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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Singapore, Singapore Days 2 and 3 Part 1

Before I get to Days 2 and 3, here are a few add'l pics of Day 1...

Marina Bay

Marina Bay from SkyPark

View...from my bed!

During the day, this is a street market. At night, it's restaurants.

Day 2
As you recalled, on day 1 I went to the Sands SkyPark, Marina Bay, and Clarke Quay - all the must do touristy stuff. On day 2, I woke up early, showered, and headed to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve - a 400 acre of reserve that encompasses Bukit Timah, the hill that at nearly 164 meters marks the highest point in Singapore. I hopped onto bus 75 at Outram Park Station and asked the bus driver to let me know when I should get off. When we approached the Bukit Timah Shopping Center (which by the way is not the shopping center you think it is...I took a walk through it and all the "stores" were employment agencies) about an hour later, I left the bus and went into the shopping center to ask for directions.

Not long after that I was standing in front of the "giant" - what I like to call the slope that leads visitors into the rainforest. I began my trek up the 60 degree slope...not realizing that by the end of the day my entire body would be aching more than after I ran the Philly Half Marathon. It was necessarily the slope that was the problem, it was the killer "stairs" that were high up to past my knees. Imagine that.

The first moment I entered the rainforest was surreal. All the surrounding human-made noise immediately came to a silence, and all I could hear was the "golden silence" of the rainforest, punctuated by the sounds of birds chirping and monkeys jumping from tree to tree.

After reaching the summit, I sat there for a while just enjoying the serenity of the zenith. When it was time to go, I reluctantly found my way back to the path. This time, I got a bit more adventurous and took the "moderate/advanced" paths. This was both an experience I wouldn't forget and one that my body would regret. The stairs were larger and the path was more rugged - all the while with the temperature rising higher and my water bottle rapidly draining.

Eventually, I made it out. Just as I was about to head back to BN!, I saw a sign for Hindhede Nature Park, which was literally right next to Bukit Timah. The paths at Hindhede were definitely easier on the legs, and shorter. I walked up to the Lookout Point, which overseas the a large water reservoir/lake that had been formed after years of rain collection. The original pit was created when the wall facing the water was mined for quarry. It is quite impressive. See the pics below.

By the time I got back to BN!, my legs were about to give in...so I hopped into bed and took a nap. I was chatting with Kurt, who reminded me of last season's Top Chef finale, where the contestants went to Lau Pa Sat in Singapore to compete. A quick Google Maps search showed that I had walked by Lau Pa Sat just the day before. Not wanting to come all the way to Singapore to not see where Angelo got beat at his own game, I jumped out of bed and headed out. It was a cozy indoor food court lined with restaurants of all different cuisines - Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Chinese, you name it they got it. I grabbed a bite of a dish with noodles and chicken that I swear tasted like duck. It was good. One thing I've noticed about the food courts here in Singapore is that they don't give you napkins!

Another note is that there's obviously a lot of construction going on in Singapore at the moment. Everywhere you turn there are cranes, construction workers, etc. I don't doubt that when I come back next time nothing will look the same.

Day 3
Situated just 6km from Bukit Timah lies the MacRitchie Reservior, at the top of which is the HSBC TreeTop Walk. There is a boardwalk that surrounds the edge of MacRitchie, which is great if you want to take a peaceful walk around the reservoir.


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