Mount Everest. K2. Bukit Timah Hill!
Well, Bukit Timah Singapore park and nature reserve is not really
a match for those giants of the world's mountains, but it is the
highest peak in Singapore at 163 meters and walking to the top in the
heat sure make it feel a lot higher.
Now, now, don't chuckle.
This 400 acre park may not be the biggest park in the world. Nor does it boast the highest peak in Asia or anything similar. It is also in the middle of an urban landscape.
But all that actually makes its appeal.
Tigers, Lakes and a Sweaty Climb
Bukit Timah Singapore Nature Reserve is essentially a granite hill with surrounding forests and was quarried pretty extensively in the past. It was placed under protection already in the 1900s after the rest of the island was chopped to pieces for construction and firewood.
Much of the forest is fairly untouched and does give a glimpse into what Singapore was like before us ravishers arrived.
The park houses more 800 types of plants and 500 types of animals. A few people say it has more species of trees in one square kilometer than all of the boreal forests in Canada.
Today, there are two lakes that have formed in the former quarries - Hindhede and Singapore Quarries, a fairly large network of rails for mountain biking and walking, a summit walk and a playground for children.
There is also a small visitor center which is interesting for its exhibition on tigers that used to roar in the park and could be heard in the surrounding lowlands, back in the days.
Beware the Mysterious Monkey Man
Today's Singapore tigers come in fluid form in cans and taste pretty good after a sweaty walk to the top.
Maybe that's where the legend of a mysterious Bukit Timah Singapore Monkey Man comes into play. Likely a macaque that stole a Tiger beer and started walking upright...
What to Do - What to Do?
First off, don't worry about the Monkey man and just walk around the place.
The parking lot is small and quickly fills up, so take a bus or cab and avoid the hassle.
That benefits you in another way: a band of monkeys lives in that general area and not only do they walk along brazenly looking for food.
They also squat on your car. What a mess that can become.
Just off the visitor center for the Bukit Timah Singapore Nature Reserve is a boardwalk that leads to the quarry.
Along the way are some pavilions, a playground and a viewing platform on the lake - nice for birthday parties, lunch in the park or yoga on Sunday morning.
On the other side of the visitor center, follow the steep paved road up and up and reach the peak for some nice views around the island.
Coming down, take some of the side paths - big trees, monkeys, maybe even a snake or two.
Just off the parking lot is the beginning of the mountain bike trail.
Extend that trail over to the MacRitchie Reservoir and nature reserve and you'll probably get shaken and jarred enough by rocks and roots to last the week.
National Parks - who else - has put together a nice map, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to get you oriented.
Oh, and those monkeys?