Category Archives: travel
What I didn’t tell you in my last post was that the warning signs about monkeys were not my first encounter with said creatures on this trip. My first ever experience with monkeys occurred just the previous Saturday while visiting Batu Caves, which is just north of Kuala Lumpur at the end of a suburban railway line.
Batu Caves is named after the nearby Batu River, and is both a natural attraction (the caves themselves) and a Hindu shrine, supposedly one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India (according to Wikipedia). The shrine is dedicated to Murugan, the Hindu god of war, victory, wisdom, and love (wow, that’s quite a range!). The statue is the tallest one of the god in the world, at 140 feet (and used 300 liters of gold paint), but is pretty new as it only dates to 2006. For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Caves and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murugan.
Although it was interesting to visit, the caves themselves were a bit of a disappointment – a little too sculpted at ground level to accommodate lots of visitors and a lot of junk lying around.
The real attraction here, it seemed – at least for most of the tourists – was the monkeys.
It was interesting and kind of creepy to me to see these monkeys up close. They were amazingly agile and quick, bounding up and down that massive staircase on the hand rails with ease. One jumped over some people and knocked someone’s sunglasses off their head. I was really surprised to see the babies as well.
Overall, this was a good short trip out of the city to see something different in the midst of a busy working schedule.
When I saw this sign the first time, I asked myself – am I comfortable with the presence of wild monkeys? Then I figured that, hey, it’s Singapore – if the monkeys are only half as well behaved as the people there will be no problem!
I’m just finishing a 12-day trip to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, having left home last Monday night and getting home Friday night. I’m glad to say that I really love both cities, especially the people and the food. The heat, however, is another matter entirely; when I was going to bed the first night in Singapore at about 1am local time the Internet said that the temperature was 88F and it felt like 101F – always crazy hot and humid 365 days a year!
On my last morning in Singapore, when the working was done, I decided to try the Southern Ridges walk. I had read about this on my first trip there a year ago but didn’t have time. So, I got up very early, skipped the shower, and headed out. Now, you might be thinking that nature and me don’t go together, and you’d be right; but I was attracted by the chance to travel out of the city center to a different part of the city-state (use different metro stations!), for a chance at some views, and for some of the architecture there in terms of bridges. I figured that if I went early enough I could at least deal with temperatures in the 80s instead of 90s, reduce my sun exposure, and even make it back for the hotel breakfast! And, dare I say, even I was yearning for a little physical activity and time outdoors after more than a week where there is virtually no walking and everything is sealed indoors due to the heat.
So, after a quick trip on the MRT to HarbourFront and a connecting bus the last 10 minutes or so and uphill, I had reached the trail. The elevation and the threat of serious rain produced a nice breeze. After crossing the bridge I immediately entered the Forest Walk, a 0.8-mile path through the woods.
Then abruptly the forest ends, leaving you in Telok Blangah Hill Park and a short “Hilltop Walk” connects to the next point of interest.
So, after a very nice and nearly solitary walk, I hiked down massive staircases to HarbourFront and dashed back to my hotel on the MRT during rush hour. Singapore is one of the most densely populated places on earth, in a sense – it is the third-most dense country or territory (after Macau and Monaco, just ahead of Hong Kong), but as a city it doesn’t even make the top 50 (but neither do any other modern fully developed world cities). The Singapore model, though, involves lots of towers with residences and lots of green space, which helps to temper at least a bit the incredibly hot and humid climate. I really like Singapore, but I will be glad to return to my chosen climate in the UK!