It has been over a year since I returned to Singapore due to COVID. My university in Canada closed the campus and residence in March 2020. Since then, its been a 2.5 semesters of online zoom classes lasting through the night. Staying home, isolated and with family is luckily, not that distressing or unlikeable for me. I actually rather enjoy spending time at home with the family and my dog and cat. But, I do get quite claustrophobic when I am stuck in my bedroom all night attending classes with no friends or people to talk to. Cue the negativity and depressive spiral!
And so, I have made it a point, a mission if I may say so, to challenge myself this summer and explore some of the most interesting, beautiful, and unique nature spots in Singapore that feel out of this world.
First stop: Bukit Batok Nature Park
Bukit Batok Nature Park was built on an abandoned quarry in 1988. While I was researching this place and introducing it to my friend with whom I was supposed to go with, I thought this park is seems small in comparison to other ones nearby and why go all the way to Bukit Batok just for this?
If I am being completely honest, my main attraction to go here was to see this beautiful brick red cliff. What I saw when I actually went there though, was absolutely beautiful. I can’t remember the last time I was in a place so quiet and serene in Singapore. Sure, I live right next to ECP and get to go the beach everyday. But no matter what, the noise of the cars and roads, or construction somewhere nearby, or people’s music and videos somehow make their way in and intrude the chance for peaceful contemplation and relaxation within nature. Not here though. Although it is surrounded by major roads, not a sound of traffic is heard. It felt like we disappeared into a little bubble of tranquility.
We sat right where the previous picture was taken for a good half hour or so in silence, just looking at the turtles swimming around in the water, a mysterious fish that pops up then disappears every now and then, and of course, an army of red ants.
Coming to this look out point was super easy, it was clean path, just a few stairs and you’re there. What we decided to then do, was to explore the other trails within the park, and potentially climb up the cliff to the World War 2 memorial. The trail was a nice uphill path carved out to raise our heartbeats, but it was doable. We made it about halfway to the top of the cliff when the stairs started and we turned right back around because stairs are horrible. I will probably come back and take up the challenge, but at the moment, our unfit, tired, hot and sweaty selves were not about climb those many stairs.
The area around Bukit Timah was the scene of heavy fighting between the Japanese and the Allied forces during the Battle of Singapore. The Japanese had their headquarters near this hill at the Fort Motor Company Factory. After the British surrendered, Syonan Chureito, a shrine built by the Japanese to honour their dead from the war was erected at the top of the hill. The shrine was ultimately destroyed by the Japanese themselves after the war ended to prevented from being desecrated by the returning Allies. And so, all that remains of the shrine today are the 121 steps leading up to it. (Information from Little Day Out).
On the way down and back to the parking lot, we decided to stop by the washroom, which is right next to the playground and fitness area of the park. There we saw a whole bunch of chickens running around, five monkeys climbing the roof of the washroom and swinging across the nearby trees, and a few squirrels here and there! It was spectacular. We stood around and watched the animals interact with each other and the humans around, watched joggers jog barefoot or with just flip flops on… It was quite a refreshing experience.
This was a great starting point in my journey of exploring other nature spots around Singapore and I cannot wait to see more!