AJ travels to beautiful Dasyueshan, Taiwan and thinks of his highland home..

6664120585_b354a0865a_b taiwan eIMG_0431 images1images2The tale of two highlands.. I count myself blessed to be able to share accounts of beautiful and far-away places that not only awe and inspire but reminds me of its raw natural similarities. Highlands, hills and mountains more often than not calls to mind, at least my own, a sense of adventure, mystique.  In Malaysia, these are areas that the logging and plantation companies have yet to invade and hence, they still remain pristine for now, with their forests and wildlife. Here’s my account of two highlands that I hope more people would spend time visiting if one has nature in their minds. One is our very own Fraser’s Hill, 2 hours away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Fraser’s Hill is already well known to Malaysians as a hill station, cool climate and forests. The true asset ff Frasers Hill, unknown or poorly realized to the majority of Malaysians, is its birds and superb eco tourism potentials. Birdwatchers and nature photographers from around the world the world have visited or have put Frasers Hill is on their bucket list of places to visit. Peaking at about 1,500m, this Important Bird Area (IBA MY09) boasts almost 300 species of birds, with 3 birds being endemic (not found anywhere else on planet earth!). The Malaysian Whistling Thrush, the Malaysian Hill Partridge and the Mountain Peacock Pheasant calls Frasers Hill, its home. Hardcore and amateur nature buffs with birdwatching on their minds and all manners of cameras, scout, stalk even, the quiet roads and trails of Frasers Hill in the hopes of catching images in their minds, binoculars and memory cards.. the plus factor if this fails is a moment in time in fresh mountain air and a bit of exercise ! But Fraser’s Hill rarely disappoints. Key words to remember; highland, forest cover, cool air, quiet roads and trails, super wildlife and birds, Important Bird Area, corners where people with binoculars and larger than life-sized cameras lurk, endemic birds and wildlife, the Mountain Peacock Pheasant.. Now, let’s hop to Penang International Airport or KLIA – take a short 4.5 hours flight to the metropolitan city of Taipei and jump into a car for a 3 hour journey through beautiful landscapes of hills, mountain and more mountains (Taiwan has more than 280 mountains over 3,000m high !). Hustle of bustle of a clean beautiful city to hillside farms and bamboo forests and at the end of this one journey,  the simply amazing and one of the best ecotourism site that I have been to – the Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area. Surrounded by 2,600m peaks, when I first arrived at Dasyueshan’s Yakou Observatory, as a guest of my good friend and eco extraordinaire, Victor Yu (now of Ecotourism Taiwan), we had already made numerous bird and photo stops. Whether is was to marvel at the Jade Mountains or to tick off some of its endemic birds and wildlife, every corner was a new natural history page. Famous for its big birds such as world famous and iconic Mikado Pheasant and Swinhoe’s Pheasant, these endemic birds are regularly seen and anticipated along the roads leading up Dasyueshan, one of the more famous of IBAs. As in the case of Frasers Hill, where local photographers line up at a certain area, one knows there will be a showing! And Dasyueshan.. never disappoints as well! Pheasants, Rosefinches, Thrushes.. the amazing list goes on. Victor & I also tried one of the many trails. Beautifully maintained, I was so amazed with how many trekkers there were. And those not pushing on, had little picnic tables and tea prepared and all that walk by gets an invite to join in a drink or a small meal. We had a few. It was at one of these stops that I promised myself to chronicle this adventure. Although Frasers Hill, compared to Dasyueshan is still an infant, I do hold hope that such sites can learn from each other, through tales and information shared by its visitors. Conservation gives rise to ecotourism and vice versa be it in the form of birdwatchers, photographers, hikers, school trips, corporate getaways and the average tourist. These majestic places carved by nature is ours to behold and preserve. The tale of these two highlands is never ending, thank you for being part of story – on paper..now get out there and see it for yourself !! See full article at http://www.mns.my/article.php?aid=2730           For further reading, check out :   http://www.birdlife.org/asia/partners/taiwan-chinese-wild-bird-federation-cwbf   http://recreation.forest.gov.tw/RA_En_JP/0300003/RA_EN-01.htm   http://orientalbirdclub.org/taiwan/

Images of Dasyueshan : flickr.com / wantchinatimes.com / northernrustic.blogspot.com

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Images of Frasers Hill : AJ Sebastian

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