Why Bukit Gasing? Where to Park?
Cars line the roadside as far as our eyes can see. It’s 8am (late by the average hiker’s standard) on a public holiday, so we abandon hopes of a convenient parking spot. Tip: Do NOT park on the yellow lines. Many flushed face; adrenaline-pumping hikers learnt this hard lesson when surprised with a parking ticket.
Only 15 minutes from the city center on a favorable traffic day, Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, provides a quick nature fix to the busy city folk. The forrest reserve is the perfect taste of nature in the city. As is evident by the overwhelming number of cars and hikers, its popularity is indisputable.
We parked our car on Jalan Chantek 5/13, a considerable distance away, and headed for the main entrance. Groups of people gathered below the welcome arc, and we had to jostle our way into the secondary jungle. There, I start the timer on my GPS watch and tighten my shoelaces. Thus, began our lay back trek through the leafy paradise.
We make our way down an open-air jungle trail, worn from years of steady footsteps and stomping hikers. Many trails have been carved all over the hill (refer to Image 2). But today, we opt for the lazy trail (traced in red on Image 2); my favorite for a leisure stroll with segments that would increase one’s heart rate.
The Hike Begins
Hikers smile and wish us “good morning” along the way. We take our first left across a wooden bridge and up a short flight of man made steps. Trees shade us from the morning sun, and shrubs clutter our left and right. At the top, we take a right turn, and strode along the clearing between two timberlines.
The terrain here is relatively flat. A tree that fell victim to a storm lay across our path, and we had to clamber over it. Fellow hikers approach from the opposite direction, and we move aside to allow their passage. The hike is comfortable, and conversation is painless.
Soon, we reach the remains of a viewing tower. What used to be a two- stories wooden structure build for a bird eye view of the city has been reduced to nothing but a wooden platform, perhaps by the same storm that uprooted the fallen tree. We past a group of resting hikers, and make our way down a stretch of muddy slope.
At the bottom of the decline, we turn left onto a paved pathway. A green fence has been erected to our right; its purpose remains a mystery. The thick vegetation beyond the fence shimmers under the golden sun, and we take in the pretty sight. We advance with ease over the smooth landscape. Puddles of mud caused slight inconvenience, but nothing to write home about.
We arrive at a T- junction, the “you are here” spot indicated on Image 2. Here, we choose a right onto a long stretch of bald sandy trail. The trail is wide, and the ground level. One could easily break into a sprint here, even two people side by side. At this point, we are near the edge of the hill, and flashes of concrete buildings peeps at us at intervals.
The easy hike continues for another 2km or so, and then progress into a steep uphill climb. Tree roots double as footholds as we ascend the naturally formed staircase. Our breathing gets heavier, but the path quickly resumes its original flat topography. We follow the track through all its bends and turns…
The Hanging Bridge and Beyond
… And arrived at a hanging bridge.
The sturdy bridge suspends over a shallow stream. Each step injects momentum and eases the bridge into a slight sway. We swiftly make the crossing to another wave of uphill slopes. From here, the terrain is a variety of gradients.
Our spirits are high, and we march on to meet what appears to be never ending flight of stairs. In reality, there are 260 steps (my friend counted). This stretch is child’s play to the expert hiker, but might require effort from an average one. As for me, I dug into my reserves, and soldiered on with resolve in my lunges.
Breathing heavily, we make it to the peak. Here, many hikers sit comfortably on the ground, resting and rehydrating. Due to our lack of fancy for crowded areas, we cut our rest short and resumed the hike. Here on, the walk is easy, even for a beginner.
At the foot of a downward slope, we take a right that brings us back to our original pre-hanging-bridge trail. We retrace our steps and find ourselves face to face with the hanging bridge once again. Here, we choose a left, and are lead into the housing estate where our journey began. I glance at my watch. It reads 1 hour and 3mins, 4.4 km.
We glance at each other, giggly and recharged.
What to bring?
On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is easy peasy, and 10 is very challenging, I would rate the hike a 3. You may pack accordingly.
Hiking boots are always a good idea. Alternatively, sport shoes will serve the purpose. Bring water to rehydrate, but it is not crucial. As the hikes are generally short, it won’t hurt to drink post hike.
Rainy seasons might see more mosquitos. Personally, I’m comfortable without mosquito repellant. However, those with sweet blood in their veins might beg to differ.
How to get there?
“Bukit Gasing Forest Park”.
If you are navigating the old fashioned way
On the Federal Highway from Kuala Lumpur, exit at the KWSP EPF building onto Jalan Gasing. Then, turn left onto Jalan Chantek 5/13. You will see shop lots on your right, followed by SMK La Salle school. Continue straight till you arrive at a T- junction. Here, turn right onto Jalan Tanjong 5/4. The main entrance is on this road. (Please refer to Image 2)
By public transport
The nearest LRT station is “Universiti” on the Kelana Jaya line. From here, take a taxi to Bukit Gasing Forest Park.
A Hike is Not Complete Without Food
Hungry from all the energy spent amongst the lush greens? Head to Raju at the foot of the hill for a scrumptious and hearty banana leaf meal. Raju is located next to SMK La Salle. Kindly note the food here is slightly pricey.
Alternatively, opt for the less famous Raj just right next door. In my opinion, the food here is as good, with better service, and more comfortable sitting. However, taste is personal, and you are the judge!
Both places serve a variety of rice courses and traditional mamak (indian muslim) dishes. Food is served on fresh banana leafs, with a choice of dahl, and various curries. My personal favorites are the lamb from Raju, and the fried sotong (squid) at Raj. Bon Appetit!