Tall Trees

Despite the rapid development within Kuala Lumpur over the years, there are still pockets of green sanctuary where KLlites can go to rather easily within Kuala Lumpur for a ‘back to nature’ rejuvenating moment and respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.  One of these is FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia), located in the suburbs of northwest Kuala Lumpur, adjoining the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve, and popular among the urban KL folks over the weekend for a walk, jog, picnic, trail biking, etc. or just to do nothing and relax.

I enjoy walking and exploring the walk trails at FRIM, especially in the morning after a rainy humid downpour the day before, when it is likely to be foggy, cooler and the green landscape looks more vibrant and lively, mysterious and ethereal under a cloak of fog in the early morning. There are a number of walking trails (a couple are closed at the moment), and most visitors go for the the trails which are easier to access and walk without having to worry about leech bites, mosquito bites, etc. As for myself, I prefer the ones which are less frequented for the tranquility and solitude it offers (hate coming across walkers blasting their smartphones along the way), and where nature is more ‘pristine’.

My favorites are the Bike Trail and Keruing Trail which is about a 5-6km walk (round trip) with the tall and majestic kapur and keruing trees overlooking and accompanying me along the way. The greenness all around, the tranquility, the freshness of the morning air amid the surroundings is just therapeutic and invigorating for my tired soul. The trees all look so lovely, growing tall (to a height of 50-60m), strong and proud over the years, forming part of the FRIM ecosystem and delighting visitors exploring the trail keen to view them and their unique ‘crown shyness’ characteristic.

All photos are panoramas, stitched together from 3-4 photos taken with a Pentax SMC M-Series 35mm f2.8 lens in Lightroom 7.5 .

Cannonball Tree Flower

With its quaint looking cannonball like fruits and odd ‘alien’ like bright red flowers, the cannonball tree certainly attracts the curiosity and attention of those who have not seen it before. This particular tree at FRIM, laden with cannonballs and blooming flowers emanating a sweet scent were certainly drawing the bees and keeping them busy with work that sunny morning. The flowers are rather large at about 3 inches in diameter, which allows me to use a close focusing wide angle lens to shoot it with and fill the frame nicely with interesting details of the blooming flowers and buds.

A Cannonball Tree (Couroupita Guianensis) Flower Soaking Up The Morning Sunshine

Some interesting facts about the cannonball tree excerpted from Wikipedia …

The cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis), is a deciduous tree in the family Lecythidaceae, which also includes the Brazil nut and Paradise nut. It is native to the rainforests of Central and South America, and it is cultivated in many other tropical areas throughout the world because of its beautiful, fragrant flowers and large, interesting fruits.

The tree reaches to a height of 110 feet. The leaves, in clusters at the ends of branches, are usually 3 to 12 inches long. The flowers are born in racemes up to 31 inches long. Some trees flower profusely until the entire trunk is covered with racemes. One tree can hold as many as 1000 flowers per day. The flowers are strongly scented, and are especially fragrant at night and in the early morning. Flowers are up to 2.5 inches in diameter, with six petals, and are typically brightly colored, with the petals ranging from shades of pink and red near the bases to yellowish toward the tips. There are two areas of stamens: a ring of stamens at the center, and an arrangement of stamens that have been modified into a hood. The fruits are spherical with a woody shell, like a cannonball, and reach up to 10 inches in diameter. One tree can bear 150 fruits.

Although the flowers lack nectar, they are very attractive to bees, which come for the pollen. The flowers produce two types of pollen: fertile pollen from the ring stamens, and sterile pollen from the hood structure. The fruit is edible, but not usually consumed by people because it can have an unpleasant smell. The plant has medicinal uses, it has been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria, and toothache.

Hungry Ghost Festival – The Finale

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Taoist festival held annually among the Chinese community in Malaysia. This is the day when the gates of hell are opened up, and ghosts are free to roam the earth to visit the living, and partake in food and entertainment. This year’s Ghost Festival was on 25th August, the 15th. night of the 7th. month (also known as the Ghost Month) in the Chinese lunar calendar. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, Taoists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Activities include elaborate ritualistic prayers, food offerings, burning of incense, joss paper, banknotes and papier mâché items such as houses, clothing, gold bars and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Families also pay tribute to other unknown wandering ghosts so that these homeless souls do not intrude on their lives or bring misfortune.

A King Of Hades Effigy Set Alight By The Burning Prayer Materials In The Middle Of A Main Street In Penang At Midnight

Communal celebrations are common, held over a 3-4 day period, and organised by the local temples committee funded from contributions of the local residents and businesses. An elaborate makeshift altar and entertainment stage is set-up for the celebration, with a ‘King of Hades’ effigy taking center stage accompanied by effigies of other deities and paraphernalia. Throughout the days, priests perform ceremonies and rituals for the benefit of the ghosts; folks will drop by to mingle, perform prayers and offer food/drink/material offerings to please the ghosts and ward off bad luck.

Traditional Teochew Puppet Show Entertainment

To keep the ghosts and folks entertained, traditionally Chinese operas or puppet shows are staged; but these days, in keeping with current trends and attract the younger generation’s participation, contemporary song and dance performances are more the norm.

The Towering King Of Hades Effigy Turns Into A Burning Inferno Within Seconds

At midnight on the last day of the celebrations, the ghosts are ‘ushered’ back to hell with a closing prayer and burning of the effigies, paraphernalia and material items offered. The effigies catches fire instantly from the burning prayer materials and turns into a blazing inferno within seconds, with the folks hastily stepping back to keep away from the blazing intense heat. As the effigies and material offerings burn, folks make their final prayers, in hope that their ancestors or deceased family members are satisfied with their offerings for the year and bequeath good fortune to them.

Man In A Final Prayer To His Ancestors Or Deceased Family Members

All photos: Pentax SMC M 35mm f2.8 lens