Friday, 13 March 2015

In Search of the Bukit Nanas Secret Tunnel

When the local dailies reported in January that a hitherto secret tunnel has been found in the Bukit Nanas forest reserve, my curiosity was piqued. The tunnel is reported to be centuries old and stretches all the way from the forest reserve to the Klang River bank. 

(Photo reproduced from The Star without permission but in accordance with the principles of fair use.)

By early February, urban ennui began to set in, and I itched to explore the forest reserve to try to locate the tunnel. The long Lunar New Year break meant that I had the opportunity to meet up with some of my good friends and plan a hike into the forest reserve.

I have always loved green lungs, urban parks and forest reserves. Surprisingly, however, I have only ever explored one particular part of the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, namely, the shortcut to the KL Tower Terrace through the back door of the Craft Centre across the road from the Dang Wangi LRT station. This is an interesting little shortcut because it takes you through the jungle path and across a child-sized suspension bridge to a hidden children's playground at the foot of the KL Tower. I have always recommended this as a school holiday destination to my friends who have children with a thirst for adventure.

This time, however, my friends Nicole, Catherine, Aravind and Delphine and I took another route, through Lebuh Ampang. We had a massive banana leaf rice meal to neutralise the effects of several days of eating Chinese food during the Lunar New Year celebrations. 

Then we stopped by a shop selling Hindu prayer items to purchase natural soaps, coconut oil, henna and other prayer supplies.

I took pictures of the Art Deco architectural features of some of the shophouses in Lebuh Ampang while waiting for my friends to make their purchases. Check out those ziggurat roofs!

We then walked up the hill, past St. John's Cathedral, St. John's Institution and Convent Bukit Nanas to the entrance of the forest reserve. We practically had the whole place to ourselves. 

We walked up the paved road, admiring plants and hugging trees. 

I pulled out a few rubbish bags and we proceeded to pick up any litter we saw.

We climbed up watchtowers and walked along suspension bridges, but no secret tunnel came into sight.

It was a scorcher of an afternoon, so we took shelter in one of the watchtowers to cool down.

We explored the Herb and Spice Gardens and marvelled at fruiting pineapple plants, but still saw no secret tunnel.

We sang as we filled up the rubbish bags, and climbed over railings to pick up litter that people threw over the railings. Still, our search turned up no tunnels.

After two hours, we decided to make our way back to civilisation (ha!), back to our world of burglar alarms and traffic jams. 

We went round the back of the Bukit Nanas Tourist Information Centre, where we encountered two adorable cats, who we immediately played with and cuddled. All resolve to locate the infernal secret tunnel melted away as we rolled on the floor with the cats and offered them kibbles and clean drinking water.

We asked the lady in the Information Counter about the tunnel. She seemed suspicious of our motives and asked how we knew about the tunnel, and we told her that it is all over the news and hardly a secret. She informed us that the tunnel is in an undisclosed location facing Jalan Ampang and is not open to the public yet. This was a bummer, but we had a lovely day out with friends and we managed to clean up the forest reserve and play with nice cats, so how could we stay disappointed for long?

On our walk back to the train station, we stopped by the Telecommunications Museum to ham it up with some props.

Taking time out to connect with nature made all the difference to my Lunar New Year celebrations this year. I propose that all festive breaks henceforth include spending time outdoors in nature.

So long, Bukit Nanas, and we will be back to look for the secret tunnel again soon!

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