AEROPHILES and visitors looking for Instagrammable selfies are flocking to Jalan Pekeliling at Sepang to watch plane landings in KLIA.
Readily googled on navigation and web mapping services, this spot is located just metres away from runway 32L and is an ideal destination for a low-budget day trip.
Kajang resident Azmi Ismail, 37, who comes here at least once a month, said the thrill of plane spotting lies in seeing them up close as they fly overhead.
“It’s like you can touch the plane,” said Azmi, who estimated arriving aircraft may be no higher than six metres off the ground as it prepares for touchdown.
Azmi (centre) enjoying watching the planes land with his family. When the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane landed in KLIA in 2016, he and his wife were at the lookout spot, complete with a picnic basket.
One story he never tires of telling was when he and his wife witnessed the landing of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest plane, at KLIA in 2016. The husband and wife laid out their picnic basket here at 7.30am. The plane, equivalent to the size of a five-storey building, came in screaming with its six jet engines an hour later.
“The thrust from the jet engines was so strong the fronds on the palm trees swayed backwards,” recalled Azmi.
A regular spotter, Azmi also told of another heart-stopping moment when he witnessed a Boeing 737’s aborted landing in rainy weather just weeks ago.
“We saw it approaching but as it was nearing the runway, the aircraft pulled up,” said Azmi.
A view of the Sepang F1 Circuit from the roadside of Jalan Kuarters KLIA.
Visitors say they come here for varied reasons .
Rideshare drivers are known to wait here in-between drop-offs and pick-ups.
Airport staff say the place helps them destress after a day’s work.
People who have never flown in a plane before say coming here keep their dreams to travel alive.
Find budget eats at Downtown KLIA.
Cycling enthusiasts like Imran Raouf, 26, say the straight road offers a smooth ride while the spot is a good place for Instagrammable photos.
Parents are also known to bring their children here, hoping to inspire them to strive for higher ambitions.
Sepang councillor Hazimun Rahmat Mohammad, 31, remembers coming here with his late father at age 10.
“The flight landing view area receives as many as 500 visitors a day and more on weekends.
“At a recent urban beautification meeting, I suggested that a recreation area be set up here as it has potential as a tourist spot for Visit Sepang Year 2020,” said Hazimun.
The councillor offers examples of other airports in the world which have found a niche in catering to aerophiles, naming the Runway Visitor Park at the Manchester Airport in UK and the Thomas Dixon Aircraft Observation Area just outside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport in the US.
Visitors usually spend about 20 minutes here. After this, there are other locations to explore.
One is to take a shortcut through a gravel road located just opposite runway 33 of KLIA2. This road leads to Kampung Hulu Chuchoh.
The National Automobile Museum at the Sepang F1 Circuit.
Drive slow as it is riddled with potholes. Travellers should emerge at Jalan SPDN Airport after a 15-minute drive. From here, one can head to a kerepek factory in Jalan Balairaya to buy freshly made tapioca crisps or go to Banghuris Homestay for a short, scenic break at the bamboo grove. Bring mosquito repellent.
Giving an oral history, Kampung Hulu Chuchoh village head Nizam Saonan, 49, said the existence of the village can be traced back to 1920.
“The orang asli were the original inhabitants. Story has it that the village got its name after two orang asli tribes started warring over territory along Sungai Sepang Kecil.
“The word chuchoh meaning to instigate came from this action. Fortunately, the two orang asli chieftains came to an understanding and everybody was able to live in peace and harmony henceforth,” said Nizam.
The bamboo grove at Banghuris Homestay in Kampung Hulu Chuchoh offering a cool place for a short break but do not forget mosquito repellent.
A less bumpier option is to check out the National Automobile Museum located within the grounds of the Sepang F1 Circuit, some seven minutes away from the landing view. Admission is free but visitor movement to the rest of the circuit is restricted.
If you happen to hear the sound of vrooming engines and want a free view of the action, take a drive along Jalan Kuarters KLIA. You can see part of the circuit from the road. It’s a bird’s eye view, largely obstructed by buildings but the sight of racing cars zooming by is still thrilling to watch.
After the circuit, a nine-minute drive along Jalan Pekeliling will reveal a signboard showing the location to Kampung Baru Labu Lanjut.
Aeroplanes are not the only things to take flight in this area. This white stork was spotted at a nearby drainage canal near KLIA.
This turning leads into Jalan Utama and a roadside restaurant called Izah Selera Kampung in Jalan 7. They open at 7am, selling local favourites like lontong and roti canai. From 4pm onwards, the kitchen cooks up dishes like fried rice and tom yam.
Kampung Baru Labu Lanjut village head Damarulan Hassim, 51, said the best time to visit is during the fruiting season. This is when orchard owners will invite visitors to pick and eat fruits like durian, longan and rambutan off the tree for free.
Nurul Imam Misdar sorting out fresh sweet potato crisps just out of the fryer at her parents' shop in Kampung Hulu Chuchoh. Prices here are cheaper than in the city.
“We will only charge according to market price if they want to take away the fruits,” said Damarulan.
However, to avoid disappointment, it is advisable to call Damarulan earlier for reservations. He readily gives his handphone number, 013-665 7842, for this purpose.
For budget eats, there is Downtown KLIA, a 10-minute drive along Jalan Pekeliling from the circuit. You can find Indian food, tandoori chicken with naan and heady brews of teh tarik here. There is also a Chinese restaurant offering dishes like fried squid in salted egg and butter prawns.