was offered the caretaker job.

“But today, times have changed and the caretaker’s roles are different. And guests’ demand are not the same too,” said Lim. In some bungalows, a caretaker just maintains the house. Providing meals is an extra service and today’s guests, a hotchpotch of locals and expatriates, want a mix of Western and local cuisines.

Caretakers' take-home pay ranges from RM900 to RM2000 per month although some caretakers earn more depending on the duration of their service and the companies they work for. In addition, they take home extras when guests cater for food --- a meal costs anything from RM7 to RM28 (BBQ dinner) per person.

The younger generation is no longer interested in this kind of job. Most find Fraser's Hill too quiet and the highly educated ones find the pay unattractive," said Leung, one of the 10 Hainanese caretakers remaining in Fraser's Hill today. In its heyday, Fraser's Hill had more than 30 bungalows and an equal number of caretakers.

We take pride in our job and treat the bungalows like our own house," said Lim whose four adult children live in the city. "We don't have to worry about our kids. We just work to take care of ourselves. We just want to live a peaceful and happy life."
"If the company is happy with my service, I will work as long as I'm still heathly, he added.

By Leong Siok Hui


  1. Hi. I enjoyed your post on the cottages and caretakers of these idyllic bungalows.
    Could you advice me on how to make reservation because I couldn't find any contact details in the net to these bungalows.


  2. Hi Yvonne,
    Thank you for visiting my blog.Please give me your gmail address.


  3. Hi June,

    By any chance do you happen to have the contact numbers for Bunge and Arundel cottages? I would like to make a visit.

    my email is


  4. hi june,
    i would like to get a contact for the cottages as well .Please send to my email

    Thanks much in advance !

  5. Hi June,

    Could I have the contact for the Fraser Hill cottages you mentioned? I'd like to try my luck if they have rooms this weekend. Please email me at Thanks a lot!

  6. Hey June! I was looking for a bungalow to accommodate about 8 person at Fraser's Hill, and thank god I found your blog! Do you have the contacts for the bungalows? We're planning to go up next week 4th Sept. Appreciate your assistance for a fellow art lover! My email is Looking forward to your email! Thanks!

  7. hey june,
    do you have the contact of this cottage??? im looking for accommodation for a family trip in fraser. my email is thanks!!!

  8. Hi June,

    May I have the cottage contact from you? I am planning for a holiday trip for my family. my email is, thanks!!

  9. Hi June, May i have the cottage or bungalow contact no from you because I couldn't find any contact in the net to these bungalows.I am planning to shoot my pre-wedding photo on April 2011 and for a holiday trip with my friends so that i hope can get the contact no from email is
    Thank you so much and waiting your reply...

  10. Hi,

    I'm planning for a holiday trip. The bungalow looks great and i do not get any info in internet. Could you please give me the contact for bungalow reservation?
    my email is :
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you.

    Nicole Wong

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Hi June,

    I'm really glad to find your blog post on Fraser's Hill. I'm planning a trip (with 8 friends) to Fraser's in March and upon running a search on google on the bungalow,s nothing much came except your blog post. it would be really great if you could share the bungalow details.

    Thank you

    My email is (

  13. Hi June,

    You blog on the bungalows in Fraser Hill is interesting. Can you email me the contact for Muar Cottage...thks

  14. Hi

    Do you have contact nos of these bungalow? Would like to book for family trips.


  15. Hi June

    I am so glad that I found your blog!!
    Could you advice me on how to make reservation for these bungalow/cottages? I couldn't find them from the internet.:(
    Appreciate your help. Many thanks!!

    (My email is

  16. can I have the contact too?


  17. could you please advice me on how much and how to make reservation to this bungalow?

    My email is

    Thank you so much!

  18. Hi June, appreciate it if you can advise the contact details to make reservation. I am going up this month for a holiday. My email is

    Thank you

  19. Hi,do you still have the contact of this cottage? I am planning a family trip in fraser. my email is Thanks in advance

  20. Contact number
    Mr. Donald Johnson
    Highlands Resthouse Holdings Sdn.Bhd
    Tel: (03) 21648937 (Kuala Lumpur Reservation Office)
    E-mail :
    website :

    Fraser's Pine Resort

    Perbadanan Kemajuan Bukit Fraser,
    Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation,