Apr 16 2012
Those who make the trip to the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) usually come to experience its famous tree-based canopy walk. But even for those who don’t want to endure the semi-strenuous hike to the canopy entrance and back, FRIM can still make for a fascinating weekend trip from Kuala Lumpur, with its campsite to the north a popular spot to host group activities and short trips.
Perah Campsite boasts camping facilities including a kitchen, restrooms, picnic benches and a designated area for fires and barbecues. The site provides seclusion and a natural jungle camp experience without having to compromise on basic necessities. From the entrance of the campsite, terraced slopes lead to the picnic tables and slightly further down are around 10 plots that can hold up to 300 campers at a time. Male restrooms are labelled “Tongkat Ali”, for a tree native to Malaysia where the infamous Asian Viagra is derived, while “Kacip Fatimah” (traditionally used for the same purposes for women) indicates the women’s.
Tents, sleeping bags and other necessary equipment can be rented directly from the Perah office, but camping is usually reserved for groups. Individuals can however rent basic huts on the campsite for 50 ringgit per night. For those who aren’t used to the jungle chorus that usually accompanies a night in Southeast Asian nature, these are the best option anyway. The main hut area is built a few metres away from the campgrounds, connected by a short, suspended walkway through the trees — so you’ll get a similar experience to the canopy walk without any stamina required. Kids will love it, as will fully grown men, as I discovered during my trip. A single hut can easily accommodate two adults with accompanying luggage, and each one comes with a wall fan and power socket. Whether for camping or use in the huts, sleeping bags can be rented for 30 ringgit — they’re necessary as temperatures drop during the night.
For families with kids, camping can be arranged with the caretaker of the campsite who will arrange activities for two days. Wood shaving, scavenger hunts, bamboo rice making and night walks are part of an educational programme that they can provide, as well as food and drinks.
If you’re visiting under your own steam, food isn’t an issue if you’re not planning on cooking at the campsite. A picnic area is located next to Sungai Kroh, where a cafeteria serves pre-cooked meals. At the center of FRIM on Jalan Foxworthy, just as the walk to the Canopy Walkway entrance begins, is another canteen that serves a variety of simple Malay dishes with rice. Cost of a meal and drinks is less than 7 ringgit.
As well as mountain-biking and trekking, less arduous activities like visiting a Malay tea-house, Malay traditional houses and taking a dip in the numerous waterfalls that dot the reserve can all be enjoyed. Rumah Terengganu was relocated from Pulau Rusa (in northeast Malaysia) and reconstructed in FRIM without a single nail; the collection of traditional houses is to be expanded over time and currently includes just two, with the other from Melaka.
A short walk into the jungle across the main road from the picnic area leads you to a hidden waterfall, a favourite among kids and adults for a refreshing dip. This is one of the easier waterfalls to reach but just as shady and fun as the others.
As a side note, as of January 2012, FRIM has revised their fees and charges for rental and visitation of their facilities and activities. The canopy walkway is now 10 ringgit for foreigners and 5 ringgit for Malaysians while entrance to the reserve itself is 5 ringgit for foreigners and 1 ringgit for Malaysians. A full list of the new charges can be found here.
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