Sunday, September 30, 2018

Selangor-Kuala Lumpur: Cycling From Sunway To Batu Caves - Of Temples & Bridges

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Selangor-Kuala Lumpur: From Sunway To Batu Caves - Of Temples & Bridges
Sunway Geo to Batu Caves : Sunday 23rd September 2018
Cycling Distance - 34.82 km.     Level: Medium
Time : 7:40am to 12:10pm
Time Taken :  4hrs 30mins (inclusive of stops for breakfast, morning tea, visits to temples, rests & regrouping, some reorientation, and photo opps).

Route Recommendations :
1. This route (recce ahead by Jason) takes us from Bandar Sunway in Petaling Jaya to Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. It is fairly flat and avoids the highways and main road with several crossing using pedestrian bridges over highways and over railroads.

2. Weather can get rather hot from late morning to mid-afternoon, so do cover up or use sun-block lotions.

3. Places of Interest
- the pedestrian sky way leading from Sunway Geo to PJS 7 (Petaling Jaya Selatan 7) (GPS: from 3.06522, 101.60858 to 3.06538, 101.61583).
- Sri Subramaniar Temple (GPS: 3.07110, 101.61577) at PJS 7.
Sree Veera Hanuman Temple (GPS: 3.13521, 101.69229) in Brickfields.
- River of Life & Masjid Jamek (GPS: 3.14892, 101.69562).
Dataran Merdeka (GPS: 3.14884, 101.6937).
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building (GPS: 3.14894, 101.69464).
Batu Metropolitan Park (GPS: 3.21652, 101.6822).
Batu Caves (GPS: 3.23430, 101.68269).

4. Food
- Breakfast: Noodles at Restoran Sri S (GPS: 3.07376, 101.61614).
- Morning Tea: Red bean soup and other hot Chinese dessert at Brickfields back-lane market near Ah Kiew Porridge (GPS: 3.13286, 101.6898).
- Lunch: Noodles at Lam's Kitchen in Sunway Geo (GPS: 3.06522, 101.60858).

Cycling across pedestrian bridge enroute from Titiwangsa to Bandar Utama.
We ride often in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, and sometimes we do longer rides that takes as from one end of one city to the other end of the other city. Back in 2014, we did a trek of 80+km. from Titiwangsa to Bandar Utama calling it the "No Eighty No Go Home" ride - meaning that we had to hit a ride distance of at least eighty kilometres before we could return home. Back then we were fairly newbies and cycling 80km. was a big deal, especially under a super hot, scorching sun.... somehow, with ourselves egging each other on, we managed to complete it. Another time, we had a night ride from Titiwangsa to Cheras, it was a mini loop to visit the Bodhi Homecare Centre there. All these rides opened us to the possibilities of cycling in cities without having to use much of the main roads, and instead going on quieter residential roads, or on even more quiet village roads. Along the way, we get to observe life at the serene parts of a busy city.
This time round, with Jason leading, we head from Bandar Sunway to Batu Caves on a trek with many twists and turns cutting across Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur safely. How did we manage that... read on to find out!

The route goes along residential roads, bike paths, on pedestrian bridges crossing busy highways and railroads, and partway on busy main roads (very minimum of that). It is fairly flat.
Cycling Distance - 34.82 km.     Level: Medium

7:30am - At our meet-up, Sunway Geo Avenue - there are many food outlets to eat here but our breakfast will be at another place for something special.

But the SIX of us kicked off today's adventure not by riding a bicycle but by riding a lift! Haha!
It was a lift up to the first floor of Sunway Geo than pushing our bicycles across the pedestrian skyway that connects to the Sunway Medical BRT Station (BRT stands for Bus Rapid Trasit) and then continue pushing almost another kilometer to the end of the skyway at PJS 7.
Well, what can I say, it was a good warm up! And it gave me time to get to know John better (this was his debut ride with his new Brompton).

Legs adequately stretched and itching to go, the moment we were down to ground level, off we went cycling down Jalan PJS 7/15. Today being a Sunday, traffic was super-light and we had a good start.

Our first stop (less than ten minutes after starting 😂) was at the Sri Subramaniar Temple just down the road. My coincidence it has the same name as the Batu Caves Temple that we are heading to.

Our breakfast place was at a place called Restoran Sri S (named after the nearby Sri Subramaniar Temple), but don't be mistaken by the name, it's not an Indian restaurant but rather a coffee-shop with stalls selling mainly Chinese street food. Malaysia is a country made up of several races that live together harmoniously and often there are cross-culture influences like this.
Jason had made this our special breakfast stop as a stall here sells one of the best Penang Char Kway Teow in the Klang Valley, sadly that stall was closed today and we had to opt for other food.

After a satisfactory breakfast, we headed off to our next destination and somewhere along the way "discovered" some cycling lanes. These lanes were however in disuse and almost overgrown with undergrowth.

On Jalan PJS 4/27a it was rather quiet and we could ride in leisure on this four-lane thoroughfare; I wonder whether it is this quiet on a normal weekday?

The New Pantai Expressway (NPE) was not that quiet though, and to cross this busy highway we used the pedestrian bridge at Jalan PJS 1/26. Fortunately this bridge has ramps for us to cycle up and down, so there was no need to carry our bikes. Here Loh met us, now we are SEVEN!

Crossing that bridge brought us over to the oldest part of Petaling Jaya (locally called PJ), Section 1. This was the birthplace of this new city, founded almost seventy years ago in the early 1950's and is thus refereed to as PJ Old Town. Many of the original semi-timber houses are still around.
PJ was developed in the 1950's as the first satellite township for Kuala Lumpur to address the overpopulation of the capital. lt was developed during British Malaya on a piece of 1,200 acres (486 ha) rubber estate (then called Effingham Estate) around Old Klang Road.

Our adventure is getting more interesting, near the Jalan Templer Railway Station we headed into a dis-used underpass, it was hauntingly dark and overgrown with creepers.

The other end connected to Lorong 1a/1h, the residents here had blocked the entry with pipes and concrete filled oil drums for security purposes.

Their are reasons for the security measures as this leads to Section 5, a more effluent part of PJ consisting mainly of big bungalow houses. Ahead we can see the radio transmission tower of Bukit Gasing which is a favourite spot for cyclists as it offers some good climbs.

Another interesting part of our journey.... carrying our bikes up and down the pedestrian bridge over the railway lines at the Petaling Commuter Train Station. The lifts here are not working and have not been working for sometime. I do hope KTM will repair them, not so much for us cyclists but more for the disabled. Getting onto this bridge we effectively have crossed the boundary into Kuala Lumpur.

We are now onto Jalan Kampung Pasir, a quiet road that runs parallel to the very busy Jalan Klang Lama. We rode pass these large odd looking concrete structures which are actually the Pantai 2 District Sewage Treatment Plant. Okay... okay they treat shit here but all is well as there was no nauseating odor coming from them. In fact next to it is the beautifully green Pantai Ecopark.

Jalan Kampung Pasir leads to a dead end just after the Angkasapuri Komuter Station. Here we did some off-road cycling (and also some pushing) on laterite tracks.

... AND PRESTO! We were onto the Kuala Lumpur South-West Dedicate Bicycle HighwayKuala Lumpur's first dedicated cycle lanes.

Although this bicycle lanes were opened with great pride in 2015, today just three years later the lanes are in poor condition due to poor maintenance and also encroaching building development. Alas, many parts of the lanes have been "acquired" for such development. At Brickfields hoarding had been put up blocking the lanes and we could not continue riding on them to head for the city centre. We had to backtrack and take a ramp up to continue on Jalan Tun Sambanthan (formerly called Jalan Brickfields).

It's up to Brickfields then. No regrets as here in the Little India of Kuala Lumpur, it's always colourful and one can ride-dance to the head-shaking beat of Indian music that many of the shops play.

Back-lane street market in Brickfields.
9:45am - Time to stop for our favourite repast in Brickfields: Ah Kiew Porridge porridge at the back-lane street market located just behind Jalan Padang Belia where the YMCA of KL is located. Alas, the stall was closed and we had to be satisfied with hot/cold Chinese desserts like red bean soup, sweet wheat soup, etc from a nearby vendor. According to this other vendor, the couple selling the broth had a lovers' tiff and were taking a break from each other; let's hope they get back together soon as their broth is very nice.
Jalan Padang Belia used to be called Jalan Kandang Kerbau, translated it means "Cow Shed" as in early days there were a lot of cow sheds here. I think they should retain the old names as it gives connection to the history of the city.

I finally got to see the new facade of the Sree Veera Hanuman Temple. For the pass few years the facade was enclosed in scaffolding while it's new face was being constructed. The temple was established in 1942 at the bank of the Brickfields river but was forced to move to its present location at Jalan Scott in 1999 to make way for the monorail project. Lord Hanuman is commonly known as the “monkey God”. “Hanu” refers to the mouth of the monkey and “man” means prominent.
Somehow by coincidence we seems to be seeing a few Indian temples, the gods must be guiding us. We will also see Lord Hanuman again later on as he guides us onto a train. Yup, he did!
From Jalan Scott we rode back onto Jalan Brickfields, my plot shows us looping back to turn right. In actuality, Jalan Scott connects to the ramp coming down from Jalan Damansara and there is no need to loop back - Google Maps does not show this road connection.

10:15am - Riding of the board walks along Jalan Benteng, ahead are the white domes of Masjid Jamek. Kuala Lumpur's River of Life runs next to it and ends just at the bridge ahead of us. The project aims to clean up the Klang River and bring life back to it while at the same time beautifying it's banks. This USD1.3-billion project covers the confluences of three city rivers, with a total area of 781 hectares and 63 hectares of water bodies. The project is set to bring the community ‘back’ to the river through a 100 per cent transformation into a vibrant waterfront with high economic and commercial value, rejuvenating the city’s river and re-connecting it to the surrounding urban fabric.
Presently it runs only a short 300 meters along the Gombak River side of the mosque. We wait in anticipation for it's completion!

Along Jalan Raja with Dataran Merdeka on the left and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building on the right. I always love cycling on this stretch as it brings back a proud sense of history of my country. On Sundays it's car free!

We weaved through Jalan Raja Laut onto Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (formerly called and is still referred to my many by it's old name, Jalan Ipoh). Here, by chance, we saw Anne and Robert and called out to them. They promptly made a U-turn and joined us, now we are NINE!
Then at Jalan Sentul, we met TL Wong a fellow Brompton Malaysia cyclist, and now we are TEN!
Okay, okay.... he just joined us for a short stretch as he was trying out his new LKLM touring bike. After a short while, he waved goodbye to us and we were back to NINE! Haha!

11:00am - At the gates leading into the Pejabat Lembangan Sungai Klang (Klang River Basin Office), they were closed on Sundays. Jason had hoped to take us across this route as it's a short-cut to Batu Caves and more importantly it will take us on quiet roads running along the Sungai Batu river.

We looped back out and then into another parallel road further down. This led to a police training facility where the guard politely told us that it was a dead-end on the other side.
We could see Batu Caves just ahead, so near yet so far.

Finally using roads at the adjacent industrial areas we could see the Batu Caves looming ahead of us.

We made it!

Batu Cavess (Tamilபத்து மலை) is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples in Gombak. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu (Stone River). The cave is one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside India, and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. At the large compound entrance of the caves stand a gigantic statue of this deity. The cave is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in MalaysiaSince 1892, the Thaipusam festival in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has been celebrated there. Of the various cave temples that comprise the site, the largest and best known is the Temple Cave, so named because it houses several Hindu shrines beneath its high vaulted ceiling.
Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920 and have since been replaced by 272 concrete steps. In August 2018 the 272 steps were painted in an extraordinary colour scheme, with each set of steps painted in a different range of colours.

We meet Lord Hanuman again. His statue stand tall, right next to the entrance leading to the Batu Caves Komuter Station on the left and the Ramayana Cave - Suyambu Lingam Temple on the right.
We boarded the KTM Komuter Train at this station and with a train change at KL Sentral and disembarked at the Setia Jaya Station. Our Komuter train journey took almost two hours as they were long waits for trains at both stations; also the arrival and departure of connecting trains at KL Sentral don't seem to be synchronized leading to a long wait.
From the Setia Jaya Station we hopped onto a BRT bus. These BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) electric buses zoom along dedicated road ways that are reserved for these buses and no other traffic. Within minutes we arrived at the Sunway Medical BRT Station, just opposite our start point, Sunway Geo Avenue - convenient yah?

Many thanks Jason for leading us on an eye-opening ride that took us safely through the many suburbs of both cities, and many thanks to my riding buddies for the wonderful company....


(For more photos of the day Click Here)

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