Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 2009 Winner (and Looser)!


rainfield61 is the winner of the Autographed Post Card Competition for the month of January 2009.

I thank you for your active participation and feedback.

An email is on its way with the details.


And that would be me! Instead of the promised 200 kilometres I just walked 126 kilometres this month. I would like to blame it on my hectic work schedule and then the one week holiday (and too much food). :)

The only bright spot is the four and a half hour 25+ kilometre walk I did earlier this week.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time Travel!

Is time travel possible? Can you go back in time to find how Singapore was 30 - 40 years back? I am not asking you to look at old photos in a museum, but be there physically. Yes it possible!

One such place is the Bukit Timah Railway Station.


The word “Railway Station” is a misnomer – no train stops here (at least officially). But yes, there is a very real railway station, few rail tracks, a full time person manning the station, and then… nothing much.


The Bukit Timah Railway Station is off the Bukit Timah/ Dunearn Road, closer to the Bukit Timah Plaza end, just next to the McDonalds (what a landmark!). It is easy to spot – just look at the very unusual bridge over the Bukit Timah road.


Though posh condominiums line up on both sides, the middle stretch the track passes and its surrounding looks as if it is forgotten by time.



Strangely taking photos of the station is prohibited!


I checked with the station master (there is only one staff there – so I am assuming he is the station master) and he refused permission to take photographs of the station, but kindly permitted to take photos of the rest. I really do not think apart from a very old two room building there is anything unusual or secretive about the place to have a no photography board.

There are also nearby stretches that looked as if it is from another time.



And finally this is what I managed to capture at the end of the walk. The kind Chinese gentleman agreed to be photographed with his vintage car.


For a few hours, it was time travel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Books on Coast to Coast Walks

I still haven't forgotten my long term goals.

After unsuccessfully searching for books on Coast to Coast Walks in Singapore, I have just placed an order for the following books with


Coast to Coast Walk: A Pictorial Guide (Wainwright Pictorial Guides)


A Northern Coast to Coast Walk: From St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay (Skills for Success Series)

Once I get these books in hand I will write a short review of my thoughts on these books.

Full disclosure: I have registered as an Amazon associate and if you purchase these books from Amazon clicking the links I earn an associate fee. All fees earned from the above two links (if any!), will be given away to charities.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Park Connector Network


Across an expressway, below an elevated MRT line, by the side of a canal, in between housing blocks – the Singapore Park Connector network is an intricate series of walkways and cycling routes across Singapore.



During my walks I have tried out some of the park connectors – Jurong, Jurong West, Bukit Batok, Chou Chu Kang and Ulu Pandan.


It is a wonderful idea allowing some great walks, especially in the late evening. The Park Connector network is growing rapidly - 300 kilometres of Park Connectors are expected to be completed by 2015. I am sure by then it will connect any two points in Singapore!


The only annoyance is that at certain parts of the Park Connector the walking and cycling routes (which is generally side by side) merges. It can be outright dangerous – especially if you are walking on such a stretch with your headphones on unaware of the cyclist speeding just behind you.




The Ulu Ulu, Ulu Pandan Park Connector


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Thousand Thanks

According to Google Analytics my two month old blog just received its thousandth unique visitor.


They came from all over the world - from 77 countries/ territories.


Most visitors are from South East Asia and the US.


Thanks to all who came and visited my blog! This is very encouraging for a newbie blogger.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tree Climbing Fish!

On a cloudy and gloomy evening I reached Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. This was my third visit in over 13 years.


The first visit in 1995 was a very exciting one (so I vaguely remember). First time in my life I saw a fish climb up a tree. Who would have believed such a thing is possible until you see it with your own eyes. In one of the tourist books I picked up at the airport I saw the mention of Sungei Buloh and I thought that is something I should go and see. During that visit the prawn farms were active, buildings you see across causeway weren’t tall or crowded, it was the high tide with all mangroves plants and trees partially submerged and the place is called Sungei Buloh Nature Park (now Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve). It was so long ago, I only remember parts of that visit.


The second visit was in 2007 and I remember it vividly. Along with my family and my then two year old son we were walking down one of the tracks and we were roughly a kilometre away from the entrance.


My son slipped, fell down and hit his head in a rock and started bleeding profusely. Not knowing what to so I had to carry him and run to the entrance (Tip 1: Emergency phone numbers are displayed at various points and electrical buggies are there – note them). In the meanwhile I will also trying to call different numbers and none was working. It was the most frightening day of my life. Later I realized that my phone has connected to the Malaysian network! (Tip 2: Change your mobile setting from automatic to manual. Malaysian telecom signal seems to be stronger than Singapore one in Sungei Buloh). Anyway it all ended okay. His bleeding stopped on the way to the hospital and he was all okay with only a slight scar on his head.

Every time after that, whenever I think of visiting Sungei Buloh I do not get a very pleasant feeling. Anyway finally I bit the bullet and decided to go there again, but alone.


A nice "welcome sign" that does not instil high confidence

So on a cloudy and gloomy evening I reached Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Due to the weather and being closer to 5:00 PM (Tip 3: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve closes at 7:00 PM) there was only a very small crowd.  (Tip 4: Free entry on Weekdays; other days it is S$ 1!)

As I walked deeper and deeper into the reserve, it was getting very lonely. At many stretches for kilometres I wasn’t able to see anyone – that’s sort of scary – but sort of a different fear than what I felt during my Bukit Timah to MacRitchie walk.

The mangrove boardwalk over the specially laid out tracks can give you a detailed view of the mangroves.


Mangrove boardwalk

Things have changed a lot and with the low tide, the whole place looks different. The water is muddy, roots of trees and plants are exposed. The mudskipper fishes were no longer climbing trees. There were just resting out in the mud!


And of course there were hundreds of mangrove crabs all around and looked colourful as usual.



With the air filled with the noise of hundreds (or thousands) of crickets chirping,  you feel you are hundreds (or thousands) of miles away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. It is extremely sad very few come here to enjoy nature (including me). Such a lovely place, so unlike the rest of Singapore.


Deserted walks

P1100628 A fresh water pond!

Finally after 2 hours when I am near the entrance there are busloads (literally) of tourists. They came in two buses, took photographs very closer to the entrance and then went back. But they too get to see nature in its full glory – hundreds of birds like this.


Once I got out of the reserve, I felt a little too early to go back home and decided to walk a while. To the deserted Neo Teo Crescent (and surprised to see a Crocodile farm there) and then went past the BBC transmission towers and then crossed the Kranji dam.

P1100652 Deserted roads on a weekend





Looking at this board I think there are other walks also possible in Kranji. One day I should try that out.


Fishing in Kranji Dam

Across Kranji dam facing the sea (and Malaysia), there are scores of foreign workers sitting in groups, some having snacks, some having a drink and some enjoying the beach. As the sun is slowly setting one of the groups was singing a song, a haunting melody, in Bangla (I think it is Bangla) and the only words I recognized was “Singapore”.  I wonder what they had to sing about Singapore. I hope it is something nice….


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Subscribe and Win Autographed Post Cards

It is old fashioned. I admit it.


Subscribe to my blog posts and post at least one comment each month and be eligible for my "Autographed Post Card" competition for the month. One post card to be won every month from January 2009 until June 2009. I will choose the winner based on the most constructive comments.

And of course, my decision is final! :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Hot Park!

HortPark website describes itself as a "one-stop gardening hub that brings together gardening-related, recreational, educational, research and retail activities under one big canopy in a park setting". And indeed it is.



During my earlier Southern Ridges walk I strolled through HortPark. I thought HortPark was an interesting concept and I wanted to come back to spend some quality time there. And I did so last weekend along with my family.

Nestled between two other parks, Kent Ridge park the Alexandra Techno"park", and some "black and white" bungalows, this new park is a must see place for nature and garden lovers. But it is also different - some commercial element is there - so it is unlike any other gardens or parks you have seen.


Apart from these two categories of people, the other set of people who are enjoying the spot, at least when I was there, are wedding photographers. There are some very attractive spots for marriage photography there and these wedding photographers are having a jolly good time.


Another group of people who will enjoy these premises, but were present far a few in between, are kids. There are an enormous variety of play grounds, children's gardens, slides, climbs and what not to keep a child busy for hours!


P1100444    P1100445


And some other visitor worth mentioning...


Having worked in the area for a few years I can say that this place is not very accessible. With few buses plying the nearby route and with no MRT nearby, you will have to rely on taxi's, if you are not driving.

As a relatively new place, some amount of construction is going on - but nothing major to stop enjoying the premises, especially considering the fact that there is no admission fees (who says nothing is free in Singapore?).


As a true Singaporean establishment there is a small café and a full fledged restaurant in HortPark. There is also a Terrarium exhibition going on - and a dozen or so terrariums of wide variety displayed. To complete the offering there is a (plant) nursery as well - selling plants as well as all other garden related items.

An collection of photos taken at the HortPark is also exhibited at the entrance. And what more, free Internet via Wireless@SG is also available. A couple of people oblivious of the beautiful and peaceful surroundings are happily typing away in their PDA's (like some of us, who behaves the same, some times).

Overall an enjoyable concept and a nice place for an early morning or late afternoon visit.