Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Walk In The Park

Feeling stressed lately? School exams are coming up in a few days? Haven't had time to get an exercise because of work? Why not visit the nearest park?

A walk in the park can be more than just an easy undertaking, in reference to the popular idiom. It can be a revitalizing experience -- connecting with nature, quieting the mind, reexamining the soul, recharging the spirit, traveling back in time, looking forward to the future, or simply celebrating the present. Of course, it also means getting some leisurely exercise.

In my case, the walk to the Pasir Ris Park takes about 10 minutes, while jogging would cut that time into half. It starts with an upward trek where the view on my left is a dense collection of trees and on my right, a grassy hillside. Where the short climb ends, the sight of lovely residential houses lined up on both sides of the road begins. The trip to the park gets easier from there.

The usual suspects are there of course: joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, bicyclists, yoginis, tai chi practitioners and other fitness buffs. Men and women, young and old, parent and child, lovers and friends, they make their regular visits from surrounding residential areas. Nearby schools would sometimes take their students for a leisurely stroll. It is not uncommon to see people pitch tents during weekends and holidays, and the aroma of meat from their barbecuing can be tempting enough to forget the idea of getting some exercise. Speaking of which, the tent and the barbecue is a thought my friends and I have yet to realize.

On sunny weekends, canoeing, kayaking and dinghy sailing are some popular water activities in Pasir Ris Park. Sometimes, kayak clubs would hold their training here. Swimming has been discouraged lately because the water is said to contain an abnormal level of a type of bacteria. Swimming too far away from the shore has always been advised against, as there have been cases of drowning over the years.

When children are not wading in the water, they can usually be found in the playground at the western end of the park. They're either surfing the slide, riding the swings, bouncing at the basketball court, crossing a bridge, scaling a wall, climbing a rope, going through a maze, spinning on a dizzying wheel, untangling through a giant net, or simply being kids -- synonymous to having fun.

Adults do their own thing too aside from the usual jogging, running or cycling. Hobby fishermen, fishing rods in hand, would patiently wait for their catch over the bridge. Sweethearts, hands intertwined, or shoulders pressed tightly together, would sit on the benches facing the sea, talking about forever while waiting for the sunset. Others prefer to lie on the grass, listening to the chirping of the birds, or playing cards or board games, or trading stories about everything and nothing, or simply whiling away their time in dreamland or oblivion.

Some would rather watch birds than listen them. A 3-story high tower somewhere in the middle of the park was built for that purpose.

For those wanting to explore the mangrove forest within the park, they need only to follow the boardwalks leading into them. Mud crabs and mudskippers are a common sight. Informative and even attractive signages offering what can be found in the Pasir Ris Mangrove exist for anyone who cares to read them.
Happy Eppy

"Hi, my name is Episesarma singaporense, call me Eppy for short. I am a resident in this beautiful mangrove. Do allow me to introduce you to my friends and our home."

There are three species of Episesarma crabs found in the Pasir Ris Mangrove and they can be differentiated by the colour of their claws. Commonly known as tree-climbing crabs, they will climb up tree trunks to avoid the high tide.

These crabs are also called vinegar crabs. The Teochews pickle these crabs with black sauce and vinegar and eat them with porridge, while the Thais prefer them salted.

Singapore vinegar crab
(Episesarma singaprense)

These tree-climbing crabs climp up trees during high tide. They do this to avoid the predatory species of fish and crabs that hunt with the incoming tide.

At night, these crabs climb to heights over 6m to look for food. Stick around and observe these amazing crabs!

In one of my gallivanting trips to the park, I notice a sign that could only mean "no feeding the monkeys". To this date, I have yet to see a monkey. I do remember however, that a crocodile was once sighted here in this very same park.

For those with no pets at home but feel the impulsive need to feed an animal and a visit to the Pasir Ris Park is more convenient than the zoo, perhaps feeding a crocodile pony can be an alternative? The Gallop Stable, a horse stable in the middle of the Pasir Risk park, allows for that possibility. Of course, their main business is offering pony riding lessons.

The Pasir Ris Park is connected to the Pasir Ris Town Park via a bridge. On days I feel more adventurous, I follow the shoreline all the way across that bridge, huffing and panting until I get to the part where docked ships signify that I could go no further and have to turn back.

If I am hungry enough and feel that I have lost a lot of calories anyway, I simply head to the Fisher's Tavern and indulge myself to a treat of salted fish fried rice and barbecue chicken wings.

If you're as lucky enough as I am to be within walking distance from the park and luckier still that the park happens to be beside the sea, I suggest you take advantage of your good fortune and go visit.

Some good reasons to venture to the great outdoors and take that walk in the park:
  • The natural high without the risk of losing your limbs or getting a heart attack

  • A great (and inexpensive) way of spending time together with your special someone

  • Taking off the pressure when you need to make an important decision

  • Reflecting on yesterday, cherishing today and planning tomorrow

  • Simply having a good time

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