Friday, September 25, 2009

Bukit Batok Nature Park Prequel

Sep 25, 2009

Having mentioned in my last post about visiting the Bukit Batok Nature Park prior to it becoming a park, I remembered and dug out the few old photos I had stashed away somewhere.
I know my siblings are going to have a field day laughing at the pictures below. These were taken 30 years ago when I was just out from the army and was working as a quality inspector for Mercedes Benz. They show me 30 years younger and maybe also 20 kilos lighter.

My job as a final line quality inspector required that I took the newly assembled cars for a test run, road test we called it. Along the test route, we drove to the abandoned Poh Kim Granite Quarry, where the rough track road served as an excellent place to check for rattles from the various car assemblies. Then it was up the slope to Bukit Batok summit where we tested steering alignment by simply rolling down the slope in free gear.

The photos shows Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bukit Batok hill prior to the re-planting frenzy that NParks Singapore did after they took over. Bukit Batok for years was quite bare and the tower and summit could be seen from afar. Today, it's much better, looking like a forest reserve with all its greenery.

Click on the photo for a larger image

At the abandoned Poh Kim quarry, long before the revamp.

The pond had already started to fill with rainwater and natural runoff.
I reckoned the pond to be about 20-30ft deep.

In the background - Bukit Timah shopping malls and view towards the obscured city.
Forestation was then what we called bulukar secondary forest.

At the bare summit of Bukit Batok with Bukit Timah Hill in the background.
The cliff face in the background was the then active  Singapore Granite Quarry.
Upper Bukit Timah Road in the valley divides Bukit Batok from Bukit Timah.

In front of the WWII Japanese Army-built steps. The then RTS (Radio and Television Singapore, now Mediacorp) Tower was the original. This was replaced with a newer tower in the 90s.
To know more about the history of these steps, please watch the video from the previous blog entry.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bukit Batok Nature Park, Singapore

Tues, Sep 22, 2009

For someone who considers taking a shower exercise, going to the nature park two days in a row must surely be a record of sorts. Walked about 5km in my sandals on Sunday along the Dairy Farm Trail (click here for that blog) and yesterday trekked the Bukit Batok Nature Park in my flip-flop slippers.

Had purposely worn my sandals and slippers, because in these footgear you are forced to walk slowly. In turn, this will give you more time to really appreciate the surroundings. Even made it all the way up to the top of Bukit Batok. Ha ha, had wanted to say 'summit' but it being only 120 metres high, summit sounds so exaggerated.

Bukit Batok Nature Park is just a stone's throw from my home, and yet it would have been the 2nd or 3rd time only that I've been there. The last time I went, my son Jason was about 3 or 4 years old. He's now in his early twenties. Talk about time flying by!

The park was reclaimed and revamped from a dis-used granite quarry by NParks Singapore around 1988 onwards. They've done a magnificent job!

It might interest you to know that I had actually been to the quarry just after it had ceased operations sometime in the early 1980s. I had a job testing new Mercedes cars and one of the test routes took us to the abandoned quarry to test the car for rattle.

Of course, we made plenty of stops at the quarry pond for breaks. The bare granite cliff face was already an awesome sight at that time. Today, vegetation is starting to cover the magnificent cliff.

This is a video I made on my walk yesterday of the Bukit Batok Nature Park. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jim Lim, my friend in Cambodia

Holiday season is here again.
Actually I need to clear my annual leave or it gets forfeited, lol.

So I started planning for my next trip two weeks ago.
T'was supposed to be a short break somewhere nearby.
Penang and Langkawi were on top of the list.
That was, until reports of the continuing regional haze and the H1N1 epidemic relegated Penang and Langkawai to the back burner.

Then it came to the alternatives - Bali, Angkor Wat, or Phuket.
Angkor Wat was in the lead. I'd never been there. But is it safe? landmines?
Fear of the unknown God once forsaken place made me think ...maybe Phuket be better??

But then, been to Phuket too many times already, not so exciting anymore....
But then Phuket has wonderful spas and beaches....
But so has Bali.....
but then Bali is more expensive, further away, and worst of all, all flights in seem to be in the evenings meaning you loose a day.....???
Eeenie, meenie, minnee, moe? scissor, paper, stone?

This morning I made up my mind. The beaches and the spas, and the cheap Thai food, won.
Booked myself a room at the Burasari Resort with a Silkair package thrown in for less than $400. So I was all set.

This evening, my ex boss, ex co-worker and still good friend, Jimmy Lim, posted a note on Facebook. "Finally, I have a Guest House Pub & Restaurant."
Guess where? Siem Reap, Cambodia, just outside of Angkor Wat !!!

Arrrggghhhh!!! Jim, you should've posted your piece yesterday, I shot back at him!
That would have been all the push I needed to determine my holiday destination.
But as Jim said, "No worrries man, next time."

So if any of you are considering a trip to Cambodia, especially to Angkor Wat, please look for Jim at Siem Reap. His address is in one of the photos below, or I can help you get in touch with him.

These are some pictures of Jim's Place in Cambodia taken from his Facebook.