Practice: A Walk in the Park
As an introvert, practice can be very trying at times for personalities like mine. Over the years, I have realised that not only do I put on work clothes at the start of the day, I also “put on” my “lawyer outfit” – this invisible outfit which gives me the personality and confidence to speak with clients (existing and potential clients alike), opposing counsel, judges, etc.
It is 100 per cent true what they say that extroverts derive energy from socialising with people around them. Introverts on the other hand feel drained from socialising with people. It is unsurprising then that when I return from work every day and remove my “lawyer attire”, that I am exhausted and crave for nothing more than quiet time on my own. Even that can be hard to achieve because of family and other commitments.
To charge my social battery and to completely disconnect, I take weekly walks and have found them to be extremely revitalising. Also, it never hurts to take in some of that green (it’s good for your eyes!) and enjoy some fresh air.
The National Parks Board (NParks) has done a remarkable job in putting together well-maintaining tracks and forest trails throughout the island and I have highlighted some of my favourites for you to consider doing as well!
MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park
This is undoubtedly the most well-known walking trail amongst the locals. The wonderful thing about the MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park is that you get to enjoy both the forest green as well as the stillness of the reservoir waters.
I would recommend starting at Windsor Nature Park and following the signs that lead you to the Ranger Station (use the Squirrel Trail and the Drongo Trail). The Ranger Station will provide you shelter for a short break. There are also public toilets and water coolers for you to top up your water bottles.
There is a trail from the Ranger Station that will lead you to the TreeTop Walk. The view is pretty but, in my opinion, it can get crowded and is highly overrated. The TreeTop Walk is also not for the faint hearted as it is located quite high up and it can be overwhelming for those who are afraid of heights.
I personally prefer to continue the trail (after the Ranger Station) towards Petaling Hut. You will eventually reach a T-junction. Take the left and head towards Jelutong Tower. Jelutong Tower is one of MacRitchie’s best kept secrets – it is 100 per cent worth the climb up and you can get a 360-degree view of the nature park, including the reservoir at a distance.
After the Jelutong Tower, you can continue down the path which will lead you to a trail along the Singapore Island Country Club’s golf course. The walk is scenic and beautiful.
If you’re tired, you can exit at the Lornie Road exit. If you can muster on another 45 minutes or so (I highly recommend this!), get on the Chemparai Trail which will eventually lead you to MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
A food haven along Upper Thomson Road is located just a few bus stops down from MacRitchie Reservoir Park. You can reward yourself with a good cuppa coffee from Knockhouse Coffee and fill your belly with Ming Fa Fishball Noodles after. You can also consider my favourite, Nam Kee Chicken Rice – an old school chicken rice restaurant which will take you back to the past (think old school booth seats).
Time spent: 2 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty level: 4/10
Tips: Avoid Sunday mornings – this is when the trail is the most crowded!
Rifle Range Road
As the MacRitchie Reservoir Nature Trail can get pretty crowded, there are alternatives that you can consider.
Remember the T-junction I mentioned earlier (this is after Petaling Hut)? Instead of taking the left, take a right! This trail is far less crowded, and you will eventually find yourself at the PUB Rapid Water Flow.
What I find extremely interesting is just before reaching the PUB Rapid Water Flow, you will reach a small creek which has a yellow hut located in the middle of it. The yellow hut is surrounded by water and there is no way of accessing it, nor are there any signs about who it belongs to or what it is used for. I have done some searches on this yellow hut and have not been able to find any articles about its ownership or purpose and although it is completely out of place, there is just something rustic about it.
Trudge on down the trail and you will eventually find yourself crossing a small water way (don’t worry, it’s ankle deep and there are rocks you can use to walk over the water way without getting wet). The water is clear as day and extremely cool on touch.
Continue down Rifle Range Road and you will eventually cross a bridge that takes you over the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE).
You have three options from here:
- End the walk after exiting the trail. You can easily get a cab from Rifle Range Camp.
Time spent: 2 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty level: 5.5/10
- Follow Rifle Range Road right to its end – the road will eventually lead you to the old Bukit Timah Railway Station and take you to Clementi Forest. The walk can be a little draining as it is hilly and you will experience a lot less nature as you will hit a residential area whilst on the trail. You will be rewarded by stunning views of untouched forest once you reach Clementi Forest.
Time spent: 3 hours
Difficulty level: 5.5/10
- Enter the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and head towards Dairy Farm. You will be alongside the BKE and eventually end up at Dairy Farm Nature Park. You can end off the walk with some very authentic and affordable Italian food at iO Italian Osteria located at HillV2.
Time spent: 3 – 3.5 hours
Difficulty level: 6/10 (only because it can get tiring due to the distance!)
Lower Pierce Reservoir / Upper Pierce Reservoir
Start the trail at Lower Pierce Reservoir Carpark. You will be wow-ed from the start of the trail as you get a very pretty view of Lower Pierce Reservoir.
Look for and get onto the Oncospermum Trail. This trail is my favourite trail in Singapore. It is quiet and the view from the boardwalk never fails to take my breath away. If you’re lucky, you may also get to see the otters and monitor lizards enjoying a swim in the reservoir.
You will eventually hit an intersection and I recommend taking the Bamboo Trail / Cyathea Trail which will end at the Casuarina Entrance located along Old Upper Thomson Road.
The trail is short, and you can reward yourself after with kopi and prata at Casuarina Curry (located to the right of the Casuarina Road Car Park). If you plan on taking your children with you, you can take them to an old biscuit store located a few doors down from Casuarina Curry. The store still sells biscuits by weight out of tin cans, and you can find ear crackers, sultana biscuits, sandwich lemon biscuits and if you’re lucky (this is hard to find), plain butter biscuits which are alphabet shaped.
Time spent: 30 – 45 min
Difficulty level: 2/10
If you find a trail too short and want to challenge yourself, you may want to continue walking down Old Upper Thomson Road where you will eventually reach Casuarina Road Car Park. Take a left and continue on the trail along Old Upper Thomson Road, a narrow 2 lane road which is popular with monkeys and cyclists (watch out for both of them!).
You have two options from here:
- About 10 – 15 minutes into the trail, you will see an entrance on the right for the Macaque Trail and Langur Trail. This is the entrance into Thomson Nature Park, and this is a fun trail if you are a history buff as the old Hainan Village is located within the nature park. Fun fact: the founder of Han’s Café used to live in the village, and you can find a Han’s Café located at Springleaf MRT (Upper Thomson Road).
You will see remnants of old houses in the nature park, and you can end the walk at the Thomson Nature Park Main Entrance.
Time spent: 1.5 hours
Difficulty level: 4/10
- Go past the entrance to the Macaque Trail and Langur Trail and continue walking on the trail along Old Upper Thomson Road until you see a sign on your left to Upper Pierce Reservoir Walk. You will see a gate which you can enter.
Be careful as there are a lot of monkeys along this trail and if you’re lucky, you will also see some wild boars in the vicinity. Don’t worry, they are mostly afraid of us and in my experience, they will run off quickly without incident.
The trail can be quite taxing as it’s extremely hilly but if you’re able to press on, you will arrive at Upper Pierce Reservoir Park where you can walk along a stone walk which divides Lower Pierce Reservoir from Upper Pierce Reservoir.
Time spent: 3 – 3.5 hours
Difficulty level: 7/10
Southern Ridges / Henderson Waves
You can start this trail at the HortPark located at 33 Hyderabad Road.
Walk towards Alexandra Arch. The arch is an overhead bridge that will take you across Alexandra Road onto the Earth Trail. This is one of my favourite trails and you will walk atop the forest on a metal wire track (don’t worry, it’s very stable!).
Follow on the trail towards the Southern Ridges. This trail is largely sheltered by trees, and you will be able to see a few HDB flats in the distance.
You will eventually reach Telok Blangah Hill Park and if you are in need of a break, I recommend looking for Wildseed Café at Alkaff Mansion which is located within the vicinity of Telok Blangah Hill Park. The café is beautiful and a popular venue for weddings.
After your break, you can continue on the trail towards Henderson Waves. Henderson Waves can be very hot as it’s unsheltered, but you will get stunning views of the CBD (on the left) and Reflections at Keppel Bay (to the right).
Henderson Waves will eventually lead to Mount Faber which overlooks Sentosa and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can consider hopping on the cable car towards Sentosa. For me, I would highly recommend taking the Marang Trail which leads towards Harbourfront MRT. You can end the walk at Seah Imm Food Centre where you will find the best duck rice (comes with options of pig innards and skin!).
Time spent: 1 – 1.5 hours
Difficulty level: 5/10