Walking in urban nature

The best way to get to know any place is walking. Since we moved to Singapore we have walked frequently nearby, but also a bit farther from our home. At the beginning we explored more our neighborhood to locate grocery stores, restaurants, food courts, markets, walking trails, medical clinics, pharmacy etc. After managed to positioning them quite clearly, we started to hop in mrt and hop off somewhere to walk around. What we truly love is walking on nature trails, and luckily Singapore is full of them. And it amazes a bit – Singapore is regarded as financial hub, urban and filled with skyscrapers, but also there is huge amount of nature to explore.

Banana tree
Banana tree
Funnily under the banana tree.
Funnily under the banana tree.

A little while ago my Danish friend, who organizes Walk & talk-tours in Singapore, took us, three ladies to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. At the moment nature park is under renovation, but there is still some possibilities to hike and walk, but one must be aware of mountain bikers, who cycle extremely fast. We had perfect weather to walk, some clouds, no direct sun shine and it started to rain just after our walk. We walked approximately 7-7.5 km. For me Singaporean nature is very fascinating. I used to walk a lot also in Finland, but the nature there is not this exciting, Finnish flora and fauna is not multiform than here in Singapore. World of sound is intriguing – birds and macaques and locusts and so many other voices I cannot even recognize. Well, I am not able to recognize specific birds to be honest, just it is a bird. Some plants I can identify, but not many.

Ant having sweet lucnh.
Ant having sweet lucnh.

To learn more I bought a couple of guide books of Singaporean flora. Although the books are well located in my bookshelf, not in use, yet. Next time I will take guidebook with me! Fortunately our Danish guide is expert of plants, trees and flowers, so we had a lovely tour in Bukit Timah. We saw for instance banana trees, prehistoric ferns, so many blossoming trees and bushes that I cannot remember the names any more. We heard many concerts, but saw not so many animals. One medium size lizard clumped to the forest and some birds flying quickly. Two of us saw also nature drama. Snake has caught a baby frog or it might have been a baby turtle. Noise was awful – I thought first it was sort of bird in distress and when going closer to bush I saw near my feet a snake. A frog or turtle baby in its mouth. Noise was coming from that poor creature in snake’s mouth. Very sad, but in the other hand snake was fed that day. I love to watch wildlife documentary, and it has been fantastic to experience wildlife alive.

Always much of interesting to see.
Always much of interesting to see.
Mangrove, low tide.
Mangrove, low tide.

About a week ago we traveled to Changi Village with my spouse. Our first time there. We had a lovely stroll on seashore. We started from Changi Beach Club (Changi Boardwalk), and ended up to Changi Ferry Terminal. Trail was about 7km, and weather was again excellent. After harsh sunshine it was cloudy and rain was lurking, but didn’t start before we got home. There are plenty to do in Changi Village including swimming, grilling, sailing, boating, just relaxing. We saw many families and groups having fun playing different kinds of ball games, listening to music, having picnic. IMG_6358Lots of fishermen with their hooks and lines, some even throwing fishnets to gather little clams, perhaps fish and crabs as well. We had no picnic food with us, but even it was Sunday we found many places open to feed us. SAF has its own resort there for its employees, but fortunately Beach walk is open to everyone. And if you are plane watcher it is just your place to spend spare time. From Changi Ferry Point Terminal it is possible to take a ferry boat to Pulau Ubin, a lovely Northern island, where you can find mangrove trail, historic relics of past time, good food (as in everywhere in Singapore) and a lot of fauna and flora, what is not found anywhere else in Singapore. My recommendation is first to head to Pulau Ubin, and after the trip to have a lunch in Changi Village.

IMG_6342

No for littering.
No for littering.

Walking is my passion, I love nature and I have found it especially fascinating and beautiful in Singapore. What I am concerned about, how we residents can be cautious and aware to protect and conserve the exquisite nature. It is so heart breaking on trails to observe plastic bags, bottles, even oil cans, buckets etc. in sea, but unfortunately also on mangrove roots, inside the forest. We should know better.

Even though it can be quite pretty on the sand.
Even though it can be quite pretty on the sand.

My recommendations of the week:

FOOD: Many good dishes @ Ding Dong

BOOK: Anthony Doerr: All the Light We Cannot See

PLACE: Nature, anywhere

SOMETHING ELSE: No littering.

Friends visiting in Singapore

Last week I was lucky to have friends visiting in Singapore. They landed here after traveling 10 days in Vietnam. Two totally different countries I imagine, more or less. Friend thought Singapore to be such a surrealistic, futuristic place. Very safe, very clean, very warm, very friendly, very easy. Quite many very.

I have lived in Singapore about 17 months now. Every morning it surprises me to notice it is sunny, sky is blue, it is still 30+ degrees. And the most of all city view is still green – trees are always green, blossoming and there are plenty of palm trees. Nothing like in Finland. Well, I love Finnish forests, a lot. But still, fresh greenery every morning, every day. In Finland winter is long, and cold, and no leafless.

Again it was amazing to observe that there are plenty to see, to do, to explore in SG. Quite often I have heard Singapore is tiny, too hot and moist, nothing much to see. The most common question is probably where you fly, when your friends, relatives come here. Well, nowhere, staying here. Very upraised eyebrows, really, staying here, why.

Last week my friends spent five days here. And it was absolutely just too short time. Of course they managed to see Marina Bay Sands, who doesn’t. But what to see really, when there is only a few of days to wander on the streets of Singapore. Merlion is very popular, even though my friends had only a chance to glance it from opposite side of Marina Bay. Is it obligatory to run around quickly to see (all) touristic attractions or is it possible to feel SG atmosphere by its own? We did a bit of both.

We entered Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, had drinks in many places (at Marina Bay, at home, at Chinatown, at 1-Altitude, at Boat Quay etc.), ate a lot of good food, walked in Mac Ritchie Park over 10 kilometers and had picnic there and managed to see many macaque families plus fairly big monitor lizard and lots of turtles of course, went to Sentosa, where my friends experienced also Universal Studios and S:E.A World. Lots of walking I need to say. And that is indeed the best way to become familiar with new places, any places actually. Maybe too much of sparkling wine, but when friends meet after long time no see it is not to be counted, hope you agree. And a twist of Finnish we had sparkling wine at sauna, no snow though, so we were content to have bath in jacuzzi and the view for Chinatown.

Photo by P.Jaervinen
Boat Quay from North Bridge Road. Photo by P.Jarvinen

My memories are full and happy from last week. It was splendid, hope my friends agree. And I truly hope them to return, and explore more. Before that I need to do research, what is true Singapore, I mean for a tourist.

My recommendations of the week:

FOOD: giant oysters @ Boat Quay

BOOK: Mo Yan: frog

PLACE: Mac Ritchie Reservoir

SOMETHING ELSE: Nature and wild life in Singapore