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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Park Connectors in Singapore 2

After the great fun we had in our last cycling trip from Pasir Ris to Zouk, at Kim Seng Road, we now decided to make another trip on the 29th July 2007, across the north side of the island of Singapore. Actually, I won't call this trip a "Park Connector" route, as parks on the north side are not well connected yet by cycling trails. We started at 6.30am in the morning. The idea is to cut across the nature reserve of Singapore and then head northwards towards Woodlands, Kranji and then Lim Chu Kang. See map later.
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As in the last trip, we took it at a very leisurely pace, stopping by for our favourite Roti Prata, Teh Halia (ginger tea) and photo shots.
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However, we had to hurry to the first destination at MacRitchie Reservoir. We had to make it by 8.00am for the Sunday Bucky Group book reading and discussions.
Just before cutting across the Tampines Expressway, we saw the Tzu Chi Foundation Building, a charity organisation that had done so much for the poor around the world. It was started by Dharma Master Chen Yen. For details of the Singapore branch, click here.

Across the Expressway is Old Tampines Road, the temple trail of Singapore.
We still have mediums that go on a trance to get connected with higher beings and devotees coming in to ask for advice in these temples.


Two space ships landing...
MacRitchie Reservoir - our morning bliss - we made it on time and reach there at 8am. We covered 20km in about 90mins, including stopping for some pixs.

Instead of starting with the book reading, they started with the durains first!!! :)


For those of you who doesn't know what a durain looks like, they are starchy sweet fleshy seeds in a green spikey husk. Either you love it or hate it. If you are from South East Asia, you are most likely to absolutely love it!

MacRithchie Reservoir is very scenic. Here one of the Bucky members sketched this whilst we read Bucky's chapters. For more pix of the Reservoir, click here.
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After the Bucky Group session, we headed for the Tree Top walk at the northern side of the reservoir banks. Then we realised we that bicycles are not allowed in the nature trails. This would mean that we would not be able to do a short cut across the forest and would have to take the road later.
On the way to the Tree Top Walk, it stormed and we had to take sneak in a nearby posh golf club to take refuge till the rain stop. It is a beautiful club.


Here is the Tree Top Walk, which is a suspended bridge over a valley.

These two trees rise way above the rest. The giants in the forest.
This are dense tropical forest not covered by the last Ice Age! It is amazing for a small island like Singapore to have set aside a relatively large area as nature reserves.



End of the Walk, we headed down the slopes, to get back to our bicycles and head further north to Lower Pierce Reservoir. At the fringes of Lower Pierce, the rain had stop and it was sunny again!
Then some families came out for their outings by the Reservoir grounds! :)
Can you pick up the alpha male in the family?

We spotted this funny papaya tree opposite where we have lunch! :)

Along the board walk of Lower Pierce Reservoir.

A little monitor lizard.

After we left Lower Pierce, we headed further north along the Old Upper Thomson Road, a lovely winding country road. It used to be a Grand Prix circuit back in the 60s and 70s.

Along Mandai Road, there were loud aggressive screams from a family of monkeys on the trees against a gentle stray dog merely looking up at them with curiosity.

As I passed by the dog, it connects with me instantly and followed me.



This part of an old army camp.

At Kranji Reservoir.
By now, you probably realised that there are so many reservoirs in tiny Singapore.
There is lots of rain here, but not enough to impound them all.
That's why water has to be supplied from Malaysia.
I call her "Jojo". Such a lovely dog. She has jogged about 10km alongside us by now.

Outside the reservoir bund, I saw this barbed wire fencing on the shore facing Malaysia.
Wonder why... Is it to keep illegal immigrants out?

If it is, then there is this side that is fully exposed, just next to the barbed wires.

The white building on the right is the Istana (palace) of the Sultan of Johor.

The Straits of Johor is only 1.5 km wide.

As we went further to Lim Chu Kang, Jojo followed.

Outside Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves. Lots of migratory birds stop here for rest. It was closed by the time we reach there at 6pm.

This is a Koi fish farm.

This is what a Singapore country road looks like. Fish and vegetable farms on both sides.

It is now about 7pm and we are hungry looking for a place to eat.
We stumbled on this golf club called Kranji Sanctuary. I am wondering how it can be a sanctuary when the original natural habitat had to be cleared to build this golf course?
Anyway, there wasn't dinner by then. In fact, the whole place was closing for the day. They also did not have anywhere for us to stay for the night. We had to either head southwards to Jurong, which is highly industrialised or backtrack. We decided on the latter.

Flat out!
Jojo taking a rest after we fed him food and water.
We backtracked and stopped by a hawker centre which had only foreign workers from China and the Indian sub-continent.
They are mostly hired as contruction workers and farm hands.
This is the mural of the room where I slept. I manage to contact a friend in Woodlands, who is kind enough to put me up for the night. It was about 11pm by the time I reach my friend's place. It was a much needed rest! Even laying flat, I felt my legs cycling. Once eyes closed, I could still see the winding country roads. Finally, I must have slept around midnight.
We had to leave Jojo outside the apartment though. I thought it would be stretching my friend's hospitality a bit too far if I bring the dog in. Besides, they have a 17 month baby and I wouldn't want her disturbed.
When we woke up, Jojo was gone. Such a pity. I would have kept her as a pet. Such a lovely dog! She had followed us for at least 20kms, running diligently by our bicycles without straying. Oh Jojo, where are you?
As we head further east from Woodlands, we passed by a pavement parked full of motorbikes. This is unusual as it is normally forbidden in Singapore and fines are meted frequently to offenders. On closer look, these bikes all come from Malaysia. They are Malaysians from the other side of the Straits who cross over to Singapore everyday to work at the shipyard. Perhaps that is why they are 'exempted' from the fines! :)
This is a typical black-and-white colonial bungalow that dots over the northern shore of Singapore. More of them as we headed towards Seletar Air base.
Sembawang Park.

There are many names like these that are so British. Some others are: "Hyde Park Road", "Picaddilly Circus" and "Trafalgar Road".

Further east, passed Ponggol, we finally got back to Old Tampines Road.
Here, it is like time has stood still.
This is the old mouldy coffee shop that's still standing and the waiter walks around barefooted.
. ... and kampung chickens and roosters still roam the turf.
Just 20 years ago, the whole Tampines/Pasir Ris area was like this - just slow and sleepy kampungs of fish and chicken farms.
Since we hurried past this place yesterday, we decided to visit one of the temples. This one is a Taoist temple.
There is a street wayang in the evening. Temples do that during the 7th Lunar month.
'Space-ships' in the day time.


Our route is marked in red, from east to north-west, then back.
Before we retired home, we rewarded ourselves with a ice-cold Chendol. Yum!

3 comments:

Darren said...

tot i should correct a very minor error in your post. The white building in jb that you mentioned is not a palace, it's the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, meaning it's a mosque. The royal palace is somewhere else on a hill, which cannot be seen easily.

jupilier said...

Darren

Thanks

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