A walk along Bukit Timah's old railway track: A little history and a lot of greenery
Short on time, but fancy a refreshing walk in Singapore? The old railway track at Bukit Timah cuts across the island and offers easy routes
I blame rooftop bars. And non-rooftop bars. This generally means that by the time I've forced my eyes open, stumbled about like a zombie and watched an episode of CSI, it's a bit late to embark on a day trip to the rustic Lazarus beach or the quaint island of Kusu. Sure, this ended up happening again over the weekend, but I refused to admit defeat.
Rather than heading to the pool for a prolonged lie down, I furiously started Googling terms like, 'Singapore', 'walks', 'nature', 'green', 'history' and 'really close to my house'. Eventually, I stumbled upon website The Green Corridor, which suggested a series of walks along Singapore's old railway line - which runs all the way from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south.
Charmed by the idea of a spot of history - with preserved stations along the way - combined with a long, lush walk right through the centre of Singapore, I flagged down a cab and was at my starting point within 10 minutes.
For maximum nature, I began at Bukit Timah Railway Station and headed north past the nature reserve towards The Rail Mall. Ask the cab to drop you at King Albert Park, just off Bukit Timah Road - you'll see the old, black iron railway bridge from the road.
Join the path behind the bus stop (B45) and take a look at the old platform at Bukit Timah, complete with the original switches and handles. I want to say they were for changing junctions/switching signals, but this is based on no train knowledge whatsoever. They may have been used for raising snazzy signs or firing up the kettle. From the station, you can walk south towards Holland Village (I hear there's a nice stream to stare at), but I wandered north, over the iron bridge and along the west side of the nature reserve. In some places, the old track is still in place and, in others, all that's left is a lovely, wide green path.
I mostly enjoyed the walk for the below reasons...
1) Thanks to trains being rubbish at hills, the whole route was deliciously flat.
2) Thanks to trains being fairly large, the width of the path meant that I didn't have to hack through trees and bushes (essentially, I didn't have to worry about walking through spider webs).
3) I saw a snake! It was around three feet long and darted across the path before I could take a snap or register its colouring. But still, it was my first Singaporean snake experience.
4) There are heaps of beautiful houses to drool over. Big glass ones that make you want to talk sixteen friends into renting it with you.
5) Due to the long, straight paths and ability to go only north or south, it's impossible to get lost.
6) With the walk cutting through the centre of Singapore, it's easy to veer off towards a local shop for a drink.
7) For the same reason, it's also easy to veer off and grab a cab, as soon as you're ready to call it a day.
After around two hours of casual strolling, I left the track opposite St Joseph Church, with that rare feeling you get from spending the afternoon in the countryside. Next week (alright, probably the one after that), I shall be trying out the Holland Village route.