Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bukit Batok Nature Park

Just a stone’s throw from my apartment is a nature park that is hugely popular with the morning exercise bunch. Perhaps I thought that it will always be there and so for the past 15 years I have never ventured beyond the path from the main entrance of the park to the quarry lake.

Off the beaten path.

A week ago, I stumbled upon some tracks, while having a walk in the main park ‘thoroughfare’. ‘Stumbled’ would be an exaggeration because lots of the folks here know about it – just see their intense ‘been there done that’ look and sweaty shirts. I decided to check them out this morning. It is the morning of mid of April and the ground is already scorching hot in the morning sun so the park’s shady trails   was a better alternative.

I was more taken ( aback ) by the flights of steps that the memorial stone.

Story of WWII at Bkt Timah

I was among the weekday throng that came to enjoy the shade, well  paved trails and songs of thrushes. It is a small park with not much of a signage to boot. The walk was easy and mostly flat except for some parts that are steep but nothing that a moderately healthy person can’t handle.  I found a little footpath that led to a vantage point where I can look down at the quarry lake. Beyond that, in the direction of Bukit Timah Road, was a World War II memorial that sits right smack in between a flight of stairs leading to the transmitting tower. The ‘summit’ was uninteresting and I was more amused at the couple of Indian workers who were playing cricket in the carpark. There was work to be done but in between the wait, they had fun swatting a tennis ball with a wooden plank.

Transmission tower on the knoll.

Rest for the weary, if you don't mind the mozzies.

I have this pic everywhere. Just so besotted with the immensity of the granite wall.

I retraced my steps back the trail to visit the pond. It is a deep pool of water accumulated over time in the leftover quarry area. The trail that ended at a small cull-de-sac just in front of the pond was filled with the music of a rather virtuosic  flautist. With the striated granite wall before the shimmering pond bathed in Chinese music, it felt like a scene plucked from a pugilistic movie.

A neighbourhood park in the midst of a public housing estate. How cool is that !

It was a pleasant walk out of the park. Its steep slopes, though paved with bricks, were somewhat demanding on a body that is out of shape. Near where my walk terminated at the carpark, I walked under the tembusu trees with air roots meters off the ground. I felt much like a bride walking under an arch of branches and roots which got me into a buoyant mood. A group of people in deep meditation  sat under a pavilion swaying gently to soft music playing from a recorder in their midst. The scene completely complemented the surreal atmosphere.

Sun breaks through. Just a month ago, this lake was half empty.

Eerie air roots

Air roots, like a scene out of some horror show

Gotta lose some weight

Meditation time

Bukit Batok Park may not have fancy waterways but its slopes provide a good workout and its ( small )size means that one cannot get lost anywhere. Amenities are located along the main park thoroughfare and for those who are not sure if serious exercise is for them, parking is available at both the Bkt Batok Rd and Bukit Timah section.

Monday, April 14, 2014

15 minute summit hike at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

I have been tasked with organizing a walk on Labor Day and I wanted to understand the parking situation at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve where our walk would most likely commence.  To kill 2 birds with one stone, I used the time to recee the Green Corridor and did a little hike up the hill.

It being a working day, the crushing crowd is nowhere to be seen.  Even so, the car park is 80% full and I took one of the coveted lot near the park entrance.

Parking is full, even on a weekday
It took a little more than 15 minutes in my present state to reach the top of the hill. The immediate section near the ranger was the most challenging to me. The walk was tricky because overnight rain has made the steep leaf-littered slope somewhat slippery.

Not quite there yet
You will never walk alone, esp on the main track
Resting station 
Sun dappled track
The jungle was very humid and I was totally soaked in sweat. Folks decades older passed me by completely absorbed in their mission to reach the summit.

Light dappled track makes sifting patterns as the canopy  of trees move in tandam with the breeze. I even spied a baby squirrel foraging clumsily on a low branch.

Are we there yet?
  I never cease being amazed at these trees
Our previous nature reserve

Several paths branched out from the  main walk. I checked out the trail nearest the summit which comprised mostly of steps borne out of the roots of trees. I had misgivings doing this by myself and  chickened out 5 minutes after entering the unfamiliar trail. I backtracked to rejoin the main road which lead me to the summit in no time.
Secret Garden?
Jungle fall path- roots for stairs
Been there, done that
Going down was a no brainer though some care was needed as I fought to prevent myself from going too fast down the hill. I still cannot understand why some folks would risk  their lives walking down the hill , trekked in slippers, high heels or go barefoot .

Forest bath means walking in the forest and soaking wet in perspiration
Sun drenched canopy
Road leading to the park offers parking for public holidays