Kite-fly­ing at Met­ro­pol­i­tan Park

New Straits Times - - Jom! Do - Away, the steel struc­ture was named a light­house. If in­deed it was a light­house, then it must be the only light­house that I know in Kuala Lumpur and pos­si­bly one of the far­thest lo­cated in­land. When I asked a staff at the park’s of­fice, he said the bea­con

IWell-paved tracks for run­ning and cy­cling at the park.

Colour­ful kites on sale blow­ing in the wind. F Jo­hor has its Bukit Layang-Layang, Kuala Lumpur too has a ded­i­cated park for kite fly­ing. If you are won­der­ing where in the con­crete jun­gle you can find enough open space to fly a kite, then you will have to drive north, along the Mid­dle Ring Road 2, to get there.

The pic­ture on the top left shows my paint­ing of the watch tower of the Ke­pong Met­ro­pol­i­tan Park, the 90-hectare park­land that was an ac­ci­den­tal suc­cess with kiters. Built in the late 1990s and opened in 2001, the park sur­rounds a 50-hectare lake that was also a source of joy for an­glers be­fore fish­ing was out­lawed.

This watch tower, at least 25m high, has sev­eral plat­forms con­nected by a series of stair­cases, and ends in a view­ing deck on top. On its roof is what ap­peared to be a bea­con. On the lo­ca­tion sig­nage not far The park is lo­cated be­tween Ke­pong and Batu Caves. To ar­rive at the main en­trance, you will have to drive from the Batu Caves side of the Mid­dle Ring Road to­wards Ke­pong, pass­ing by the Batu Caves-Se­layang-Jalan Ipoh round­about. When you spot the Petron and Shell sta­tions, keep left un­til you see a multi-storey con­do­minium project un­der con­struc­tion.

The en­trance to the park is just a short dis­tance from here. There is a huge park­ing space at the en­trance but even so, space runs out on week­ends. There is also a toi­let fa­cil­ity be­side the car park.

The watch tower of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Park, sport­ing a bea­con just like a light­house; Acrican catfish, some al­most a me­tre long, thrive on the gen­eros­ity of park-go­ers.

Mid­dle Ring Road, that draws kit­ing en­thu­si­asts and park go­ers.

On days when the breeze is con­stantly strong, sin­gle-string kites paint a myr­iad of colours high in the skies. A decade ago, I re­mem­ber kite sellers were set­ting up tent for kilo­me­tres on the ap­proach to the park en­trance to dis­play their colour­ful Chi­na­made polyester kites. Cars would be parked and dou­ble-parked along the high­way — this caused bot­tle-necks for on­go­ing traf­fic on week­ends.

On the field it­self, sin­gle-line kiters jos­tled for space, with the higher-end fly­ers show­ing off their ex­pen­sive high-pow­ered kites. In fact, sev­eral ac­ci­dents oc­curred along the high­way, some fa­tal, as kite fly­ers dashed across the road to re­trieve kites that broke off from the tether.

To­day, the park is still pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially on week­end after­noons. The en­thu­si­asm

for kit­ing is still un­abated, and there are still a few kite sellers. There is a boat house and a lake­side au­di­to­rium. I did not see any boats there or an in­di­ca­tion of any ac­tiv­ity at the au­di­to­rium. How­ever, the park’s un­du­lat­ing land­scape, well con­nected with jog­ging tracks and cy­cling lanes, ap­pears to have drawn cy­clists and run­ners.

Just be­side the watch tower which I painted, a bar­ren ground seemed to hold yet an­other sur­prise for vis­i­tors. The day I was there, I spot­ted a group of peo­ple feed­ing bread crusts to fish. What was sur­pris­ing was that the aquatic ben­e­fi­cia­ries were not the usual tilapia or carp as of­ten seen in parks but gi­ant African catfish, each a me­tre-long, that had grown fat with the park-go­ers’ gen­eros­ity. There were eas­ily more than a hun­dred of them that day, in a feed­ing frenzy as they fought for the bread crumbs.

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