The Bukit Gasing Forest Park has been one of my play areas as far as I can remember. Covering an area of over 100ha, the park straddles the border of Petaling Jaya, Selangor, and Kuala Lumpur.

Once a rubber plantation and left idle for 50 years, the course of nature has overtaken the hillsides to produce a lush secondary forest brimming with woody herbs and large tropical trees. Despite a chunk of it being chopped down for development, the park still remains a popular spot to hike, walk or stroll.

Whether it’s to shed excess weight, get the cholesterol level down, train for a mountain expedition or get fit, hundreds throng to this jungle within the city every weekend. Some bring their children to view the monkeys, civet cats, snakes and birds.

The playground outside the entrance is also popular for tai chi and qigong enthusiasts. The beauty of this is that most of the hikers are of different races and ages, with plenty of foreigners in the mix.

My earliest memory of the park goes back to the time I was a secondary schoolgirl, when my school held its annual cross-country races in the vicinity, and covered the fringes of the park. Of course, I never noticed the flora or the wild animals inside as I raced against the clock for a medal.

When I started working two decades ago, Bukit Gasing became a regular fixture in my weekend schedule. Rain or shine, my buddies, Majidah Nor and Nathan Chua, will whisk me off to the hills for our early morning affair.

We all have different personalities – Majidah, my former college mate likes to run up the slopes, while Chua, my former colleague, will keep up with me as I trudge along. Since Chua and I embark on different workouts during the weekdays, this is our wind-down time.

Once Majidah has done her few rounds, she’ll slow down to re-join us. We look forward to these weekly catch-up sessions. There are plenty of chuckles that ring in the air as we take jibes at each other so much so that Majidah has taken a few tumbles from laughing too hard!

Passersby cannot understand why our multiracial threesome is forever giggling when we should be building our endurance.

Since I’m the local lass, almost every visit will see me bumping into a classmate or schoolmate whom I haven’t seen for years but is on a quest to stay active. We reconnect and exchange contacts.

Every few months, I also take my dance students on a hike and afterwards, I’ll put them through some rigorous workouts in the playground to test their fitness.

Seeing the youngsters moan and groan, many onlookers often join us and we go through the paces together. Yes, the sweat and pain is shared in the name of unity!

Later, the whole group heads for a hearty, not-always-healthy breakfast.

These shared moments are priceless as they reflect our tolerance and friendship that no amount of money can buy. – This article is brought to you by AIA


Embrace the spirit of unity and tune into #MYSwatowLaneClub at AIA Malaysia’s Facebook page. Revathi Murugappan is a full-time writer for Star2 but is also a certified fitness trainer.

Activities for the community

The YMCA KL

95, Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03-2274 1439

E-mail: ymcakl@ymcakl.com

The YMCA of Kuala Lumpur has been serving the community since 1905. They hold monthly activities comprising community projects, education and training programmes. Among these include floral arrangement, photography, sign language, public speaking and ballroom dance classes.

Hiking and Camping Around Malaysia

www.facebook.com/groups/36742729808/

This online Malaysian group, which has more than 90,000 members, is a place for people interested in hiking, camping and nature. They organise trips to nearby hills and mountains around the country.

The Combined Old Boys’ Rugby Association (Cobra Rugby Club)

No 7 Lorong Utara B, Off Jalan Utara. 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Tel: 03-7957 4045

E-mail: admin@cobrarugby.com

Formed in 1967, the founding members, who were top national rugby players, led the club to be a premier rugby club. It has development programmes mainly for schools around the country, and for teachers-rugby coaches. Today, not only does the premise house a restaurant and bar, it is also a ground for those interested in badminton, squash and gym.