by Eric Lim
“Hi hi hi, beautiful Sunday. This is my, my, my beautiful day”, lyrics from the song “Beautiful Sunday” sung by British pop singer Daniel Boone, and it became a hit song in 1972.
Moving forward to November 2, 2019, it was also a Sunday and it was to be a beautiful day for me as I managed to complete two of my favourite activities in just under two hours. For the first part, I ran in the KL Car Free Morning and right after, took a walk round Dataran Merdeka, marvelling at the colonial buildings surrounding it.
KL Car Free Morning was introduced in 2013. Over the years, this initiative by DBKL has received good support from KLites/Kuala Lumpurians and currently, it attracts about 3,000 participants each time. It is held on the first and third Sunday of each month and the circuit is approximately 7 kms long, covering the major streets of KL Golden Triangle. Participants can walk, jog, cycle (free rental of bicycles provided by OCBC Bank), hand-cycle, roller skate, rollerblade and even go skateboarding, including using of two-wheel smart self-balancing scooters drifting board.
When I reached the starting point at Dataran DBKL, it was already crowded and participants were all eagerly waiting for the start of the event. We were flagged off at exactly 7.00 am; for safety reasons, joggers had to keep to the left and cyclists as well as skaters to the right.
The start of the circuit took us through the straight stretch along Jalan Raja Laut, passing Sekolah Kebangsaan (L) Jalan Batu, formerly known as Batu Road School (BRS) . BRS was established in 1930 to serve as the preparatory school for Victoria Institution. Today, part of its premises has been converted into a school for students with special needs and visual impairment. At the intersection, we turned right into Jalan Sultan Ismail and at the first intersection, we turned right again into Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL’s Golden Mile. Two KL landmarks are located at this road’s intersection with Jalan Dang Wangi. On the right is Pertama Complex . It is one of the earliest shopping malls in KL and I remember having bought my first pair of Adidas sports shoes here. On the left, is the building of the old Odeon Cinema . This cinema was designed by architect A.O. Coltman and it opened in 1936. It closed temporarily in 2010 but reverted to screening movies a year later with a new management until it was finally shut down in 2015. The building is slated to be demolished to make way for a retail-apartment building.
Next, we turned left into Jalan Dang Wangi and passed by Campbell Complex , Dang Wangi Police Station  and Kompleks Wilayah , all located on the right. Jalan Dang Wangi was previously known as Campbell Road. Straight ahead is Bukit Nanas , where KL Tower is located. It is here in this small hill that one can see the only virgin tropical rainforest left in the city of KL; this rainforest dates to 1.3 million years. At the T-junction, we turned left into Jalan Ampang and, at the next intersection, we turned right into Jalan Sultan Ismail where we soon arrived at Hard Rock Café  and Concorde Hotel  on the left; and Shangri-La Hotel  further up, on the right. Fans of Michael Jackson will remember that The King of Pop came to KL to perform as part of his History World Tour, a solo concert tour that spanned the globe with concerts in 57 major cities in 35 countries, on 5 continents! MJ was in KL from October 27 to 29, 1996 and he stayed at Concord Hotel.
At the traffic lights, we then turned left into Jalan P.Ramlee, one of the nightlife hotspots in the city. It was known as Jalan Parry until the name changed in 1982. About 500 metres ahead is the iconic Petronas Twin Towers , once the tallest skyscraper in the world (1998 to 2004) and now the tallest standing twin towers in the world (at 452 metres). In the olden days, the area surrounding KLCC used to be the site of the Selangor Turf Club. At the next traffic lights, we turned left into Jalan Ampang and headed towards its intersection with Jalan Sultan Ismail. We turned right at this intersection and headed towards Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman intersection. On the way, we could see Quill City Mall KL  on the right and Sheraton Imperial KL  on the left.
At the same intersection that we passed earlier on, we turned left back to KL’s Golden Mile (Jalan TAR) and this time, we went straight to the end of the street. Another standalone cinema is located at this section of the street, and it is none other than the Coliseum Theatre . It was built by businessman and philanthropist Chua Cheng Bok in 1920 to become the first cinema to open in Malaya; it opened in 1921. Today, the cinema specialises in screening Hindi and Tamil films. Located next door is the Coliseum Cafe and Hotel ,which opened at the same time as the cinema. It was a popular social hub for British planters and miners. It is here that KLites come to do their festive shopping, at places such as Globe Silk Store, Emporium Selangor and Mun Loong.
At the end of Jalan TAR, we arrived at Jalan Tun Perak where we turned right and just a short distance away, we turned right to Jalan Raja Laut to the finishing point at Dataran DBKL. I took about 42 minutes to complete the circuit, averaging 6 minutes for one kilometre and I was quite pleased with the timing. Then I went over to get a cup of free refreshing isotonic drink and hurried across the busy Jalan Tun Perak to Jalan Raja for my next activity, the Colonial Walk.
This article continues to Part 2 – Colonial Walk at https://museumvolunteersjmm.com/2019/11/26/kl-car-free-morning-part-2-colonial-walk/