However, by 10:00 or thereabouts it had eased. The staff at the hostel warned me that it’s been “due to rain” for some time so it may well start again – but to go ahead and try the park anyway. So I did. Everything was packed and stored securely, I grabbed my day bag and made for the MRT.
The park was a delight. Essentially, Singapore used to be a jungle. A rain forest. There is now 3% of that forestry left and all of it has been declared National Parkland and is protected. In line with Singaporean policy, anyone doing anything thet shouldn’t around it is fined. No littering, no smoking, no feeding the monkeys… It may seem harsh, but it seems to work. The place was utterly litter-free and the monkeys don’t get too close to people. Very close, but not “item-snatching” close.
The trees and foliage are spectacular, but it’s a heck of a lot of walking. The weather brightened up, but remained horribly humid as I walked down trails and up steps. I’ve not been this exhausted in ages – even moreso that when I was running on China Beach. Steps really do make you work harder than flat land!
It was all worthwhile, though. Small signs give details of the plants, animals and insects and the paths are clearly marked and as environmentally-friendly as possible. The views from certain spots, such as the quarry (due to overflow in 2 years) are astonishing. The wildlife is also beautiful, from the monkeys (Long-tailed Macaques) to the two species of squirrel to the large lizard I saw on one path.
By the time I called it a day about 3 hours later, I was drenched in sweat and my legs were literally shaking. But what a day. It’s hard to believe this little bit of paradise is, at it’s closest spot, maybe 30m away from a shopping centre. It’s also the tallest hill in Singapore so has a whopping set of radio masts at the top!
A young boy came up to me – I’d bumped into him and his father a couple of times – and we talked about the monkeys for a while. He wanted to know what they ate, why we shouldn’t feed them and how they groomed. I’d guess he was about 12. Smart kid, and really polite.
When I arrived back at the MRT station, the guy I’d spoken to earlier yelled to me, “Did you enjoy your walk?”
I got talking to him for a few minutes and you can’t help but feel that the locals here really like Singapore and want you to feel welcome and come back. I know I have and I think I will.