An unscheduled trip to a rainforest

The Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur is a lovely hotel. It has a lounge with a view of the Petronas Towers.

The Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers

My husband, Peter, and I had found a special package at this hotel for our stay and, before we arrived, wondered why the laundering of 5 items per DAY was included. Humidity innocents, we soon learned. We were out on the street for 10 seconds before our clothes were soaked with sweat.

“I understand about the laundry, now,” I said.

“Yup,” said Peter, peeling off his jacket.

We had a fantastic time sitting by the outdoor infinity pool, admiring the view of the Petronas Towers, and made an unscheduled trip to a rainforest. This was because we bought tickets to go to the top of the KL Tower (the fifth tallest telecommunications tower in the world) and found that either a Malaysian cultural demonstration or a visit to a rainforest were compulsorily included. I am allergic to cultural demonstrations so went to size up the rainforest situation. (“I’ve paid for a rainforest, I’m going to look at a rainforest.”)

The Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve is an area of the city centre, close to the Tower, but surprisingly hard to find. There was a hut at the base of the tower marked “Malaysian rainforest” and we had to knock to get directions. A nervous couple in front of us were asking if the rainforest had any snakes. “Hell, no,” said the occupant of the hut. “This is the safest rainforest in the world! Plenty of monkeys, though.”

Rainforest trees

No end of rainforest

Off we set. Perhaps the other couple had been unable to quell their nerves, as Peter and I appeared to be the only people in the rainforest. Perhaps everyone else had been kidnapped at the cultural demonstration.

It was possibly the most civilised rainforest in the world, too, having wooden walkways and everything. We walked miles, on the lookout for monkeys. (“I’ve paid for monkeys, I’m going to see monkeys.”) It was fiercely hot, and we did see the silver-leafed monkeys, and boy, were they a noisy, chattering bunch of monkeys, as well as a squirrel and a lifetime’s supply of bamboo. (I have no picture of the monkeys as I hid the camera which they were appraising in the manner of casual thieves.)

Once our ticket money felt truly well spent, we returned to the hotel and I discovered I was pink as a lobster with a burn on my right cheek. Not just a little burn, but a proper, skin-peeling-off-over-the-next-week sort of burn that hurt every time I smiled. (So I didn’t.) I’d been planning a visit to a radio tower, after all, an excursion for which sunblock is not normally required. (Needless to say, when I returned to the UK office, where it had snowed solidly for a week, sympathy was scant. “An unscheduled trip to a rainforest, you say? You do know it’s snowed here all week?”)

We also walked across the skybridge between the Petronas Towers. Neither of us is fond of heights, there are dire warnings, and it was very high up.

Warning notice to visitors to the Petronas Towers

If you die, it’s not their fault

Still, you can’t go to Kuala Lumpur and not walk across the skybridge between the Petronas Towers.

The skybridge view

The skybridge

I have fonder memories of the rainforest, though. It’s a precious piece of greenery surrounded by concrete and we loved it. (As well as the fact that everything we were wearing on our trek was immediately freely laundered.)

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