Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Bukit Timah Summit and MacRitchie Nature Reserve

One day we were hankering for an excursion and decided to trek up Bukit Timah Hill, the highest natural point in Singapore.
Having been to a rooftop bar downtown, we were hoping for a more rainforesty view of the city. However, once we reached the summit we realised that there weren't really any lookout points. This is actually a very good thing as the nature reserve is one of the largest areas of primary rainforest in Singapore, and was saved from deforestation as early as the 1800's by Nathaniel Cantley (who ran the Singapore Botanic Gardens). So at the top of the hill we were surrounded by trees and picnickers. There were many signs stating that the feeding of monkeys is bad and you could be fined up to $50,000 and/or jail! This is done so that monkeys don't grow too accustomed to people and mob them to acquire tasty morsels, as happens in Malaysia. I made sure no wildlife was nearby when I snacked on my mini box of raisins.

On the route back down the hill, we did find a small lookout from which we could see a sliver of city and the water-filled quarry further down the nature reserve. We didn't actually spot any monkeys while here, but we did see a Sunda flying lemur clinging to a tree! They're nocturnal, but are occasionally seen in the daytime. He looked pretty startled, as though he had fallen asleep in the early hours of the morning when nobody was around, then woken recently to find some humans staring at him and felt like his privacy had been invaded.

Down at the level of the quarry we took a few photos and panoramas. Apparently if you're the adventurous sort you can abseil down that cliff face in the distance.

In the shimmery water we were greeted by a few turtles and fish. 

The next weekend, we continued our nature reserve exploits and visited the MacRitchie trail. We actually got a little lost on our way there, because I thought (incorrectly) that we could walk down a certain road in order to reach our destination, however that road led to an exclusive golf course and we were instructed to turn back at a security checkpoint. We had to double back and go in through the  public carpark, which is the so-called 'correct' entrance. Sometimes being a rebel doesn't play out. 
Here we did see macaques! Luckily the threat of a hefty fine and/or jail was having the desired effect, and the monkeys were just chilling near the footpath showing us no interest whatsoever. This little guy was just resting on a fence post, having a look around. So cute!

The National Parks website states "For those looking for an adrenaline rush, hike over to the TreeTop Walk". The way I see it, the only way you'd get an adrenaline rush from this very safe suspension bridge is if you have a crippling fear of heights or if you decided to base jump off the middle of it. At its highest point, the bridge sits 25 meters from the ground, though being surrounded by trees means that you can't see the ground at all and you feel more like you're nestled in a treehouse rather than swinging through the foliage like Tarzan. That being said, it's a lovely walk. Just not any sort of rush, adrenaline or otherwise!

The views were mainly just of trees, though you could see some skyscrapers far off.

After descending and refilling our water bottles at the ranger station (where another couple of monkeys sat around in trees scratching themselves as tourists snapped dozens of photos of them), we climbed up the Jelutong Tower, but again found the views to be largely uninspiring and moved on. Before long, we were down by the MacRitchie reservoir, which was originally built in the 1800's to provide residents of Singapore with drinking water.

A boardwalk had been built along the reservoir, and we strolled along. With a thick layer of clouds and adequate shade from the trees, our sweat-soaked bodies managed to cool off a bit and the temperature was balmy.

With a few Singaporean trails under our belt, I decided that they were very similar to bushwalks in New Zealand, and found myself reminiscing a bit. The flora and fauna were vastly different (as well as the humidity levels), but the vibe was very similar. 

On our way out of the reserve, we saw a few signposted rubber trees of incredible height, which are remnants of rubber tree plantations from the 19th century. History, innit.