Monday, December 31, 2012

HSBC Treetop Walk - A Refreshing Morning Trek @ MacRitchie Trails [Singapore]

While everyone was still suffering from hangovers and lack of sleep, i woke up at 7.30am on Christmas Day to prepare myself for a trek to check out the HSBC Treetop Walk together with my dad.

There are two main entry points and i decided to cast my vote with the one at Venus Drive; it was the shortest at only 2.5 kilometers to the treetop (the other option requires a walk of 4.5 kilometers)!

Here's the start of our journey. 

For my dad, the ruggedness of the place must have reminded him of his kampong days where such dirt paths were commonly found. For me, it just felt so good to breathe in fresh and crisp morning air! 

The recent rainy weather has resulted in super muddy paths! Thankfully i was wearing my trusty and easily washable Crocs and not the usual sneakers that are considered to be more appropriate for trekking. 

At some points along the trail, there is a clear stream that runs parallel to the path. The sound of running water can be so therapeutic in such an environment!

Markers to the treetop were on hand to show you the way to the treetop. 

Given that this a public trail and the country is subject to thunderstorms during this period, i guess National Parks Board would have considered carefully before felling the tree. 

I got bored after a while as it was just greenery after greenery and i hastened my footsteps to catch up with the father; no matter what, my aim was the treetop.

Came upon this elevated ground structure which was likely the remnant of a kampong house long time ago. On the same wavelength, i thought i should pay my old kampong a visit as well; it would bring back loads of wonderful childhood memories. 

I touched on the markers previously; firstly, i thought it would be good to indicate the remaining distance to the treetop. And it would definitely be helpful to have them at strategic locations; for example, at a forked path! 

Spotted the first batch of long tailed macaques twenty minutes into our trek. 

Funny as it might sound; the nature trail was really close to the complexes of Singapore Island Country Club. If you think you can just drive in, park your car in the country club's car park and save some time; think twice. There is a security gantry before you can even enter the main road leading to the club! 

Proper tarmac road; after a while of walking on uneven, slippery surface, this came as a blessing to my feet!

Thinking this was the right way to the treetop, we proceeded ahead. The sign seemed to be targeted towards motorists [note: the words 'no parking' and lack of a more restrictive gate].

I wasn't wrong although it was a much longer way to the treetop!! That explained why we didn't bump into anyone along the way. 

Don't be surprised; the MacRitchie trails are actually connected to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve! That would be quite a tortuous walk for me and would likely take the whole bloody day! 

Ranger Station - for those who need to use the washroom and take a sheltered rest. 

At this moment, we were only a few hundred meters away from the treetop; i am not complaining even though it was an uphill trek! 

Officially entering the Treetop Walk to have a fantastic view of the forest canopies! 

Do note that the treetop has operating hours [Tue - Fri: 9am to 5pm; Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: 8.30am to 5pm] and is closed on Mondays except when the Monday happens to fall on a public holiday. 

Don't even think of sneaking in at night! The gates on both sides of the suspension bridge would likely be closed and locked. Having said that, i think it would be so amazing to be here after dark when most of the forest animals forage for food. 

Treetop refers to the view you can see by accessing the 250-meter long, free standing suspension bridge! Its primary purpose is to enable researchers to have a better understanding on the workings of forest ecosystems. 

One piece of advice for those afraid of heights; either you opt out or you can choose not to look down!!!  At a maximum height of 25 meters above ground on a bridge that sways slightly, it can be pretty traumatic! 

But the stunning views greeting us washed away my fear! It was of course not comparable to other countries; however, such view was not thought to exist in Singapore and we should appreciate it given how tiny our country is. 

Photo of dad! He has aged a lot in the past few years and no matter how much we want our parents to stay healthy as long as possible, we are aware that life has a limit. That's why i have resolved to accompany him on his off days to roam around Singapore and maybe an occasional overseas trip if we can afford it. 

Panorama! Right ahead is the nearby Upper Peirce Reservoir. In fact, the bridge is nearer to Upper Peirce Reservoir than MacRitchie Reservoir.

The other side was just trees and trees and trees. The incoming rain clouds were not exactly encouraging news for us to stop and check out the movements within the towering trees! By the way, it is recommended to bring along a pair of binoculars! 

A maximum capacity of 30 persons is imposed on the bridge and it is a one-way route. 

I originally thought of taking this picture to reflect the height of the bridge; obviously a failed attempt. When i reviewed it on my computer, i even had a hard time deciding its actual rotation!

On our way out! For the bridge to be built, there must be a point on each side to make the connection. Until that day, i wasn't aware of these two hills; Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang.

A final look.

It was at this juncture on our return route that the whole place got misty and to a certain extent, mystical. This reminded me of my family trip to the mossy forest at Mount Brinchang

Even the temperature was similar; cool and comfortable! If only i have a cup of hot chocolate. 

Sheltered hut sighted - this would come in handy should the rain decides to strike earlier! We were lucky as it started pouring only after we got into the car.

Note the sign and keep your rubbish in your haversack! 

The way back was so much longer! Now i understand why a journey to the treetop was indicated on the website as 45 minutes to 1 hour whereas a round trip would take 3 hours!

A disused well (i think); this is evidence that there was previously a village in the area. 

Informative panel - there is a Singapore specific species of durians! Sadly, the seeds of these Singapore durians have no smelly, creamy flesh. :( 

Spider! Species - unknown. 

It took us more than 30 minutes to reach here and we were only somewhere near the ranger station!

Instead of trekking along winding dirt paths which will incur more time (and likely make us dead tired), we took to the island club road. It was the best decision made that day; we came to the venus entrance within twenty five minutes.


Map of MacRitchie Trails
As above [click for bigger picture]

Tortoise Sanctuary @ Kusu Island [Singapore]

The word "Ku" in Kusu Island actually means Tortoise in the Hokkien dialect and i vividly remember that there were loads of tortoises in the big pond right in front of the Chinese temple.

That was in the past; nowadays, the land dwelling reptiles were housed in a number of enclosures on the island that were typical of those built in the temples. 

Except for the above one. Open concept yet without the barriers that are necessary to keep non authorised persons (like me for example) off the sanctuary grounds. 

You guessed it right; i could not resist jumping down for a better look! 

In a way, the designer made it easy for the tortoises to escape whenever there are intruders by including six partially enclosed shelters. There is a slight physical problem though; tortoises are not known to be fast in their movements!

Peace! I am an animal lover and totally believe in non-disturbance. Furthermore, i would not want to risk having any of my fingers nipped off. 

Apparently, i read somewhere there were two giants in the small compound. I didn't find them although the biggest i saw was roughly the length of my lower arm. 

In my opinion, it is a baby when compared to the gigantic Galápagos tortoises! 


As indicated aboe.v