Friday, March 13, 2009

A Langorous Walk in Southwest KL

I love lazy walks, finding my way around places; most especially if it’s somewhere I haven’t visited, and then wind up at a surprisingly pleasant sight. This was my experience in southwest KL. The area contiguous to the National Monument is a wondrous amalgam of lush vegetation and very few wandering souls. I felt like I’ve discovered a place that will become a favorite in this prosperous Muslim city.

Coming down the hill where the National Monument stands, I trudged down hill then crossed the street (
Jalan Parlimen) down south to find an almost deserted park (Lake Club), except for some napping workers at a pavilion. It was calming walking along Jalan Cenderwasih - the sidewalk is in glorious canopies of huge trees. But parks provide a deceptive mirage – Madrid’s Retiro Park, anyone? - so I wandered around with some caution. I kept bumping into a blond American in his sweaty shirt and walking shorts, a light backpack straddling his back and a map on his hand. The whole area is basically undervisited. There was a degree of eeriness smugly cloaking the sunlit atmosphere. And perspiration was crawling down my back.

I love the way everywhere I look there’s hardly litter, except for the falling leaves of the surrounding vegetation. Their grounds are immaculately maintained. In this area, you can find the following sites:

1. Anniversary Theatre
2. Butterfly Garden
3. Hibiscus Garden (Hibiscus aka Gumamela is probably their national flower.)
4. Orchid Garden
5. Deer Park
6. Memorial Tun Ralzak
7. Police Museum – officially called
Royal Malaysian Police Museum is 41 years old
8. Bird Park – reputed to be the world biggest covered aviary
9. Islamic Arts Museum – a a permanent Islamic center of learning and research to preserve its history, arts and cultural heritage, established December 12, 1998
10. National Museum
11. National Planetarium
12. Lake Gardens
13. National Museum – just across the greens and through Jalan Damansara

My main destination was the Lake Gardens, but it took me through the aforementioned places; something that would require a bit of stamina as these areas cover wide open spaces and sites that require long walks to get to, so I wouldn’t count on a frenetic walkathon to fully enjoy the whole area.

Beside the road, you go down this flight of stairs for the Lake Club area.

Hibiscus rosa sinensis aka Gumamela - one whole park is dedicated to this flower.

Roadside waiting shed, just opposite the Police Museum (photo below), along Jalan Cenderwasih.

Walking along Jalan Cenderwasih is wonderfully idyllic. To the left of the road is the sprawl of the immense Bird Park – officially called Safari Bird Park and Wonderland. You can peep through this covered aviary, touted the biggest in the world. Their brochures refer to the site as the world’s largest free-flight and walk-in aviary. Abundant trees line the clean road with a minimal number of vehicles passing through. I leisurely walked along and got goose bumps as I passed through a school of monkeys standing by the roadside. What if they attacked me? What if they get playful and take interest on my camera? I hid mine as soon as I took a snap. This place could either be the most relaxing place in the city, but its eerie solitary atmosphere could also be risky for lone travelers – so caution is strongly advised. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Monkeys swinging from adventitious roots.

As the road curves to a more populous area, I came across the entrance to the Bird Park. They open at 9 AM and close at 6 PM daily, including Sundays and public holidays. The KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus regularly plies this trail. An adult would have to pay 39 ringgit ($10.53) for his entrance, and 29 ringgit ($7.83) for children aged 3 to 12 years old. Visit their website for updates: Their Hornbill Restaurant and Cafe open from 9AM to 10 PM daily.

And yeah!
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton just visited the park last December 2008!

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Orchids standing in front of the Orchid Park entrance.

Parking and entrance of the Bird Park just opposite the Orchid Park.

Bird Park official brochure - all text in Bahasa!

Notice the immense area covering the whole Bird Park.

KL map emphasizing the distance from Petronas Twin Towers and the Bukit Bintang Monorail Station to the National Monument. I took a taxi and agreed on a fixed 10 ringgit fare. However, these days (as of March 2009), most taxis won't agree on anything less than 20 ringgit, which is ridiculous!

The walking trail I followed from the National Monument to the Lake Gardens. Quite a walk.

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