One of my favorite ways to recenter myself is to go hiking in nature. We are, after all, nature, and being in nature is a return to our true home in many ways. We are alive, just like nature, and draw energy and inspiration from our natural surroundings. Luckily, hiking is abound in Kuala Lumpur, its outskirts, and other parts of Malaysia.
Urban Forest Escape in Bukit Nanas
I currently live right across the street from the only virgin tropical rain forest left in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Nanas, which means ‘Pineapple Hill.’ You can see the forest from my apartment. Nature gives me space to refocus and remember what’s important. Bukit Nanas has an incredible canopy walk, as seen in these pictures here. One morning, I snuck inside the park before it officially opened and had this entire gorgeous canopy walk all to myself. I love that the Malaysian government has preserved this special piece of land for all to enjoy.
Herb Farm and Rural River Trekking near Kuala Lumpur
Another way to connect with nature is to physically put your hands on the earth. On a day trip just outside of Kuala Lumpur, my Remote Year group and I had the opportunity to visit a local herb farm, where we tried a variety of different roots and plants that served multiple purposes – Acalypha (Indian nettle) roots that drove cats crazy, a shrub (Achiote or Bixa Orellana) whose seeds produce lipstick pigmentation, and tree leaves that supposedly cure cancer. Being in a garden, on a farm, or orchard is a great reminder of how amazing our earth really is and where we get our energy from.
Here’s a little video I took of the cats going crazy over the Malaysian version of catnip.
Later in the afternoon, we headed to a local jungle river, a popular swimming hole for locals. Water is refreshing, cleansing, and purifying. Humans are, after all, mainly comprised of water, so it is no wonder we long to be in or near water.
The majority of the group went swimming in the river. Michelle, my roommate and I, decided to go for a walk instead and discovered a few interesting, abandoned homes along the way.
Hiking the Cloud Forest in Cameron Highlands
Last weekend, I took my first mini getaway trip to the Cameron Highlands and Penang, located in northern Malaysia, where I was able to do even more hiking. Cameron Highlands is considered a ‘hill station’ founded by Sir William Cameron in 1885 between roughly 3,500 ft to 5,200 ft above sea level, and is primarily an agricultural area known for its tea plantations, strawberry farms, and flower fields.
On our first day in Cameron highlands, my friends and I paired up to pick pints of strawberries at a local nursery.
We also visited the BOH (Best of Highlands) Tea Planation, the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia. While touristy, the grounds and modern visitor’s center built above the plantation grounds were both stunning.
Cameron Highlands has become a popular getaway for Malays and tourists alike who want to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands. There are plenty of hikes to be had in this scenic area. My friends and I went on an Eco-Adventure tour, which took us through the Mossy Forest on Gunung Brinchang Mountain, which contained oak trees covered in vines, pitcher plants, and orchids. Unfortunately, much of the forest has been destroyed by careless tourists despite the dedicated wooden platforms built to protect the environment. We saw several couples taking wedding photos off the trail, which simply further destroys the environment.
For more on Cameron Highlands, check out my friend Kathrin’s awesome ProjectMade.org vlog post here about our trip.
Surf & Turf: Jungle Trekking to Turtle Beach in Penang
After freezing in Cameron Highlands, my friends, Kathrin, Kara, and I went to Penang, a state on the northwest coast of Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. During our stay, we hiked in Penang National Park for 1.5 hours to Turtle Beach. Unfortunately, no turtles were found, but we did encounter this incredible Komodo dragon on the way.
Before setting out on our hike, we registered with the park service and followed well marked trails to the beach head, which felt like reaching paradise after hiking in the humid forest. Unfortunately, the red flags were out on the beach, and we couldn’t swim due to a jellyfish infestation. We did, however, put our feet in the cool water and met a few French tourists who we chatted with while waiting for our boat that took us back to the trailhead.
5 Ways to Get a Little Closer to Nature, and Yourself
- Find your closest urban hiking spot and commit to checking it out at least once this month. Hike for as little as 30 minutes to get some fresh air.
- Check out the closest farm near your house. Perhaps you can learn about the plants in your area or help plant an urban garden.
- Dip your feet in the nearest body of water, whether a lake, river, or the ocean.
- Depending on the season, try your hand at harvesting fruit or picking berries at the closest fruit orchard.
- Take a day trip or overnight camping trip to your closest national park.
What tips or advice do you have for fitting nature-time into your busy schedule?