Gregory Phua

Gregory Phua

The Great Barrier Leaf of Taman Botani Negara

Recently, we covered a hike to Taman Botani Negara (TBN) that left us gasping for breath. That heaving hike was interesting ‘up to a point’. And I promised to share with you about another attempt up TBN, this time by Bukit Bayu.

Copy of More Than Missing Pineapples

A tourist could be forgiven in thinking that Pineapple Hill or Bukit Nanas still bears this fruit that is known predominantly for its rich nutrients of manganese and Vitamin C. Historical records state that the pineapple (or ‘nanas’ in Bahasa Malaysia) were grown around the hill in the 1870s. At that time, a Rajah Asal lived on the hill, and the fruit was grown to defend his home against invaders during the Klang War. If I was an invader, I probably spend time harvesting the fruits and selling them at some local market. Nevertheless, there was not a trace of ‘nanas’ on the hill. But that is not the only thing that is missing! I will explain this as you read along.

We started our ‘hike’ from the entrance, at the top of the hill near KL Tower. We knew where the hill was but finding inexpensive parking was the greater challenge! Like any typical Malaysian, we wanted to park for nothing:  free of fee. Our objective was to spend 2 hours and a bit. Our check of parking at KL Tower and halfway up to the tower showed we would spend a minimum of RM 9.00. Obviously, that was not going to happen, and not for us at least. Those few extra dollars can be spent on some yummy food after we finished the ‘hike’. We eventually settled for parking at Hap Seng Tower with a flat rate of RM 4.00. Mission One accomplished, we proceeded to the hill. The walk toward and uphill was in itself a torment. We hadn’t planned in spending our energies toiling through urban landscape. We finally got to the entrance. A wooden structure on the steep concrete downslope (steps flanking either side) with a sign greeted us: “Taman Eko Rimba KL Hutan Simpan Bukit Nanas”.

As we entered the open area, we did not know what to expect. What we planned for is to come for a ‘hike’. At the left of the open area, there was an OKU ramp that wheelchair users and other folks with physical challenges could use to gain access. On the right was the canopy walk, and some signboards. One informed visitors to “beware of dangerous species” – we thought of leaving at that moment! Another signboard (and more signboards was to follow) using matrix Quick Response (QR) codes explained the type of fauna in the forest area. If you don’t have a QR code app on your smartphone, you best get one before you head to Pineapple Hill.

We decided to attempt the canopy walk. It was not the least bit fearful as it was stable and the walkway was wide. There were however, uneven and loose planks along the walkway. And you do not want to trip over any. The canopy walk seemed to go on and on. Towers that were labelled alphabetically, connect the bridge. As you look down, there was a rich green forest. There was also a ‘nicely tiled’ path. You are more than likely to whip out your camera and snap some pictures with modern buildings in the background of a rich tropical forest. At tower B, we found the first occupants of the hill.  Dressed in black suits, and fast asleep were a couple of bats. It was dark in the roof and anyone could have missed them, but not their droppings on the floorboards.

At this point, we began to wonder how much further the canopy walk would take us. We finally descended the stairs and reached ground level. We followed the nicely tiled path uphill. And we realised that aside what is missing from the walk is an off-path experience. This is supposed to be a hike; not a walk in the park! We left it to chance and decided to enjoy ourselves, hoping to find an area that will translate into a hike. We saw banana trees, and some young “cute bananas” as described by one of us. As we ‘jalan’ (walked) along, we talked about how wonderful it will be to have lots of money to travel and perform hikes about the world. And lo and behold! We saw a gigantic money plant! We looked gleefully at each other – we will be rich!

Our uphill walk took us back to the open area at the main entrance. I fancied a leak and saw toilets. Yipee! I was royally pissed off when I saw it was shut. The two sinks had no water as well. I decided to lose myself in hiking to overcome the desire for a leak. My fellow hikers and I realised we could go one or the other way. One led to a camp site, the other stated, “Main Trail Entrance”. The latter route looked more appealing and with a possible adventure culminating in a hike. We followed the nicely tiled path downhill. Further downhill was a vertical tap sprouting out from the ground. Yes, as you would have guessed, there was no water again.

We walked further down and noticed trails that were covered by shrubs and the dead (leaves) of the forest. We sensed these trails were previously used by others, and for some reason or another, they are no longer to be used. Has this got to do with the many battles fought on this hill with the remains of the dead (not leaves!) still buried inches away from a hiker’s feet? You decide for yourself.

At a given point along the nicely tiled path stood a solid rock ‘double mini sofa’. It looked like something from the stone age and served as an odd piece sitting in isolation on the hill.  We paid little attention to it. Eventually, we turned into a Herb Garden. It looked charming with its wooden shelter and attentive foot tiles plus the gentle rays of sunlight breaking through the trees. We walked straight in and through, and noticed the sad looking herbs on display. Each herb seemed to be weeping from a lack of attention and TLC from a devoted horticulturist. We loved this part of the hill as it represented much of the types of herbs mum and dad could use in their kitchen whipping up tasty Malaysian foods. More work is required here to raise the Herb Garden to its glory days. And we were most surprised because the garden was opened only 3 years ago.

Our next stop a short 60 metres away was the Fern shelter. The ferns appeared to be sheltered away from public eye. This area could also do with sprucing up to bring it back to glory. We walked past a clump of bamboo that seemed to rise like the Petronas Towers into the skies. It made for a wonderful photo opportunity. Don’t miss this one. And the almost final part of the trail was a nursery. We agreed some plants needed critical care and daily nursing to ever have a chance in joining the rest of the fauna in the adult forest. There was nothing more left of interest after the nursery except a building that housed the caretakers of Bukit Nanas. This brought us to the end, the Jalan Raja Chulan road.

We learned a lesson here. Our expectations of hiking along some trails was never realised because it was a nicely tiled path. In eagerness, we expected to fulfil some experience of challenging our unfit physiques - physically and mentally. But it was not to be. We knew there would be missing pineapples. But we never anticipated this would be a missing hike.

Entrance by Raja Chulan : Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Google Map location : 3º08'59.96" N 101º42'8.56" E)

Entrance by KL Tower: 2, Jalan Puncak, Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (Google Map location : 3.1537° N, 101.7041° E)

Almost to the Top, But… (Taman Botani Negara, Shah Alam)

A writer happily begins with a starting point and weaves his storyline from the very top. But hikes or treks begin at the base. It would have been best if our party of hikers started at the top. And we would have to do that by rappelling from a helicopter to gain entry into this dense forest.

Why Hiking?

If you are thinking of a getaway from your hectic, busy work life and looking for a way out to relax your body and mind, you may probably consider to go for a day hike. Let’s look at some of the benefits from hiking:-

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