Friday, May 22, 2009

My First Visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Last Saturday, my Dear and I decided to reinvigorate our bodies and souls with a one-day outing with nature at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. My First visit there! There are many routes to enter the reserve; we took one that was more official: entering via Hindhede Road. For Singaporeans who would like to know the way to get to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, just take a bus from the city and alight at the bus stop opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. (e.g bus 170 outside Fu Lu Shou Complex will bring you there). Thereafter alighting at the bus stop, just proceed straight (not in the direction of Beauty World) until you hit an overhead bridge. Cross the bridge and you will arrive at Hindhede Road. Enter into the carpark and you will soon reach the Visitor Centre of the natural reserve.
As expected, what greeted us were the “Permanent Residents” of the reserve: monkeys, yes, there was plenty of them, around the carparks, young and old, mothers and sons. Some of them were climbing all over the cars there, others were busy hunting for food in the drains and inside the dustbins. If you are a foreigner and a visitor-to-be in the reserve, please do not feed those monkeys, no matter how cute these creatures are or how much you want to display your kindness. First reason is that if you feed just one monkey, the rest of the pack will come after you and these monkeys will no longer be cute when their long and gnarled teeth sink into your flesh! Also, if you are caught feeding monkeys, you will be fined $3000 (like what a local woman found herself forking out for feeding monkeys in Singapore recently), worse, you could be imprisoned!
The Visitor Centre is the first building you see upon arrival. The centre houses what one needs to do before a trek: hydrate with the water coolers and at the same time, flush out the excess body fluids in the toilets. Further, it houses an exhibition gallery featuring the friends of the nature reserve (like the tigers, which are found in abundance in the yester-years (of course)) and maybe the authorities miss out on a few dinosaurs which could have inhabited Singapore and the reserve millions of years before?
After the Visitor Centre, we climbed up such steep slopes and were sweating profusely! For not only we encountered friction, we also encountered the horizontal component of our weight along the slope (for the Physics-savvy: this component is weight multiplied by the sine of the angle of the slope). Soon, our feet touched flat ground. We did not know where we were headed as we were enjoying the cool air and scenary along the way. There were many trails branching out from the main route which we were on: trails such as catchment trails, stony trails, each offering trails of different degrees of difficulty and nature, for trekkers with diverse interests. My Dear and I continued our ascent up the main route and after 20 minutes, we finally reached the summit of Bukit Timah Hill! Standing at 163 metres, the summit is Singapore’s highest natural point. We were disappointed as though we were at the top of Singapore, there was no thrill, elation or excitement as the summit was covered by vegetation all around, depriving those trekkers who have reached the top of a chance to admire the scenary.

After a ten minutes rest at the summit, we made our way down and decided to try out one of those routes into the reserve so that the journey in the reserve will be more exciting. We decided on catchment trail and there we went deep into the reserve. The entrance of the trail was characterized by wet, slippery and muddy slopes. It took us some time to familiarize ourselves with the terrain. After the initial navigation, we walked and walked on the route, deep into the forested repository of Singapore. There was nothing which greeted us along the trail but greenness and yet more greenness. Left, right and behind of us were green vegetation and above was a seamless green canopy. We walked and found ourselves focusing hard on the navigation of the treacherous terrains, the unforgiving tracks and hints of possible intruders attacking from deep inside the forests. With only my Dear and I carving our ways out of the forests, it was romantic despites the eeriness accentuated by the silence of the remote forest. It was really a refreshing break from the maddening city life of which there are just people and more people on the streets of Singapore!

At last, we reached the end of the catchment trail and we were sad to reach the end point, for the end point was nothing more than an insignificant dead-line. So it seemed that my Dear and I would need to make a ‘U-turn’ back and walk all the way into the eerie forests back to the Visitor Centre… but no way, my Dear and I decided to explore the surrounding and find an alternative route back. We emerged out of the dead end and saw a grand sight hidden deep in the reserve, which we have not seen before despites living in Singapore for so long! Large open tracts of land, flanked by giant underground conduits and sandy paths. We partook in the magnificent sights before embarking on a sandy trail on the outskirts of the area.

The path we took was breezy and we were barely metres away from the cars speeding along the Bukit Timah Expressway. Soon, we saw one mountain biker approaching us, few minutes later, we saw another. Then we saw the sign that the path was actually a mountain cyclist track. We walked and walked on the track and did not know where would this road lead us. An hour and a half soon flew past before we finally saw sights of civilization! My Goodness! We ended up at ZhengHua Park, in Bukit Panjang! How did we get to Bukit Panjang when our initial destination was the Visitor Centre? However, my Dear and I enjoyed our trek of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and our unplanned adventure cum trip to Bukit Panjang!

1 comment :

Living in said...

Wow, I didn't realize the bike tracks led to Bukit Panjang.

We've done a similar walk from the other direction -- MacRitchie Reservoir, past the underground conduits and open grassy areas, then up to Bukit Timah hill.

Maybe we'll try and find Bukit Panjang next time...

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