Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Explore The Rich Nature in Singapore

Photo By: Elin Chow

I was browsing through my photo albums recently, searching for a topic to write for my next post. Then I chanced upon an album containing photos which I have taken about 4 years ago for a school assignment where I was asked to produce something of a specific theme. So... I decided to do something simple. A photography book titled "Nature."

That was in 2009, when I was still a poor design student. I was bold to have chosen to do photography as I could not even afford to buy myself a decent camera. Worst still, I am not even equipped with the most basic photography knowledge and skills. All I had at that time was a 5MP malfunctioning digital camera, which will switched off for no reason and sometimes, processed blurry photos even on a tripod. I have no choice but to capture all the photos in a rush before the camera died on me.

I did regretted during the three weeks of dateline, but it was too late to change. Although I did not managed to score very well, it was a project that had gave me a really good experience. I saw the other side of Singapore, different from the city I have known for most of my life. However, it's pity that the photos that I have to capture at that time are not of a better quality. I hope someday I will be able to visit these places again and come back with photos that will do their beauty some justice.

I grew up in a modernized city, surrounded by high-rise buildings, advanced automobiles and technologies. To me, the nature is something really foreign and unfamiliar, yet its beauty never fails to amaze me. I love the tranquality when I strolled down the forest paths, listening to the music of the trees, waters and animals. I love the nature. So peaceful, so calm and relaxing.

However, to be able to still find places in Singapore where I could experience the beauty of the nature was indeed surprising. Not only one, but quite a few, often forgotten by people. For this assignment, I managed to visit three of them.

1. Kranji Reservoir Park

Previously a freshwater river, the Kranji river is currently one of the largest freshwater reservoir located in the northern part of Singapore. Opened in 1985, the park has two fishing grounds, each equipped with basic amenties such as toilets, shelters and pavilions, which makes the park an ideal destination for family bonding activities such as picnics.

So, what makes the Kranji Reservoir Park special? Comparing to many other reservoirs in Singapore, the Kranji Reservoir seems to be much more ordinary and dull. However, if one has tried to explore deeper, you will discover something that would probably surprise you.

Yes, the mangrove. The Kranji River is formerly a mangrove estuary dammed to become the Kranji Reservior today, which in return, destroyed the natural habitat of the mangrove forest. Now, only a very small patch of the mangrove forest survived, which I believe are starting to disappear too.

The beaming sun rays almost caused me to miss out something amazing. In a darker corner, under the leafy canopy, I realized that the roots of the mangrove are actually red in color!

As you stroll down the beach, it is not difficult to spot dead horseshoe crabs and fish lying along the sandy shores. The result of water pollution.

At a corner of the beach, two China women were seen walking into the sea, probably intended to dig up some clams or mussels for sale.

Just before I was about to leave, I met a Malay girl who requested me to take a photo of her. I obliged and she proceeded to put down her blue water pail and put on a big bright smile on her face. With that, I ended my trip to the Kranji Reservoir Park, bringing along with me a little amazement, surprise and a smile from a little girl. The mangrove may not be as impressive as before, but to me, it was a new experience. I am not sure how much changes have took place over the years since I last visited, even so, I believe photos will never change. This is why I never stopped taking photos.

2. Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve

My next destination of that day was to visit the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, located not far away from the Kranji Reservoir Park. The Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve is the first wetlands reserve in Singapore, having gained its nature park status in 1989.

The wetlands reserve is not only the home for the largest mangrove forest in Singapore, but also the home for a diverse species of flora and fauna. 

It was around 3pm in the afternoon when I reached the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. Just at the entrance, a Komodo dragon was spotted wandering around. Not too far away, I spotted another one swimming in one of the river. I am surprised that Komodo dragon can actually swim!!!

Not sure whether there will be any crocodiles wandering around. But it is never bad to be a little careful while exploring the nature reserve. However, I do encountered a few Komodo dragons. 

This was the second time I ever saw a mudskipper! The first time was during my visit to Malacca, Malaysia. I am definetely not a fan of these creatures, and instead I was fascinated by the fact that they are fish with four legs. It skip around across the mud and can live on land for an extended period of time.

The Wetlands Reserve is also one of the favorite destination for avid birdwatchers as it offers a unique glimpse of various species of migratory birds migrating to countries with a warmer climate due to winter season.

The Wetlands Reserve closes at around 6pm and I have no choice but to leave. I regretted not to visit at an earlier time where I could get to enjoy the nature beauty and tranquality more. Before I left, I spotted a group of stray dogs from a far end. It was a really rare sight in Singapore, but common in many other countries.

I actually requested my husband to re-visit the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve during the time when we were still dating. That was about one and a half year ago but he refused. It was a pity and I should have insisted back then. 

For people who might be interested to visit, the Wetlands Reserve is not a place easily accessible by the public buses. You may want to check out their official website for more details.

3. Farms Tour

I left the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve at around 6pm. However, my adventure did not end there. Aimlessly, my dad drove me around the vicinity and eventually, we decided to visit the farms located in the Yio Chu Kang area where I get to experience some rural farm life.

I can't remember the name of the farm or the exact address. I only remember that was an organic vegetables and fruits farm where we frequently visit. Sometimes, we would specially make a trip to the farm just to get buy some of their products back home. How fresh and beautiful they look!

There is also a little animal corner in the farm where the owner kept some birds and rabbits. This became the playground for the kids while their parents shop for some vegetables and fruits.

We proceeded to visit my dad's friend fish farm next. The farm actually makes me feel like I am at a countryside. 

My nature trip ended at some beach side which I believe was once a fishing village. Indeed, rapid urbanization has brought us with a better life, however, at the same time, it seems to have cost us something invaluable. Yes, the nature, a beauty that no amount of money can buy.

This was a trip which unveiled a different side of Singapore to me. A side which would probably disappear in the next few decades. Although I could never have prevented that from happening, hopefully my photos would be able to leave behind tons of memories for the future generations.

With that, I went home, feeling extremely tired and sweaty. However, my heart feel unusually calm and peaceful. The beauty of the nature, mysterious yet alluring. The nature is my solitude of peace, a place where I will temporary forget all my stress from the busy city life.

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