Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review of "A Coast to Coast Walk" by Alfred Wainwright




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



As promised earlier here is a review of one of the Coast to Coast books.

Let me start with some interesting experience I had purchasing this book.

I, based in Singapore, ordered this book from in the US as I couldn’t find a copy of this book in Singapore. Alfred Wainwright's A Coast to Coast Walk was published in London, UK. The book was couriered from the US, travelled to Germany, Dubai, Bangkok and finally reached Singapore. When I open the book it says “Printed and bound in Singapore” Welcome to the world of globalisation!

And about the book – It is simply a classic! Almost 40 years after it is written, it is till such a great read.

In 1970's Alfred Wainwright (fondly called as "AW") came up with the idea of a Coast to Coast Walk - walking from the west to the east of England. According to him, the route he designed is one of the many Cast to Coast Walks and he encourages his readers to experiment. And many have done so.

It is such a unique book; anyone who plans to do a Coast to Coast Walk (in fact any one who loves walking) should read this book. Most interesting is the section "Some Personal Notes" with Wainwright’s writes about long distance walking, the various long distance walking routes in England, how he devised (a) Cost to Coast Walk, the good and the bad of long distance walking and walkers. It ends by saying

"I finished the Pennine Way with relief, the Coast to Coast Walk with regret. That's the difference".

Nothing like getting direct advice from the inventor of the Coast to Coast Walk (and tried not to patent it!)!

The book with handwritten text and pictures drawn by Wainwright, is unique (I have never seen another book of this sort) though some times cause excessive eye strain. Read a page, take a break, and then read another…

Though originally written in the 1970’s, it has been updated to reflect the changes landscapes go through. New villages and roads have come up. Old walkways have disappeared. Looks like all these changes are updated in the book. Having said that I am yet to do the Coast to Coast walk – so I am never sure.

A final piece….

I have learned one thing the hard way. If you are based in Asia, check prices of books and DVD’s (especially originating from UK) at both and The UK Amazon in many cases seems to be much cheaper – sometimes up to 50% off. One reason could be due to the decline of UK Pounds. The other one is probably because goods tend to be cheaper in “home markets”. After comparison of prices, all my new orders of DVD’s and Books on Coast to Coast walk has gone to and I have saved a lot of Singapore dollars!


Full disclosure: I have registered as an associate (not yet associate) and if you purchase these books from Amazon clicking the links above I earn an associate fee. All fees earned from the above two links (if any!), will be given away to charities.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Lost Railway Line

For many, an abandoned railway line in Singapore sounds quiet an unlikely thing. When I stumbled upon such a railway track I too was really surprised. I don't remember hearing about such a railway line ever.

The line starts near Clementi (at least that's where I found the start) and runs all the way to Jurong East – and goes over a bridge – which is still intact!

Here are some photos of that railway line and the bridge.






After the walk, I came back and did some research. Interesting to see that many have walked the same route and there is good information available online. So let me not repeat the words already spoken in the web, instead let me provide the links.

I have a suggestion – as a part of the upcoming Jurong/Lakeside revamp, this line should be developed into a children’s railway line. They will enjoy it a lot. After all the land, an old line etc. is already there. It will be very cost effective as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Two Thousand Thanks!

Towards 22'nd of January my blog received its thousandth visitor.

Now, less than a month later, the blog now had it's two thousandth visitor!

Thanks a lot!



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bukit Batok Nature Park

East is blue and west is green. That's how I always thought about Singapore.

My personal observation (though not justifiable with statistical data) is that the west (in fact north west) part of Singapore is much greener and has a lot more natural parks (and forests). On the east of Singapore are the nice beaches - reclaimed or not - all the way from Changi in the north to Marina Bay and Sentosa in the south. Yes, west has its own beach, the West Coast Park - however I think it is more of a park and less of a beach (as the water is somewhat muddy).

And of course in the centre of Singapore we have the "green lungs of Singapore" which is evident from the Google satellite maps.


Bukit Batok Nature Park, which I frequently visit, is one of the nice parks in the west. There is a "lake", a garden, children’s play area, resting areas, walking tracks and some hill climbing tracks. The "lake" is an old disused quarry - but the word "lake" always seems to improve neighbouring property prices - so like most, I also call it as a "lake". The steep hills surrounding the lake create unique bio diversity. There are only very few animals - mostly monkeys - but there are a lots of fish and other creatures like tortoise in and around the lake.


The foot paths of these hill climbing tracks, partially destroyed in the last year's rain, are now newly laid out.


This park is very popular on late evenings, especially on weekends with hundreds of joggers, climbers and walkers and lots of children.


Through the climbing track originating in the park one can reach the top at a place formerly called as Syonan Chureito, which once had a Japanese Shinto shrine and war memorial. Today nothing of the shrine remains, except 121 concrete steps that once led to the shrine. The Mediacorp transmission tower occupies the site of the shrine. On the steps now there is also a plaque named Bukit Batok Memorial, explaining the details of the Japanese occupation of Singapore.


From various points of this track, one can enjoy a good view of the lake and at the end, from the steps of the Bukit Batok Memorial there is also a unique view of the Singapore city centre and CBD which is probably 20 kilometres away.


Also nearby is a area filled with coconut trees, which stands out!


Through Park Connector Networks, this park is connected to Bukit Batok Town Park as well as Bukit Timah Hill Reserve.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Walk in Bangkok

My first feeling was that of astonishment. For an airport that was besieged by tens of thousands of protestors, the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport looked pristine. Even the city and streets looked much cleaner than from my last visit, apart from the occasional mysterious “BNE was here” posters (I wonder what it is!).


It looked business as usual – with no signs of political instability anywhere or even concern about it. In summary things looked too normal including the infamous Bangkok Traffic!

P2060145Erawan Shrine

One of two evenings I was there, I went for a couple of hour long walk. I started walking with no specific route in mind  – from Erawan shrine next to Ratchadamri BTS sky train, closer to where I was staying, and in the direction of Chao Pharaya river.

The streets and footpaths in Bangkok are not pedestrian friendly. Footpaths are full of potholes and most surfaces are uneven. In many places you have to use some sky bridges to cross the road which makes walking even short distances tiring. The traffic is also very chaotic and even walking on the footpaths in some cases are risky. However that is the end of all the negatives.


Looking at the bustling street life and a variety of experiences on the streets - vendors selling street food, hundreds of discount stores, nice street side temples and even nicer Thai people, one tends to forget about all the negatives. Every minute of the walk is enjoyable and very memorable. Though Bangkok is full of tourists most seems to skip the streets in favour of Tuk Tuk and Taxis.  They don’t know what they are missing!


Tuk Tuk's

Finally I reached one of the tributaries of the Chao Phraya river. It looked like a quiet stretch. If not as much as Amsterdam or Venice, the canals forms a major lifeline in Bangkok with boats and river side houses. Just imagine getting in front of your hours on a boat every day – how cool is that! However the water looks stagnant and sort of greenish.



River side living

Walking along the river tributary I reached the Bangkok Railway station. For the first time I also realized there is an underground railway network in Bangkok as one of the underground stations is near to the main railway station.


Bangkok Railway Station

The gold lined Bangkok Railway station is a spectacle by itself. Thriving with hundreds, even thousands of passengers the high domed train station has to be seen to experience its uniqueness.

As it was getting darker by the minute I went for a quick stroll near the river, climbed up a bridge that crosses the river to have a good view.




Chao Phraya river

As always street markets, notably selling food was all over the place in and around the river. Finally I got on to the Sky Train at Taksin station and got back to the city centre.

I also wanted to walk in the Lumpini Park – but that has to wait for the next visit.

For some strange reason my Nokia N95 GPS did not work during the day of this walk. However next day it all seems to be fine. I am puzzled!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time Travel - Part II

Earlier I talked about my time travel experience. I recently found out that experience extends further as you go along the railway track all the way to Woodlands. I have attached a few shots at the Rail Mall area in Upper Bukit Timah Road below.

P1270014 P1270005