Sunday, September 7, 2014

A sense of sadness, concern with looming closure of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Today Saturday, September 06, 2014
Source Website: http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve
Text and video by Khairul Amri, Photos by Wee Teck Hian, Published (Today): Saturday, 06 September 2014


Visitors at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve summit on June 21, 2014
PHOTO: Visitors at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve summit on June 21, 2014
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vf90Mz4eWeU/VAvCvqMElBI/AAAAAAAAc7s/nPI3XdrIFIg/s1600/20065012.JPG
http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/full_width_photo_gallery_image/public/20065012.JPG?itok=pZJDxcjv
http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



TODAY speaks to regular visitors of the Bukit Timah tract of land to find out what they love and will miss most

SINGAPORE  A narrow, nondescript two-way street under a raised section of retired train tracks leads to one of Singapore's largest and most pristine patch of primary rainforest at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. 

As you make your way into the nature reserve via Hindhede Road, there is the common and uplifting sight of a myriad of visitors  from the serious hiker to the occasional jogger and families  gathering.



Running enthusiasts in action at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: Running enthusiasts in action at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



Among them is 61-year-old Keng Chong Wong, who has a standing weekly appointment with his friends. As he does some light stretching near the visitor centre, he recounts his regular trips to the reserve since the 90's.



A hiker traverses Dairy Farm loop of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: A hiker traverses Dairy Farm loop of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2H6AQxF-DbY/VAvCvFv4BII/AAAAAAAAc70/pTEPXXrx0wQ/s1600/20065010.JPG
http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/photo_gallery_image_lightbox/public/20065010.JPG?itok=E4oCFYzn
http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



In addition to helping him keep fit, he said his time here is crucial for his social well-being in his silver years  He meets old friends, makes new friends. For seniors who have encountered countless changes in Singapores fast-changing landscape, there is a sense of familiarity and nostalgia (a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past) at the reserve, he adds. (It) reminds me of the olden days.



Visitors at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve summit on June 21, 2014

PHOTO: Visitors at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve summit on June 21, 2014
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GDh8c79xvSU/VAvCwcBKZqI/AAAAAAAAc8M/bzkJhGzmnfM/s1600/20065014.JPG
http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/photo_gallery_image_lightbox/public/20065014.JPG?itok=g6ciSNCE
http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



Once the closure kicks in, Mr Keng hopes to continue his weekly meet-ups elsewhere. I like the slopes over here and I come down with friends. Where will we go after this? he wondered.

In June, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced that the 163ha nature reserve will be closed for about two years from Sept 15 for restoration works. Heavy rainfall and an increase in visitorship over the years  from 80,000 in 1992 to 400,000 last year  has taken a toll on the grounds. As part of the restoration, about half of the reserves 9km of trails will be repaired, a 1.3km-long raised boardwalk will be built and the visitors centre will be upgraded.



A man traverses exposed tree roots along the the Summit Path at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: A man traverses exposed tree roots along the the Summit Path at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



A little way off from the visitor centre is a resting spot up a slope, and there I chatted with 43-year-old Razali, who, like many others, goes to the nature reserve to train for hiking expeditions. We are going to Mount Kinabalu and this is part of our training, he said.

Clad in red polo tees, the interest group he trains with meets every Sunday for some intermediate-level circuit training on the slopes. There is a lot of camaraderie and encouragement among the avid hikers, adding a certain buzz and vibrancy to the nature reserve.



A man pushes his biccyle along the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Mountain Biking Trail

PHOTO: A man pushes his biccyle along the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Mountain Biking Trail
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



A lot of people who actually come here are training for an expedition. In Singapore, Bukit Timah is the best place to go to for such trainings, Mr Razali said. We come to this place every week and its sad  One fewer place to go to for a trek, he added regarding the impending closure.



People traverse steps up a slope between Seraya Loop and North View at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: People traverse steps up a slope between Seraya Loop and North View at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



Perhaps they will now train using the staircases at Housing and Development Board flats, said 22-year-old Lu Jiaxi, who recently returned from a hiking expedition. What I'll miss is the convenience and it being nearby.

When it reopens, I hope it doesn't become too commercialised or look like something that people will think is (man-made), said 25-year-old Lim Ai Ting, who trained at the reserve for her climb up Mount Everest base camp. She now exercises at the reserve once a month to keep fit.



Outdoor enthusiasts are seen at Seraya Loop of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: Outdoor enthusiasts are seen at Seraya Loop of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/photo_gallery_image_lightbox/public/20065017.JPG?itok=erVyohPN
http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



United Kingdom citizen Ian Wright, 53, who has lived in Singapore for almost a decade and is a fan of the reserve for its technical courses, shared: What I'm fearing is that they'll put down gravel everywhere. The naturally undulating slopes serve as excellent training areas for enthusiasts.

The natural surroundings need to be allowed to heal itself, but don't do what they did to the MacRitchie (nature trail), where they just chopped down six inches of ground over a technical section just because one or two people wanted to go out for a short walk, he said.



A man traverses the rock path at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: A man traverses the rock path at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



The authorities said the main road that leads to the summit will reopen on weekends next March, but the rest of the reserve will remain closed for another one-and-a-half years. But some visitors, like 52-year-old Richard Yong, are hopeful that other areas can reopen sooner.



A group of hikers scale the Summit Path (200m) at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

PHOTO: A group of hikers scale the Summit Path (200m) at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Photo: Wee Teck Hian
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http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



Some of the grounds are badly eroded, so I can understand if you need to close it for a longer period of time, but (for) the other (areas) not affected, I think they should be open, he said.

Text and video by Khairul Amri, Photos by Wee Teck Hian, Published (Today): Saturday, 06 September 2014


Hikes up to the summit of Bukit Timah nature reserve

VIDEO: TODAYOnline: hikes up to the summit of Bukit Timah nature reserve
http://www.savetubevideo.com/?v=QVi-d-jaRGY#t=0
http://www.todayonline.com/bukit-timah-nature-reserve



Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)

PHOTO: Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)
For non-serious hikers the PCN is another alternative to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Something interesting can always happen. Like this monitor lizard started swimming from the bridge at Lorong Halus and all the way down the coast for 1.2 km.
Picture taken on Monday, September 01, 2014, 2:04:02 PM - CIMG9746.JPG

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XQlNyaPYM48/VAvC3dgf1eI/AAAAAAAAc98/cpEr51gIgZc/s1600/CIMG9746.JPG


Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)

PHOTO: Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)
The monitor lizard came up the shore briefly to take a closer look at us. It appeared to be as curious as us, about each other.
Picture taken on Monday, September 01, 2014, 1:54:04 PM - CIMG9730.JPG

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GQvQRVbSu00/VAvC2vGlXeI/AAAAAAAAc9s/1jTOMjmJfAg/s1600/CIMG9730.JPG


Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)

PHOTO: Sungei Serangoon Park Connector Network (PCN)
Later, we spotted it again at the coast line, 2 km down the Sungei from Lorong Halus. It could be swimming back to its 'home', 2.1km more down the reservoir, a total distant of 4.1 km from Lorong Halus bridge.
Picture taken on Monday, September 01, 2014, 1:54:12 PM - CIMG9731.JPG

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wBdiuLpxYFw/VAvC20t6zNI/AAAAAAAAc90/O4ApwgsdWvc/s1600/CIMG9731.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden
An interesting discovery, the pair of geese finally laid an egg. One of the parent was looking after the egg while the half was out on the lake entertaining the visitors.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 3:42:23 PM - CIMG8905-1.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KokK6maTcGg/VAvCyClYlDI/AAAAAAAAc8k/1GClcNdoFr4/s1600/CIMG8905-1.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
Two big monitor lizards met head-on and were not agreeable on territorial issue.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:35:30 PM - CIMG8960.JPG

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LPycjEUKhWM/VAvCyVwOVhI/AAAAAAAAc8g/f8iRvv_5-7E/s1600/CIMG8960.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
The two monitor lizards resorted to fight it out. They have to stand on their two hind legs to out-push one another. This was quite similar to our sumo wrestling, once locked, tremendous pushing started.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:35:38 PM - CIMG8961.JPG

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zDD1ghrlOtk/VAvCzK5xF8I/AAAAAAAAc8s/dxwQS3m8jjY/s1600/CIMG8961.JPG
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-P7mc5FnTUM4/VAvbutubbUI/AAAAAAAAc-k/p8TlBuuNR54/s1600/CIMG8961-1.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
The fighting lasted only for 10 to 15 seconds. The one that fell first would be the looser. It then has to leave the territory promptly.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:35:48 PM - CIMG8962.JPG

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Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
In this case the winner chased the looser out of its territory.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:36:14 PM - CIMG8963.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OJpf1Tom4-Y/VAvCzq5eq1I/AAAAAAAAc8w/Q5t29OU1Qfc/s1600/CIMG8963.JPG

 
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
The looser humbly moved away in search for a new home.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:36:36 PM - CIMG8964-1.JPG

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ib76NQaNRis/VAvC0Jb8F2I/AAAAAAAAc88/x4Y1CsUTpps/s1600/CIMG8964-1.JPG

 
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
The winner may not be shy all the time, as we were about to discover. It could be annoyed by having too much attentions. Rightly it could be, because its natural habitat was being intruded by both challenger of its own kind and human beings.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:53:05 PM - CIMG8975.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3bADGwxGw0c/VAvC0ZW7dlI/AAAAAAAAc9E/LsUWuFSwp5M/s1600/CIMG8975.JPG

 
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
After a hard day, this monitor lizard decided that enough was enough. It responded with something surprising. It  began by making a 180º turn towards our direction.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:55:15 PM - CIMG8984.JPG

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Hl1W0pIW6wI/VAvC0zSqpFI/AAAAAAAAc9c/NI1DWePBT8s/s1600/CIMG8984.JPG

 
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
We thought it was moving into a more comfortable position as it moved towards us. But we were very mistaken.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:55:21 PM - CIMG8985.JPG

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KSHF4Cc_K3A/VAvC0_wgIDI/AAAAAAAAc9M/OnpTYblVleA/s1600/CIMG8985.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
We sensed something was wrong as it lurked faster and faster towards us. Normal monitor lizard didn't do this.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:55:25 PM - CIMG8986.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JpfWzmH240M/VAvC1fjVSBI/AAAAAAAAc9U/AzOhuUJXG6Q/s1600/CIMG8986.JPG


Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
It was definitely not correct as it charged into our direction. We had nothing to defense ourselves. How I wished I had passed my shuttle run during National Service days.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:55:29 PM - CIMG8987.JPG

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nBZfijcmtqU/VAvC165POUI/AAAAAAAAc9g/A7OJgkRSehs/s1600/CIMG8987.JPG

 
Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake

Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
PHOTO: Singapore Botanical Garden - Swan lake
Double confirmed. We were in dangerous position. One last final photo shot and we had to make our escape. It's now or never.

I remembered somebody ever told me: "Unity is strength. United we stand". I looked around, all my companions had disappeared. It was more appropriate: "Run to survive!". Reptiles have no respect for human's rules and regulations.
Picture taken on Wednesday, August 06, 2014, 4:55:35 PM - CIMG8988.JPG

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vkFhdn4AsL8/VAvC2XrGcrI/AAAAAAAAc9o/mav0G7QJMdc/s1600/CIMG8988.JPG

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