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5 KL-ites whose reaction to the petrol hike is… “So?”

*UPDATED with experiences shared by our readers on Facebook #cilisoskepoh. Click here to link.*

First there’s the RM0.20 petrol price increase. Then there’s the flash flood that submerged many innocently parked cars. Then we’re told it’s not petrol price that naik but just fuel subsidy that turun. Then the news on another petroleum-based product hits the headlines, but whether they’re related is anybody’s guesses. And most recently, we’re supposedly running out of RON97. We do suspect it’s not going to be top priority in the minds of the nearly 80% motorists who commute to work in KL by cars.

There’s another group of city dwellers to whom these news items are neither triggering nor financially worrisome, because they spend more time, if not all time, and money as pedestrians. Do they still exist? How do they cope with the inconvenience? Don’t they know there’s more at stake than just convenience, like social status? Has our public transport article made such an impact on them? (Chewah.)

These 5 unaffected people tell CILISOS (and you!) why and how you can also take the tak-kisahlah-petrol-naik-or-not route too.


1. The cyclist who rides, everywhere…  JOHN NEWMAN, 47

Haze protection (Image from John's personal collection)

Haze protection (Image from John’s personal collection)

Monthly Spending on Transport: RM0

Must-Haves: A good bike, a good helmet, extra clothes, lots of water

John in 30 words or less: Canadian, teaches Science in KL, loves cycling cos values living frugally and wants to contribute to sustainable future. Owns car and bike licenses but chooses not to use either. Believes that “we are not stuck in traffic, we ARE traffic”.

“I actually feel sorry for the people in cars sometimes. I feel alive when I cycle and I usually arrive at my destination energized. I can move through traffic like it is standing still. I see, hear, and smell everything. Being the smallest vehicle on the road and sharing the lane, I have to be acutely aware of my surroundings. As such, a healthy combination of fear and adrenaline causes my senses to be hyperactive… And it. Is. A. High.”


John in action (Images from John’s personal collection)

Guys, did you know that cycling can also score you brownie points? He tells us that people generally respect him for that, but they’re always concerned for his safety. To this, he says that some KL drivers are pretty cool on the road. “They will try to give room as they pass; they sometimes tap their horn to let me know they are passing. I often have people pull beside me and wave or give me a thumbs up.” (Aww, beautiful Malaysians 🙂 )

But for the not-so-cool drivers? “Drivers may think they drive decently while texting or talking on the phone (hands free or holding it), but it’s quite the opposite. When I see erratic driving or when I’m cut off, the person is almost always on the phone. Stop it before you kill or hurt someone.” 

But don’t let that deter you from making the switch… John’s short guide to cycling in KL:

1. Plan your route – If you don’t, you’ll be cycling for a while. Can also end up on highway, which is like super bahaya…
2. Turn off your a/c – Get acclimatised with the natural temperature indoors so you’ll be less affected by the heat
3. Carry a spare tyre – Not like a big tyre la, just the tube and the inflater. You’ll never know when you need it.
4. Watch the road carefully – Sewers with open grates and potholes are common at the sides of the road. Sometimes you will need to move quite quickly to safely cross lanes to make a turn or to avoid danger.

2. The cyclist who didn’t choose to be a cyclist… KENAN YEH, 21


Image from Kenan’s personal collection

Monthly Spending on Transport: Around RM60

Must-Haves: A good bike, a good helmet, trekking shoes, walk kit (includes a cap, sunglasses, umbrella, change of clothes, and deodorant)

Kenan in 30 words or less: Kenan has a nerve problem which causes him to have slower reflexes. Almost got into an accident when took driving test, have been scared ever since. Loves cycling and walking cos it’s super relaxing.

“One thing drivers will never experience is seeing the everyday beauty that is around us. I get to see humble people making a living, helping each other whenever they can. I get to see sunrises and sunsets, river birds and queer insects. I get to appreciate gentle rain and cooling wind which is better than air-cond. On another note… I love to see the faces of the motorists in a traffic jam as I whizz past them on my bicycle. It’s awesome, heh. :)”

Helmet hair! – Image from Kenan's Facebook profile

Helmet hair? – Image from Kenan’s Facebook profile

Partly convinced to hop on your bike now? Kenan’s got some tips for you:

1. Buy Axel shoes – They’re pretty awesome for walking. And no we’re not paid to write this.
2. Don’t shy shy, just ask – Never be afraid to ask for directions from another pedestrian… They’re almost always more than happy to help.
3. Touch-n-Go is the shiznit – These awesome cards will naturally make your life SO much easier. 
4. Bring umbrella and extra clothes – You may not think today’s the day, but you never know.

Next on our list is… Umm… Also a cyclist. Last one k!


3. The super fit cyclist who also hops on buses… ALVIN LOOI, 40

Image from Alvin's Facebook profile

Image from Alvin’s Facebook profile

Monthly Spending on Transport: RM10 – RM20 monthly (Erm, we do believe he thought we meant only his monthly budget for public transport)

Must-Haves: An athletic bike, an athletic helmet, cycling jersey, a good pair of legs (check out those thunder thighs!)

Alvin in 30 words or less: Works at FitWorx Malaysia, stays about 5km away so cycles or takes the bus to work, enjoys the best advantage any public transporter yearns for: A SHOWER ROOM AT WORK!!!

“I think we do become more patient when we take public transport, especially bus. You just have to relax and stay calm even when you have been waiting for more than 30 minutes.”

He's got an Iron Man one too (Image from Alvin's personal collection)

You can skip traffic AND look this good! (Image from Alvin’s personal collection)

Alvin lives by two simple tips:

1. Plan, plan, plan – Our public transport system isn’t that great, it’s just good enough for you to go places. Plan your trip and explore your options!

2. Light shoes, always – Good for walking, good for anything that requires you to move on your feet.



4. The lady who’s daring enough to take all sorts of public transport… SAADAH SOOD BAHARUDIN, 33


Image from Saadah’s personal collection

Monthly Spending on Transport: : Around RM200: RM70 for TnG card, RM50 for taxi, and the rest for emergencies (the budget also includes the random keropok en route or roti gardenia as snacks)

Must-Haves: A good pair of legs, Converse shoes, a water bottle for hydration, good-quality cotton tudung (don’t need stylish lah)

Saadah in 30 words or less: Post-natal masseuse by day and tuition teacher by night, full-time pedestrian with a brave personality. (Hello, snatch thieves in Malaysia are like scary ugaiz…) Also, a friendly and loving soul who loves a bit of storytelling, like so:

“After teaching on a Deepavali night at about 10pm, there was no taxi. Nobody was around. I walked to a quiet bus stop, and prayed hard. Then an Indian lady appeared. She had a really motherly air.
“Hello,” she said. “Really late ah?” I told her about my predicament and she nodded.
“But you shouldn’t be around this area this late… Not good for single lady like you. Dangerous,” she said.
I nodded. “It’s my last week auntie.”
Then the bus came. But as it was the last stop, the bus would wait for a couple of minutes before it would begin moving. Auntie told me to go into the bus anyway.
“Wait inside,” she said. “Much safer. I’m taking another bus, so I have to wait some more.” When I said goodbye, she replied: “Poi-va.”
In Tamil, “poi-va” simply means “go-come”. But the underlying message is wishing you a safe journey, so that you can return safely to the place you left earlier. Mothers and fathers often use it on their loved ones. And the fact that Auntie, whose name I don’t even know, used it on me was really heart-warming. My tears fell down as I sat down in the bus and watched her outside waiting for hers.”
She takes the boat too! (Image from Saadah's personal collection)

She takes the boat too! (Image from Saadah’s personal collection)

Warm, fuzzy stories aside, Saadah is a pretty practical person who’s careful with her money. “I minimize my taxi usage sebab mahal okay,” she tells us. But despite being a perfectly independent pedestrian, she gets nagged all the time about getting a driver’s license.

Are Malaysian taxi drivers really losing money cos of new apps?

“On average I get asked around 15 times per month by almost anyone. Even the pakcik teksi (whom I already know by name) nags me to buy a car. That, is, like, the max. I just don’t enjoy driving as much as others, even though people keep on telling me that I need to get my licence since it’s the necessity item nowadays, not a luxury. But my husband is making me get one, so maybe by the end of 2014, I would have a licence. But I may not buy a car. Not that keen.”

And when we said she was practical, she’s really practical:

1. Try your shoes before you buy ’em – If you walk around a lot, you need shoes that won’t chafe you. Nothing worse than blisters on your feet as you walk.
2. Always have spare cash – Sometimes you just gotta hail a cab.
3. PLAN ERRTHANG – Know your routes and alternative routes… That way, you won’t get cheated by taxi drivers! 
4. Make friends with local cabbies – They can tell you the shortest routes and how much you should be really paying (yes, not all cabbies are rude selfish money-grabbing irresponsible scumbags).
5. Make sure your phones are fully charged – Charge them whenever you can so you’ll always be able to text or call during unexpected situations.  

And perhaps the most important tip even Malaysian motorists should adopt….

6. Start your journey earlier – Got a meeting at 8am? Plan your journey so that you are in the area by 7am. You never know what’s gonna happen! 


Don’t wanna go through all that hassle, but don’t wanna drive too?  Well, meet…


5. The Super Duper Uber User… JASON CHAN, in his 40s

Image from Jason's personal collection

Image from Jason’s personal collection

Monthly Spending on Transport: RM1,000 to RM1,500

Must-Haves: Uber app (and a charged phone, or not cannot use app)

Jason in 30 words or less: Tired of maintaining his sports car coz his daily distance is about 100km per day. Spending RM4,000 – RM6,000 a month was just not worth it so he sold off his car in June and has been on Uber ever since. Blogs at www.walauwei.com.

“It’s really ridiculous to run a car at such a price. I had also just changed jobs so I had to cut down on luxury. When I started checking out Uber, well… The rest, as they say, is history.”

Want to avoid the hassle of cycling, taking the bus/train and walking? If you can compromise with your finances then Uber seems to be the way. Jason was so impressed that he wrote an entire blog post extolling the service, so we’re calling him an Uber evangelist from now on. The Ubervangelist.

“There are so many pros to using Uber,” he raves. “You don’t have to worry about petrol. You don’t have to worry about maintenance. You don’t have to worry about your safety because all the drivers undergo thorough background checks. You also get to review the drivers through a rating system. In my first day of Uber experience, I was in a Toyota Camry, a Jaguar XJL, a Honda Accord, and a Nissan Teana.”

(There’s also a Mercedes Benz S Class, which Lydia has sat in a few times. So nice.)

Rides over a 60.86km distance cost him RM82, and it might raise a lil more if Uber revises their rates, but he’s not complaining. “Think about it: if you get a taxi it’s most likely poorly maintained. Some taxi drivers don’t even use the meter but simply quote a figure, or they take a longer route to reach your destination so that the ride’d cost more.”

For him, it’s Uber or no Uber – he’s done with conventional taxis.

The best part about each and every ride you take is the official receipt via your email detailing everything about your trip with the Uber driver from fare price, map route taken, time spent, distance travelled and driver’s name + company. If you felt that you are overcharged on your trip where the Uber driver has taken a longer route or wrong destination, you can complain to [email protected]. They will review your case and adjust your fare accordingly if required. I doubt you will find that with the local taxi apps. – from Jason’s blog post

Well, we understand his chagrin with the local taxis. What about buses? “I don’t take buses – you’ll never get to your destination on time.” Um, trains? “After Uber, no. I only use the train to go to the airport.”

He shares his Ubery tips with us:

1. Move the pin if you can’t get cars – If you ever find yourself in an area not covered by Uber cars, you can move the pin (this is called fishing) on the Google Maps to stand a better chance at getting a ride.
2. Don’t forget to rate the drivers – The rating system is mutual, meaning drivers can also rate you, so be civil!

Screenshot of the rating system for drivers (Image from Alvin's blog http://www.walauwei.com/)

Screenshot of the rating system for drivers (Image from Jason’s blog www.walauwei.com)

*UPDATE – Experiences shared by our readers on Facebook #cilisoskepoh*
Because CILISOS are a bunch of busybodies (#cilisoskaypoh) behind laptops, we asked readers on our Facebook page to share any tips or experiences they might have using public transportation. Here’s how some of our readers be rollin’:

Azrul runs to his office… 7km away??? 😯

Cilisos 1

Here’s a man who will not admit defeet. Respect, bro. Serious respect.


MyTeksi drivers are in for a surprise when they pick Matthew up.




Muhammad Noor presents a strong case to trade in our four wheels for two

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Come to think of it, you’ll also be spending less on petrol and toll (cause there’s no toll for bikes!) Hmm….

Anyone wanna buy a slightly-used car?


James and Ken ditched their cars for cabs and trains


And since you don’t have to drive, travel time can now be used for work!

….or Facebook 😛


Nothing like taking time to smell the…um… roses, eh?


Kamelia, Jimmie, Idah, and Cahaya make full use of public transportation


What’s your recommended reading list, Kamelia? 🙂

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Why didn’t they have this when we were still in college???


Neither can we, Idah. But mostly because that’ll hopefully ease up on the traffic jams caused by the construction.

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In case anyone’s wondering – http://www.gokl.com.my/. We… had to google that too.

– ———— –

We hope after reading about these five personalities, our driving readers will be motivated to try the transports “less travelled by”. Yes, maybe you’ve been considering to do so for a while. But then you think, no lah, wait for the MRT finish first. That’d be two, three years away.

John, Kenan, Alvin, Saadah and Jason have been doing it for years! Seriously guys, no harm trying it for a week. After that, share with us your experiences in the Comments section, which also welcomes other valuable tips you may know for navigating around KL without a car.


P/S – Yea… our ’30 words or less’ was totally made up. Sorry!

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