Putrajaya has this sophisticated charm unlike any other place in Malaysia. Modern architectural marvels, government buildings and well-kept streets set the tone, while landscaped gardens to enliven the otherwise flat atmosphere. Some choose to explore Putrajaya by car, public transportation or even on a bike. Few would have thought of this alternative method – riding a Segway.
The idea of balancing yourself on a two-wheeled scooter might sound challenging. For Nickki Cheah, this has not been a problem for the guests he brings around.
Nickki is the owner of Eco Ride Malaysia, a group that brings people to places of interest on inMotion scooters. One of them is a 10km sightseeing tour around Putrajaya. Having started off selling these machines, the team decided to supplement the business by running guided Segway tours.
One year on, it has attracted many travelers looking for a novel way of seeing a place.
Ready, get set, let’s roll
Our local experts, Nickki and Sadie, met us at a carpark near Umai Café. You can also get them to pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
After a brief introduction, we hopped onto our individual Segways. Much of the learning process is about having the courage to lean forward and “trust the machine”. Despite the stumble at first, it was fairly easy to get used to.
“The greatest obstacle is actually to overcome the rider’s own fear. Kids as young as five have successfully ridden the machines. As for the elderly, as long as they are fit enough to stand firmly on their own legs, they are ready to roll.”
According to Nickki, it isn’t about whether you have the talent for it, but rather how much time you need to learn.
Age is no setback either. His oldest participants to date are a 75-year-old lady from Australia, and a 74-year-old man from Europe!
“The more the fear, the longer it takes to learn,” Nickki said, adding that younger children tend to pick it up much faster than adults. He believes it is because children are less afraid of falling or speeding up. Something kids can teach us, perhaps?
After a few minutes, we steadied our nerves, and off we went.
Fun, the other side of fear
Taking in the stunning Putrajaya scenery is so much more exciting on a Segway. It really added an element of fun into the equation! Along the way, we stopped at major landmarks, like the Putra Mosque, Palace of Justice, the China-Malaysian Friendship Garden, Millennium Monument and more.
We certainly turned heads as we zipped through the crowd, who looked exhausted from all the walking. It took us less than five minutes to get from one end of the Perdana Boulevard to the other, and it was thrilling to feel the breeze brush against us.
Nickki reckoned that while younger participants may simply like how fun it can be, older ones enjoy the freedom and mobility, “a chance to feel some freedom again where they get to travel much longer distance than their own legs can, to go sightseeing, and they see so much more”.
It took the team six months to research and plan out the route, as they needed to make sure that it was safe for riders. With its well-maintained roads and many sightseeing spots, Putrajaya was one of the few places vast enough, and safe enough, to get about on Segways.
Nickki and Sadie now know the route so well they can tell us exactly when to avoid humps and bumps, or bend our knees for extra stability on uneven pathways.
It’s also quite an adventure to ride up criss-crossed lanes, and even into lifts. Bizarre as it may sound, every time we completed a certain leg of our journey, it felt as if we had “levelled up” in a game. In fact, we only took 2 1/2 hours to see the key landmarks!
Throughout the tour, our local experts took video clips and photos of us, which is helpful when you are focused on maneuvering the machine. They later sent them to us so we can make home videos or spam our social media.
After conquering that initial fear, hopping on a scooter turned out to be quite a fun (and not as tiring) way to discover the beauty of Putrajaya.