Archive for the ‘Air Pollution’ Category

Everyone knows that the most natural way to get around is to walk.  (My exploding waistline insists I also say it’s the most healthy way.  I try to shut it up by lulling it into a carb-induced stupor by force-feeding it potato wedges, but sometimes it manages to get its voice hear by way of muffin-top talk.. I’m sure you girls know what I mean)

Back to the point –  everyone KNOWS it’s best for everyone concerned to walk the 15 minutes to the store rather than drive the 5 minutes (then circle the parking lot for 15 minutes looking for the spot closest to the door), but amost no-one who can help themselves here in Kuala Lumpur ever does.

When I lived in Hong Kong as an auditor, I used to walk absolutely everywhere.  The cost of car-parking is prohibitively high there so almost everyone I knew also walked.  We walked, with our laptops slung around our shoulder, carrying a handbag and another trunk full of files, dodging pedestrians and wayward taxis while walking from Central to Admiralty.  Or even from Midlevels onto a myriad of forms of public transport to the fishing villages of Sai Kung (and then back again).

Before Hong Kong, in Perth as a student, I also used to walk everywhere.  I had a car there, but I’d still walk half an hour to go pick up fish and chips on the South Perth foreshore for dinner, or to the local supermarket to get that week’s groceries.

The quandry is, it’s so difficult to walk in Kuala Lumpur.  There’s a dodgy quiltwork of pavements that require one to step up and down a good foot or so onto or off the curb in some places, making one feel like they’re participating in some kind of warped step aerobic class.

There’s no denying it’s hard to walk in the hot and humid with the car fumes *gently* wafting in the air, especially when the vegetation in central KL seems to be getting sparser and sparser.  I can’t help but think it’s a chicken and an egg thing though – the more people walk, the less cars there’ll be moving around and the less car parks there’ll be and the cooler the temperature will be.  The less people walk, the more cars and car parks there’ll be and the hotter it will be – making it eventually unbearable to walk at all very soon.

I took my dog for a walk the other day at around 8pm.  I’m lucky that I live in a really fabulous area (for now), where there’s plenty of green still.  So as I walked down the sidelane that goes to my house, I started noticing it was getting warmer the closer I got to the main road.  Walking alongside the heavy traffic was warm and smelly.

However, I turned a corner and 100m later was back in  little lane where vegetation grew wild between two walls.  Walking in that side lane with the lalang swaying almost to my shoulder, the goosebumps appeared on my arms.  It was like walking into an air conditioned room.

Car rides can be fun, and they’re definitely mostly convenient (unless you’re at Ikea on Sunday looking to park), but a regular pleasant walk amongst greenery is one of the great pleasures I hope I can still enjoy 20 years from now.

I think that’s why I work as hard as I do now.  It’s because my greatest wish is to have the power to engender change in the direction we Malaysians seem to be heading towards – the one where we live in a cocooned jungle; where we only go outside to remind ourselves why it’s so much better to stay inside always.


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