Where in the World is Wallis? Let’s just say I was somewhat neglectful of writing during a whirlwind 6 months in Singapore, so I will do my very best to wrap up some of the highlights from the 1H 2021 here!
2021… what a year to move countries (twice – if you include the move back) I won’t go into the full details, because I could fill separate posts alone just on the logistics, the FORMS (so. many. forms.) the comparison of Singapore’s high tech, nimble home-quarantine scheme (complete with house-arrest style GPS device) to Australia’s archaic paper forms, sitting on a bus for two hours with other arrivals, only to stand in front of the police for 15 minutes whilst they typed the paper form into the system, to then go into a room with no opening windows for 2 weeks… no no no that isn’t what this post is about… but if anyone has any questions on any of that process just reach out.
So what were the highlights? For me, having moved there expecting a high-density concrete jungle, the biggest surprise about Singapore was the abundance of fantastic outdoor spaces and activities. The majority of my free time was spent walking or jogging (let’s be realistic… mainly walking….) or cycling to explore. I was super fortunate to meet some great like-minded people who were also happy to spend their weekends adventure walking or cycling around the island, which made it all much more enjoyable.
I also love how much a part of the culture exercising is there. In Sydney, people seem to either be running fast, or not at all. In Singapore, I was staying on the river so would often go out for a sunset stroll, and people of all ages and sizes were out for runs/shuffles/walks along the river, and using the community exercise equipment or doing Tai Chi around a tree. I think it’s a testament to the focus that has gone into making walking and cycling inclusive and accessible through green space, national parks, and ‘Park Connector Networks‘ to link them up.
- The Botanic Gardens: this was actually my favourite place in all of Singapore. Every time I went I discovered a little pathway leading somewhere new and just felt so calm!
- Bukit Timah, Hindhede Quarry and Dairy Farm loop – 6 years in Australia and I’ve only seen a couple of snakes – saw one in my first month in Singapore at Bukit Timah, along with wild boar, turtles and monkeys!
- Central Water Catchment: Thompson Nature Reserve –> Lower Peirce Reservoir –> Bukit Timah
- The Rail Corridor – we started at the Rail Mall near Bukit Timah and walked to the Southern Terminus. I believe the full path is now open so you can do 24km from north to south across Singapore – Nparks webpage
- Sungei Buloh wetland reserve – Sungei Buloh means Bamboo River in Malay. This area is a ASEAN heritage park and is given focussed conservation status due to its significance as a stop-off point on the global migratory paths of birds.
- MacRitchie Reservoir loop and MacRitchie –> Bukit Timah –> Little Guilin – MacRitchie is a very popular walk, for good reason as it is stunning but I would recommend going early (car park opens 7am) and avoiding on public holidays if you can. The boardwalks are reasonably narrow and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few people have ended up in the water on crowded days!
- Sentosa loop – Sentosa is home to Universal Studios, bungee jumping and some of Singapore’s beaches – although during COVID restrictions you had to book your slot on the beach!
- My go to walk/jog inland along the Singapore river from where I was staying at Great World City, the other way went East to Marina Bay and the barrage
- Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest and Supertrees – Gardens by the Bay is a very impressive project, it opened in 2012 and cost ~$1BN to build. You can walk around the majority of the gardens for free, and just have to buy tickets for the domes (Cloud Forest and Flower Dome) and the Supertrees and Skywalk.
- Last but definitely not least… in fact, longest… the 35km ‘Coast to Coast’ trail note we didn’t follow the official trail the whole way, and took a much more scenic route in the middle
- Upper Seletar Reservoir and Little Guilin Quarry
- Tuas Port lamppost 1 (LP1) ride – the only lamppost in Singapore you can put stickers on
- About as many hills as you’re going to find in Singapore, unless you’re doing repeats of Mount Faber
- My solo ride airport loop – the stretch out by the airport was a time-trial biker’s delight – flat, straight and fast
- Our classic group ‘Sunday cycling‘ loop around Kranji Marshes
I did both these trips on my own and got amusing reactions from taxi drivers when they asked where I was going: “Pulau Ubin…. on your own?? You are very brave” – amusing since Singapore is probably one of the safest places on earth, and at no time did I even feel uncomfortable, let alone concerned by being on my own.
However in classic Caitlin style I was a bit early and keen for Pulau Ubin… it was Easter Sunday and I had heard that the ‘bum boats’ go from Changi Ferry Terminal from 7am but only when there are enough passengers. This meant I had to hang around for a while, and when we did set off shortly before 7.30 it was me and a boat full of fishermen!
- Culminating with the big one… Round the Island (RTI)
And a few less active things….
- Chinese New Year and Eid: another thing I loved about Singapore was the diversity of people, cultures, food and religion (also great for lots of public holidays…)
- ‘Staycation’ at Marina Bay Sands:
- Singapore Zoo & Night Safari – the zoo and night safari are on the same piece of land but are two different attractions. You could do them in one day, but I’d recommend splitting it up so that you don’t get tired of walking and reach a state of animal apathy (“oh, another leopard...”). The set up is done very well as a sort of fenceless zoo with moats (or ‘hahas’ as we bizarrely call them in the UK) so that the animals aren’t going to get too close – although the sign saying that the tigers could jump 10mtrs from stationary was slightly disconcerting.
You might have noticed one thing that I’ve largely omitted so far that that Singapore might actually be most famous for…. and that is its food! Now I didn’t take hundreds of food snaps, and there are many, MANY, food blog, vlogs and instas you can check out for SG eats, but it’s safe to say my kitchen did not get a whole lot of love whilst I was there – hard to justify cooking when the Zion hawker centre was 100m up the road with $1.50 fresh juice and $3.50 chicken rice meals!
A wonderful experience all round and hoping I make it back there soon. Whilst lots of folk who have lived in Singapore a while were understandably getting frustrated by the lack of travel – the location and ease of travel being a key drawcard of living there, for me it was the perfect excuse to get to see more of Singapore.
Although definitely not in a rush to do Australia’s hotel quarantine again….