Maybe it is also because Malaysia doesn’t look like a bike-friendly city at first sight. At second glance, it doesn’t either, but as long as you pretend to be half pedestrian, half car, it is no problem. Malaysians travel by car because it is way too hot to sit on a bike and in the car, you have at least best friend air conditioning. Besides that, there are hardly any bike paths, which makes it not inviting to buy a bike. On the internet, we came across an advertisement for MikeBikes that promised us a route with new places we have never been to before.
MikeBikes was founded in 2015 by two men from the Netherlands. They saw the city continue to modernize with additional disadvantages such as traffic jams, towers, and pollution. According to them, there is a more traditional Kuala Lumpur that is disappearing more and more into the background. They accepted the challenge and developed a bicycle tour through a ‘hidden world’. A tour where tourists cycle through local streets and alleys and where the Malaysians still live the traditional life. And that’s not all! They strive for a higher goal where children from socially weaker families get a second-hand bike for free which they have to take care of themselves. And where do those bikes come from? From the Netherlands! Refurbished in social workshops and prepared for a new life in Kuala Lumpur.
We jumped on our bikes, which I would have liked to take home with us by the way, and went exploring. And yes it was true, we had no idea where we were, and we saw a lot of new things in the city. So we cycled past places in Chowkit that were still unknown to us and had a drink (iced limau) on the street in Kampung Baru. Most impressive was this village, Kampung Baru. Thousands of Malaysians used to live here in houses built on wooden poles. This enclave is located in the middle of the city and has become an expensive piece of land over the years. Hing told a lot of stories about this and why authentic Malaysia deserves more attention.
City of millions
After two hours of cycling and listening attentively to Hing’s stories, we returned to MikeBikes. We handed in the bikes, took some more pictures, and came to the end of the tour. And that cycling in a metropolis without bike paths? It went a lot better than expected! Without traffic jams or accidents we were able to enjoy the view on our bike!