Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Sweltering Summer & the Long Road to Lake Titiwangsa

It's been 5 years since I first visited KL, and I can't recall how many arrivals and departures I've had in this metropolis. It has conveniently overtaken Bangkok as my most frequent transit point to my solitary jaunts all over Asia, thank heavens there's Air Asia for that. But it wasn't until last year that I finally found the resolve to see KL's biggest body of water - the proudly man-made Lake Titiwangsa.

I have considered a visit so many times but the process seemed too tedious. For one, Titiwangsa area is relatively far from the city center and the Golden Triangle where tourists conglomerate. In fact, even the hop-on, hop off tourist bus (38 ringgit) - which goes around 95% of the city's main tourist drag - does not include Lake Titiwangsa because of its distance. For a better perspective, check out the route map of KL Monorail (the "orange" line from KL Sentral to Titiwangsa and back). Titiwangsa is the northern terminal station.

A more familiar station for the monorail is the very central Bukit Bintang where Titiwangsa is just 5 stops away (Bukit Bintang-Raja Chulan-Bukit Nanas-Medan Tuanku-Chow Kit-Titiwangsa). I usually head to the Imbi station (where Berjaya Times Square is). It's one stop from Bukit Bintang and six from Titiwangsa. There's a minor quibble upon arrival from Titiwangsa Station. Lonely Planet says the lake is just a 10 minute walk - it isn't; it's half an hour or more in unmarked paths, at some point there isn't even a trail. LP also mentions Bus #120.


Through a flight of stairs, I went down and started looking for this bus. No such bus plying the busy road facing the station. I thought it would be easy since, just beside the train station is a Bus Terminal. I walked towards this bus garage - small buses bound for Cameron Highlands! I started asking people around: bus drivers, stall vendors, passengers, passersby. No one knew where - or what - Lake Titiwangsa is! They looked baffled upon mention of the words. I finally found a teenage guy who couldn't speak English but somehow informed me I was walking towards the opposite direction. This time around, I asked using the Malay term - the mouthful "Taman Tasik Titiwangsa"! It was as though a flashbulb lit up! It had been 5 blocks already and I was starting to feel the sweltering heat. I said my thank you and walked the other way, intent on walking since as far as I knew then, it was only a 10 minute walk! And Bus 120 was nowhere. I didn't wanna take a taxi when I wasn't sure how far the lake was (though it's supposedly nearby).

I found a hilly landscape (photos 5 and 6) with a tiny trail. At some point, I lost the trail. I headed towards what would be a major road at the other side leading somewhere, not sure exactly but I rely on intuition on such occasions. This would be Jalan Tun Razak (Tun Razak Street). I didn't have a map so I just kept walking. Saw a beautiful white building filled with glass panels inside. No sign. Then I saw Istana Budaya, a performance complex much like Cultural Center of the Philippines - or London's Royal Albert Hall.

Monorail line running on an elevated viaduct. Titiwangsa is at the northern terminal end of the line.

Titiwangsa area is littered with high rise buildings.

Titiwangsa Train Station

Hiker's trail towards Lake Titiwangsa. From here, you have to climb this grassy elevation to find the trail pictured below. Walk further until you lose this trail, then you find a major road - Jalan Tun Razak - just beside it.

A couple of blocks from the elevation, you see this unmarked white building. Head further until you reach Istana Bupaya.

Jalan Tun Razak

Inspite of my seeming wayward wandering and disorientation, I smiled to myself. I wanted to visit Istana Bupaya. I have read about it, but it was always at the lower tier of priorities, never quite making the "grade". Some discoveries are indeed more pleasant than planned trajectories. I asked the guard if I could check out what's inside Istana Bupaya. The place looked impressive, with a pond decked with fountains, umbrella-like decorations and a lot of stairs! We will post more on Istana Bupaya in our succeeding entries here.

Istana Bupaya straddles three streets. The busy highway in front is Tun Razak; the street at the back of the premises is Jalan Beseran; the smaller road beside Istana called Jalan Kuantan leads somewhere. Guess? I asked the guard, "Taman Tasik Titiwangsa?" He nodded! I was in the final stretch of my seemingly daunting task to find this lake!

Istana Bupaya

Interiors of Istana Bupaya (above) and the gorgeous exteriors below landscaped with stairs , a pond and a garden (taman).

Very few cars pass by Jalan Kuantan, people too. Huge trees line this peaceful boulevard. Street lamps with huge blades of ferns hang on top of the posts. Hedges of manicured plants looked like overgrown green lollipops. I also noticed Kebangsaan School (Sekolah Kebangsaan) at the other side of the lane. Ten minutes from Istana, I saw the lake (tasik).

This was Taman Tasik Titiwangsa!

I love lakes, ponds, oceans, rivers. Any body of water. They dispense a sense of serenity and "life" to a place. I saw stalls at the lakeside; benches, picnic tables. This man-made lake was an impressive sprawl, and right at the center of it is a dancing fountain. A quaint and idyllic scenery stood before me. Man made this - imagine that!

I had to roam!

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Kebangsaan School

Benches and picnic tables around the lake.

Lake Titiwangsa

Up next: The many faces of Taman Tasik Titiwangsa or Lake Titiwangsa Garden - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2011/03/images-from-lake-titiwangsa-part-1.html

Route map highlighting KL Monorail line

You can change lines (Ampang Line) at the other train station. But Titiwangsa line heads south back to Bukit Bintang, Berjaya Times Square through its stop at station Imbi, and KL Sentral at the southwest terminal.


Ola said...

interesting story about 120 bus:)))
My favourite picture is the one with a lot of palms!

eye in the sky said...

The "Bus" that wasn't! :->