Thursday, July 9, 2020

Kuala Lumpur: Dataran Merdeka To Batu Metropolitan Park -The New Normal Ride

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Kuala Lumpur: Dataran Merdeka To Batu Metropolitan Park -The New Normal Ride
Dataran Merdeka to Batu Metropolitan Park via Jalan Ipoh : Sunday 2oth June 2020
Cycling Distance: 26.15 km.     Level: Medium
Time : 7:30am to 1:00pm
Time Taken :  5 hrs.  30 mins.(inclusive of stops for breakfast, coffee, and visits to temple & park, rests & regrouping, and lots of photo opps).

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is fairly flat and takes us from Dataran Merdeka to the Batu Metropolitan Park located at the Sentul district, on the northern part of Kuala Lumpur. It will take us along part of the River of Life and along riverside paths of two rivers.
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:
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
    - Dataran Merdeka (GPS: 3.14894, 101.6941).
    - the Gombak River-Batu River riverside trails at the Tiong Nam area (GPS: 3.16014, 101.69326) this is part of the River of Life project.
    - Wall Mural at Wellvest Youth Hostel (GPS: 3.16091, 101.69294).
    - Curved Pedestrian Bridge over the Gombak River-Batu River confluence (GPS: 3.16843, 101.69316) near the Putra World Trade Centre.
    - the Batu River-Sungai Keroh riverside trails (GPS: 3.18007, 101.67963) at the Kasipillay area off Jalan Ipoh.
    - Choo Sing Tang Temple (关帝廟) (GPS: 3.17908, 101.68048) at the Kasipillay area off Jalan Ipoh.
    - White Suspension Bridge (GPS: 3.21600, 101.68189) over the Batu River.
    - Batu Metropolitan Park (GPS: 3.21369, 101.67758), entry from side entrance (GPS: 3.21468, 101.68159).
4. Food
- Breakfast: fish head noodles soup & stewed pork belly beehoon at Jalan Ipoh Fish Head Mihun/Noodles (GPS: 3.17895, 101.68079).
- Brunch: Local delicacy with coffee & toast at Gerai Makan Golden Beach Corner (金沙湾) (GPS:3.21082, 101.67374 ) near the Batu Metropolitan Park.


Since early 2020, the world have been facing a serious pandemic arising from the Covid-19 corona virus. To stem the spread of the virus many countries have issued locked-down procedures of different levels. Malaysia had introduced the 2020 Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia, starting from 18th March 2020 and lasting to 31st August 2020. During the initial months of the lock-down, all were ordered to stay home otherwise face fines or jail terms. Only those in essential services were allowed to move around. We learnt new terms like "social-distancing" and the "new normal", got used to wearing surgical face masks, having our temperature taken and registered at eateries, etc., and practiced better hygienic thorough cleaning of our hands, etc.
The MCO did slow down the spread of the virus, and after two months, the movement restrictions were slowly eased. The MCO became the CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order), and from May 4th people were allowed to come out and have group activities; BUT subject to strict operation procedures (SOPs) of social distancing, limited group size, etc. On 9th June we entered the RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order) with more easing of restrictions. During the RMCO, a range of businesses and activities had been allowed to resume operations.
Happy cyclists at Taman Rekreasi Ulu Pudu.
As we entered the CMCO and RMCO stage; slowly and carefully, while getting used to the "new normal" and adhering to the strict SOPs, we came out to ride together with friends. Our rides were not long rides and in small groups, but then it was a chance to meet up with friends again. A week earlier we had rode from MATIC to Cheras via the Imbi & Pudu area; we had done a similar route a few years ago, but this time around "discovered" a new park at the Taman Rekreasi Ulu Pudu.
Today we will ride to another of our popular destinations, the Batu Metropolitan Park, and hopefully along the way discover some new things!

The route is fairly flat and takes us from Dataran Merdeka to the Batu Metropolitan Park located at the Sentul district, on the northern part of Kuala Lumpur. It will take us along part of the River of Life and along riverside paths of two rivers - the Gombak RiverBatu River.
Cycling Distance: 26.15 km.     Level: Medium

During the MCO, with much time to spare and too keep staff away boredom, many had taken to learn cooking, or revive long forgotten cooking skills. Andrew, to many of our surprise and delight showed us that he could make delicious Nyonya kuehs and western cakes, all just using his air-fryer! He would show teaser photos of his baking a day or two before our regular Sunday rides and then bring them along for the ride. His tempting photos of his cooking was an impetus for many of us to come join the ride, HAHA!
This Sunday, our start point was from one of our regular spots - at Dataran Merdeka, just opposite the clock tower of Sultan Abdul Samad Building. This time round, Andrew brought along some Kueh Talam and cookies; while one of the girls, Joel baked a sponge cake and brought it along. We kick off our ride not with gung-ho cycling..... but, er..... with a short eats session of the kuehs and cakes.... YummY!
Often in our eating and posing for photos we lapsed in our social-distancing (of keeping a meter apart) and have to quickly remind each other.... "Er... girls... the cakes are good... but a metre apart please..."

With our palate tickled and our demeanor sweetened by the nice kuehs, we rode heading towards Jalan Raja Laut. Today is the third Sunday of the month, a day which the Kuala Lumpur Car-free Morning is usually held; but due to the MCO, such mass gathering events have been put on hold. Yet many miss these car-free mornings, and here we see several small groups of cyclists gather around their usual car-free spots, trying best to scratch their itchy cycling legs.
We gave each other courteous nods and waves; acknowledging each other and thankful that we are healthy and hale.

About a kilometre ahead, we made a left into Jalan Merpati which led us to a newer stretch of the River of Life that runs on board walks. Impressed, we made a stop to take photos Looking down at the Gombak River, we were surprised to see that it was cleaner with hardly any flotsam. The restriction of movement during the lock-down have done Mother Nature a good turn; now the rivers are cleaner, the sky bluer, the trees greener and the air crispily fresh.
Perhaps we should learn from this Covid-19 lock-down experience and give the Earth a chance to rejuvenate. Perhaps in future, we should have two weeks each year where everyone stays home like this in this MCO lock-down period and let the Earth have time to green itself for a while.

Surprise, surprise; on the other side of the board-walk a large cartoonish mural adorn a tall end wall of the Wellvest Youth Hostel.

Ahead, the boardwalk gave way to broom-finished concrete pathways as the trail swung inwards a bit to run into tunnels below the ramps connecting Jalan Sultan Ismail to Jalan Kuching.

Then, a surprise discovery! The new curved suspension pedestrian bridge connecting the pathway over to the Putra World Trade Centre has been completed.
Time for another commemorative photo.... oops.... girls, social-distancing please. The girls can get so enthusiastic!

Do stop at this point where the Batu River joins the Gombak River; rocky banks here prevent erosion but at the same time formed white bubbling cascades of water.

Slightly in front, using an older pedestrian bridge, we crossed the Gombak River over to the  Sentul area, and headed away from the riverside. Ahead, the jade green Perkim Building seems to suddenly loomed out skywards from the shadows.

We exited to Jalan Ipoh (now renamed Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah), stopping at the traffic lights below Jalan Tun Razak where the Dynasty Hotel loomed overhead. It's one of a few hotels with a rotating restaurant at the top.

8:40am - We swing away from Jalan Ipoh into Jalan Kasipillay and with a bit of zig-zag route reached a point just opposite the Jalan Pakis junction and right before a road bridge over the Batu River. Here a bit of carrying is required to get down steps onto a pathway running next to the Batu River. There also seem to be another pathway on the opposite bank of the river, perhaps we will do some exploration there in the future to see how far it runs upstream & downstream.

Shady and with lots of trees, this riverside path is very pleasant to cycle.

From here, it's another beautiful downstream view of the clean waters of the Batu River.

Another short climb and carrying up to a bridge crossing the river. Note that this bridge and the riverside pathways are not plotted on Google Map, switch to satellite view to see them.

A collage of a few photos, anti-clockwise from top-left:
Statue of Budai, the Laughing Buddha, a shrine pavilion for Tua Pek Kong, and crossing the bridge leading to the Choo Sing Tang Temple (关帝廟).

An upstream view of where the confluence where Sungai Keroh joins the Batu River.
We just love the "new normal" views of clean rivers and blue skies!

An early brunch at the Jalan Ipoh Fish Head Mihun, it's a simple opened-wall restaurant on the other side of the river. Clockwise from top-right:
1. Their renown fish-head beehoon (vermicelli): their beehoon is of the thicker type and I would recommend requesting them to put more deep-fried fish head instead of fish meat, this would bring out more of the fishy flavor.
2. Stir fried thin beehoon with stewed pork belly: this is very good, the belly had been pre-cooked in a stew until they are slurpy soft. The stew is then used to fry the beehoon.
3. Deep fried Choon Kin: this is a type of Chinese sausage but instead of using the usual casing made from sub-mucosa of the small intestine of animals, these had minced pork and some vegetables wrapped in tofu skin.

While waiting for the food, we took a walk to admire the statue of a sage standing on a pat kua pedestal, and also colorful statues of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac that lined a wall.

Tummies satisfactorily sated and smiling, it was back to our bicycles to loop back to Jalan Ipoh. After 3-1/2 kilometre, just after Batu Kentonmen, we made a right turn into Jalan 1/18d to another pleasant surprise - along part of this road were well shaded cycling paths!

Just before reaching the Batu Metropolitan Park, the shades disappeared but it's only for a short stretch, and there's a nice arch suspension bridge to admire (see top-most photo for a better view of the bridge).

TheBatu Metropolitan Park is a small but very nice park to cycle in; we entered via the side gate and rode along paths shaded by tall rain trees.
Oh yah, this park has one of the nicest toilets around (GPS: 3.21194, 101.68065) - very green ones with lots of plants; one of my buddies remarked that it's worthwhile paying the RM1 to go in and admire the architecture & landscaping - irrespective of whether one needs to pee or not pee (mis-quoting a bit of Shakespeare here 😂).

Within the park is a small lake, also quite scenic. Our usual stop for photos is at a view point where there are some reed and a few rounded rocks.

Simple yet beautiful, isn't it?
(GPS: 3.21452, 101.68).

More scenic views of the lake; the lower photo has the Batu Caves hills in the distant.
We like this park, not just because it's very green but also that it is very quiet, often with few visitors as it is not a very well known park when compared to the much larger Kepong Metropolitan Park.

After 45 minutes, it was time to say goodbye to the park; it was a short visit but from the looks of my buddies above, they were happy just to visit this quiet, nice park.

Our little adventure is still not over, we still have another destination to visit.
This is the nearby Gerai Makan Golden Beach Corner (金沙湾), one that serves very good local Hainanese coffee ........

..... and fantastically good food shown above, clockwise from top-left:
1. Petai fried rice with dried prawns.

2. Toasted bread dipped into thick chicken curry.
3. Stir fried loshifun (mouse noodles) with lots of ji yau char (lard cracklings).
4. Rice topped with pork stew in thick soy sauce (also with lots of ji yau char).
Okay, okay... a confession; we're not greedy pigs and did not eat all of the above, just the bread with the chicken curry. The rest were from an earlier trip there. Don't ask me which is my favourite, I love all their food and have made several trips there.... Oh... don't forget to try their Nasi Lemak, it's one of the best around.
BUT just like earlier at the noodles place, we had learnt to sit fewer to a table to keep our social-distancing of a metre..... and learnt how to talk a bit louder 😁.

Time to head back, the roads were surprisingly light in traffic, and ahead beautiful white clouds rolled out from the bright blue sky to greet us! Yes, post-MCO was a great time to ride.

A quick stop to re-group. The girls are definitely happy.

We are almost at the end of our ride, and some cute wall murals along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

12:45pm - At Dataran Merdeka, we waved goodbyes to our friends who had parked their cars there. Fenn, Kimmie and me rode on to the Pasar Seni MRT Station to take the KL MRT back.
At the station, we had gotten used to having our temperatures taken, registering ourselves and wearing face masks before being allowed to enter the platforms. We had gotten used to queuing along the 1-meter marker points on the floor, and gotten use to seating with an empty seat (marked with a cross) in between. And we had gotten used to cleaning our hands frequently with hand sanitizers.
All these are normal now in this NEW NORMAL.


(Many thanks Anne for leading this ride)
(For more photos of the ride Click Here)

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