Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nature trek at FRIM

On Sunday, ACE and some friends went on a nature trek at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia in Kepong. After some basic research through their website and some info from a friend who had been there before, I called them and booked a guide earlier in the week.

Their guide service costs RM80 and they can take a maximum of 20 people. You can make payment and meet your guide at the one-stop info centre at building D6 after driving past the main entrance where you pay your entry fees. They recommend you start your nature walk at 9.00am.

Our guide, Encik Wahid, took our group of 10 on a walk through a nature trail and showed the kids interesting plants and animals. He described the names, features and uses of the plants. He told us of the different types of wood - strong (hard), medium and soft - that the trees provide, which could be used to make things from pencils, to furniture, bridges and railroad sleepers, for example, depending on the type of wood.

Did you know that we need two trees per person to have enough oxygen in the air (that's why we need to protect Mother Earth from over-development, logging and deforestation), and only about 25% of sunlight penetrates the forest?

Caitlin and friends on the trail

Along the trek, we saw unique plants, their flowers and fruit, a giant milipede, a centipede, a cicada (we heard them first before spotting one),and two forest crested lizards. We also saw scratchings on the ground at two separate areas made by wild boars in search of worms, according to the guide.

The fruit and flower of the sea poison tree (local name: putat)


The mud tunnel or mud tube created by the cicada nymphs as they emerge from underground where they've remained for 2-5 years (some species up to 17 years!)

The Crown Shyness Phenomenon - the leaves of the Dryabalanops aromatica (kapur/camphor) trees do not touch each other!

A giant millipede

After the one-hour trek, we proceeded on an uphill climb to get to the Canopy Walk. Although the distance was only 500m, it was a challenging climb through the forest, for us with 'old, creaky' bones and our city kids. But they took it all in stride despite complaining a little of tiredness, and getting impatient as it got steeper towards the top. Upon reaching the entrance hut of the canopy walkway, we sat for a short briefing by the people-in-charge -- no running, jumping, keep a distance of two planks (5m) between each person, no turning back, the maximum number of people allowed at each of the three viewing platforms, etc. The canopy walkway is about 30m above ground, or 300m above sea level.

Entrance hut of the canopy walkway

The 150-metre long suspension-bridge canopy walkway

After completing the 150m canopy walk, we then had to trek down another trail to get back to ground level and head back to our car. Along the trek downhill which was also quite steep and slippery at some parts, we came across a picnic area and a small waterfall.

The entire trek up and down plus walking on the canopy walkway took about two hours. By the time we got to our car, we were all soaked in perspiration, rather tired but happy we got to experience a jungle trek and walking among the treetops of a tropical forest. It was C's first such experience and she enjoyed and learned quite a lot.

If you wish to visit FRIM, check out their website for more info on the activities available. Besides nature trails and the canopy walkway, they have a picnic and camping site (C wants to go camping next!), a botanical garden, mountain biking trails, birdwatching and treasure hunt activities. You need to pay an entrance fee (RM5 per car with driver, RM1 per adult and free for kids below 12). The canopy walkway charges RM5 per adult and RM1 per child below 12. It is closed on Mondays and Fridays. Beginning, January 2012, FRIM will be increasing these fees. Non-Malaysians are charged a different (slightly higher) rate :(

Remember to bring insect repellant, drinking water, a camera if you wish to take photos, a small towel or wet wipes (to wipe off your perspiration!), and a change of clothes if you wish to feel more comfortable after the hike. It would be handy to have a small plastic bag too to collect whatever rubbish you have like used tissue paper/wet wipes, sweet/food wrappers so that you can discard them later properly in a dustbin, and not litter the jungle.

That's how ACE concluded the second week of school holidays. Another four weeks to go before we get back to routine and C goes to Year 4 in school.

There's still school books and Christmas presents to buy...

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