Saturday, August 20, 2011

FRIM Canopy Walkway & Waterfall Picnic Fun with Kids!

FRIM is where I've worked and played for 12 years. Today I got to spend a few wonderful hours catching up with my BBGS schoolmate Suk, get acquainted with her lovely boys, made a new friend - Claudine - and get to know her beautiful girls. And all this in my 'playground' - FRIM, where the air is fresh and cool, and every breath invigorates me. Can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning!

Click to enlarge. More info on entrance fees and attractions HERE

A few days prior, I'd recce'd the trail I figured would be good for the kids (two 7 year-olds and two 9 year-olds). I did that while noting plants and etc along the trail that would be interesting to point out. I love kids and  was really looking forward to giving these 'city kids' a nice first experience jungle hiking.

My first introduction to the kids went something like this:
Suk:         Kids, say hi to Auntie Grace. Auntie Grace, can you tell them what you are?
Me:          Hi! I am a Bug Doctor!
SW:          Isn't that an Entomologist?
Me:          Erm... that too!

(Kids nowadays are so smart. And these ones were
ridiculously well-behaved too! Sweet!)

FRIM is a 600 ha green lung just half an hour north of Kuala Lumpur, and is an ideal visit for city folk and tourists wanting to experience what it is like in a tropical rainforest. Miles and miles of well-maintained hiking and mountain biking trails of various difficulty to choose from (including a 'Steroid Hill' that I have yet to enjoy) set against a lush backdrop of forest that looks like it's been there for millions of years. Few people know/realise that FRIM is actually a huge forest plantation and most of the trees were planted about 90 years ago :).

We bought tickets to the canopy walkway at the Souvenir/Gift Shop. Adults $5, Kids $1 (foreigners are charged a little more). Our first stop was at the bridge over the Arapaima Pond. There are a couple of monster arapaima fishies in that pond that measure up to SIX FEET long. I started clapping my hands and everyone did too. So festive. Then we saw a few of them glide sluggishly towards us. Not much of a performance, but the kids seemed to like it. Sorry - I didn't bring any fresh fish for you today! I mean the arapaimas. After that we hiked along the Salleh Trail and saw the National Geographic 'Wow spot' where the kapur trees (Dryobalanops aromatica) exhibit the amazing phenomenon of 'crown shyness' (see below).

Scientists think each kapur tree puts out chemicals that tell the
other trees 'Gimme my space!'

The kids also got a crash course in jungle survival:
  • Lianas (those twisty long curly wurly things) are a source of clean water
  • Don't put your hand (or any body part) on anything without first looking to make sure there are no thorns or nettle caterpillars! 
  • If a leech bites you, you will not die :)
Next was the Canopy Walkway. Getting to it involved a huff and puff up steps to the top of Bukit FRIM. Good thing we re-fuelled on Twiggies before tackling it. The hike up there is excellent training for those who want to take on Mount Kinabalu! I tell ya, those kids are actually mountain goats in disguise. They literally sprinted up that hill. Us grown ups were like siput snails compared to them (hey just enjoying the scenery mah!). It being the fasting month (Ramadan), the trails and canopy walkway was deserted. Normally weekends would see a line of people walking/queueing up the hill and canopy walkway, but today only got 15 people when we got to the Canopy Walkway start. 

After enjoying the gorgeous views from the treetops (25 - 30 m above the forest floor), we started down the hill. Once again the kids sprinted down the hill. Us grown ups had a nice long heart-to-heart session about knee problems and surgeries on the (slow) way down. A short break for snack and freshening up at the small waterfall at the base of the canopy walk trail, and we continued down the Waterfall Trail to the Sungai Kroh Picnic Area. I enjoy this part because it's more 'wild 'n natural' compared to the other trails that are quite 'manicured' and civilised (just ignore that huge water pipeline that runs down like a white elephant in the middle of a banquet hall). My VFFs (Vibram Five Fingers) are proving to one of the Top Buys of 2011 (thanks hubs!) - like going barefoot but with grip factor x100. 

Ended with a pleasant picnic at the Sg Kroh picnic area. The kids quickly wolfed down the yummy sammiches then proceeded to cool down in the wading pool. One track mind, these kids. Us grown ups helpfully finished off the tasty nasi lemak, cake, wafers and the kettle chips. We also discussed setting up a business where I can be the CEO, and lead nature walks for families and city kids :). 

Also check out my blog post on the Kepong Botanical Gardens in FRIM - another great place for a family outing and picnic.


P.S.Hey it would be great if you could click on any ad here and I'll get 1 cent per click, from the advertisers. Thanks!


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