Kuala Lumpur & Melaka, Jan. 19 / Feb. 18, 2014

Michael J. Ferguson

Journal Index


1  Introduction
2  Montreal to Kuala Lumpur, Sun. Jan. 19 to Tues. Jan. 21
3  Kuala Lumpur, Mid Valley Mall, Wed. Jan 22
4  Kuala Lumpur, Kasturi Walk, Thurs. Jan. 23
5  Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Alor and Chinatown, Fri. Jan. 24
6  Kuala Lumpur, PC Repair Quest, Sat. Jan. 25
7  Kuala Lumpur, PC Repair Quest II, Sun. Jan. 26
8  Kuala Lumpur, Final PC Repair Quest , Mon. Jan. 27, Tues. Jan. 28
9  Kuala Lumpur to Melaka, Wed. Jan. 29
10  Melaka River and the Chinese New Year, Thurs. Jan. 30
11  Melaka, The Dutch Heritage, and Chinatown Kampungs, Fri. Jan. 31
12  Melaka. Sat. Feb. 1
13  Melaka to Port Dickson, Day 1, Sun. Feb. 2
14  Melaka to Port Dickson, Day 2, Mon. Feb. 3
15  Port Dickson to Homestay Banghuris Selang, Tues. Feb. 4
16  Homestay Banghuris to Camp Langat River, Wed. Feb. 5
17  Camp Langat River to Matahari Lodge Two, Thurs. Feb. 6
18  Kuala Lumpur, Fri. Feb 7
19  Kuala Lumpur, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), Sat. Feb. 8
20  Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, Sun. Feb. 9
21  Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Mon. Feb. 10
22  Putrajaya to Kuala Lumpur, Tues. Feb. 11
23  Kuala Lumpur, Butterfly, Bird and Orchid Gardens, Wed. Feb. 12
24  Kuala Lumpur, Plaza Imbi and Little India, Thurs. Feb. 13
25  Kuala Lumpur, Lost GPS, Friday Feb. 14
26  Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Bahru, Sat. Feb. 15
27  Kuala Lumpur, Thean Hou Temple, Sun. Feb. 16
28  Kuala Lumpur, KLCC Park, Mon. Feb. 17
29  Kuala Lumpur to Montreal, Tues. and Wed., Feb. 18/19
30  Comments and Maps

1  Introduction

I took this trip because Qatar Airways had a 4-day sale on airfares for most of its destinations. After much consideration, and much difficulty finding that sale fares on their webpage, I decided on a four week trip from Jan. 19 to Feb. 18 to Kuala Lumpur. After arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), I will take the KLIA Expres to the city. Then I intend to ride down, or possibly take a bus, to Melaka for Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, public transport in Malaysia is not very bicycle friendly. The KLIA Expres will not carry bicycles, but since other trains will carry a fold-up bicycle in its bag, I am hoping that there will be no problems. This is my first trip after having my Aortic Valve replaced. We shall see how the new equipment works.

2  Montreal to Kuala Lumpur, Sun. Jan. 19 to Tues. Jan. 21

On my flight to Singapore, I had seven hours in Doha, but this one has just under two hours so I was a little worried about missing my flight because of de-icing delays in Montreal. There was indeed a problem. We left about 1.5 hours late from Montreal, but had favourable winds so arrived only 10 minutes late in Doha. Everything arrived at KLIA, and I took the train to KL Sentral. This was about 5 km or so from my hotel, the Matahari Lodge Two. Although I had good directions, and used my GPS to get to the Central Market, the final closure was quite difficult. Nobody that I talked to in the market had any idea where it was. There is an original Matahari Lodge that was well known, but the new one was not. A man in the market did know of the original one, and after ousting the manager, got sufficiently detailed instructions that I finally found it. These pictures show you the problem.
I went upstairs to the reception where my prepaid four week reservation was accepted. Although I intend to be away for several days during my stay, I will keep the room for the whole time. This means that I have great flexibility, and the room is sufficiently inexpensive, I am not worried about the cost.
As with most, if not all of the small places in Malaysia, or anywhere else in the world, this one required that my bicycle and trailer be hauled up two sets of stairs. The first time was easy because the muscular kids that worked there did it for me. The stairs are going to be a strong inhibition on taking my trailer out of my room.
On the whole, this is a very nice inexpensive place, and many of the guests say this is the place they stay in whenever they are in Kuala Lumpur, I have a small room with a double bed. It has very little storage, but I don't use the entire bed. My major problem here, at the moment is that my computer will access their WiFi network but won't access the internet. I tried several things, including restoring it to a previous time when I knew it worked. My final restoration killed it. Now the loading of Windows XP dies with a fatal error. This means that all of my software, including Photoshop and Garmin Mapsource is not available. The desktop computer has USB ports but cannot read SD card in my camera. I will have to find a converter. It may take some time.

3  Kuala Lumpur, Mid Valley Mall, Wed. Jan 22

My goal for today was to get some camping gas. I don't need it in Matahari because they have a hot/cold water dispenser. However I will need it for camping. I discovered before I left that Ace Hardware in the huge Mid Valley Mall had it. However the mall was too big, I couldn't find it. After several questions I found some in Urban Outfitters. Western store chains are quite common in Malaysia.
The first trauma of the day was finding a place to park my bicycle by the Mid Valley Mall. It seems that all the big malls feel that bicycles contaminate the visual purity of their property and they do not allow you to park it. It is possible to park it on city property outside the mall, but getting there can, at times, be life-threatening. The second trauma of the day was getting back. Although I have a GPS, following the directions with many slanting roads was very difficult, but I did discover two sections of Brickfields the second Little India. Was I lost? Not really - I was just seeing different things.

4  Kuala Lumpur, Kasturi Walk, Thurs. Jan. 23

My first quest for the day was to find a USB adapter for my SD card. It turned out to be quite easy after I waited until 10:00 am for the stores to open. One of the delights of this area is the Kasturi Walk beside the Central Market.
It has the usual uninteresting, for me, stuff stalls along with a variety of fascinating food and drink stalls. The real stores sell electronics, cosmetics, and Chinese cooking pots, pans, and chopsticks.
Currently I am indulging in Uncle Bob's crispy Satay chicken. Sometimes, especially at lunch time, Uncle Bob is quite busy.
There is much more to sample. KopieSatu is a frozen coffee stall that was very popular, especially during a movie shoot on the walk just after noon.
The girls were not only getting Frozen Lattes but were also vying with each other to be photographed with the Indian star of the movie. I was able to enjoy this, and other spectacles using my new Helinox camp chair. It folds up so compactly that it fits in my backpack.
I first saw the chairs while I was at Camping du Petit Port in Huningue and was so captivated that I ordered one immediately from Mountain Equipment COOP. Another accomplishment for the day was to capture the error message when my computer died and find out about it on Google. Other people have had exactly the same symptoms - a loss of Internet access and complete failure after they removed McAfee Internet Security. I will try to recover it when I get home. My second accomplishment was to load Garmin Mapsource on a USB memory stick so I can now explore the surrounding area. I still do not have any Photoshop so the trip reports will have to wait.

5  Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Alor and Chinatown, Fri. Jan. 24

I started out at about 9:00am to get some provisions at the Giant Supermarket. I arrived at about 9:30am and discovered that, not only did the small shops not open until 10:00am, neither did the big shopping centres, or even most of the restaurants. I waited until 10:00 am, but wandered up and down Jalan Alor, which is sufficiently noteworthy that it has signs pointing towards it. Although not in Chinatown, it was very Chinese.
From there I rode up and down ... it felt mostly up ... back towards the Matahari and discovered the Chinatown shopping streets full of stalls. This discovery was not unexpected because the Matahari says they are in Chinatown.
This may be Chinatown, but the neighbourhood is quite mixed. On Jalan Tun H. S. Lee, there is both a Hindu and a Buddhist temple.

6  Kuala Lumpur, PC Repair Quest, Sat. Jan. 25

After some thought, I decided to see if I could get my computer repaired here in Kuala Lumpur . I rode out of the centre of town to the very dead Galaxy Mega-Mall, and found a repair shop. After much playing around, we were no closer to resolving the problem. The fix that I had found on the Internet did not seem to work. I tried to find another nearby place, and failed. My GPS sent me around in circles, much like my problem when I tried to get into Brig on my last trip in Switzerland.

7  Kuala Lumpur, PC Repair Quest II, Sun. Jan. 26

This time I rode considerably west on the way to Klang, and found that when I arrived, at about 10:15am, the store was closed. Since I didn't really have any where I needed to go, I wandered around the neighbourhood. This is an older suburban area that was clustered around the Old Klang Road. The streets are currently called, in the Kuala Lumpur fashion, Jalan Sepadu xy where xy is a number. It was Sunday morning, with many families were out having Sunday Brunch while a nearby Durian seller was taking his time to make the fruits look rather elegant.
The apartments were rather spartan, but some had trees just outside. Not everything was so crowded - some places were really quite nice.
On my way back to the Matahari, I passed Kampung Dato Tatah, one of the old villages (Kampungs in Malay) of Malaysia. Singapore had only one left. I walked in the first entrance I saw, but quickly left because I seemed to be encroaching on people's back or front porches.
There was a second entrance with some upgraded homes, and a river running right behind.
Kuala Lumpur has much greenery in town, but some of it does not appear to be very accessible.
As I continued, I passed through Little India - Brickfields, This is where, after a great fire, bricks, for new construction were made. Most of the laborers were Tamil Indians so this has become a very Indian neighbourhood. There were arches, and colourful advertisements, along with a store that insisted it was Modern.
The highlight was a family of little girls, and a boy, who were captivated by me, with my helmet and bicycle, as I paused to take a picture of the small shopping alley.
As I left, I was treated to a colourful fountain.
Some utilitarian buildings that I passed, like the old train station, the Stesen Keretapi, were quite inspirational.

8  Kuala Lumpur, Final PC Repair Quest , Mon. Jan. 27, Tues. Jan. 28

The Plaza Low Yat has six floors packed with electronics stores. It is the largest concentration I have ever seen. I found an Acer repair shop on Monday, but decided that their suggestion of replacing the operating system was too painful. However after some thought, I went back Tuesday, and found a another repair shop. They said that they will take out the hard disk to back up my data, and replace the operating system, all by 1:30pm. They were good to their word and I returned to pick up my computer. They were able to capture my data to a hard disk, but had trouble reading it all back. My best option was to buy the hard disk, and put back the stuff I really need. This I have done so my computer is now working. I am still missing several programs that I will have to work on. I don't think that I will add the missing programs. I have just discovered that, like the desktops in the Matahari I now have a counterfeit copy of XP Professional.

9  Kuala Lumpur to Melaka, Wed. Jan. 29

The 15 to 20 km to the Bandar Seleton bus station were filled with stress. The traffic in Kuala Lumpur is incredibly heavy and crossing to the other side of the road is fraught with difficulty. I also had to navigate motorways, a number of which had decent shoulders. Unfortunately these were shared, and I use the term loosely, with impatient motorbike drivers, and the occasionally equally impatient auto driver.
After arrival, my problems continued. I was at the station but could not find the Main Lobby. After walking the wrong way up a ramp, and two sets of instructions from an attendant, I finally found it. I folded my bike, and replaced the regular trailer wheel with a small shopping cart wheel, and pushed everything inside. After buying my ticket, I needed help to get downstairs to the loading bay. The guard at the escalator led me to the elevator and then to the correct bay. My final difficulty was the design of the luggage compartments on this bus. They were small and narrow. I was able to put my bike in vertically, but then there was no room for my trailer. An attendant moved some other bags to even smaller slots up higher, and put my trailer in vertically. It barely made it with the small wheel, and would have been impossible with the ordinary one.
The ride was quite pleasant in a single seat by the window on the non-sunny side, and I arrived in about two hours in Melaka. I rode the 4km to the Tang House which is right at the entrance to Jonker Walk, the home of Melaka's famous Night Market. I will visit some other night. The stage is probably in preparation for Chinese New Year and was being readied by a TV filming crew.

10  Melaka River and the Chinese New Year, Thurs. Jan. 30

After walking down Jonker Walk to the Melaka River, I passed the galleon that guards the entrance and a No Smoking sign painted on the street.
I spent most of the rest of rest of the day riding up and down the two banks of the Melaka River starting at the Junker Walk bridge.
I crossed over the bridge and started up the west left bank. The first monument was an old water wheel.
I then continued up until I reached the end at a dam and the Melaka Port Terminal.
Since I couldn't continue or cross, I found my way into the city on the Jalan Merdeka, a five lane street with angle parking on both sides which was almost totally free of traffic ... the first road that was easy to cross.
Right at the beginning is the Taman Merdeka, a delightful park for everyone, which was supported by contributions from JTB the Japan Travel Bureau.
On my way back to the river I passed the rather plain, but old, 1753, Christ Church Melaka where several bicycle rickshaw drivers were waiting for fares.
Nearby on the river was a small Portuguese/Dutch fortification. The big fort was destroyed by the British.
In some places there were very pretty decorative trees, and nice houses on the right bank.
Not all the river has been renovated. A short section was dominated by old houses and controlled by a monitor lizard.
Where things got difficult there was a wooden walkway over the river. Unfortunately it ended abruptly with a sheet of metal.
With some help, I was able to get around it and found the path again. The right bank here had some upscale housing, but the path soon ended.
I crossed the bridge to the right bank, looking back downriver.
I rode up the path, past some old warehouses when the path abruptly ended
but I was soon able to find it again. I continued up to the end and where the dam blocked it permanently.
On my way back to the Tang House I rode along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock which featured some heritage architecture.
When I got back, the Night Market was being set up in the anticipation of the huge crowds expected for the New Years celebration.
Jonker Walk has several shrines and temples where people stopped to worship.
The area in front of the stage gathered a huge crowd for the festivities.
For an outsider the entire night was a disappointment. It consisted of performers lip-synching to music and culminated with a gathering of luminaries at midnight when there was a small fireworks display from a different venue. There was no Dragon Parade or anything else Chinese about it.

11  Melaka, The Dutch Heritage, and Chinatown Kampungs, Fri. Jan. 31

I started at the citadel that used to house the A Famosa fort, originally built by the Portuguese. before it was destroyed by the British. Currently it holds the ruins of St. Paul's Church, which, at one time was an extension of the fort, and stands on the top of the hill.
The fort was extensively modified by the Dutch whole built their StadHuis over part of its foundation. It is currently under reconstruction so pictures are difficult.
Below the citadel is the Town Square which is surrounded by, not very inspiring, Dutch colonial buildings. This was Friday after prayers and the whole area was packed with people.
After the city centre, I came back to the Tang House to fix a blister. Then I went slowly, down the Jonker Walk admiring the architecture.
I was stopped several times and asked where I was from and my age. When I told them I was 72, they were astonished and congratulated me on my strength. It remains to be seen if that is premature. I gave them my card, and now when they see me again, I am greeted as Professor.
Chinatown has encircled some old Kampungs that have now been reduced to streets. My first was Kampung Kuli. Many of the people had their doors open and it appears that the houses may only have one room.
Kampung Kling was the second one I visited. It is quite developed compared to Kuli, having a mosque and a temple. The Kampung Kling Mosque is an eclectic mix of architectures with a pagoda inspired minaret and Corinthian pillars holding up the Prayer Hall roof.
The Buddhist Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is large and quite conventional.

12  Melaka. Sat. Feb. 1

Today I rode aimlessly around the historical centre of Melaka. Although I tried to go new places, I always seemed to be getting back to somewhere I had been. One new place was Little India, and it is indeed Little. There may have been more than a short block or so, but I am not at all certain.
When I came back to the Tang House, Jonker's Walk was already built up for the Night Market. The Saturday version is much larger than any other I have seen.

13  Melaka to Port Dickson, Day 1, Sun. Feb. 2

A few km after I left the Tang House, I discovered that my GPS was routing me inland rather than along the coast as I wanted. After taking a road to the coast, and ignoring continual Wrong Direction Arrows, I was on Route 5, the road along the coast but from which the Strait of Melaka was invisible.
At every chance I took a side road towards the water. My first foray was by Bert's Garden. Garden is a favourite name for a small rustic restaurant.
Then I passed a small Kampung cemetery that was being intimidated by a new resort.
A little later I passed over Sungai Lerah or Lerah River.
Finally I found my first beach. It was delightfully shaded by Ironwood trees and had several family gatherings.
Some installations were more permanent.
Arches are very popular in Malaysia, even being used as the entrance to a Tropical Fruit Farm.
At about 5:00pm, I seriously started looking for a place to camp. I was woefully unprepared with no food and not enough water. Then I saw a small stand by the road and got more than enough food for supper and breakfast for just 4MR, about $1.30. Then I bought some more water at a gas station.
The road I was on was too inhabited for camping, but I saw one going off it, closer to the ocean. This one was also too crowded and far from the ocean. Then there was a smaller road that led down to the water. This had open beaches but houses all around.
I was shouted down by a fisherman who asked me how I was doing. I asked him about a place to camp, and he said I could at Sharies, about 2km down the road. Near there, I asked again, and was led to it by a man on his motor scooter. I would never have found it. Sharies is a resort, tucked around a corner of the road, with no sign I could see. However, they did allow camping in their garden/playground and I had place to stay.
I was immediately befriended by a member of a Malay family gathering and offered supper. The only downside to this place was that there was no shower, and it was too crowded for me to have my No Rinse Bodywash.
Today was the day to see and meet other cyclists, three pairs, all going to Melaka. One pair, Yann and Emilie, saw my Canadian flag, shouted, and turned around to talk. They are Professors at Dawson College in Montreal, and are avid cyclists with their own website ye-travels.org. They are young and much more energetic than I am and had come down from Bangkok, on their way to Singapore. I introduced them to my new. wonderful travelling addition, my Helinox camp chair. Emilie enjoyed a few minutes lounging on it. We both agreed that it would reduce, eliminate?, the need for bus shelters to sit down and rest.

14  Melaka to Port Dickson, Day 2, Mon. Feb. 3

I packed up and left Sharies by about 8:30am and went back out the Kampung road I came in. It is much more interesting than the highway.
Malaysia has A former colony mentality insisting that the Stop signs be in Malay.
For the most part, the road was near the water but you could not see it. Then it swung out right by the ocean and, according to a mega-resort sitting on it, showed you the best beach in Port Dickson, or PD as the locals call it.
I found the Hotel Suria, just off the PD Waterfront. I wanted a good shower and needed to wash some clothes so no camping tonight. The hotel is the most bicycle friendly one I have been in recently. My room is on the ground floor, and I can wheel my trailer into the room and my bicycle into a storage room at the end of the hall. There is not enough room, though, for two bicycles.
The PD Waterfront had camping a few years ago but now is being extensively rebuilt and all that is gone. Maybe in 100 years someone will say it has character, but not now.
Although, there were many new restaurants in the PD Waterfront, they had not destroyed a nearby Food Court, where I was the only tourist having dinner.

15  Port Dickson to Homestay Banghuris Selang, Tues. Feb. 4

The ride out of Port Dickson was continual commercial strip mall for about 10km.
At Likut , the road turned abruptly uphill and was like that for the next 25km. On the way up , I passed a huge, rather unusual Chinese Cemetery built on the side of a cliff.
This is Palm Oil territory with at least 30km of plantation owned by Sime Darby a large Malaysian corporation with its fingers all over.
I arrived in Sepang early afternoon an decided it would be nice to have a hotel for a real shower and to wash my clothes. Unfortunately the only one I found was too expensive. I continued towards a Hutan - State Forest, I had seen on the map to wild camp and discovered that it really was a very wide-open palm oil plantation. This was obviously not acceptable. After passing nothing that looked acceptable for wild camping, I remembered that there was a Homestay near here. I rode pass the trashiest roads I have seen in Malaysia, an found the Homestay Banghuris.
Nobody was around. After waiting for sometime, and becoming the amusement centre for a couple of boys, I decided to look around the vicinity for a place to wild camp. This Homestay had a large dedicated area at the end of a road and appears to be oriented to group activities. I finally found an overgrown palm oil plantation down a dirt road and settled there.
It was totally isolated so I could wash.

16  Homestay Banghuris to Camp Langat River, Wed. Feb. 5

I left through the Kampung I came in because it was much more interesting than the main road. Although Route 5 is ostensibly on the coast you do not see much water. It got close once for some very nice mangroves.
I passed over many small rivers. really just streams, but one was notable because it was another real working river.
After discovering that my first camp just south of Morib did not have any camping and the Economy Bungalows were totally decrepit and depressing, I ended up at Camp Langat River. It is not really oriented to camping but they allowed me to stay. The outdoor shower had lost its shower head but an attendant offered me a hose.

17  Camp Langat River to Matahari Lodge Two, Thurs. Feb. 6

The road, ostensibly continued up the coast for a while and then went along the Langat River. However, I saw no river or Strait. I did see some high cliffs, but fortunately the road went mostly around them.
This area has strange land-use and even the Kampungs are far apart. When I stopped to take this picture, an older (74) Chinese man came over to talk.
He said his village had been around for 1000 years and has barely changed, although there are now many cars, motorbikes, and TV sets. He also invited me to visit his house. It was difficult to decline his insistence but I had a potentially long day ahead trying to get to KL. The initials are always more easily understood by the local people. This is definitely an Islamic country. There are mosques everywhere. There has also been a noticeable lack of flowers compared to other tropical places I have been, but I did see some here. Apparently these yellow ones are medicinal.
One of my first trials was a 6% grade climbing up the bridge over the Langat River. This is a real industrial river rather than just a working river.
In Malaysia, you seem to be allowed to ride bicycles almost anywhere, even on roads such a the Cyberjaya Expres Tollway. It had very wide shoulders, at least two lanes each way, and was quite dull. However, the motorbike rain shelters were quite welcome, as the only source of shade. I rested and snacked in them quite often.
The only scenery of interest was the Persimangan Lake and Wetland.
At about 45km, I started to hit a sequence of ridges, the were a considerable strain but not devastating. It wasn't until I got off the Cyberjaya, and after 50km, that the hills became debilitating. I had to rest frequently and really wondered if I would make the last 25km to the Matahari. I didn't want to ride at night. but when I had only 15km to go, and no place to stop, I put the lights on the bike and put on my reflective vest. My GPS was illuminated, so I was easily able to see it, and my auxiliary batteries kept it alive.
It was actually a pleasant ride and I had no close encounters. I walked through Brickfields because it was faster, and less congested than the road. I arrived at the Matahari at about 9:00pm and was fortunate to have some of the staff outside for a smoke break. They hauled my bicycle and trailer up the stairs. It was nice to have a decent shower.

18  Kuala Lumpur, Fri. Feb 7

After some wandering, I went to the Petronas Towers. The towers are surrounded by other huge buildings and are really only visible from the plaza in front of them. I started walking my bike down a path and was immediately told that I must keep it on the road. This is consistent with behaviour I saw at Mega-Mall centres. Don't bring your bicycle. It was early afternoon so I only got pictures from the side and back. I will try again early tomorrow morning.
The Citypoint is just across the river from the Matahari and is quite impressive. I walked over to and discovered that there was little of human interest there. The ground floor was dedicated to parking, and the next floor was under construction.

19  Kuala Lumpur, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), Sat. Feb. 8

My main objective of the day was to ride the 20km or so to FRIM, and climb up the cliffs to the Canopy Walk. On the way, I stopped to see if the morning light made for better pictures of the Petronas Towers. It didn't. Maybe this is the wrong time of year.
There do not seem to be any small roads that can take you any distance through Kuala Lumpur. I had to fight to cross traffic all the time so to reduce the stress. I try to take short, parallel service roads when possible. On one near a Kampung, I ran into a delightful Saturday morning market. The clothes stalls were at either end and the food, fish, vegetable stalls were in the middle. I had not really had a decent breakfast so I chose some strange looking egg rolls, which were five for 2RM (60 cents), less than half the price on the Kasturi Walk. They turned out to be the most delicious egg rolls I have ever had.
I finally arrived at FRIM, and started looking for the reception centre.
After some difficulty, having missed the small sign announcing it, and a few questions later, I found it, and bought my ticket for the Canopy Walk. You must have the ticket when you arrive at the entrance at the top of the cliff. The Walk closes at 2:30pm so I had no time to loses. I arrived, in plenty of time, at the Canopy Walk at about 1:30pm.
On my way back to the Matahari, I stopped at Shell station to buy some more water and one of the clerks said to her friend, with a note of astonishment, "He is riding a bicycle!" When I was nearly all the way back, I had to pass through the Dataran Merdeka, the Kuala Lumpur central plaza. For some reason, it was closed off to traffic which made it rather relaxing.

20  Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, Sun. Feb. 9

Today I decided to visit the Batu caves. I am normally not very interested in caves, and would have passed them up except that I read that they had been taken over as a Hindu shrine. I also wanted to test my GPS to find if it would route me over smaller roads when I used Pedestrian routing rather than Bicycle routing. I knew it would send me down the wrong direction on one-way streets but decided to live with it.
After 20km and several long one-way streets in the correct direction, I arrived. The huge golden statue of Lord Murugan showed that you were in the right place, even if you didn't see any signs.
To get to the cave you had to climb 272 steps at a 45°+ angle in 100°F(38°C) bright sun. The cave was so big and open there was not really any cooling inside. The entrance had a customary arch and a roof of fantastic stalactites.
Inside the huge main Temple Cave were many shrines and a hole to the sky.
Near the entrance to the open cave were the remnants of a celebration.
At the bottom of the steps was the Villa with its garden and pond.
One the way back, I passed, and rode through a new Kampung.
I negotiated the long one-way streets on the sidewalk and against traffic. I am still not certain which is best. It was a hot day, and I drank at least 4 litres of water.

21  Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Mon. Feb. 10

I left very early in the morning for the 50km ride to Putrajaya. the new administrative capital that is the dream of Malaysia's very own megalomaniac, Dr.Mahathir. It was to be similar in scope to Brasilia. To get there, I decided to use Pedestrian routing for smaller roads, but switched back to Bicycle routing when I was sent the wrong way down a 3 lane, totally congested road with no visible sidewalk. After a stressful few hours I arrived at Putrajaya in the early afternoon. My greeting to the area was the very impressive Jambatan Seri Wawasan. It would be nice if the new Champlain Bridge would emulate it.
I spent most of my time riding around the lake, which is huge and attached to a small river that turns the central district into an island. Just north of the bridge is the National Mosque
Riding south I passed some apartments, an obelisk, and two more bridges. One is an incomplete monorail bridge showing either bad planning or wishful thinking.
I then rode back up north passing under the Jambatan Putra that didn't really look like a bridge. Nestled under it were some gondolas, ready to be hauled out into the lake.
I continued around the tip of the island and a little way down the river where the path ended and I turned back.
In addition to all the monuments there were a plethora of government buildings.
It was now late in the afternoon and it was clear that I would not be able to get back to KL before late at night. Since Lonely Planet did not have any reasonable place to stay, I found the Everly Hotel, a lodging feature on my GPS. It was listed as a Hotel/Motel. It was, in fact, a Hotel, and maybe 5 stars at that. After finding out the cost, I decided that it was too expensive and started riding. In about 200m, it became obvious to me that to try to get to KL was suicidal, so I went back and got the room. One advantage of the hotel was that there was a shopping centre next door so I walked over and got some supper.

22  Putrajaya to Kuala Lumpur, Tues. Feb. 11

The day started with the most incredible breakfast I have ever seen. It had everything you would normally have for a big breakfast, except, of course, ham and bacon, along with a dozen or different dishes that would have been great for supper. There were also salads in abundance, and very good coffee. It was a great way to start the long, hot, ride back.
My routing took me back through the centre of Putrajaya but did not retrace my incoming route. I stayed, for the most part, on smaller, less congested roads, even going through part of the huge campus of campus of Universitat Putra Malaysia.
I arrived by way of Brickfields and took the time to walk along the side of the road I had not visited on previous entries.
I was almost back.

23  Kuala Lumpur, Butterfly, Bird and Orchid Gardens, Wed. Feb. 12

Today I rode up the hill to three different Gardens. the first featured butterflies. I took many pictures but my camera had great difficulty focussing on these very mobile creatures. I also don't have names for any of them, but I am sure none of the individuals would be concerned.
The Bird Garden was my second stop. It claims to be the world's largest walk-in aviary with free flying birds. It is probably true if you only consider the man-made types, but I feel the Galapagos is a much larger walk-in aviary. The birds have been confined to different isolated sections so that they don't interfere with each other. The really interfering birds, the raptors have been restricted to their own cages.
The most common bird in the aviary was the Cattle Egret. They have adapted so well that they hassle you for treats at the snack bars.
The Peacock was the other bird that was displaying itself all over the place.
There also were several Red Jungle fowl, the ancestor of the Domestic Chicken.
They had isolated many different small freshwater birds together, the most striking being the Scarlet Ibis.
I was delighted to see some Cassowaries, that I only glimpsed in Queensland and heard galloping by my tent in the middle of the night.
My next Garden was quite disappointing. The Kuala Lumpur Orchid Garden had mostly vacant flower beds, and no signs for the few flowers that were there. It is not recommended. Go to the National Orchid Garden in Singapore instead.
I took a wrong turn coming back from the Orchid Garden and discovered Malaysia's second National Mosque. The other one is in Putrajaya.
After some difficulty, I found my way back to the Matahari.

24  Kuala Lumpur, Plaza Imbi and Little India, Thurs. Feb. 13

Although the Matahari includes breakfast, it is less than satisfying. The white bread for toast makes the Wonder Bread of my childhood seem almost a gourmet item. Getting breakfast in Kuala Lumpur is difficult. Even McDonald's has decided that breakfast is not commercially viable enough to open. Lonely Planet recommends the Imbi Market as the preferred, or perhaps the only, choice. It is right beside the electronics Plaza Low Yat so I knew the neighbourhood. Along with Starbucks, there were a couple of restaurants. I stopped at the first, after I received an invitation from a waitress and had a delicious small breakfast of soup, roast pork and noodles. My neighbours indulged a local cat with a morning treat of chicken.
On my way back, I stopped to take a picture the Menara Telecommunications Tower, something all cities seem to feel they need, where I discovered that my Edge 800 bicycle GPS had died. Fortunately I had brought my old 76CSx GPS so it was not a total disaster. I was on my way to Little India but had to divert to the Matahari, to bring the waypoints up to date on the old 76CSx. There is no reason that the new Edge 800 should have died unless it did not have the robustness to withstand the plus 124°F(51°C) to which it was subjected in the sun.
Little India is not so little. It spreads over a wide area and near the location of the Night Market it was queueing up time for lunch.
The merchandise in Little India is quite different than Chinatown. Here they specialize in fabrics, clothing, food and gold.
On my way back to the Matahari I passed through Dataran Merdeka just as they were tearing down a Chinese New Year celebration. I received some of the last free Chicken Rice - I would have preferred the free Satay but it was finished. Then I found a place to sit down on my Helinox chair.
As usual, several people came over to talk, and they were universally astonished that a 72 year old had ridden his bicycle from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur.

25  Kuala Lumpur, Lost GPS, Friday Feb. 14

Today was a scary day. I discovered this morning that I couldn't find my 76CSx GPS that I had used yesterday to replace my dead Edge 800. This was more than just a little disconcerting. I tore apart my room to no avail and then remembered that I had taken it out to try to get it to find the route to Titiwangsa that had failed with a route calculation error. I thought that I might have left it in a small grocery store where I bought some ice cream. The distress was that I had to wait until 10:00am for it to open. I went back just after it opened, and much to my relief, they had it. In addition, my Edge 800 finally started to recharge so I now had both GPS working.
After breakfast, I decided to take a different way back to the Matahari and found the Masjid Algukhaary getting ready for Friday Prayers. I wanted better pictures so I ventured into their parking lot, and was immediately thrown out
The commercial possibilities of Friday Prayers were not to be missed. In addition many lunch stalls, there were some miscellaneous sellers.
I bought an iced drink, which was half the price of Chinatown, and sat down on my Helinox, , attracting several passing penitents to conversation.
Later in the morning I went to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, a green oasis in the north of the city. It consists of a lake surrounded, supposedly by a huge green area that is, in reality, filled with buildings for various recreational activities. There was a sign listing all the forbidden things to do which included Kissing.
The lake was pleasant but not too impressive, but it did have some outstanding views of the downtown skyline.

26  Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Bahru, Sat. Feb. 15

After breakfast, I rode out to Kampung Baru, also known as Kampung Bahru. It is advertised as the last Kuala Lumpur Kampung. You entered it by a very non Kampung arch, and were immediately greeted with almost 800m of commercial stalls, on both sides of the road. It was quite depressing. In addition the houses showed much indication of modern upgrading, without any intent to maintain their original facade.
However I did have a rather delightful experience. As I passed the end of the commercial stalls, I saw a gathering of many people behind a fence, sitting at tables. I was curious so I walked my bicycle inside the arch and was immediately invited to eat with the other guests and to park my bicycle by the fence. Unsure of the protocol of eating, I wandered around taking pictures of the guests and the buffet. It was a sumptuous feast.
I also discovered that this was, in fact a wedding celebration for Atikah and Rahmin. The man who insisted I stay was the groom's father.
I finally succumbed to the pressure to eat and got some fried chicken, a spicy bean sprout based salad, and some corn chips from the buffet. Now my problem was where to sit. I didn't feel comfortable asking to join an already eating group and felt it was presumptuous to start a new table by myself. My dilemma was solved when Syafiq asked me to join him, his wife, and his friends. We had a wonderful conversation, and during a pause while I was eating, he said to me that my grandfather had been a missionary. I had just given him my card, and he was curious enough to immediately access my website. I then put on my signature hat and he was delighted. He made he entire experience quite memorable.
While I was first taking pictures, I passed a table full of bags with gifts for the guests. The women tending it insisted I take a bag.
The gifts are, evidently wishes from the bride and groom for their guests. I am not certain what they mean but the egg is be fertile, and perhaps the cake and lemon drink is never go hungry.
On the way back, I walked down Jalan Lebuh Ampang, which runs just north of the Matahari, and admired the facades that I had passed several times before.
After I arrived back, I walked down Kasturi Walk and saw, at the end of a side street, the Un Sze Si Ya Temple, one of the first Buddhist temples in Kuala Lumpur. Although it is not too impressive from the outside,
the inside was opulent and bustling with activity.
There was also an alter in the courtyard that was laden with offerings.

27  Kuala Lumpur, Thean Hou Temple, Sun. Feb. 16

After breakfast I rode from the Plaza Imbi to the Thean Hou Temple, which Lonely Planet calls the most visually impressive temple in Malaysia. It was a reasonably pleasant ride until I reached the turn about 500m from the temple. It looked as though I had to go up a cliff. I almost decided to quit. There was no way I could ride up, and pushing the bike up was not without strain. My GPS does not measure the slope when I go up so slowly but I did measure it coming back down. It was a mind-boggling 14% - indeed a cliff.
I finally made it up to the top and rested for a while drinking a lot of water. The temple is indeed colourful, and is surrounded by pink flowers. Unfortunately they are artificial.
The temple itself was on the sixth floor. I didn't need the exercise.
The four corners around the courtyard had their own pagodas.
It was nice to have it being down, but my brakes got a workout.

28  Kuala Lumpur, KLCC Park, Mon. Feb. 17

Today, with some difficulty, I found the KLCC Park. This is an extensively manicured city park near the Petronas Towers. It should have been easy but I kept making wrong turns, and the GPS maps were confused by the new construction. At one point, I was directed into the middle of a construction site. While I was lost, and getting rather frustrated, I found a small park that was evidently planted to relieve the strain of the many office workers in the surrounding towers.
I took advantage of the shade, sat down, and relaxed. My chair brought its usual smiles and admiration.
I finally found Symphony Lake which is on the outer edge of the park. Again I was hassled by security about where I could take my bicycle and park it. Kuala Lumpur is not just bicycle unfriendly on the roads, local security is usually down right antagonistic off them.
The fountains were spouting when I arrived, attracting multitudes of teenagers who wanted arms-up photos in front of the display.
There was some construction blocking the lake with a sign from Petronas apologizing for the preparations for the upcoming Grand Prix. The stainless steel fish in one pool gained much admiration from the visitors.

29  Kuala Lumpur to Montreal, Tues. and Wed., Feb. 18/19

I checked out the ride to KL Sentral yesterday and am glad I did. The boarding area for the KL Expres to the airport was not at all where I thought it was. Yesterday I walked all around the terminal looking for it, That saved me much grief today, My bicycle and trailer were so big and awkward, that they needed to open a special gate and helped me downstairs to the platform. I have added wheels to the trailer so I can roll both the trailer and bicycle bag together but there is still much strain.
I arrived at the airport at about 10:00am with almost twelve hours to wait before my flight. I took the time to rearrange my bags, had some lunch, relaxed on my Helinox, and watched the little kids drive their parents into intense frustration.
I checked in with ease, having prepaid the overweight charge for my bicycle, and being delighted that it was now on their computer. The flight to Doha was an uneventful eight hours, followed by an eight hour wait overnight in the airport. It would have been nice to have my foam pad but the bulk was too great for the carry-on baggage. I had a window seat for the twelve hour flight to Montreal, but it was overcast for most of the way. The clouds broke while I was over snow-covered mountains in north-eastern Turkey, and again for some spectacular views of huge dark lakes on the ice in Greenland. I took a van-taxi home from Trudeau Airport, so there was little strain except for lugging my stuff into the house.

30  Comments and Maps

The Malaysians seem to be a curious and inquisitive people. They were especially interested in this rather peculiar old man riding his bicycle and his Canadian flag. The waitress at my breakfast restaurant in the Plaza Imbi kept introducing me to her customers as the man who had ridden his bicycle, the one parked by the curb, from Melaka to KL. I was flattered. This is the link to that ride.
I am also impressed with the honesty of the people. I forgot my backpack outside the Matahari one morning and came back an hour later and it was still there. I also forgot my GPS in a grocery store and was able to retrieve it the following day. This would have been incredibly unlikely in South America.
Finally I am delighted with my new Helinox chair. It has taken much of the strain off cycling the distance and made being a city tourist incredibly more convenient. I recommend it for all tourists.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 4.03.
On 27 Feb 2014, 07:09.