Up and Over Fraser’s Hill

Posted: March 8, 2011 in butterflies, holidays, macro photography
Tags: , , ,

After killing off the ACCA exams, I realised that all the nights and weekends spent in grey classrooms and insipid cafes have paid in equal debt of time to my neglected romps and traipses through thick undergrowth lovingly entwined around the great legs of the forest. So I leapt up and the textbooks slipped and crashed angrily from my table like bars of brick from a cell smashed free.

Simply Magic

I flailed and grabbed several photographers on their unsuspecting way to Fraser’s Hill and brazenly begged to come along and went along before any of them could utter a sound of acknowledgment.  

Flowers around the estate

Captivating roadside lilies

And unfit as I was from months of squatting over my books in my narrow and winding road of hardship towards a professional certificate, I clean forgot about my atrophied muscles and carried my debt to my body across 60 degree hills in search of only two but two very rare butterflies.


Although I had to be dragged as I faltered towards the drinking station after climbing up and down a total of 7.8km, drank about 3X100plus, bore the blow to my ego of having two other photographers carry my gear and pack as well as enjoyed the excruciating pain of realising that I couldn’t use my calves the next morning, I still had to admit as I snailed  past that the dizzy scenery was a welcome change from exam halls.

Fraser’s Hill was something else altogether.  The flowers on the hill are unusually vivd and like psychedelic wonderland, they pop right out of the scenery of dark green hues.

Orange Imperial


Note on Orange Imperial: This butterfly only flits around during a certain window of time in the morning.  Once it crosses the magical hour, it disappears even if it had originally come in huge numbers.  There are no stragglers in this crowd.

  Nobody would be surprised if nobody on Fraser’s hill owned an alarm clock because the dawn bursts with birdsong, ranging from simple too-toos to melodic flute notes.  You can count on the shrilly ones to wake you even if you had stuffed in earplugs approved for loud machinery work. 

Red Spot Jezebel Forest Quaker

Note on Jezebel: This pretty butterfly came flitting across the carpark of the apartment where we were residing.  Its flight slow and unhurried, it appeared to have just woken up from its beauty sleep.  Tentalisingly, it persisted on perching right in the treetops where we were forced to scale high fences just to get a record shot. 
The birds are very used to human presence and although they won’t hop down onto our shoulders and entirely introduce themselves to us, they did land in bushes near to us while scrounging for food and continued perching on their little branches as we cautiously approached with our cameras, cocking their head this way and that, until we were close enough for them to hop on our lens barrels and do a little bird ditty.  


Spotted Sawtooth


Note on The Spotted Sawtooth: This butterfly was most sought after (as a photographic subject) probably because it refused to settle down and surrender to being shot (with a camera).  To this end, the senior photographer had to roll around in the sand although he had already partways cleaned himself from it.  While the others crouched down not daring to move.  To add to this already challenging aspect, the butterfly was also a “sloucher” (as one of the photographers joked) because we couldn’t really see its rear end and its wings were persistently resting happily on the sand (could be structure of the butterfly.  No I was joking about the slouching thing).

Pendlebury Zebra dancing across the sand

Note on Pendlebury’s Zebra: Once a rarity at Endau Rompin, this remarkable butterfly so loved by Les and disappointingly flew away, arrived in couplets to our elated sighs and then flirted with us by trembling its wings rapidly under the hot sun, fanning hopes of getting a clean and sharp wide open shot of the Zebra’s beautiful back.  Unfortunately, this is all my tired 40D and aching hands could muster.

Pendlebury Zebra

Malayan Zebra


 To complete the loving picture of Fraser’s Hill, we were gushed over by our neighbour’s dog, Ah Fook (Ah Fu) who took to running to us whenever we so much as said hi as we walked by. 

Note on Malayan Zebra: This rare open wing shot was generously rendered to us when the tired Zebra decided to take a rest under overhanging weeds by the stream.  They were as many Malayan Zebras as there were Pendlebury’s and they had a tendency to throng around each other.

Malayan Zebra perched on a leaf

Unfortunately the only thing that seems to be wrong with this wonderland was the appalling standard of food.    Kaching-ing in on their monopoly status, the only Chinese food place on the whole Hill won the first prize for the soggiest and saltiest Hor Fun in Fraser’s Hill.  On top of that, their half-boiled eggs were quarter boiled and they charged aplenty for 2 pieces of toast!  Even eating the RM3.80 standard issue Snickers Bars under a hot sun, uncomfortably dehydrated with soggy underpants filled with sand was more appealing than another greasy bite of bleahk.

Note on Cyrestis maenalis martini: These butterflies are marked darker than the mapwings from Endau Rompin and are also common on Fraser’s Hill.  They have a habit of resting with their “maps” wide open.  It’s a challenge to get a shot of their undersides.

 Thankfully though we had plenty of instant noodles, peanuts, bread and whatnots. 

Iridescent back of the Great Mormon

Note on Great Mormon: It’s not unusual to encounter a Great Mormon in Malaysia.  However, it’s pretty unusual for it to stop + on leaf + wings wide open.  That’s like being told that you will get 3X usual bonus this year! YAY!

The nightlife on Fraser’s Hill is also full of activity.  Down the hallways of our apartment, we can already find 2 different species of cicadas of different sizes, tons of different types of moths and on the earthbanks lining the roads, hairy tarantulas, their fangs barely visible at the mouths of their dens. 

Note on Four Barred Swordtail: I have never encountered a Four Bar Swordtail before.  This trip though, Four Bars appear to be in numbers.  They puddle together on the ground, occasionally falling into either a closed wing or open winged stupor which works with us just fine. 

Chocolate Tiger

Note on Chocolate Tiger: If there are zebras, there must be tigers!  This butterfly although not so remarkable while puddling on the ground has a remarkable upperside complete with an orange abdomen.

Note on Appias cardena perakana: This is one of the most skittish butterflies of the lot.  When in flight, the upperside looks whitish and it flies erratically.

Meet again

 Fraser’s Hill has so much to explore that 4 days probably isn’t enough to do it justice.  So it’s in my list of to go-again places when there is an opportunity.  But this time I think I’ll skip the Orange Imperial trek. x_x 

hi there


  1. Lauri says:

    I love your posts! The butterflies are stunning and make me smile. The teensy fly on the lily….incredible! Imagine how big their world is to them. And then there’s us…..:)

    The flowers are just beautiful. And that spider rather gave me the heebie jeebies!

  2. Holy smokes…that’s one big spider!!!!

  3. David says:

    Lovely shots, Ellen. Too bad that you are so busy and cannot get out that much. The Orange Imperial was a very nice find.

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