A Nemophilist Haven: Bukit Kiara


Tranquility: A Peace of Mind (Body & Soul)

Being close to nature or being in a peaceful environment is something innate which most of us would be able to relate to. Having a quiet moment and space becomes something which we regularly yearn. You know, away from the hustle bustle of our oh so busy and rapid paced life. Some find this ‘quiet’ during their power naps, night sleep.. Some take it in their daily prayers, yoga sesh, or simply perching on one of those huge rocks by the sea! It is indeed our inherent nature to want to be at ease and switch off occasionally, as part of our nurturing, development and survivalm

Taman Lembah Kiara entrance

For those bogged down with work from Monday to Friday, not responding to work emails and calls — does the job. This sense of achieving peace is, like I said, innate.. and mysterious.. Almost like something was in-built in us. Proven by the fact that throughout time, man has always been on the lookout for tranquility in the various facets it exists for our being.

Look at the evolution we have seen it throughout human civilisation and various cultures, achieving peace and relaxation varies! Think Roman and Byzantine bathhouses, Morroccan hammam, Japanese onsen. Major religions throughout history share some aspect of basic meditation, and is expressed in various forms. Tafakkur (contemplative meditation) in the Islamic teaching. Yoga which originated from Northern India is a school of philosophy and practised actually shared by Hinduism and Buddhism. Qigong is another form of meditation from which have existed for centuries and having its origins from ancient Chinese practise.

History of Bukit Kiara

Now, going back to modern history and development. Bukit Kiara is one of the remaining dense forest area in Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur, if you haven’t know it, was opened in 1857 as a tin mining village, which in 1959 celebrated its centenarian anniversary, as recorded by British Pathe. Another popular forest area is in FRIM, Kepong. It is interesting how these areas have survived the rapid development of Kuala Lumpur, and still have a significant place and role in the lives of the community surrounding them, and to those who seeks to escape in the wilderness and breath more fresh air for a change!

‘Henry Nicholas Ridley’ (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Henry Nicholas Ridley, a British zoologist, naturalist and geologist, was instrumental to the development of commercial rubber tree plantation in Malaya, responsible to bringing one of the nine rubber tree seedlings in to the colonial territory in the eaely 1900s. By the 1930s, Malaya rose to become one of the world’s largest rubber producer. Ng Chin Siu & Sons Rubber Estates Ltd would have possibly been one of the largest rubber plantation company in Malaysia, with a record of 1,534 acres of plantation site in Bukit Kiara Rubber Estate. This company was founded in the dawn of Malaya’s independence in 1957.

A rubber estate in Kuala Lumpur (Photo source: NST)

In 1976 the federal government bought the plantation site from this company and other minority land owners for RM49.14 million. This piece of history (there is more to it of course), will explain the terrain of some parts of Bukit Kiara, the presence and remnants of rubber trees and the nearby Bukit Kiara rumah panjang (longhouses), where families and descendants of the company’s former estate workers now resides. According to a news source, they were originally residing at the “old labour lines” near where Royal Selangor Club Annexe is now. This particular community is the one of the longest residents of Bukit Kiara (at the fringe of TTDI) in that sense.

Rumah panjang/ Longhouses on Jln Tun Mohd Fuad (Photo source: FMT)

For a history buff, I do find the rumah panjang and the adjacent temple fascinating. What was their history, how they came to be, so on and so forth. There seem to be a missing plaque in the local history in Bukit Kiara in acknowledging their relevance and significance during the peak of Malaya/Malaysia’s rubber industry sector.

According to MIDA (Malaysia Investment Development Authority), “Malaya’s share of the world’s supply of rubber did not fall below 30% until the late 1980s.” Talk about impact!

Accessability

Why Bukit Kiara has been (for a long time), a staple for hikers and nature lover is mainly due to its location, accessability and the infrastructure surrounding the area thanks to decades of development. It sits on the west border of KL, and just a stone’s throw away from neighbouring Selangor (Bandar Utama). You can access Bukit Kiara through Taman Tun Dr Ismail, and for TPC members, the private road connecting TPC to Changkat Abang Hj Openg through Jalan Bukit Kiara 1.

A nearby MRT station is a big plus point if you don’t intend to drive here. Depending on your choice of activity, there are more than one access points to this place. Since the area is like a natural labyrinth, especially so thank you the historical evolution of the area, it is highly explorable and suitable for various activities. This area also includes the Lembah Kiara Park, a picturesque family friendly recreational park, also suited for more serious health/fitness buffs.

Adjacent Mt Kiara residents access the Bukit Kiara trail via the Sprint Highway, though its not the ‘official’ entrance. Likewise for MTBers who park their car in Hartamas/or start cycling from Mt Kiara. (Oh by the way, Mt Kiara might as well be a misnomer as mountain literally means ‘gunung’ and bahasa Melayu.. ). But for commercial purpose, the parcel of land mostly in Kg Segambut Dalam (a village by category) which was acquired by Datuk Alan Tong Kok Mau, was renamed to Mont Kiara in the 1990s. Known also the ‘Condo King’, he was responsible in transforming the rubber plantation area to an affluent suburb and choice of residence to KL’s expatriate community, well mostly.

Activities

Bukit Kiara is like a souk for nature lovers and recreational goers. For families, elderly, those running to keep fit, hikers, cyclist, mountain bikers, trail runners and many more. The socio-bio value which this area has to offer, is the main reason why it should be protected at all cost. And hey, for economical reason too! Surrounding community do not have to travel all the way to FRIM or Shah Alam for a morning hike, nor do we have to crowd the already overcrowded Lake Gardens (Taman Botani Perdana) and Taman Tasik Titi Wangsa.

For runners/walkers, there is the Lembah Kiara Park for starters, and this extends to numerous trails within Bukit Kiara itself. The 2 main entrances is via Lembah Kiara Park (near the park’s parking area), and also via Changkat Hj Abg Openg.

For hikers, its the same two entrances as well. This includes the tarmac road from Changkat Hj Openg up towards the hill. (Will update later for actual loop distance)

For those on two-wheels? Same thing!! Roadies, you can make the tarmac loop as mentioned above, and for MTBers/downhill, Bukit Kiara is a popular location for this activity.

Water activities/Picnic— While there is a lake(pond??) in the Lembah Kiara Park, there are no water activites in the lake itself. But rather, the little stream feeding into the lake has become popular to families with young kids who frequent the stream with their little nets and buckets during the weekend. It is also becoming a popular spot for picnics and celebrations.

Other activities/facilities

1. Playground

2. Exercise stations

3. Picnic tables/gazebo

4. Area for multi-sports skating/zumba/yoga (list is unlimited)

5. Photography/wedding shoots

6. Limited parking & OKU parking

7. Washroom

8. Suspension pedestrian bridge

The good thing about this park is that, no food stall is allowed in the park area. But outside..well, it has mushroomed a lot since after the MCO.. same thing with the adjancent TTDI..!

Personally

The Lembah Kiara Park is rarely unkept, and mostly well maintained. Parking is convenient on most days though may require to park further near Masjid Taqwa during the weekends. The whole park/trail is vibrant whether on its busiest or quietest dayd. There are simply lots of activities happening at one time!

If you’re a regular, you will know which day and time to come should you want to have a more quiet stroll, though for trail goers, it is advisable to hit the trails during peak days/time ie Saturday/Sunday mornings. Its hard to get bored with such a beautiful and lively haven, even on the days you need to run 5 loops round the lake! Each loop is around 1.2km on the flat track, and extends to elevated tracks at the circumference of the park.

Greenery, wildlife & trail

The lush greenery beats it all! Every visit comes with different experience and one that is easily enjoyable regardless of the loop or distance taken! Immersing with the nature is very calming. If you’re careful enough, you will spot many wildlife in this area. Monkeys, biawak and tortoise are PRs here. Once, I spotted a bird plucking a fish from the lake! Didn’t know at that time I was looking at a heron !

A heron snacking!

The trails are well marked, and branches regularly as you go deeper into the jungle. The trail condition pretty much depends on the weather of the day before. It can get muddy or slippery so having the right preparation before entering is key for your safety.

Most part of the trails are covered by the trees hence even on the sunniest (or warmest) of mornings, being in the trails is way cooler than running around the lake. 😉 Here’s another pointer, the off-road trail is interconnected to the tarmac road on the other side ie Changkat Hj Openg. So you can basically make a huge loop, or have the luxurt of starting and ending your hike/run at different points. One time, my friend had to take a cab back from Mt Kiara to Lembah Kiara Park !! So much for navigation!

A few years ago when we most likely over did the ‘just go straight’ and ended up at the gates of Mt Kiara Condos 😆😆 Shout out to Najwa. Praying your mum will get better, Ameen!

Anyway, if you like to explore the different loops/trails in Bukit Kiara, you can find them in the All Trails app. Similarly, there are a lot of online references with regards the trails/activities in Bukit Kiara.

Acknowledgement

This may have gone under appreciated.. –> the amount of effort and work put by many since the past four decades to ensure the ecosystem and viability of this area is preserved for all the value and significance it has on our community. This includes all the movements to uphold justice for the long house residents on Jln Tun Mohd Fuad. I do hope one day justice and the rightful is served.

I am also aware of the existence of Friends of Bukit Kiara (FOBK), an NGO whose main objective is the preservation of Bukit Kiara and rendering public awareness and support of their vision and mission.

Last but not least

If you’re up for a walk,bike or hike, just make sure you do your bit to preserve and maintain the area. Bring back your own rubbish, avoid feeding them monkeys or fish/turtle.. and certainly, do not disrupt the peacefulness that people come there to achieve. This includes being able to walk/run with a peace of mind. Do not block/hoard the path, and respect other visitors.

Just me,

missjewelz

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