Our first day in Kuala Lumpur was largely spent on the outskirts of the city visiting two places we were keen to see. They were both pretty intense experiences on the ol’ legs but we decided as we were closeby we would get them out of the way in one journey to save travelling out of the city a second day and better maximising our time. I intended to include our whole day in one post but it was a lot longer than I expected (and these posts are quite image heavy), so I split into two posts as we struggled to find reviews like this prior to going ourselves, so hopefully it helps someone else!
First stop was FRIM, which is the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia we got a taxi out to FRIM which cost us around £8. We wanted to head over as a quick pitstop to do a canopy walk (more on that in a bit), and didn’t plan on being long – after noticing that there were zero taxis around we decided to ask the taxi driver to wait for us, thinking we would be around an hour. Turns out we were 3! I can not remember the exact price of entrance for the canopy walkway and tour, we also had to pay for the car, and the fact I had an SLR camera – all together I believe it was in the £20 region for us both.
We stopped into the information centre as the maps made little sense as to what might be the easiest way to get to the canopy walkway. It’s a good job that we did as we thought we’d just be able to get some tickets when we got there, but turns out they had to be purchased at the visitor information centre. We ended up doing a tour which we were told would take around 2 hours, but it didn’t end up starting for almost an hour. The office is the most unorganised mis-managed place I’ve ever had the displeasure of waiting, I’m glad that we did, as we both really enjoyed the experience, but it’s definitely not one for the faint hearted or majorly unfit, the weather for us was very humid and I looked as if I’d had a bucket of water thrown on me as we were still acclimatising on day 1!
FRIM, is a large forest area in the centre of 4 towns in an area called Kepong, just outside of Kuala Lumpur. The forest is the largest man made forest in the world, being Dr Foxworthy (British), to create a research centre for Malaysia – with just a few small patches throughout being natural forest. The way the forest is planted is in groups of the same kind of tree, rather than where as normally you’d end up with a natural mix. This allowed us to admire each tree and species in it’s own individual right. 90% of Malaysia’s native species of trees are featured throughout the forest, and we walked through all of the main walks accompanied with a knowledgeable guide – around 7k we were told, but there are patches of steep steps and hills that made this not an easy climb.
We were told that FRIM was a place that was relatively unvisited by the public until National Geographic featured one particular special thing about it on the cover, and since tourists have been frequenting the forest – that being said we were on a tour group of around 20, and we didn’t see anyone walking stray, it’s a very quiet park. The special part of the forest is the ‘Crown Shyness’ of some of the Kapur trees – an unknown natural grown pattern for trees which don’t touch each other, it’s only known to feature in three places in the world, so we felt lucky to have seen it in person, apparently it’s even more magical at sunset and at night, and I can imagine it definitely is. I’m glad that we did the tour as our guidebook never even mentioned this and we’d have had no idea where to go in the forest to find this particular patch even if we did!
We smelt the dried leaves of the Kapur trees (which smell of Mango), and are used in products such as tiger balm, as well as being introduced to some large spiders nearby (Ben hates spiders and was not a fan), as well as being shown a Malaysian Rubber tree, which they’d tried (and failed) to make tyres with at the research centre. That was the easy part of the walk well and truly over, and from there it was pretty much up and downhill, up again down again for the best part of an hour.
We then made it to the canopy walkway, which was originally constructed in 1992 with help from Germany to study the flora and fauna at the tree tops. We were warned we might feel lightheaded, as the walkway is 300m above sea level, and 30m above ground level – but luckily we were both fine, despite the pretty rocky ladders – and other people not obeying the rules of keeping 3 metres between each person! Unbeknown to us, we couldn’t have picked a better time to go, as the walkway is permanently closed from the 30th June 2017 after 25 years of service they’ve decided the deterioration of the trees the walkway uses are just not safe enough to continue – I’ve only found this out from googling to remind myself how high above sea level we were!
From there it was downhill (thankfully!), and there was so much to trip on my head was kept down most of the time to check I wasn’t going to be sent flying by a tree root (or an idiot bloke from Japan trying to show off trying to be Tarzan). We made it to a waterfall, which was nice but nothing special and by the time I’d got my camera out to take a picture we were being dragged off by the tour guide to carry on.
One thing I will say is be prepared and take water with you if you’re looking to head to FRIM, whilst it was advertised that there were cafes and shops, absolutely none of them were open late morning – lunch time whilst we were there midweek. Whilst the view of the Crown Shyness of the trees is worth a look, without the canopy walkway I’m not 100% sure the cost of entrance is worth it without, £20 (+£12 tour fee!) is pretty pricey to enter a forest guided tour in my opinion when there’s little else to see.
Including the taxi to FRIM, the three hour wait and our taxi to the next stop (all in all around 3 hours 45 minutes), our taxi bill was around £36. Not too bad we didn’t think and would have cost us a hell of a lot more if we were in the UK, and the fact the car was air conned was welcomed!