THE fine morning weather was perfect for about 150 people of all races and ages as they hiked up the Bukit Juru forest reserve near Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
The activity, which was part of an eco-therapy session through “forest bathing”, saw the hikers climbing up the 646 steps of the hill.
Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) secretary Rosnani Mahmod said the people of Seberang Prai could now enjoy “forest bathing”.
Known as shinrin-yoku in Japan, it is essentially spending time in a forest or other green spaces to reap the health benefits that come from it.
She said “forest bathing” has become an increasingly popular activity in recent years.
“Bukit Juru has become another destination for hikers although it is not as high as Bukit Cherok To’kun or Bukit Bendera,” she said in her speech before flagging off the hikers.
The Bukit Juru forest reserve has been refreshed with the addition of hand railings, tree tagging, signboards and concrete benches, among others.
The upgraded attraction was officially opened by former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng on Sept 23 last year.
Rosnani said the Bukit Juru area has potential to be developed as an eco-tourism destination as it has many breathtaking attractions.
“Today’s event is the fifth forest-bathing event.
“The earlier events were held at Taman Rekreasi PBAPP Bukit D.O., Taman Rekreasi Air Hitam Dalam, Hutan Lipur Cherok To’kun and Taman Negeri Bukit Panchor,” she said.
Rosnani said the last event for the year would be held at Pulau Aman near Nibong Tebal next month.
“Bukit Juru is also a place of transition for various types of bird species.
“Among the species found here are Japanese sparrow hawk, plaintive cuckoo, collared kingfisher, changeable hawk-eagle and chestnut-headed bee-eater,” she added.
Also present was Malaysian Nature Society Bird Conservation Council chairman Tan Choo Eng, who explained about the various bird species in Bukit Juru to the walkers.