A Jungle Trek & a Cultural Show in Kuala Lumpur
After experiencing the vivid ocean life at Aquaria KLCC, the next day it was time to go for a short nature walk in the man-made Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM). Spread over 600 hectares, the place is beautiful. I found it very peaceful and serene. We had a forest guide who took the group around for a short walk.
I couldn’t believe the fact that this vast forest was manmade. Way back in 1926 this area was more like an abandoned tin mine pits, shrubby forests and vegetable gardens. Since then it has been transformed into a serene forest with lots of different kinds of trees and plants. It is also one of the leading institutes for tropical forestry research in the world. FRIM also does research for sustainable management of the country’s forest resources.
A river cutting through this forest reserve adds serenity to this luxuriant landscape. There are five jungle trails – Central Ground, Keruing, Salleh, Engkabang and Rover Track.Arapaima gigas or Dragonfish, a native of the Amazon and now introduced in Africa and Malay-Australian region, is one of the largest freshwater fish, reportedly reaching a length of 4.5 m and it weighs 90 kgs.
The guide informed that there were 4 Arapaima gigas in the lake. I could see 3 of them moving about on the brim.Here you can see the top part of the fish, as it tries to get hold of something.When we went, there was a small group of students who had come for an excursion in the forest. Locals and tourists can also take unguided tours around the jungle and just admire the scenery. Beautiful pink flowers growing on the path.
I was trying to keep pace with the guide and the group. Not everyone was interested in the wonders of nature.Dendrocalamus giganteus or giant bamboo, its as tall as it gets. Giant Bamboo grows naturally in Burma and Thailand, and here it was planted. Any guess on how tall can it grow up to? It can reach a height of 36 metres, that’s the tallest bamboo ever. The stem diameter can reach 25 cm.The guide gave an interesting piece of information, that bamboo generally flowers at long intervals – nearly 50 and 120 years. That’s terribly long.As we moved further ahead, there were lot more amazing trees. The one below looks like its pretty well supported with its trunks spread far and wide.Here’s another unusual tree. Can you point out which animal does this tree resemble? An elephant’s trunk, the front part looks exactly like an elephant’s trunk.Tall trees, lush green plants makes it an ideal picture, an absolute treat for the eyes. I felt like I was in the Amazon jungle.This was undoubtedly the highlight of the trek. We were walking in the forest, and the guide showed us Kapur tree or Dryobalanops aromatica, which produces camphor and is also a valuable timber tree. He told us to look up and I couldn’t believe my eyes, in fact none of us could. The crowns of individual tree were forming a puzzle-like pattern separated by gaps and the sky as the backdrop. It looked like fractals, with formation of repetitive patterns. This phenomenon is called ‘Crown Shyness’ because the leaf tips of Dryobalanops aromatica appear to be shy towards their own kind, hence the gap. If it is breezy you can see the tree crowns sway and still not touching each other. The guide said the formation is because same kind of trees were grown side by side.The dried leaves of Kapur tree don’t smell, but when you crush it in to pieces, it gives a strong pungent odour.
It was difficult to get my eyes off thisRoots of trees intertwined.
A wild fruit growing in the forest.On our way back I after a short trek of around 30-40 minutes, I saw this lovely tree with purple flowers growing on it.
There is a waterfall at a short distance away from the FRIM information centre. On the way there were lot of families who had come here for picnic, and kids enjoying themselves in the river running through the forest. Another main attraction here is the Canopy Walkway. The fragile-looking Canopy is suspended 30m above the ground and the 200m canopy walkway is built on tree tops. Sounds adventurous. One is also allowed to camp here.Getting married, no, there was an ad shoot going on. The girl was really struggling in the forest with her long gown, she required two people to hold it.It was time for lunch, and the Chinese tour guide had arranged for an exclusive meal at an ethnic restaurant – Aunty Ssam. It was a restaurant owned by Baba and Nyonya community.This unique culture was formed due intermarriages between two different races. Early Chinese descendants adopted the local Malay culture and customs to be part of the local communities. The Baba Nyonya ancestors hailed from Fujien province in China. They set sail to Melaka (Malacca) which was a trading centre some 600 years ago, and then they got married local women. So their sons were called Babas, while the daughters were known as Nyonyas. Read more on Baba-Nyonya culture. They are actually considered to be rich people. My guide informed me that the community has ceased to exist now, because now if a Chinese gets married to a Malay women, they ought to convert to Islam, by law.
Their cuisine too is a bit different than the Malay cuisine. Although they use lot of spices of the Malay cuisine. This time there were lot of choices for the non-vegetarians. I didn’t like the food, that’s because they don’t eat too much of vegetarian food. I was served rice with lot of greens, lettuce, brocolli, etc., but it was a great experience, learning about a new culture was superb. The culture still exists in certain parts of Malaysia – Malacca and Penang – where there are historical and cultural items on display in the streets.
Owners of the restaurant, belonging to Baba-Nyonya culture.Adjacent to the restaurant was the Cocoa Boutique. That was heavenly, fresh chocolates made in the factory and sold directly at this outlet. All kinds of chocolates were on display, and if you want to taste before purchasing, you can simply ask the attendant. I bought different varieties of chocolates, dark chocolates, mouth-licking tiramisu chocolates and almond ones. It’s worth a visit, though it’s on the expensive side. But Malaysia is known for its chocolates since it is one of the top 5 cocoa producers in the world.In the evening we were taken to an exquisite theatre restaurant – Saloma Bistro in Jalan Ampang. At the entrance were Malay women dressed in their traditional outfit – Kabayas, and men wearing long-sleeved shirts and sarongs. It was a grand welcome.It was an international buffet with cuisines from Indonesia, Malaysia, Indian, Continental as well. I had some pastas and Indian food, which was delectable. Then started the cultural performance. Dancers presented Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage of various states with contemporary performances. It was brilliant. Then the compere called the audience on to the stage to learn few steps with the dancers. An enjoyable way to spend your evening.
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