|I took this picture during the walk.|
In Singapore, there are few places that I can safely take a walk no matter how late. I can choose to stroll by the Singapore River, Gardens by the Bay, East Coast Park or Changi Beach Park. In Melbourne, my favourite place is the stretch by the Yarra River between Flinders Street Station and Crown Casino. Beijing’s Avenue of Eternal Peace and Shanghai’s Bund are among my favourite. They are also the safest place for these two spots are the most policed public real estate on earth.
However, in Kuala Lumpur, just as the same in Jakarta, Manila, Mumbai and New Delhi, I do not feel safe to walk at all. It is best to hop out from a building straight into the car and hop out again at the next building. It is a natural reaction despite the presence of security guards. I will never walk with just a friend after dark at KLCC Park. I guess I am not the only one having this misgiving about Kuala Lumpur. More often than not, friends and colleague will hear me asking: Where is safe to walk in Kuala Lumpur at night?
For years, no one can give me an exact answer. KLCC Park? No. Titiwangsa? Never do that. Lake Garden? Should be alright because Bukit Aman (the national police headquarters) is there but still can’t be sure. However, now I know there is a park that is safe to walk after dark. It is Dataran Merdeka.
A few nights ago when I was in Kuala Lumpur, it was past 10 when I’d wanted to drive through Jalan Raja to get into Jalan Tun Perak but the road was blocked. In front of me is a row of cars parked by the road and further ahead is the brightly lit Dataran Merdeka with scores of people walking around, taking pictures and hawkers peddling drinks and toys. I parked the car and walked towards the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
After observing the place, I took a walk. Along the way, I asked a hawker is the road between the square and Sultan Abdul Samad Building close to traffic every day? Yes, Jalan Raja is close to traffic every day from 8pm till the next morning, giving no chance to snatch thieves on motorbikes. For once, I felt safe walking on a park in Kuala Lumpur with beautiful view of the skyline at night. And if the City Hall can ensure that the public toilets around there can be available for 24 hours, it will be even better.
From now on, I think I can’t say anymore that I cannot find a public park that is safe to take a stroll after dinner in Kuala Lumpur.