The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) is about 45 minutes drive from the city center. It is a 600-hectare tropical rainforest filled with thousands of flora and fauna species. As much a recreational park as a forest reserve, its nature trails give visitors an excellent opportunity to learn more about the many plant species in this part of the world.
The Fish Spa Pond
After parking, we are taken to the FRIM Information & Souvenir Centre near the entrance. We don’t pay much attention to what is being sold inside – instead, we all gather around the ‘Fish Spa’ pond located just outside the centre. Similar to the ones that can be found around Kuala Lumpur, putting your feet into this pond is free of charge, though it comes with a time limit – each person’s turn is supposed to be not more than 15 minutes. The fish inside the pond will then eat the dead skin off your immersed legs and feet, making them nice and smooth.
The Giant Arowana
Our guide for the day, Mr. Amran, gives us a brief speech on the history of FRIM and its ground rules before we start the tour. He takes us to the long lake next to Information Centre, where three giant-size arowanas reside, including one measuring seven foot long. We manage to catch glimpses of the fish from the overhead bridge – gorgeous red, gold and deep-blue scales set against the murky green of the lake.
FRIM Research Museum Gallery
Before starting our nature trail, we are taken to the FRIM Research Museum Gallery. Housed in a beautiful colonial building, the museum is a treasure trove of antiques made of natural resources as well as wood samples, letting visitors see the difference between one type of wood and another. Just outside the museum is a silicified wooden stump which has quite literally become rock-hard due to the absorption of silica and minerals into the wood grain over millions of years.