Never Stop Exploring – Bulim Forest

The Bulim/Tengah forest will soon be gone – converted into another block and block of flats and condominium. So before it is gone forever, I went down with some friends to have one last look and also first look at the place.

First thing that strike me when I entered the place was its sheer size. From the main road, it looks just like any small patch of forest but once in, we were like Oh Wow! Just take a look at these photos:

As I understand, these place used to be a kampung before the villagers were resettled in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas and the SAF took over the place for the army training. Hence, the nice wide paths that criss cross the entire area.

There is supposed to be a small stream but we didn’t manage to locate it. Instead what we saw was this little longkang which I understood was a lifeline for the people there during the second world war.

This stream and all the mini waterways there eventually leads to this new longkang.

While we were there, we observed many birds including a large flock of Long tailed Parakeets and many other smaller forest birds. We also spotted Brahminy Kite and White Bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead.

A rather beautiful place to admire Mother Nature and admire its beauty. Sadly scene like these will disappear soon as the crazy Gahmen continues on its relentless quest to concrete the whole of Singapore.

Reptopia @ Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo replaced the old Reptile House with a brand new “Reptopia” which opens in late May this year. The old Reptile House which was looking very dated with all the snakes in small glass tank enclosure. The new Reptopia is firstly air conditioned and very much more comfortable for visitors.  The old walk through exhibit which used to have the iguana and tortoises is now divided into 2 smaller areas with one of them featuring the Caiman crocodile and the other the same iguana and the tortoises.

The snakes and other reptiles are now housed in much bigger enclosures with different compatible species kept in same enclosures.Here are some of the snakes that are displayed in the new Reptopia. 

Ball Python

Green Tree Python

Reticulated Python

King Cobra

Keeled Rat Snake

Gabon Viper

Emerald Tree Boa

Western Diamond Backed Rattlesnake

Mangrove Snake

Sadly though, the number of snakes specimen has been reduced drastically. The Singapore snakes area is no more and the popular anaconda has been moved to the River Safari.

There are now a lot more lizards some of which I understand from some sources are confiscated lizards from the public. In addition, there are weird looking lizards like gila monster, beard dragon and skink.

Caiman Lizard

Fuji Banded Iguana

Gila Monstor

Bearded Dragon

Ornate Spiny Tailed Lizard

There are now several species of chameleon. I didn’t know there are so many species and so colorful too.

Parson’s Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Yemen Chameleon

Last but not least there are a few rare frogs and even a tarantula.

Dyeing Poison Frog

 

All in, despite the reduced number of snakes, I think this new Reptopia is certainly worth a visit especially for those who are into reptiles.

Toa Payoh Town Park

Took a walk down memory the other day when I dropped by Toa Payoh Town Park previously known as Toa Payoh Garden. In its hey days in the seventies, it was probably the 2nd most popular place in Singapore for wedding photos after the Botanic Garden. Now it is a shadow of its past mostly deserted and frequented only by exercise enthusiasts on weekend morning and Myanmar maids.

Toa Payoh Park is a smallish 4.8 hectares park dominated by a pond with beautiful overhanging willow trees.

Time seems to stand still here. Practically all the iconic landmarks are still there. Good thing is looking at the paintwork, it appear that there has been regular maintenance and everything seems relatively well maintained. 

The restaurant is still there but now it is the famous Oasis Porridge restaurant that used to be at the old Kallang Lesiuredome.

One interesting thing about Toa Park Park is that despite having a small little pond, it has multiple bridges like this nice zig zag bridge

And a similar design but straight bridge

More unique is this stone bridge reminiscent of those traditional Chinese bridge in China

The most famous of all landmark is of course the 25 metre high Observation Tower. There are only 2 other similar towers in all of Singapore – the more famous Rocket Tower at Upper Seletar Reservoir, and the gigantic one at Jurong Hill. Unfortunately the tower is now locked and the public are not allowed to go up to the top for the view not that there is much of a view. A better view can be obtained from the Toa Payoh Hub and other HDB flats around the area.

The tower was given conservation status in 2009 so which means the park is probably going to be there for a long long time to come. Nice little place but probably have outlived its purpose.

Sungei Tampines

Sungei Tampines used to be a bare concrete canal or storm rain as the authorities called it. This was how it looked like in 2012.

Then the Public Utilities Board’s ABC program came and Sungei Tampines was transformed into a beautiful little “river”.

But then recently I noticed something strange. The creepers on the fair bank (photo left) has been removed leaving the bare concrete bank again. I was shocked!

I promptly send off a query via the One Singapore app and a few days later, someone from the PUB contacted me to explain the reason. And my suspicion was correct. The cause was this.

Stink Bug! There seems to be a major infestation of them. I first spotted them sometime late last year and recently in February noticed that they were all over the railings. In fact, I actually reported this via the One Singapore App as well. 

The eggs are everywhere. On the plants and on the railings.

So I supposed its inevitably that the authorities took the easy way out and remove the source of the infestation which they claimed is the creepers. And they have informed that they are planting new slower growing creepers as a replacement although I yet to see them.  Oh well, I suppose I just have to wait……….

Pulau Ubin

It been some time since I last visited Pulau Ubin and then suddenly in the space of 2 months, I been there 3 times. Each time I am struck by its wild beauty and marvel that such a rustic place can be reached from bustling busy Singapore city with just a 10 minutes ferry ride.

The same run down little shop houses with the eateries and bicycle rentals are still there. The wayang stage is still there and nothing much seems to have changed. Time seems to have come to a stand still there which is good. Hopefully no Sentosa twin ever.

On my latest visits, we noticed 2 places that we have never seen or noticed. Butterfly Hill where there are apparently more than 140 species of butterfly spotted.

More of that in a later post though.

The numerous quarries are still there and together with view of the surrounding sea postcard like backdrop of the island.

Former Ubin Resort (now part of Learning Lab)

Fish Pond

Pekan Quarry

Chek Jawa is still a very much beloved part of the island with its picturesque jetty and mangrove boardwalk.

And we stumbled upon this little hill

At the summit which is only probably about 50 metres above sea level, one get a very beautiful view of the Ubin quarry on one side and the Pasir Ris town on the other.

View from top of Puaka Hill

View from top of Puaka Hill

Other places that have withstood the test of time includes the German Girl Shrine(which seem to have been upgraded in fact)

German Girl Shrine

and this very iconic drink stall which is on every visitor’s list of must take photo

We went to the Ketam Mountain Bike park by foot and not by bike and was rewarded with beautiful view of the Ketam Island and more view of Pasir Ris town.

Ketam Island

We followed a trail to a temple which looks like a copy cat of a Tibetan temple which colourful flags everywhere.

We were training for an upcoming hike and birding and butterflying at the same time so we took a fair bit of time to cover probably 2/3 of the hill. Good excuse to come back another time.

Pulau Ubin Night Walk

Went for a guided night hike at Pulau Ubin organised as part of the Pesta Ubin 2017 activities. The walk was conducted by the famous Subaraj Rajathurai, of Strix Wildlife Consultancy. Here he is briefing the group on the type of bats that can be seen on Pulau Ubin. 

It amazing that he can identify the bats flying up and down. And he does a good bird mimic too! But because the group is too big, we split into 2 groups and we followed his son who was just as knowledgeable.

And before long, he spotted the first snake for the night. A Common Bronzeback Snake high up in the tree. It simply amazing how they can spot something so small and indistinguishable in the dark. Can you see it in cropped photo? 

We spotted a lot of Four lined frogs including a mating pair.

Also a few Asian Toad

And apparently a rare Chorus frog which got our 2 guides all excited. 

And of course there were geckos and insect and this weird looking Hammerhead Flat Worm.

And also a moth

And a Huntsmen Spider

And after 2 hours of walking, we ended the night with another snake sighting. In fact 2 of them – both Oriental Whip Snake.

Oriental Whip Snake