Sunday, May 29, 2016

We Conquered the TreeTop Walk!

Finally, we conquered the TreeTop walk! I've always wanted to attempt the trail because of my love for the Korean variety show Law of the Jungle. The show features celebrities travelling to less-habited, forested areas and they have to learn how to survive on their own for a few days. They would be busy sourcing for fruits, fishing, collecting coconuts, chasing wild chickens, building their own shelters etc. It always makes my day when they get a good harvest of tropical fruits and crazy good seafood (Clams! Crayfish! Even tuna!). I'm so mesmerised by the canopies of trees, sightings of wild animals featured in the show...

The thought of venturing in a forest really attracts me and I think the best alternative I can get in an urban jungle like Singapore would be a walk at the MacRitchie Trails. As you can see from the map below, the trails cover the popular TreeTop Walk (near Tempinis Hut) and various other shorter trails. Some trails like the TreeTop walk is one-way only, so you have to walk a whole loop to complete a trail. So happy that my friend Yuqing agreed to attempt the trails with me and we decided to cover the TreeTop Walk, starting from Venus Drive, and also the MacRitchie Reservoir Trail, ending at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park. In the map it would be the orange route and then the blue route. The connecting point would be the Terentang Hut and the whole trail covers about 10km.

We started at 10am and ended at around 2pm. 4 whole hours of perspiring and aching calves but also 4 whole hours of chatting, sightings of animals (monkeys, lizards, squirrels, butterflies, fishes and even a wild chicken!), short chats with friendly strangers also on the trail, being surrounded by beautiful greenery... We really enjoyed the experience and I thought I would share with you on how to have the best time at the trails!

So firstly, how do you get there? The trail is actually close to Upper Thomson Road, where you can find popular cafés like Pacamara, Habitat Coffee, One Man Coffee etc. You can take the train to Marymount station, then take a bus at the stop Opposite Shunfu East (Bus Stop ID: 53021) and stop at Opposite Flame Tree Park (Bus Stop ID: 53071). The main road is in front of the bus stop while Venus Drive is behind this stop. Walk a little further down from the stop to find a Singapore Island Country Club signage and walk into that small road to find the Venus Drive signage. You will see a car park and a TreeTop Walk sign that indicates the start of the walk!

It's important to make a checklist on what to bring for the walk as well because there are mosquitoes and aggressive monkeys around. Do not carry a plastic bag, the monkeys will think that there's food in it and they will start crowding around you. Make sure you wear sunblock, insect repellent, clothes that covers your legs and shoes that are suitable to walk on rocky and sandy paths. Water is essential, and also bring along insect repellent, a face towel, umbrella (in case of rain because you won't find shelters in time) and a portable fan. 

I had expected for it to be really sunny because we started late. Thankfully, the trees in the canopy provided a lot of shade. In the end, what caused our worries were the aggressive monkeys. Initially, we thought that they were just cute. I sighted a monkey eating a mango and I thought we were lucky to witness that. Haha. But later on we realised that the monkeys were everywhere! And they were hungry it seemed. 

At one point, around eight monkeys lined the path ahead of us. It was a narrow path and there was no escape. Luckily, an uncle who seemed to be really familiar with the trail took up a branch and told us to walk behind him. There was this ferocious monkey snarling and threatening to bite but the uncle managed to chase it away by shouting louder than the monkey haha. I didn't think that was the right way but it did work. I'm not endorsing it though. Just checked National Parks' advisory and they suggested that one should refrain from eye contact with the monkeys and slowly walk away. Frankly speaking, I know the latter is the right way but when you encounter so many crazy monkeys at one instance, how can you manage to stay calm? Haha! We really wanted to walk away slowly but when one monkey suddenly came up so close to us, we just ran away as fast as we could!

Once you are in the trail, keep a lookout for signage and maps. They weren't obscure but I know of friends who still lost their way while locating the TreeTop Walk. We followed the signs closely and found our way easily. Most of the trail is just a one-way narrow path so you won't really get lost! After an hour or so from Venus Drive, we finally reached the TreeTop Walk!

We were so happy when we spotted it but guess what, a huge monkey was on the walk itself and nobody dared to cross hahaha. The funny security guard came to our rescue and tried to block the monkey while we cross. We thought it was so cool of him to protect us haha. I was actually snapchatting when I stepped onto the walk and the guard shouted 'Faster faster!!' when I was trying to take a panoramic view. Hahaha. He was also scared of that damn monkey!

Seriously, the experience on the walk was beyond expectations! It was longer than I had imagined it to be and oh god, we were really high up. The scenery was breathtaking. You would just want to spread your hands out and take a deep breath. I think Yuqing really enjoyed herself on that walk too! Look at her beautiful smile in the next picture haha!

We walked a long distance to finally see the reservoir. The reservoir covered a huge expanse and the view was just wonderful. Sunlight reflected off the surface of the waters and it was as if someone poured glitter over them. Couldn't capture this with an iPhone camera so you'll have to see it for yourself!

In the end, we didn't follow the map to reach the end of the trail (St Theresa's Home). We found our way to public toilets located near Mushroom Café. The signs didn't really help much at the Reservoir Park and we had to rely on Google Maps. 

I wanted to take a shower but I would seriously dissuade you from attempting because the toilets were infested with huge mosquitoes. I felt so miserable when I was in the cubicle. The toilets were really badly maintained too. Again, monkeys crowded the entrance of the toilet. It was kind of an open space toilet, with no doors to prevent the monkeys from entering. Can you imagine the horror!? Hahaha. While I was changing, the sounds of the monkeys screeching gave me goosebumps. I was so scared that I would spot a monkey when I lift my head up!

I managed to change out of the sweaty clothes and got treated with mosquito bites on my back and legs haha. Later, we found a bus stop nearby (Bus Stop: Opp MacRitchie Reservoir) and decided to take a bus down to Upper Thomson Road for a late lunch and some refreshing ice-cream. It's so convenient!

Overall, the walk was gratifying. The difficulty is moderate and you won't have to worry about weariness mid-way because there are sufficient rest stations for you to take a break. I would recommend to bring a friend along because 4 hours of solo walking-hiking is pretty monotonous in my opinion. The trail is not really suited for running because of the rocky paths. Parts of the trail also forbid visitors from running. I slipped a few times but luckily I didn't fall or hurt myself.

Our advice is to take it slow, immerse yourself in the surroundings and you will definitely enjoy the experience. Have fun! <3

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