Monday, July 18, 2011

Ridged for her pleasure

Singapore isn't just a city/country of commerce and grotesque statues. It is mainly that, but they've also managed to hang on to plenty of green outdoor spaces amidst all the capitalism. Which is a good thing, because these people really need places to relax.

Not that they're really using them. I've spent plenty of hours reading and writing in massive public parks and seen about three people cycling by. When I spent an afternoon walking along the famed Southern Ridges Walk (which apparently cost 25.5 million Singapore dollars to construct), I only passed a few joggers and a couple of other tourists.

Considering pretty much everyone I've talked to in my hostel is here looking for work, rather than visiting for the sights (spending all day sending applications and waking me up with their corporate phone calls), this place seriously needs to learn to relll ('relax' + 'chill' - you try coming up with a catchier portmanteau).

I'm aware this is coming from me - someone who had little concept of the value of relaxation until a few months ago. But at least they have options.

Southern Ridges Walk

If you fancy getting away from the well co-ordinated traffic, suits and ties in Singapore, you can see the city from afar (and above) by walking along the Southern Ridges. Like everything here, it's sanitised almost to the point of amusement, and is by far the tamest 'nature walk' I've ever seen - half of it's comprised of metal walkways, and they even take you comfortably above the roads, making it less energetic than just crossing the street.

A lovely sunny day in the 'woods.' But Singaporeans don't like the sun

I'm not sure exactly where this walk officially begins (this is Singapore - there must be something official about it), but I started way off in the west, by Jurong. Things starts to get nicer at Clementi Woods - though in a city so preoccupied with legalities, I've never seen the term 'woods' more loosely applied.

The 'woodland' scenery is then interrupted for a while thanks to the National University of Singapore (NUS - if something in Singapore can be initialised, it is). But the campus is still pretty nice.

When you emerge at South Buena Vista Road, head south all the way and you'll get to the unparalleled Haw Par Villa (highly recommended!) Or you can just walk south for a little while until you see the big sign for Kent Ridge Park, escape the city and enter an elevated world of litter-free canopy walks and occasional monkeys.

An occasional monkey

Surely you don't need apparatus to do this? Can't you just use the ground?

When you reach Alexandra Arch, this technically stops being a nature walk and just becomes walking on metal grilles for a few miles, looking at trees. But that doesn't stop this section being officially designated the 'Forest Walk.'

Ahh, there's nothing like getting back to nature. The birds, the trees, the metal gangways...

Each Time Crystal you've collected is worth five seconds inside The Crystal Dome

The Henderson Waves are a nice (brief) interlude, where the nature walk is treated to the same level of impractically creative design as Singapore's artier skyscrapers (blog post coming soon).

It all ends at Mount Faber (unless you're going east to west, in which case this is where it begins). But don't start sweating at the threat of actual physical exertion - there's a handy cable car to take you to the top and back down to the harbour (and onward to Sentosa if you want more sanitised fun).

I should be less cynical about Singapore's expensive attempt to bring nature back to the people. At least it gets a few of them out of the malls.

Don't let me fool you into thinking this is all a sanitised walk in the park -
who knows when those nefarious branches will strike next?

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Another stupidly big spider

Some stupidly big kids

Bad news, Dave's Beard fans -
I met a great South Korean girl (ambition fulfilled!) who was worth shaving for.

So now I look fourteen again


  1. Wow, reminiscing my SG days. If I met you in SG, I might be one of those people waking u up for corporate calls! lol

  2. Those people are okay really, but for the last week I've been stuck above some guy whose phone alarm goes off at 7AM. Then again at 7.10. And every 10 minutes until I move violently enough that the bed shakes and he finally wakes up to turn the damn thing off (he's never up until about 11).

    ...Woah, I need to take my own advice and get to a park to relax.

  3. You should steal the phone at about 4am (statisticallythe time most people are in deep sleep) and turn the darn alarm off!

    On a side note, that place looks ace, I want to visit. And boo about losing the beard, but yay for the reason.

  4. I'm in a different place now, but woke up last night at 4AM (statistically the time most people are in deep sleep) to enjoy a melodious cacophony of someone talking on the phone, someone watching an action film on their laptop without headphones, and snoring (the last one is acceptable).

    I know this is the risk in dorms, but I've been sleeping in them half the time over the last 10 months and usually people are more considerate. On the bright side, I've never heard any sex though. Even when I press my ear right up to the wall - oh, I mean... nothing.