KL Forest Eco Park

The KL Forest Eco Park hosts the oldest permanent rain forest reserve in Malaysia, and it’s the only natural rain forest in the world to be located in a city center. If that wasn’t enough to earn a star, then maybe it was the fact that the KL Forest Eco Park ticket price was free (March 2018). 

When we told our friends and family about our plans for the year, Kuala Lumpur (known as “KL” to the locals) was not on the list. This wasn’t intentional, we just didn’t know we would be coming here! We ended up booking a two-week house sit, and since the whole plan is to go where the wind takes us, it seemed like a great opportunity to go somewhere new and unexpected.

With only two weeks notice, I didn’t have a lot of time to plan and had no idea what to expect. I had done a one-day guided tour from Singapore into Malaysia once when I was kid, but it was through some poor fishing villages in the south. I had no idea whether or not the entire country was like that; we came in almost completely blind, with no idea of what to expect in terms of local culture, food, economy, and adventures.

Thankfully, I am an avid travel planner. Every time I see a travel picture I like on Pinterest, some delicious dish on Instragram, or an enticing adventure on my favorite travel shows, I “star” it on Google Maps. I have stars scattered all over that thing in every corner of the world. So I already had a number of stars around Kuala Lumpur when we arrived.

As Josh and I were walking around on our first day I noticed a star on KL Forest Eco Park. I had starred it so long ago I couldn’t remember why.  Is it good for birding or hiking? Is there a rare plant or animal inside? Does it have historic significance? Without internet, it remained a mystery. We decided to check it out, hoping I would know what I was looking for when I found it.

The KL Forest Eco Park hosts the oldest permanent rain forest reserve in Malaysia, and it’s the only natural rain forest in the world to be located in a city center. If that wasn’t enough to earn a star, then maybe it was the fact that the KL Forest Eco Park ticket price was free (March 2018). We walked right in and enjoyed a couple of different, well-maintained trails that weaved through the park. The trees were old and tall and thick with leaves. I didn’t see a lot of birds, flowers, or even bugs, but there was a lot of greenery and almost all of it looked tenacious.

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One path we ran into had a larger sign than the others and looked quite lovely. We enjoyed a stroll up the side of a small hill and noticed what looked like a tree house off to the left. Although Josh was interested in checking out the tree house, he was also skeptical due to his fear of heights. But, he was a good sport, took a deep breath, and climbed up.

The view from the top not only gave us a beautiful view of the tree tops, but access to what must be the REAL reason I starred this particular park: KL Forest Eco Park Canopy Walk. 650 feet long and 69 feet off the ground, the series of sky bridges was formidable. Josh immediately panicked when we got to the top to see them towering through the forest in all of their glory… and with a small child bawling her face off trying to walk across one.

After some (I’m using the word “some” simply out of politeness) goading, I was finally able to get Josh to walk across the bridge. Little did he know, that the other side didn’t provide a way back down to ground level, but instead another sky bridge… and another… and four more. He was a good sport, sweating, and slinking across each bridge with the poise of a scared cat. And, to both of our surprise, he made it all the way to the end. He claims it is the scariest thing he has ever done.

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My story isn’t nearly as dramatic. The Canopy Walk looked scary with wood planks and rope sides, but hidden underneath was a thick layer of metal gratings and steel reinforcements. The sky bridges were steady with only a little bit of movement. The view was awesome. I loved looking at these old and gnarled trees up close. I only wish we had seen some of the monkeys that are said to be spotted there.

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I think it is a good sign that our first adventure in Kuala Lumpur was successful and blog worthy. I have had a chance to review some of my other Google Map stars and am really looking forward to the adventures we have ahead of us… including ANOTHER rendition of Adventures in Eating at KFC!

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Antelope Island State Park

Hell on earth.

It was just one of those days. We woke up and knew we had to go somewhere. Not somewhere important, just somewhere. When we use to get this feeling back in Eugene, we would do something crazy like take the two hour drive up to Portland just to eat at our favorite taco restaurant, Por Que No, then drive right back home again. It’s a total waste of useful time, but I kind of think that is the point.

So, after much debate, we decided to go to the near-by Antelope Island State Park, which came highly recommended by just about everyone we know here in Utah… It turned out to be another case of what we’ve come to call Utah Colored Glasses.

Utah Colored Glasses: Utahns have such a positive outlook on life and can have fun doing nearly anything. I’m happy for them, but it makes it very difficult to get useful recommendations out of them. “Oh, you like every taco restaurant in town? Great…” 

Antelope Island was the worst. As we tried to find the perfect catch phrase for the place, we kept coming up with names like “Hell on Earth” and “Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland.” Our first stop was at the pier to see if I could spot any birds and to touch the water. We realized our mistake the second we opened the door. Our noses were immediately filled with the smell of rotting flesh and sulfur, the car filled with small flies, and my horror reached peak levels when I saw that every branch had a thumb sized spider hanging from it. It was horrifying.

Next, we headed to the “beach.” We got pretty excited when we saw the excitement of the other visitors. The parking lot was full of vans packed with picnic baskets and umbrellas. Many of the people were wearing swim suits and holding frisbees.

Turns out, this was not that kind of beach. It took a minute to make it all the way out to the water. The dirt (not sand) was super crunchy and littered with small, dead animals. The closer to the water we got, the stronger the smell and the worse the flies. I looked down at one point and couldn’t even see the blue of my jeans, only a mass of tiny moving creatures all over my legs. We, of course, ran.

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We decided to spend the rest of the trip in the car. It was a pleasant drive with some nice views. We saw some of the ranched buffalo and eight out of the listed 250 bird species, but since we refused to leave the car, we missed the antelope and big horned sheep that are also said to live there.

Overall, we had a great time. I’m sure it would not have gone so well had we not already been in one of our adventure moods. But we had a blast just spending the day playing out scenes of post-apocalyptic scavenging, practicing our Utahn version of the story, and playfully complaining about every little thing.

I’m so lucky to have a partner that makes nearly every moment fun. Maybe we’re becoming a little more Utahn after all.