Late for Nowhere

From life in Southeast Asia to backyard adventures in Kodiak, Alaska

Canopy walking at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM)

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Blog.01 (FRIM)

The canopy walk at FRIM viewed from ground level.

During a recent weeklong visit to Kuala Lumpur, I decided to get away from the noise and traffic for a day and visit the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) 16 kilometers northwest of the city.

Established in 1929 on a site described at the time as “little more than abandoned tin mine pits, vegetable gardens and shrubby forests,” the forest was nurtured back to life by foresters and scientists who studied plant growth and forest ecology as the trees matured.

FRIM is not only a world-renowned research site, but also a recreation area where visitors can appreciate the scenic beauty of the shady forests and hilly terrain. The main attraction is the canopy walkway, reached via a 30-minute uphill trek from the visitor center. The hike through the humid jungle is a sweaty affair, but this is a small price to pay for spending a few hours away from the wide world of pavement and concrete.

I reached the canopy walkway just behind a group of about 30 students, several of whom took one look at the narrow path swaying through the trees and decided they would rather stay on the ground. I could understand their hesitation: The vertiginous walkway is 150 meters long and is suspended between trees about 30 meters above ground level. I’m not too fond of heights either, but I swallowed my fear and walked the walk.

It was, of course, a worthwhile venture, offering panoramic views of the forest from above, plus glimpses of KL in the distance. Fear has a way of heightening our senses, which are dulled by the constant din of modern life and the brain-deadening habit of staring at computer and smartphone screens all day long. Walking above the forest was almost like meditation: For 15 minutes I was hyper-aware of my every step, my every hand movement, my every breath. The entire walk – the sights, sounds, smells – is imprinted in my mind more vividly than it could have been captured by a video camera.

The canopy walkway is open to the public from 9:30am to 2:30pm, with the last registration at 1:30 pm. It is closed on Mondays and Fridays, and it also closes during rainy weather, reopening two hours after the precipitation ends. Tickets must be purchased at the FRIM One Stop Centre before embarking on the hike to the walkway, which takes about two hours roundtrip. The cost is RM10 for non-Malaysian adults, RM5 for Malaysian adults, and RM1 for  children 12 years and below.

Day trips to FRIM are offered by many tour companies in KL. Independent travelers can take the KTM Komuter to Kepong and then a short taxi ride to the park.

Written by latefornowhere

November 4, 2014 at 3:15 am

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