Cruising on the wetlands

Loong Wai Ting goes on a bike tour and a cruise in the administrative capital, and takes in the sights

YOU may never have set foot in Putrajaya, assuming it’s not worth your time and effort to visit the administrative capital of the country. But with its sprawling driveways and a superb collection of buildings surrounded by lush greenery, Putrajaya is worth braving the traffic for. In fact, you’ll be surprised how tourist-friendly it can be. A 40-minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur city centre via the MEX Highway, finding your way in and around Putrajaya is quite easy. There are a number of ways to see the surroundings and I opt for land and water —Igo onabike tour, and then a cruise run by Cruise Tasik Putrajaya. All in two days!

WHEELING ON THE DRIVEWAYS

With my car parked safely, I meet my guide Hau Young from Bike with Elena at the cornerof Masjid Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, commonly known as Masjid Besi. There are two bicycles waiting for us.


Masjid Besi

Hau Young briefs me on what to expect from the three-hour tour. Bike with Elena is the brainchild of an avid hiker and cyclist, Elena Mei Yun. It not only takes tourists to hidden gems of the city, it also goes as far as Jenjarom, on the outskirts of Selangor, famous for its quiet villages and cheap eats. The idea of “cycle off the beaten path intrigues me the most, and this is one of the reasons why I chose to see Putrajaya on two wheels.

From the city’s second principal mosque (after Masjid Putra), we cycle to Putrajaya Millenium Monument, located on a 25-hectare park inPrecinct Two. Locating the monument is easy, you’ll find it hard to miss the golden, rocket-like structure, 68 metres tall.

Next, we cycle along Perdana Putra, the office complex of the Prime Minister. From Perdana Putra, we alert oncoming cars with a loud ‘ding’ from our bikes’ bells, and cycle on, a designated red bike lane, nicknamed ‘red carpet’.

As traffic along this main driveway can be quite busy during office hours, it is advisable to stay on the designated bike path. Hau Young then signals for us to stop for some pictures. I happily oblige.

Tourists from all over the world flock here to take photographs in front of the landmark heavily influenced by Islamic and European cultures. Later, we make a detour to Masjid Putra, located on the right of Perdana Putra. Built on the man-made Putrajaya Lake, the mosque looks like it is floating on water.

From Masjid Putra we cycle back slowly to Masjid Besi, our place of rendezvous earlier. Hau Young then tells me that we’ve covered a distance of 30km. However, since we made frequent stops, the hours seem to have passed quickly. At every stop, I make sure tohave enough rest before moving on, so that I don’t feel tired by the end of the sightseeing journey.

I feel safe cycling in and around Putrajaya. There are plenty of designated bike lanes and paved walkways, making it a bike-and-pedestrian-friendly city. I also love how these lanes are shaded by big trees.

And along these paths, there are properly trimmed flowering bushes scenting the morning air. From one landmark to another, we cycle through neighbourhoods. Cycling in Putrajaya is carefree and relaxed. I don’t

have to pay extra wary, the only near-crash moment is when I accidentally rode up a slope while trying to take a selfie. Bad move, I know.


A great place to view Wawasan Bridge

Throughout the cycling tour, guests are welcome to take as many stops as they wish. Priced at RM60 per person, it is inclusive of bike rental, a safety helmet and a bottle of water.

CRUISING ON THE LAKE

Although surrounded by lakes, Putrajaya has many gardens for the locals and tourists to relax in. Putrajaya Wetlands, for example, is also a tourist attraction.

One of the cool features of Putrajaya Lake is the design of the labyrinth spillway, which helps to regulate the water level in the lake.

Eager to seemore of the city from a different perspective, I hop on the comfortable air-conditioned boat operated by Cruise Tasik Putrajaya. Finding a seat near the window, I settle in as I wait for the captain to start the engine.

The 45-minute journey takes us through various sectors of Putrajaya Lake and cruises past banks dotted by magnificent buildings, passing underneath intricately designed bridges. What I like about river cruises is that I get to move around the boat.


Inside the cruise boat

If I’m bored, I can always head up to the upper deck for some fresh air. Just 15 minutes into our journey, I go up where I am met fellow passengers who comment that they love the view here. I can’t agree more.

As we pass underneath Seri Wawasan Bridge which held the world record for the single largest concrete pour during its development stages, we whip out our cameras to take photos of the futuristic-looking structure. From afar, the bridge looks like a sailboat at full steam. Those coming into Putrajaya will hardly miss the bridge but it’s a different sensation going underneath it.

Spanning 240m across the lake, the bridge, which took 34 months to complete, is the pride of the nation.

From one bridge, we pass another. This time it is the incomplete suspension bridge. The plan is to have Putrajaya’s very own monorail facilities. The project got off on a good start before budget constraints halted it.

Chatting with the boat captain, I learn that apart from the air-conditioned boats, there are also traditional handcrafted perahu (PerahuDondangSayang) from Terengganu. For those who favour an intimate experience, opt for Perahu Dondang Sayang which can accommodate up to six people.


Seri Gemilang Bridge connects the Heritage Square with Putrajaya Convention Centre

If you want a more traditional setting, try the Lepa-Lepa, modelled after the single mast sailing boats of the Bajau Laut people (or sea gypsies) who live in Semporna in Sabah. The Lepa-Lepa can seat up to 12 people.

There are also two fleets of the cruise boats: Sebarau and Kelah (double deck), which can accommodate up to 120 people seated, or 60 people for dining; Belimbing and Daun (single deck) seat 76 people but only 30 at dinner.

loongwaiting@nst.com.my

Pictures by Loong Wai Ting

TRAVEL FILE

BIKE WITH ELENA

TEL: 013-850 0500

WEBSITE: www.bikewithelena.com

PAY USD75 inclusive of bike rental, a safety helmet and a bottle of mineral water. Book in advance to secure your place.

CRUISE TASIK PUTRAJAYA

Cruise Tasik Putrajaya,

Jetty Putra, Jambatan Putra,

Precint 1, Putrajaya.

TEL: 03-888 85539

WEBSITE: www.cruisetasikputrajaya.com

HOUR 1pm to 7.15pm (last call) daily

PAY RM50/RM30 (MyKad) and RM35/RM20 (MyKid). Check the website for promotions.

HOW TO GET THERE

Getting to Putrajaya is easy via the MEX Highway. Just take the exit on the left after the Putrajaya toll. Alternatively, you can take the KLIA Transit from the city centre and get down at Putrajaya/Cyberjaya station. The trip from KL Sentral to Putrajaya/Cyberjaya station is priced at RM14 (adult) and RM6.30 (children aged two to 12 years).

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