Am not a morning person, but will drag myself out of bed if I have to – and when I do, I actually enjoy the silence and solitude of dawn before the rest of the world wakes up.
I woke up at the break of dawn a few days ago not because I wanted to beat the morning city traffic to be somewhere, but because I wanted to explore this phenomenon called ‘forest bathing’.
No, this is not one of those quests to ‘find myself’ but is rather the traditional practice of ‘mandi embun’ as it is known among the Malay community and ‘shinronyoku’ as it is known by the Japanese.
Explaining the practice, Datai Langkawi’s Head Naturalist Irshad Mobarak said it was basically a practice of taking in the cool morning atmosphere and absorbing properties of the dewy morning forest – in scientific term – the benefit of photosynthesis.
Dressed in a khaki shirt, cargo shorts and sandals, Irshad met our group on the Datai golf course where the our trek and forest bathing expedition started with a rundown on the 5oo million year old Mat Chinchang mountain range that used to be a part of Gondwana – one of two ancient continents (the other being Laurentia). Evidence of a marine environment can be seen via ripple marks around the area.
Along the way, we were also given an insight into trees, plants, herbs, their danger and benefits as we walked through the jungle trail
The highlight of the forest bathing walk at The Datai is a swim at the ‘Crystal Creek’ which as the name suggests has clear waters that are rich in negative ions that according to researchers can aid sleep, reduce stress levels, boost one’s immune system, metabolism and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and virus.
Before you plunge into the pool of icy cold water just beneath cascading water from a creek that runs through the rain forest in Datai Bay, therapist will walk you through some stretching exercises that help to warm the body and relax the mind.