‘Take in the finer details’
Elena Mei Yun
Founder, Bike with Elena
Bike with Elena is an eco-friendly way to explore Kuala Lumpur’s historic and cultural gems, founded by an avid cyclist who is championing for a more bike-friendly KL. Part of the tour proceeds go towards the conservation of a 100-year-old Kampung Baru home.
“Cycling is a great way to get around as many old areas are turning into one-way streets – so it’s actually more practical to go on a bike. Another reason is being able to take in the finer details and go for a closer look. If you’re in a car, you tend to whizz past things – like people carrying baskets on their head in Kampung Baru, or why there are cigarettes in the shrine of the deity ‘Datuk Kong’ (or Na Tuk Kong).
It's also fun to stop and chat with the locals. For example, we were once cycling through Kampung Baru and came across a ‘Cukur Jambul’ (traditional Malay hair-cutting ceremony for babies). From a distance, the festivities made it seem like a wedding – plus, we had never seen a Cukur Jambul until that day. We observed prayers from the Quran being recited before the hair-cutting ceremony, followed by a time of feasting.
There’s a lot to keep up with as changes keep occurring. For instance, many old Hainanese cafes have disappeared and been converted to modern hipster cafes. That means the elderly Chinese people who used to gather at these cafes after their tai chi class, no longer do so.
Of all the Kampung Baru houses, I found Puan Napsiah’s home was deteriorating most quickly. I noticed her roof leaking every time it rained, especially during the monsoon season. At one point, she asked for my help to gather some canvas banners – and I realised she wanted to place them on the roof to prevent water from seeping in. It was then that I decided to channel some of my tour proceeds towards repairing her 100-year-old kampung home.
The trigger to turn my passion into a business came when I had a bicycle accident while commuting a few years ago. That made me desire better bike infrastructure for Kuala Lumpur. So I thought, what better way to make the government realise the value of good bike infrastructure than to show that there's revenue to be generated from a business like mine?”
Read our Weekend of Good guide to Kuala Lumpur for more travel tips and ideas.
Find about more about Bike with Elena.
- Victoria Ong