By pola singh - The Star
Walkers, joggers and cyclists all love the trails on Bukit Kiara, an oasis in the middle of Kuala Lumpur.
If God had granted me one wish in my life, that wish would be to live next to a spacious green lung with challenging jungle trails.
And yes, my dream has sort of come true. I live near Bukit Kiara Park, located strategically in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
What is so unique about this place that attracts thousands of walkers, joggers, hikers and cyclists every day? Why do people from as far as Subang, Cheras and Ampang make special trips here?
Is it simply to get a good workout? Ah, it’s much more than that.
Like many other residents in my “Taman Tun” (as I call it), I walk up the hill every other day to enjoy the cool fresh air and have a good workout.
Besides walking on the paved road, I also venture into the many interesting jungle trails, the result of the good work of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which builds and maintains mountain bike trails all around Bukit Kiara.
Jungle In The City
The public can now go on a number of exciting jungle trails while enjoying the beauty of nature without having to travel far out of KL. For me, Bukit Kiara is too good to be true.
The Bukit Kiara Park and its surrounding hills not only provide a great place to exercise, it’s also a place for children to play, families to gather and neighbours to meet. Stressed-out city folk and nature lovers can enjoy a peaceful retreat.
Aside from enjoying a good workout at this green lung, its tranquil and pleasant setting is home to many wild plants, birds, monkeys and other animals.
Whether one is a walker, jogger, cyclist or hiker, one is assured of a challenging workout amidst a clean and safe environment. The 5km Bukit Kiara jogging trail is quite demanding, if not overly tough. The hill trail requires some effort and determination to reach the top (250m above sea level). On the way up, don’t forget to enjoy the greenery.
First timers and the not-so-fit have described the initial, winding 1.5km climb as a “killer stretch”, as it is uphill all the way. Once they reach the mid-section (where there is a crossroads), there is a 2km (anti-clockwise) picturesque circuit with several mini waterfalls surrounded by thick vegetation on both sides of the road – making it an almost perfect setting for a nature walk or jog.
In the mornings, one can hear lots of birds chirping away. This loop will take walkers about 20 minutes to complete and bring them back to the midsection. Then it is the same way back home except that it is downhill all the way.
All in, it takes an about an hour to 90 minutes to complete the tarmac trail. As for the jungle trails, it will depend on how many mini hills one wants to hike up.
At the end of it all, many will admit that they feel refreshed after the fantastic workout – it’s an indescribable sensation that money can’t buy! And this is the single most important reason they keep coming back again and again.
Although I am a 65-year-old retiree, I’ve never felt so good in my life because of my daily jogs on this trail. When I mention that I walk and jog about 1,800km a year, people express disbelief. I jog about 6km six times a week and that works out to 36km per week. Multiply that by 50 weeks and you get 1,800km or six trips from KL to Penang on foot!
Place To Socialise
Besides breathing in fresh air, toning up sagging muscles and developing one’s stamina, many also build up a circle of friends over time. Indeed, there are many groups, including senior citizens, who hook up by WhatsApp (or other forms of social media) and meet regularly to hike up the hill.
The socialising side of this recreational activity is catching on as many prefer to have jogging “kaki” (enthusiasts) to exchange views and notes while exercising.
One meets different types walkers and joggers. There are those who are dead serious on getting the maximum workout by maintaining the fastest possible pace without looking left and right. The majority walk at a steady pace while there are those who amble at a relaxing pace while enjoying the beauty of nature or chit-chatting with their colleagues.
Dating couples also use the jogging trail as an excuse to pak toh (dating in Cantonese). They clamber up at such a leisurely pace that they hardly work up a sweat. It is the company that counts, not the trail!
Then there are those who cannot leave home without their cell phones. The phone is virtually attached to their ears all the time – it’s probably a good time to catch up with stockbrokers, remisiers, office colleagues and friends while on the trail. This is nature walk KL style for busy executives! Although once is in the middle of the jungle, civilisation is just a phone call away…
Who exactly are these walkers and joggers? It’s a motley crowd – there are retirees, housewives, journalists, teachers, senior government servants, students, undergraduates, academicians and even taxi drivers.
But beware, there are impediments to watch out for. Don’t be surprised to see a snake slithering across the trail to get to the other side. Keep your eyes wide open.
Then there are monkeys to contend with. They want to be fed as they now depend on food brought in by good Samaritans. As soon as they see someone with a plastic bag, they will not hesitate to grab the bag, especially if it is red.
The middle section of the paved road is designated for cyclists who can speed downhill; so please keep to the right or left sections of the road (they are marked) when walking. There have been near misses.
For those venturing onto the jungle trails, have ready mosquito repellent. As long as one is mobile, the mosquitoes will not harm you; it is only when you start to stand and stare that they will attack. Those with hairy hands and legs, like me, need to worry less! Many say that I am thick-skinned as I have got used to the mosquito bites.
As for the cyclists, they are indeed a very enterprising lot. They have constructed various barriers on the trail to make the ride more fun, challenging and exciting. Thanks to them, new trails are being developed all the time for people to enjoy.
For the regulars, walking, jogging or cycling has become addictive here and I’m not afraid to admit that I am one of them. My other half calls me a health nut – because my day will not be complete without a decent workout at Bukit Kiara.
She can be sure that I will never ever retire from jogging. There’s so much going on in Bukit Kiara that I don’t want to miss any of it.