Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tree Top Walk

(Part 2)
As I made my way down the tree top walk, I surmounted what seemed to be endless flights of stairs. Stairs after stairs, my usually strong legs slowly gave way to weariness. The descent proved equally or more tiring than the ascent to the tree top walk. And the terrain and slope were not particularly helpful too. Concrete gave way to mud, which gave way to gravel. The bends and turns of the road seemed never-ending, at this juncture, I could hear some complaints from trekkers nearby that they regret coming to trek here.

Personally, I find that if the navigation course through the forests was smooth-sailing, then it would defeat the purpose of coming to trek! Ruggedness, sweat and discomfort are the hallmarks of such treks. I was perspiring profusely, and at times panting as my strides were fast among the undergrowths.

I was inevitably exhausted from the trekking at times, and it could get lonely at times doing solo, and it was scary at times, witnessing how large trees had fallen, listening to the shuffling amidst the bushes and hearing some strange sound always emanating from the forests.

The sky grew darker and darker and it started to drizzle. Soon, the drizzle intensified into a moderate shower.


I was caught inside the hut at this juncture, facing two signposts: one to exit, the other to Jelutong Tower where one could witness some breathtaking scenery. I was caught in a dilemma, as much as I wanted to visit the Jelutong Tower, the muddy tracks became inundated with water, and the muddy water became like a stream. I could only give up my intended visit to the Tower and proceeded for the exit. I took out my umbrella from my bag and shielded me from the pattering rain.

It is not irregular or strange to have some showers in the water catchment areas like this forest. I could sense the difference between an urban shower with that in the catchment area. The rain that fell now seemed fresh, the droplets of water glistened as they pelt from the sky above.

As I made my way to the exit, to the hut from where I commenced my tree top walk, I could still see die-hard joggers making their way amidst the bushes in this growing rain. They may act ‘garang’ but they do not know the very danger of their act. They may not be scared of the heavy rain, did not mind to be drenched to the skin, but they have ignored the very dangerous risks of lighting, which can strike any person in the open, anytime and anywhere.


Despites armed with an umbrella, I was about 60% drenched as I finally entered the hut to seek a refuge from the ravages of the rain. It was around 330 pm then. I was lucky to reach the hut as now the rain had grown into a thunderstorm, thunders and lighting were the chorus of the day at the moment. The hut, actually a ranger station, to be exact was crowded with around 15 people, all soaking wet; with some joining us the ‘refugees’ at a later time, running fast into the station.

There were toilet facilities and water coolers in the station. Manning the ranger station was a National Parks staff who was closeted in his office, nevertheless ready to provide assistance when needed.

Few tourists asked him on location matters which he willingly acceded to. I asked him for some more copies of the maps which he also willingly assisted.

The crowd of us waited in the station for almost an hour when suddenly, the station suddenly became dark, including the staff’s office. Power trip caused by the thunderstorm! At this juncture, the staff sprang into action and took a mini-jeep to call for remedial assistance.

When the rain grew slightly smaller, I forked out my umbrella and began my descent down to Venus Drive. It was still pouring and there were some claps of thunder too. But, if I did not come down earlier, it would be very late, I did not want to waste time, and thus I took a calculated risk: the lighting threat seemed smaller now.


Navigating potholes containing muddy water, I made my way laboriously down the slope towards Venus Drive. The big leaves which I described earlier proved useful as some men trapped in the storm used it as umbrellas:

I slowly made my way back to Venus Drive, boarded a bus and headed back to Toa Payoh MRT station for a well-deserving lunch.

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