Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The path away from civilisation begins here

The little path in the photo appears to be leading to nowhere, unpretentious. What lies beyond is a totally new experience of another world. This is a world of what Jurong was before it became an industrial estate in the late 1960s. Here it is still unspoilt and barely touched by the bulldozers.

It took about half an hour to get away from the concrete maze of a bustling city to get to this wetland reserves. The journey was smooth and pleasant, which was a little disappointing as I was expecting the rough and tumble of driving along an unpaved jungle track and the fun of a 4 wheel landrover . The nearer I got to the reserve, the lesser was the bustle and noise of an over populated city state. The traffic was also much less of an annoyance. Things just quiet down.

And now, a short walk from the car park, I was staring at a little tunnel of dense tropical vegetation, and the promise of a walk with mother nature, far from the maddening crowd. And there was a no smoking sign too. What a thoughtful idea. The birds and animals would not want to be addicted to nicotine too.

Almost there

It got brighter as the foliage canopy gave way to a new opening in the forest. A wooden structure stood ahead, linked by a little bridge from the road. It was just about eight on a Sunday morning in March.

The Visitor's Centre

Oh, a couple of foreign tourists had arrived ahead of me. The wooden structure was the Visitor's Centre. A beam across its front said 'Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve'. There was a pond on the left and another wooden hut at the far end of the water. I found out later that it was the cafeteria.

It was so quiet and peaceful around here. The rushing around disappeared and the pace of life just scaled down to the rhythm of leg power.

Nature's Treasure Troves

There was a solitary uniformed staff at the reception counter. He was a bit surprised when I offered to pay the entrance fee of $1. He said, 'Free for early birds.' Me, an old bird!

That was a pleasant surprise though the $1 ticket was not too much to pay for. The reserve only charges visitors on weekends and public holidays. Senior citizens, above 60, need only pay 50c. Free on weekdays for all!

To get myself acquainted with the place I turned right into a Nature Gallery for a little introduction. Eight o'clock in the morning wasn't too early and there were others already inside the Gallery.

The first exhibit on the right of the hall displayed a few bird nests and commentaries on their natural owners and why the nests were constructed in those ways.

More exhibits

More exhibits on what to expect inside the reserve. The crab was unusually big. Was I visiting Jurassic Park?

Night life at Sungei Buloh

The map should be useful. The Encounters at Dusk was a bit dark inside and some stuffed night birds on display. Incidentally, the reserve opens at 7.30am and closes at 7pm daily. No visiting at night.

The journey begins here

Ok, this was where I started. This was the short path behind the Visitor's Centre which led directly to a bridge. The main bridge across the river and into the reserve proper, the longest bridge at about 60 metres in length.