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.

Gunung (Mountain) Mat Chincang in the background
Evidence of a marine environment: Ripple marks on rocks in the area
Modern technology to the rescue when we could hear, but not spot the ‘Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo’

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 black sap of the Rengas tree can cause an adverse allergic reaction if it comes into contact with skin, Irshad who experienced it firsthand explains.

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.

The inviting waters of ‘Crystal Creek’

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.

Warm-up and relaxation exercise before you take the plunge
Taking the plunge
The pool at the bottom of the cascading water is more than 6 feet deep but the water is very buoyant and you’ll float to the top in no time.

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