One of the privileges of being a Silver in Singapore is that we can go anywhere in the country for 43 cents, before 7:45am.
So off we go on our public transport trip to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Depending on where you live, you may want to take the MRT or a combination of bus and MRT (it will still be just 43 cents).
Jane and I took the Downtown Line to Beauty World and left the MRT station via Exit B.
If you exit from there, walk along Upper Bukit Timah Road, next to restaurant-lined Cheong Chin Nam Road, look for the overhead pedestrian bridge ahead, cross the bridge, and follow the signs.
Into the forest
Upon entering the reserve, the atmosphere suddenly changes. It feels more like a virgin jungle in Borneo than anything we’re used to in Singapore — perhaps that’s because it is, in fact, the largest virgin rainforest land left in Singapore. The magic of Bukit Timah seemed to have been recognised way back in 1883 when it became one of the first forest reserves in Singapore — thank you, Nathaniel Cantley. Most of the other such reserves are gone, but fortunately Bukit Timah has been retained and even became an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2011. For more information, see Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
It’s not only the atmosphere the changes in the reserve: people seem to be a bit different too: I received more than one “good morning” from perfect strangers – not sure if that was because of the early hour, the invigorating setting, or a bit of pity due to the sweat on my brow.
At the summit
Reaching the summit feels like a well-deserved reward. If you’re like me and enjoy sharing pictures of your exploits via Facebook, be sure to take a selfie at the Bukit Timah Summit rock.
Another interesting aspect is that, while the reserve would seem to be a photographer’s dream, I only noticed one (very) serious photographer. Most people seem to be there just to soak up the atmosphere and purposefully savour the moment with friends and family.
While there are signs requiring the wearing of masks, almost no one wears masks while walking (or, of course, jogging) in the reserve — it certainly can be deemed to be strenuous exercise. However, when you get to the summit, you should, of course, don your mask, particularly as there are usually quite a few people gathering and talking.
If you're prone to perspire (as I am), bring a towel and travel light. Although it's not a long hike up to the summit — about 20 minutes — it's very steep in some places especially when climbing the slopes and stairs.
If you're up for some extra exercise, explore the side trails, such as the South View Path. But be prepared for a more strenuous climb. Or, if you're in very good shape, try some other trails like the Dairy Farm Loop.
If you don't do the side trails, at least take the slight detour that leads to the TAS VHF station to enjoy the view of the Hindhede Quarry. However, while the view is tempting, do note that the slope is deceptively steep and the sign prohibiting climbing over the fence is there for a good reason.
When walking down the main trail (where the sign says "STEEP SLOPE DO NOT RUN"), it can be very tough on your knees, and toes. To lessen the strain, instead of walking straight, try zig-zagging or, better yet, walking backwards — this works particularly well if you have eyes in the back of your head. And make sure your toenails are well trimmed. Heed the warning signs not to feed the monkeys. We saw what happened to one young lady who ignored the signs and ended up screaming for help.
Go early. We arrived at 7am; the mist was still clinging to the treetops, creating a mystical feeling. And, there were fewer people then. By 8:30am there was a noticeable increase in the number of people, and it started getting warmer. And, of course, like all parks in Singapore, weekdays are much less crowded than weekends.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is certainly one of our national treasures, and it offers amazing value. It is extremely well-maintained, admission is free, and getting there is so affordable, especially for Silvers. But beyond that, it is the perfect respite from everyday humdrum and tribulations, and an ideal place to stimulate the mind, exercise the body and reconnect with the soul.
Enrolment for the Healthier SG programme begins today (5 July). Benefits include enhanced subsidies, increased access to lifestyle activities, and an easier time managing chronic conditions with MediSave.
There’s never a dull moment when you visit Tokyo. The city that never sleeps offers a heady mix of culture, cuisine, cosplay, computing and character to captivate and charge up your desire to explore every possible corner.
We’re a community created by silvers for silvers, brought together by a sense of curiosity and desire to live the next phase of our lives with joy and purpose. Expect useful tips and uncommon wisdom to enjoy living fuller for longer.