Bukit Sapu Tangan

It has been a while since I climbed any hills in Malaysia.

Bukit Sapu Tangan is a baby hill, only 200m or so high, but it provides a good work-out in the sweaty tropical conditions. It is located in Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (formerly known as Malaysia Agriculture Park).

Taman Botani's new logo

Map showing location of Bukit Sapu Tangan

The red arrow marks the location of Bukit Sapu Tangan, about 6km round trip from the entrance gate of Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam.

I went there yesterday, a public holiday in Malaysia, to take advantage of the light traffic conditions. Taman Botani is a huge park on the outskirts of KL which once formed part of a vast unspoilt forest but is now hemmed in on all sides by the capital’s fast expanding urban sprawl. See this Google Map (link below) to get an idea of how encroaching development is nibbling away at the edges of the park.


Once inside the park you soon forget about the bustle of the city as the sounds, sights and smells of the jungle take over.  Being a public holiday, the main trails within the park were busy, particularly with cyclists as bikes can be hired inside the park. The terrain is quite hilly and unless you are super fit and have a bike with good gears, you end up pushing your bike uphill for much of the way. (Mums and Dads should avoid renting their own bikes as they will spend most of the time pushing their children along).

Taman Botani is good for cycling if you are fit.Bukit Sapu Tangan

The path to Bukit Sapu Tangan is marked with a sign showing a distance of 1.8km. This distance, and the fact that the path becomes narrower and steeper, is enough to put off most visitors and I saw nobody else hiking on this section. But it is still a tarmac path so easy to walk on and no need to worry about snakes and other creepy crawlies. Apart from a few skink lizards, small birds and the sound of monkeys crashing around in the treetops, I did not come across much wildlife.

Peaceful trek through the woods towards Bukit Sapu TanganThe path is made of tarmac so it is suitable for cyclists too (but not allowed on the steep downhill section).

Tall trees line the route.The view tower on top of Bukit Sapu Tangan

At the top of the hill is a concrete and wood view tower from which there was a somewhat hazy view of Shah Alam city centre and beyond.

View of Shah Alam from the top of Bukit Sapu Tangan.

The view from this side gives an idea of the scale of the park but to the rear more new housing developments are underway, threatening the fragile eco-system of this once pristine forest.

New developments encroaching on Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam

Bukit Sapu Tangan translates as Handkerchief Hill. Perhaps its odd name means that you have to take some sort of cloth with you to mop your brow. Or perhaps it refers to the future size of the park once all the planned development projects are finished!

You can find more details about Taman Botani (Malaysia Agriculture Park) on my Malaysia-Traveller website.

i-City – City of Digital Lights

i-city , City of Digital Lights

i-City, on the outskirts of Shah Alam in Malaysia, is one of those technology park property developments which try to entice corporate tenants with promises of hi-tech offices, super broadband connections and so on.  That’s all quite boring but it also has ‘The City of Digital Lights’ which draws in Malaysian visitors in their droves. Basically it is a forest of man-made trees decorated with millions of LED lights and I have to admit that the effect is pretty impressive.

i-city LED trees

Even more popular, especially among the kids, is Snowalk, an indoor snow park complete with igloos, a mini-bobsled track and snowmen. The entrance fee includes the rental of a thick jacket and it gives a chance for Malaysians to experience 5 degree temperatures for a change.


There is even a giant Xmas tree and Chinese New Year lanterns to give the place a seasonal feel. Pity it was June!


Shah Alam Lake Gardens

Shah Alam was the first planned city in Malaysia with construction starting in the 1960s. That makes it about the same era as Milton Keynes (an English new town), not that it has much in common with Milton Keynes apart from a fondness for traffic-clogged roundabouts.

Shah Alam lake gardens

After Kuala Lumpur was accorded Federal Territory status in 1974 it ceased to be part of Selangor state and Shah Alam was made the replacement state capital. It is only about 20km from KL and as both cities have since grown, it is now basically just a suburb of greater KL.

Being a new city there are none of my favourite old buildings but nevertheless there are some impressive looking modern ones, mostly located around the man-made lakes found in the centre of the city. The grandest of these structures has to be the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque or the Blue Mosque.

Blue Mosque

The mosque is often wrongly quoted as having the world’s tallest minarets (142m) but that honour, for now at least, goes to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca with a minaret of 210m.

Dome of the Blue Mosque, diameter 52m.

Nearby is the State Museum which covers all the traditional museumy-like themes such as history, natural history, bones and stones, flora and fauna, insects, weapons, religion and so on. It is mostly well done but there is some old fashioned stuff in there like stuffed animals and frogs and lizards preserved in jars of formaldehyde.

2011 - Year Of The Stuffed Rabbit. State Museum, Shah Alam

The Museum’s views on the role of the British in Malaysia’s history is interesting.

Divide and rule? Us? Surely Not!

Outside there is something on display for train buffs. A diesel locomotive with ‘English Electric’ markings and an ancient railway carriage.

Spotted in Shah Alam.

Among other notable landmarks in the vicinity of the Lake Gardens is the Shah Alam Royale Theatre which was built to attract visitors to the city. I peered through the glass doors and it seemed to be abandoned. According to the local press, the Auditor-General’s report on government expenditure noted that the building has never been used since it was completed in August 2008 at a cost of RM43 million. The electricity was cut off a year later due to unpaid bills. This theatre might attract more visitors if they put on the odd play now and then. 

Shah Alam Royale Theatre

The State Secretariat Building (below left) is said to incorporate elements of traditional Bugis design though I can’t see it myself. The City Hall (below right) is perhaps more in keeping with local design.

Selangor State Secretariat Building Shah Alam City Hall

Shah Alam is not a bad place to spend a few hours. There are a couple of shopping malls near to the Lake Gardens and plenty of eating spots. Give it a try.

Tiles on the dome of Shah Alam's Blue Mosque