The special walk

I was proposed to about fourteen days ago, on a bridge above a canopy of trees, in Singapore, in the rain, while on a day hike. It was apt since we both love the outdoors, greenery, hiking and it was one of our first hikes together in Singapore. Since then, we’ve gone on longer hikes in New Zealand, Canada and Norway, in the rain, under the sun and in the snow. We’ve made many good memories while on those hikes that’s for sure.

There are so many memories and thoughts that I’m struggling to put this in a blog article read by people who do not know us and hence, the lack of context. For us, getting engaged is a milestone in our lives after five years of living together, but it does not change many other things. Commitment is above any law and it is what holds people accountable to something. However, that said, I grew up in a more conservative culture whereby couples who live together should be legally married and there is still a slight stigma for women who live together with a partner, without getting married or an indication of that happening in the near future. So this was definitely good news for my parents too. They did find out about this earlier than me…when M asked them for permission and blessing before the proposal.

Tradition aside, it is also a goal for many women – to have their very special day, being a princess (although sometimes, we probably do not stop being princesses…). Thanks to all those TV influences – both Western and Eastern, what we are brought up with and societal mindset. Many women see that [getting attached or married] as a part of their value or self-worth.

Coming back to simpler and happier thoughts, hiking and our journey so far which cumulated to the day of being proposed to. It was definitely a special moment which seems more important than signing any legal document. The first few hikes we had as a couple in Singapore and later brought us on many other adventures.

The adventures we had together were great experiences which brought us closer as partners. Multi-day hikes are a great way to bond for sure, when you are ‘bonded’ together for that number of days and nights…

There are so many memories and stories to tell around each hike, adventure and experience we’ve had together. Although we’ve had some bad ones too, just like any other couples, I think it takes work from both parties to work out any issues.

Some things I’ve learn so far after being in a good and healthy relationship. We may not be perfect at doing this yet but a relationship is a learning journey.

  • Do not leave issues as they are. Work them out and find a middle ground if there is and then move on.
  • As partners, we need to lift each other up. From simple things like sharing domestic chores to something more emotional and mental.
  • Listening to each other. Really listen. This is so important for any form of relationship – friends, colleagues, family…yet so tough. Many people listen ‘shallowly’ and jump right off to what they want to say. I’m more aware of this now, but still room for improvement.
  • If there are deal breakers in the relationship, learn to say no and break away as early as possible. Life is too short for staying unhappy for too long.
  • Learn to discover and travel solo first before travelling with your partner. Find that space, peace and happiness within yourself as you should not rely solely on someone else to make you happy.
  • Mutual respect, honesty and trust form the basis of a healthy relationship.

We are so alike in so many ways that it is easy for me to be my weird self. I don’t think there could have been another answer to the proposal other than, yes.

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Sailing in Singapore

Sailing can be pretty fun. We took a four-day course over two weekends at Changi Sailing Club. It was a good course and I recommend it.

The first day required us to pass a swimming test in the swimming pool. Next, we had theory class in an open-air classroom. After lunch, we had a few hands-on practice using a structure which simulates movement of the boat. That was kind of fun. Another fun part was learning how to get up the boat after capsizing. That was done right off the jetty. We took turns to do a half capsize, with the sail just floating on top of the water surface, and a full capsize. To simulate a full capsize, we had to lay on top of the sail until the entire sail goes under. It’s tough enough to right a sailboat after a half capsize and this is very useful considering that capsizing is actually quite common in windy conditions.

  • After you fall into the water, swim around the boat to where the centreboard sticks out. Watch out for the ropes as they can be a hazard.
  • Pull the centreboard out and put your weight on it. The difficult part for me here was getting on top of the centreboard while you are floating around in the ocean, neck deep in water.

We got to rig up our own boats as part of the course. This requires regular practice… It’s been a while since our course and I’ve forgotten how to rig up the boat. We collect our Picos from the boat parking bay and drag them to the open space for washing down the boats and rigging them up. Dragging the boats around is not easy. They are heavy!

Next, we collect our mast, boom, ropes, mainsheet, rudder, centreboard and wind direction indicator. We get good guidance from the instructor on how to rig it up the first time.

We did not get very good winds during the duration of our course and even had to be towed back to shore on one of the days like boat ducklings.

We’ve been back sailing a few more times at Constantwind before we stopped and considered ourselves a little too rusty to go out again without additional classes…

Where can you go hiking in Singapore?

Singapore with a total land area of 687 sq km and highest point at Bukit Timah of 166m, has a pretty decent trail with some climbing… of stairs.

This walk takes you through stairs, mud and more mud, rocks and a stretch of paved road. Living in Singapore and wishing that not everything is boarded up or paved, try this for a off-the-beaten track hike. This is one of our usual routes for a weekend hike.

You will need about 3 hours to 3.5 hours to complete. Or even less. The last time I went, it was 13.5KM within 2 hr and 45 minutes with two bathroom breaks. I would rate this as an easy hike overall. But do bring plenty of water and hydrate well as the weather is hot and humid in Singapore. I finished a 3-litre bag of water during the hike.

Take a cab or drive to Dairy Farm Carpark A, if you wish to explore Wallace Trail or just head straight to Carpark B. The Dairy Farm Summit Loop is just right up the track. There’ll be a sign with ‘Dairy Farm Summit Loop’ pointing towards some stairs.

I went on a Saturday afternoon at about 1:30pm and there was hardly anyone on this route at Dairy Farm. I saw a couple, a couple of other runners and then I was at Bukit Timah Summit. Before that, you’ll come across stairs…. and more stairs…

You will get to a North View Hut, without much of a view, sans napping man, midway. You will continue on the route.

The route will be flat for a while before coming to another flight of stairs which will take you to the path leading to Bukit Timah Summit.

If you are heading towards Macritchie Reservoir, take the other side down, on the right of the Summit Hut and not the same you came up from. Follow the path down towards the Visitor Centre and I urge you to use the bathrooms on the left before starting out on the trail to Macritchie. You won’t see another bathroom for at least the next 5 to 6km.

Now, onto Macritchie. Go straight until you see a grassy path lined with some logs and a map. Follow the muddy path into the greens.

You’ll see this and seeing the two small bridges here among the trees and the sound of water always make me think how beautiful this small little spot is.

Continue on the path. I wonder about the history of this place. I see some fragments of tiles which look like they came from a house along the way. Some random stairs in the woods. I imagine some stories of an old kampong and a huge house when I walk through the woods. 

Some interesting bridges along the way…

Follow the sign towards MacRitchie Reservoir here and watch out for cyclists along this path.

Follow the pink marker to MacRitchie.

This is after you’ve crossed the road from where you would have emerged. Continue through this trail.

Head up… 

…and left.

This part of the trail can be rather muddy. So do be prepared to get some mud on your shoes and legs. You’ll get on Nangka trail and then onto Durian Loop. I’m presuming that this place used to be where some durian trees were found in Singapore?

I like going across these bridges…

Nicely paved steps here.

We’ve tried both paths here. You can skip the Durian Loop path on the right of the picture here and head towards the left. There are more muddy spots down the path on the right.

This is showcase my trusty Salomons. Still slippery on some muddy rocks, but grips well on most other terrains and light! Unfortunately, they won’t be good for my hike in Canada later this year. They don’t provide sufficient support for the soles and the ankles for longer hikes with a heavy backpack.

9km more to Macritchie Park. You’ll come to a road soon after this. Head left when you emerge and follow the road until you get to a trail among some construction.

You will come to a road. Walk uphill and follow the road for about 2km, I think. You’ll pass the Rifle Range Camp along the way and then another entrance/exit to a trail which is part of Macritchie. I saw these pheasants of sorts along the way.

Follow the yellow dirt road! 

Not far now! However, at this point, I do usually feel like it’s so near yet so far… 0_0

There are lots of monkeys along the way, next to the road mostly. I didn’t get any photos of them but I did get a photo of this millipede hurrying a long the path towards TreeTop…

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You may head up TreeTop or just follow the signs to Macritchie Reservoir Park, either through the Golf Link or the other way. If you continue to TreeTop, there’s a bathroom there you may use before continuing towards either TreeTop or towards Macritchie Park.

Depending on which route you end up taking at Macritchie, the hike is between 13.5KM and 16.6KM, to Macritchie Park’s main carpark.

Have fun and don’t forget to hydrate! Bring a waterproof bag for your electronics and valuables in case it rains. We were caught in the rain a few times on our hike. It can be fun to wade through the mini floods at Macritchie, but do keep your electronics and phones in a waterproof bag.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – a lackluster experience

After reading some reviews on Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore, we decided to jump on the bandwagon, following the footsteps of all these wildlife enthusiasts.

We embarked on a 2-hour bus ride from Katong. Bus 966 from opposite Parkway Parade and connecting to 925 or 925C from Opposite Blk 402, or for better use of landmark, Marsiling bus stop where folks get a public bus to Johor.

925 loops within the area and takes you right to the doorstep of Sungei Buloh Wetland Centre only on Sundays.

The reserve isn’t very large for walking trails. We saw lots of foreign couples around the observation decks, some birds, a mudskipper, a komodo lizard and some really aggressive fishes.

Our experience might have been marred by the fact that we aren’t big fans of birdwatching or gazing across mud, mangroves and breathing in the lovely aroma of something which died around the swamps.

If you are a self-proclaimed wildlife enthusiast with an appetite for that, this might be your cup of [swampy] tea. For us, we enjoy some wilderness, the experience of wildlife in our midst but I think we aren’t at the level to appreciate mangroves and swamps.

Kent Ridge Park to Southern Ridges

Well, this walk was possibly the last walk prior to my surgery. I am definitely looking forward to a full recovery and a long walk. 

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We did this walk on 14 June 2015 as part of our Southern Ridges walk. We’ve done the Southern Ridges walk the last time without starting from Kent Ridges. 

Oh yes, hydrate well and bring a quick dry towel for the humidity.
Oh yes, hydrate well and bring a quick dry towel for the humidity.

Kent Ridge Park is close to Pasir Panjang MRT (circle line) and you could walk in through Pepys Road, which will take you up a hill. Very tranquil and great to get your heartrate up.

The park is huge but we didn’t finish a complete perimeter walk around Kent Ridge. We walked towards Hort Park (follow the signs) through a canopy walk (a raised bridge over the trees and you get a great view). You’ll see the nursery of Hort Park from the canopy park. Hort Park is undergoing a bit of a renovation for a playground it seems.

You could cut across Hort Park to the Southern Ridges walk. There are two options:
– Canopy walk
– Earth Walk

We have gone on the canopy walk twice now and will do the Earth Walk next time. The Canopy Walk is a raised bridge and the Earth Walk is along a track through a ‘jungle’ (cleared path and trees so it’s a sheltered walk for a sunny day).

The canopy walk on Southern Ridges will take you to Telok Blangah Hill to Henderson Waves. This is the best part of the walk. I’ve written an earlier Trip Advisor review on Southern Ridges with Henderson Waves. You may also refer to another post within my site on Southern Ridges.

In our opinion, the next part after Henderson Waves is all a little boring. It takes you to Mt Faber which is where you get a cable car to Sentosa. After Mt Faber, you’ll downwards to Vivocity and HarbourFront.

Estimate about 2.5 hours for the entire walk. We walked rather briskly and it took us 2hrs or under.

Walk on!

Teaching an old dog new tricks

So I’ve not touched a tennis racquet in more than 15 years and decided to take it up again recently towards the end of last year. The decision to start playing tennis again was a conscious effort to learn a new skill or sport which helps me meet more people and also perhaps a game of casual tennis with my partner and his family. Besides keeping fit, the game helps with hand and eye coordination which I can be really bad at.

Learning to play tennis again or picking up something new can be daunting. However, learning to get past failures of learning can help make it fun and quickens the process. I was disheartened at first when I realised how rusty I was at the game. The tennis coach is strict but helps us pick up proper techniques in tennis. Some coaches do not go through that level of detail and corrective lessons. It is nevertheless more tedious to relearn proper techniques and kick bad habits.

It gets more fun as one progresses but still challenging with the footwork and the multitude of instructions the coach hollers while you’re in action. I feel that I’m trying to remember too many things while simply catching the ball on the racquet – the swing, the arms, footwork, power.