Monday, July 25, 2016

The Fashion Forest @ Awana Genting

I met Elvis. Tall and sturdy was he. Nervously, I said hello and took a selfie of us. Elvis was easily 90ft tall. He is also known as the Strangler Fig Tree, one of the super stars of the Fashion Forest. He shot to stardom when the movie Avatar featured him as the Tree of Life. Elvis is one of the many super models in the Fashion Forest. Located near Awana Genting, the Fashion Forest is part of a 130-million year old jungle. 
Meet Elvis
We have always heard of massive construction in the highlands and very little about its nature conservation. Believe it or not but despite the seemingly vast development, Resorts World Genting is developing only 10% of its land in the highlands and have been preserving the rest. That weekend, I had the opportunity to unbox the treasures of the Fashion Forest and I was impressed.
Treks base at the Awana Genting Resort lobby
Surrounding the city of entertainment is Genting's more prized asset- its forest. Entertainment takes a more organic form here with Mother Nature as host. There are three forest types that Treks refers to as 'alliance of rainforests'. These are divided into four groups:

1. Fashion Forest at Awana (Upper Dipterocarp forest 3000 ft above sea level)
2. Skyride Forest
3. Sky Forest at Chin Swee Temple (Montaine Oak Forest about 4500 ft above sea level)
4. Chocolate Forest (Montane Ericaceous Forest around 6000 ft above sea level)
Depart to the Fashion Forest from Awana Genting Resort
Nature's way of welcoming us
Interestingly named Fashion Forest, it is the abode of nature's very own super models and celebri-trees. To suit its glamour, this forest is equipped with wifi! Yes wifi for a good purpose, not to check work emails. Technology is used to help participants to see more, discover more and thus, to enjoy more.

In the Fashion Forest, trekkers are encouraged to:
1. Make social media posts on any super models (animals) and celebri-trees (trees) spotted and identified. Visiotrs are encouraged to help promote awareness of these beautiful beings by recording them on social media. #fashionforestsupermodels
2. Dress fashionably with contrasting colours with the forest
3. Scan bar codes nailed in the forest to know more about them
4. Google about the subjects in the forest
Route to the Fashion Forest from Awana Genting
Guide Eddie Chan briefing us before entering the Fashion Forest
There is something inexplicable about nature being able to heal the soul. A few moments into the forest, we were greeted by fresh flowers and greenery. Lungs were replete with unadulterated air. The body was immersed in pristine energy that is wild, yet refined that also helped in disinfecting the mind from negative thoughts.
Guess who are the celebri-trees this time? The flora and fauna
Humble entrance of the Fashion Forest
In the Fashion Forest, the super models are elusive and may require sharp eyes, peeled ears and a virtue of patience to spot. Rest assured, the bragging rights is worth it. Among interesting animals that reside among the trees are the Helmeted Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Gibbons (Siamang), pig-tailed and long-tailed Macaque.
Supermodels of the Fashion Forest
Keep an eye on the ground too for the Impressed Tortoise love gnawing on mushrooms and the Bamboo Rat might just dash across your path. Even rarer sights will be of mammals like the Black Panther, Wild Goat, Kancil and Wild Boar as they scurry at the sight and sound of humans.
Lets see if we can spot any of these superstars in the Fashion Forest
Unlike animals, the plants in the forest unabashedly display themselves to visitors. From puny herbs to gargantuan super trees, these celebri-trees are camera ready for your social media feed.
Social media forest which has WiFi
Bar codes to learn more
We were beholden to our very passionate guide Eddie Chan for the fascinating nature walk. When you have the right guide, you only have to be wary but nothing to worry about in the forest. Eddie was very encouraging and motivating in his briefings that made us want to know more. Unconsciously, we developed interest in things we never knew could be so worthy of knowing. 
Going down the Steps to Gallery 1. There are 5 galleries in the Fashion Forest
His extensive knowledge and familiarity about the Fashion Forest and their inhabitants was impressive. The glow on his face when he spoke about his study on the siamang and pitcher plants was a testament of his heart-felt passion. His wife Pat, made sure we were comfortable all the way with sufficient water, trekking equipment and first-aid standby. It made me feel safe and driven to explore!
Adventure is starting!
Under a rattan tree
NatGeo frames not only for photo purposes but for visitors to better focus on your view
Fashionable carving on a dead trunk gives the tree another purpose in the forest 
Lets enter and explore more!
View from Gallery 1 of Fashion Forest
Hey chipmunk from Ice Age! I found your acorn in the Fashion Forest
Figs eaten by hornbills
Wild fruit
Feature frames to zoom in to your subject
The army of termites
Termites are much appreciated in the forest as they degrade dead plants back to soil
Full grown forest
Rain did not dampen the spirit
Trees need escorts too
Becareful of the rattan tree as they come with torns
Rattan tree
Rattan fruit
Watch your steps in the forest
This is Elvis. Strangler Fig Tree aka Tree of  Life in Avatar. 90 ft high
The rain forest takes millions of years to form
Meet Gracie. A female Strangler Fig Tree. 80 ft high
Definitely pass the super model height!
Gracie is a royalty looking at the garden behind her
The strangler tree fruit that birds and animals feed on. Thus, its name, the Tree of Life
Back up to Awana Genting from Gallery 1
The day was not all sunny but that was incredibly ok! The dynamic weather gave us the opportunity to play free-heartedly under the rain breaking the convention to 'come-inside-cos-its-raining'. The nature walk soothed the eyes, serenaded the ears and rejuvenated the mind. Definitely an interesting way of acquiring knowledge. Understanding nature's way of life gives adults and kids alike a different perspectives in life. The earlier our children start, the better appreciation they have for nature.
Appreciating nature is also about playing in the rain
Nature relaxes and regulates the stressed-out souls. Next time you need a get-away, remember that there are meals with a view and activity (MVA) too. It begins with breakfast with a scenic valley view, coupled with activities like abseiling and painting. This is followed by morning tea with a waterfall view and bird watching activity. Lunch at the Fashion Forest is next and afternoon tea ensues while you absorb a view of Awana and enjoy more abseiling. The day ends with dinner at Pasar Ikan Bakar and a night forest walk followed by supper at the Fort and a session of karaoke! How is that for a weekend?
Viper Challenge obstacles
Wade through mud pool in Viper Challenge
Get friendly with rustic life
Four different forests in the 'Alliance of Rain forests'
Many types of packages are offered by Treks to cater to various groups- individuals, families and corporations

Half-day walks
RM75 (adult) RM65 (child 11 yrs below)
Fashion Forest/ Sky Forest/ Chocolate Forest
Minimum 3 pax
Includes return transport from locations in Genting Highlands, drinking water and walking accessories

Full day walks
RM130 (adult) RM120 (child 11 yrs below)
Fashion Forest/ Skyride Forest/ Sky Forest/ Chocolate Forest
Minimum 3 pax
Includes return transport from locations in Genting Highlands, drinking water and walking accessories

Two-day walks
RM190 (adult) RM180 (child 11 yrs below)
Day 1: 8:30am-5:30pm and 8:00pm-11:00pm
Day 2: 8:30am- 1:00pm
Fashion Forest/ Skyride Forest/ Sky Forest/ Chocolate Forest
Minimum 3 pax
Includes return transport from locations in Genting Highlands, drinking water and walking accessories
10-50% discount offer for all types of accomodation in Genting Highlands (subject to availability)

Treks Fashion Forest

Eddie: 011-26573070/ 012-3076821
Pat: 012-3083748
Bernadine: 012-6725262