Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 30 October 2016 • Abroad
As one of South East Asia countries, Singapore is not quite what you might imagine like the others. It’s neat, orderly, and things don’t come as cheap. Office buildings and shopping malls were among the first things I noticed about Singapore. It wasn’t a destination where I’d go look for outdoor activities. But a few years ago I started to notice the opposite, I forgot how exactly. There are now a lot of outdoor activities in Singapore that I know and have tried, and recommend for your next trip to this country island.
Macritchie Reservoir Park is a great place for enjoying nature and exercising. The green 12-hectares land has trails for trekking or jogging, and according to its official website you can also kayak there.
I visited Macritchie for the tree top walk. It’s where we can have a bird’s eye view of the forest from the hanging bridge. To get to the bridge, which is far safer than the one we went through in Lore Lindu, I had to walk for about 4,5 km from the entrance at Venus Drive. From there, there’s no turning back. I had to continue because the bridge is quite narrow, it’s not a 2-way path. The wind was blowing my hair and the tree tops were dancing left and right, it was so nice to be on the bridge. Monkeys were walking on the bridge handrail. Then I walked another 3 km and exited right at where we entered.
If you’re used to trekking, especially in other South East Asian countries, then this would be a walk in the park for you. The path is so clear and neat, some of it is paved. It was not that easy for me because I didn’t have the right shoes for my flat feet, nonetheless I loved it because I saw a different side of Singapore.
Though outdoor activities in Singapore wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind to most people, Macrithchie Reservoir Park seems to be quite popular among nature lovers and sport enthusiasts. I passed by quite many joggers, hikers and simply tourists in my visit.
Gardens by the Bay might be one of the most touristy places in Singapore right now, but there is a reason for that: it is beautiful! It’s said to be inspired by the Avatar movie setting, and quite obvious from the Supertree Grove. It’s a park full of gigantic “metal trees” installation with elevated walkways (they call it the OCBC Skyway) connecting them. At dusk, the trees start to light up, making a pretty contrast with the darkening sky.
The Supertree Grove is actually just one of a few attractions at Gardens by the Bay. The others include the Heritage Gardens, the Flower Dome and the Children’s Garden. Some have free entrance, others charge you with some fee. The Supertree Grove is free but the OCBC Skyway costs SGD5/person. That is why I decided to just lay down on the lawn, having a quite tight budget at the time. Little did I know, instrumental music started to play at about 7 p.m., harmonized by the lights on the giant trees. I was amazed and felt like watching a musical, with the lights as the actors and dancers, swaying to the music.
Before entering the gardens in the daylight, the view was already stunning. Bay East Garden and Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lake was seen from the entrance walkway, visitors were taking pictures like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re looking for light outdoor activities in Singapore, this could be one of them.
Henderson Waves is one of the coolest bridges I’ve seen by far. Like its name, the bridge shapes like the undulating wave, made of “a dense hardwood used in heavy construction which is only found in Southeast Asia,” as explained in this website.
I got there in a weekend afternoon with Mumun and our friend Ajeng. We got off the bus on Henderson Road, walked up the Telok Blangah Road and just followed the sign that directed us to the bridge. Quite many people were just walking on the bridge, some were taking pictures, some were sitting at the bench that’s attached to the wave construction.
Approaching dusk, the LED lights were on, illuminating the bridge against the darkening blue sky. In the distance I the sky met tree tops and a distinguished tall building at the horizon. It was beautiful and futuristic looking in spite the wood material and the trees.
Next time I’m going for some outdoor activities in Singapore, I’d go back there again and just sit much longer enjoying the view. I’ll make sure I’m gonna bring a jacket because the wind could get a little bit strong.
Ubin Island or Pulau Ubin is located on the north east of Singapore’s main land. It’s said to have one of the last villages in Singapore, which wasn’t how most people, me included, imagine of Singapore. That is why Diyan and I were interested to go to Ubin Island among our other outdoor activities in Singapore.
To get to Pulau Ubin you’d need to cross by a bumboat from Changi Jetty or also called Changi Point Ferry Terminal in Changi Village. The crossing takes about 15 minutes and costs SGD2,5/pax and each ferry only sits up to 12 people. Entering the island doesn’t charge you anything. Near the beginning of the jetty you’ll be welcomed with a few diners and bicycle rentals. They charge you S$8/bike for the whole day.
We chose the route to the village and stopped at a few spots along the way. We stopped at a lake, which was a tourist magnet apparently. The lake was formed by the extraction of granite that happened in the 1800s, and that’s where the name ‘ubin’ came from, which means tile. We also stopped at a beach; though far from spectacular, it was just nice to view the ocean. Continuing the route, we got distracted again, this time by the Sensory Trail. It’s a garden where you can learn “vegetables, herbs and spices, as written on the gate. Though I’m not a fan of plants except when they’ve been added as spices to my plate, I think this garden is a pretty neat idea. You can walk or ride your bike while learning something useful.
Approaching 5 p.m., we decided to hurry back and catch the bumboat because we had promised to meet a friend later that night. So we didn’t get to bike through the village, but riding a bike for a few hours and seeing a more natural side of Singapore was totally a memorable experience for me.
This activity might not be for anyone, but really, anyone can draw if they wanted to start practicing. These last few years I’ve been back to my old hobby, and in 2015 I attended the Urban Sketchers Symposium sketch walk in Singapore. It was my first sketch walk ever and I loved every moment of it, so I think Singapore will always have a special place in my sketching memory.
I loved sketching in Singapore because I was (and still am) into sketching buildings, which are abundant in Singapore with various designs and history. Also, the sidewalks were clean, so I didn’t hesitate to sit just about anywhere as long as it wasn’t banned by the law (you know how it is with the law in Singapore).
To me personally, sketching while traveling is one of the ways to enjoy a destination. By sketching, I sit and observe an object and the surrounding more than I used to. Sketching in public also often attracts passersby to stop and stare, sometimes strike a conversation with you. Sometimes they only ask technical questions, sometimes they also point out another spot where you might get a good angle to draw an object.
If you don’t like to sketch alone in a stranger’s land, you can meet up with the local sketchers like I did in Bangkok. The Singapore sketchers community seems to be active, you can check out their activities in their blog here.
What are your favorite outdoor activities in Singapore? Or do you still think that Singapore is only good for business and shopping? Tell us what you think!